'Druggie' Eyeshadow By Urban Decay Sparks Criticism

By Keri Blakinger 01/16/17

The popular make-up brand is being accused of glamorizing drug use with their latest eyeshadow offering.

Urban Decay After Dark Eyeshadow Palette
Photo via YouTube

A glittery new eyeshadow kit has offended the internet for a shade that some say makes light of drug addiction.

“Druggie” is one of 10 tones offered in Urban Decay’s "Afterdark" Palette launched late last year. The deep purple hue is part of a set including the also-controversial “Paralyzed” blue tone and other evocative shade names like “Supersonic,” “Sinful,” “Fringe,” and “Backfire.” 

Released through make-up retailer Sephora last December, the $49 eyeshadow set earned a rave review from Allure—but sparked online outrage in other quarters. Though news of the make-up’s moniker took a few weeks to make the rounds, in recent days The Huffington Post published not one, but two separate pieces panning the naming decision.

“By the time you have finished reading this article, it’s likely that somebody in the United States will have died of an opioid overdose,” wrote HuffPost editors Ryan Grim and Landess Kearns. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500 people, many of them young, are dying every week. Every 15 minutes, a new dead body is turning up in an emergency room, making orphans of children, breaking the hearts of parents and grandparents, the scourge of an entire generation.”

A Change.org petition clamoring for a new name for the shade garnered just over 1,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon. “The majority of your customers are young women and men, many of whom are looking to you to set an example of how to handle social situations, what terms to use, and what is right and wrong,” petition-writer Maurah Ruiz argued. “When you associate the word ‘Druggie’ with an eyeshadow palette that is intended (or at least marketed as) a ‘night out’ palette, you are glamorizing drug use. This is not okay.”

Although Urban Decay did not publicly respond to the online critics, Sephora tweeted out comment on Friday. “We deeply apologize to anyone who was offended by the name of this shade,” the company wrote. Sephora PR later told Huffington Post that there were no plans to reorder the limited-edition palette. 

This isn’t the first time in recent months that a high-profile company’s drug-centric branding choices have sparked an angry reaction in addiction and recovery communities. In October, Nordstrom found itself in hot water for carrying Moschino’s drug-themed “Capsule” collection

The bizarre offerings by the luxury fashion line included such oddities as a $950 purse in the shape of a pill bottle, a $995 minidress covered in fake fashion-themed prescription labels and a strange marketing campaign riffing on Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. The collection drew an onslaught of criticism and eventually Nordstrom announced a decision to remove “Capsule” from its stores. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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