[REVIEW] Urban Decay “Backtalk” Palette

At last, the Backtalk palette review!  I’m sorry I’ve been so long in getting to this one, but I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to test it to within an inch of its life before actually getting down to writing the review.  This last week I’ve finally been able to do that, so here we go. 🙂


So, first of all, the palette itself.  It’s a double sided palette, nicely neat and compact, and holds quite a lot in a small space.


On opening the palette, one side contains 8 eyeshadows, and the other has 2 blushes and 2 highlighters.  In the middle is a removable, double sided mirror.


The mirror is held in magnetically, and the hold is fairly strong.  From the way the palette hangs together, I have a feeling that the borders around the mirror are where the magnet is – it’s what holds the palette closed securely when you’re not using it.


The mirror is actually a good and useful size, and removing it makes the palette lighter and slightly easier to handle if that’s a thing for you.

On to the products themselves.  To start with, I did a finger swatch of each shadow, each blush and each highlighter.  This doesn’t give a true representation of how the shadow will perform when actually using it to create an eye makeup look, but it does give an idea of what the colour looks like when applied to clean skin.  In each case I rubbed a clean finger on to the product and swiped it onto my skin.  There are no skincare products and no primer or powder underneath.  With the paler colours, I had to swatch twice to get them to show up; this is pretty much what I’d expect, and not unusual.

All of these photographs were taken early afternoon on a clear, bright day, with daylight only, in a North-facing window.

First, the eyeshadows:


From top to bottom, we have: 3 Sheets, Bare, Curve, Backtalk, Shade, Attitude, WTF and 180.  In this case, 3 Sheets and Bare were the ones I had to swatch twice to make them show up.  I also had to swatch Shade (the purple) multiple times, which surprised me.  The colour in the pan suggested a much stronger payoff on the skin than I actually got.  I’ll come back to this further down.

In addition to the basic finger swatches, I have done a “dry brush/wet brush/finger” comparison with Attitude, the most richly pigmented shimmer shade from the palette.

Very often shimmers and metallics perform better when applied with a wet brush rather than a dry one, and sometimes best of all when applied with a fingertip.  If you’re not sure what the actual colour payoff is going to be with a new shadow, it’s worth doing this comparison before you use it to see what will give you the effect you are looking for.


Dry brush at the bottom, wet brush in the middle, finger at the top.  With this particular shade, you get the richest, deepest colour using a fingertip – so that’s what I’ve been doing for the most part.

When I say “wet brush”, I don’t mean dripping wet.  You can either dampen it slightly with tap water, or spray it with a setting spray, which has the added benefit of giving the shadow a little more sticking power when it dries down.  I usually use Mac “Fix +” setting spray, two or three sprays onto the brush from a distance of a few inches is about right.

Next up, the blushes and highlighters:


From top to bottom: Cheap Shot, Double Take, Low Key and Party Foul.

Highlighters are an absolute sod to photograph, as you can see!  I added the blue rings at my husband’s suggestion, he couldn’t actually see the highlighters to start with.  I only could because I knew where they were, I think.  I picked the two highlighters up on my fingertips to try to give you more of an idea as to the difference between them, but even that wasn’t terribly effective!


Party Foul is on the left and Low Key is on the right.  Party Foul is a champagne colour and Low Key is pinker, closer to being a blush really.  It wouldn’t work as a highlighter on very pale skin.  As a highlighter on dark skin it would be spectacular.

So, after all those swatches (for which, I will add, my skin hates me – the things I do for my blog, honestly!), what did I actually think when I got down to using the palette?

It absolutely pains me to say it (and you know by now how I feel about Urban Decay in general, so I’m sure you can believe that it really does) but I don’t love this palette as much as I expected to, or wanted to. 😦

Firstly, the blushes and highlighters.  I liked them well enough – I can’t think of a great deal more to say about them than that.  They do their job, but none of them are particularly exciting!  There’s nothing about any of them that knocked my socks off.  The blushes are very highly pigmented, so as with most blushes a light hand is called for to start with.  It’s always easier to add more if you need it!   Neither of the highlighters are particularly a good shade for me.

There is absolutely not a single thing wrong with the performance or formulation of the blushes or highlighters, but I wouldn’t choose the colours for myself as a matter of course.  In highlighters my preference is generally for cooler, more silvery tones, and when it comes to blushes – well, you would need a crowbar to separate me from my NARS ones!

On to the eyeshadows.  I was disappointed in the pigmentation with some of them.  They blend well enough, but the colour isn’t quite what you expect it to be.  “Shade” looks in the pan as though it should be a gloriously rich, dark purple, but when you apply it with a brush, the colour is nothing like.  It comes out as a much paler pink, and takes an awful lot of layering and building up if that’s the colour you’re looking for.  (Other reviewers have suggested that the colour is much better when applied over a white base, but I haven’t tried this myself.)  Urban Decay shadows are, for the most part, very highly pigmented, very true to colour and very highly performing – this just wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from them so far.

The other thing I found to be disappointing was the longevity.  Usually with Urban Decay shadows, provided that I do a good and careful job with my application, making sure to use the correct primer and blend it all carefully, my eyes are still in pretty good shape by the end of the day.  The original Naked palette particularly is an absolute star performer for this.  This was absolutely not the case with the Backtalk shadows.  In the last week I have used the palette three times, and on each occasion the shadow was badly creased and patchy by mid afternoon.  I can’t work out what’s different with these, or why anything should be different at all, but something isn’t quite right.

With both of these things I’d love to think that it was user error on my part rather than something wrong with the palette, but I’ve seen the same reports from other reviewers, particularly on the pigmentation issue.

On other performance indicators it lines up pretty favourably with what I’ve come to expect from Urban Decay – the shadows are soft and buttery, there isn’t loads of “kick up” in the palette (which is what happens with dryer shadows, when dipping your brush in the pan causes shadow to flick out all over the surrounding colours), and there isn’t a massive amount of “fallout” either (fallout being when you end up with shadow dropping beneath your eyes and onto to the top of your cheekbones while you’re applying it).  To be honest though, pigmentation and sticking power are key.  If it doesn’t look as you expect it to and doesn’t last the day, the rest of it is secondary!

Lastly (and this isn’t a fault of the palette, just an observation), because of the monochromatic nature of the colours, I’ve found it hard to get more than one look out of the palette.  Yes, some of this is down to my still almost complete lack of skill, but because everything is in one colour family, I think I’m almost always going to get more or less the same result.  I think a much more advanced and talented amateur or a make up artist could probably get half a dozen different looks, but I can’t.

Because I don’t think I can’t get away without putting my face on the blog any longer – here I am, about ready for work and with the one look I’ve been able to create.  As you can see from the second picture below, I have heinously hooded eyes, which makes doing any kind of deeply complicated eye look both difficult and a waste of time, so I do try to keep it simple!


I used Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in “Painterly” as a primer, then used “3 Sheets” as a colour wash over the whole of my lid, to set the primer down and give an even base to start with.  I then applied “Backtalk” into the crease, “Shade” to deepen the crease and out towards the edges, and “Attitude” on the main part of the lid.  “Attitude” is the one shade I do really, really like.

The effect is nice enough, but it is only one look, that with my skill set I can’t improve on at the moment.

For those interested, I have listed the rest of my makeup in the above picture at the very bottom of the post.

Overall, sadly, I wouldn’t buy it again.  Knowing what I know now, I would have bought the “Born to Run” palette instead (and to be honest, sooner or later I probably will).  The formulation is not what I know and love of Urban Decay normally, which is a very great shame.  I’m sure I’ll continue using one or two of the colours with colours from other palettes in the future, but that’s about all.

Is it worth £39.50?   Sorry, Urban Decay.  I still love you very much but no, it isn’t.

Available here.  RRP: £39.50

DISCLAIMER: This review is not sponsored by Urban Decay or L’Oreal Cosmetics, and I have no affiliation with the company.  I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for this review, and I (or my very generous husband) pay for every product I review. All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

(The rest of my makeup that day:

  • Benefit “The Porefessional” Primer
  • Estée Lauder DoubleWear Foundation (Fresco)
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla)
  • Chanel Poudre Universelle Natural Finish Loose Powder (Translucent)
  • NARS Blush (Deep Throat)
  • Glossier Lash Slick Mascara
  • Younique Moodstruck Precision Brow Liner (Medium)
  • Glossier Boy Brow (Brown)
  • Urban Decay Backtalk Highlighter (Party Foul)
  • Urban Decay Glide-On Lip Pencil (Rush)
  • Urban Decay Comfort Matte Vice Lipstick (Backtalk) 
  • Urban Decay “Chilled” Setting Spray)


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