battle of the foundations: urban decay’s naked skin vs all nighter;

You wait ten years for a decent Urban Decay foundation, unhealthy and then two come along at once.

And I should know: Urban Decay’s long-since discontinued Surreal Skin mineral foundation was the first base I ever spent actual money on. It was a weird little product, ask sold in a small tub with a built-in powder puff on top, and so lightweight that you could never really tell if you were actually applying it. As I got older and in need of a heavier foundation, I moved on: to Benefit’s Hello Flawless, if I remember correctly, and the occasional flirtation with a BB cream.

See, when I say “heavier” foundation, I prefer it not to be that heavy. I’m lucky enough to be able to pull off the barely-made-up look, and I’d rather not go to work feeling as if my skin is caked in product. So when Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation came along last year, I jumped for it – and have barely looked back since.

Battle of the Foundations - Urban Decay Naked Skin
Battle of the Foundations - Urban Decay All Nighter

Still, I’m as much a sucker for a pretty bottle as the next girl – so when the gothic-inspired Urban Decay All Nighter foundation hit shelves a few months back, I was intrigued. You’d see me hanging around the concession in Debenhams of a Saturday, picking up and putting back down the bottles and trying to figure out what the difference was. Coverage, I was told, by the MUA who sold me the Alice Through the Looking Glass palette a few months back and who is very possibly sick of the sight of me (or at least my pretence that I ain’t gonna treat myself every time we speak). A few drops to the back of the hand quickly confirmed this to be the case.

Urban Decay claims that the new foundation contains about three times as much pigment as the Naked Skin, meaning there is no need to build coverage or apply multiple layers if you’re after a properly flawless look. It gives a matte finish to Naked Skin’s demi-matte look, and is oil-free – another selling point, as over the summer months I’d found myself topping up my foundation with a translucent powder so that it would last longer and give me the look I want. Suitably intrigued, I asked Urban Decay for a sample so I could put the two foundations to the test.

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Battle of the Foundations - Urban Decay
Battle of the Foundations - All Nighter pump

The first thing worth pointing out is that both products come in the same 30ml size – it’s just that the Naked Skin bottle is longer and thinner, which makes for awkward photographs. The All Nighter comes in a whopping 24 shades, meaning that this is a product that makes serious strides to address the gap in the market for decent make-up for women of colour. As with Naked Skin, the shades are numbered so if you’re already wearing Urban Decay foundation you can trust the All Nighter will be a match: I requested my standard 1.0, and the colour was bang on (as you should be able to see from the swatches below).

All Nighter incorporates my other favourite feature from Naked Skin: the pump on the bottle, which I find dispenses perfectly for my purposes. I know a pump is hardly revolutionary, but I like knowing that one pump of an Urban Decay foundation is enough to see me through an everyday makeup application. If I was wearing Naked Skin for going out I’d maybe double up, but as I said above I like my foundation like I like my men barely there – at least as far as everyday wear is concerned.

Battle of the Foundations - Urban Decay
Battle of the Foundations - Urban Decay

The difference in formulations should be immediately obvious from the above: in fact, I’d barely got myself into position for a photograph before the Naked Skin was halfway down my arm. The All Nighter has a thicker, almost whipped texture, while the Naked Skin is thinner and calls for a good shake of the bottle before dispensing. Blending each foundation a little, it’s also clear that you get better coverage from the All Nighter.

I tend to apply my foundation by dabbing it onto my nose, cheeks and chin before blending with the Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush – I’m on my second of these, because despite the fact that this beautiful, life-changing makeup brush is rather expensive I didn’t take care of it properly and it shed something rotten. Still highly recommended though. I then used the translucent NYX Studio Finishing Powder to set. Yes, even the All Nighter. Because I am a creature of habit.

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Battle of the Foundations - All Nighter
Battle of the Foundations - Naked Skin

That’s the All Nighter at the top, and the Naked Skin at the bottom. Terrible phone photos ahoy, because I still haven’t worked out how else you’re meant to do it at 8am on the way to work. My fringe is at that annoying just-too-long-to-wear-down stage, so I need to get that sorted over the weekend.

Both foundations passed the biggest test for me which is: can I apply it in the morning and then forget about it for the rest of the day? Sure, I love makeup but that doesn’t mean I’m carting it all into the office with me. By mid-afternoon I was beginning to notice some serious pore action on my cheeks when I was wearing the Naked Skin, but I doubt anybody’s ever going to be as close up in my face as to notice. That said, I never wore it on a gym day (which isn’t to say I looked flawless after a boot camp session when I was wearing the All Nighter, but it certainly wasn’t mortifying getting a taxi home).

Both foundations retail at £27, which is pretty competitive for a premium product – especially when you take into account the pump dispenser, which means you’re not getting any waste. I got a good six months out of my last Naked Skin, if I remember correctly, and since you can technically use even less of the All Nighter that’s going to last you even longer.

My winner? Well, since it’s arrived I’ve worn All Nighter almost every day – although, had the weather been warmer, I doubt that would have been the case. It’s a great, hard-wearing foundation that really does appear to last all day, and you can’t argue with that gorgeous bottle. It’s a good thing too, since Naked Skin seems to have disappeared from the Urban Decay website – perhaps the illusion of choice is just that…

Have you tried either of these foundations? What did you think?

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This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.

  • You are beautiful (either with foundation or without) ??????

  • Ida

    Hello, could you please recommend any foundations that are close to the Urban Decay shade 1.0? It’s a perfect match for me, but I want to try something different now. Thank you!!

    • I can’t help you Ida (I’ve only used a couple of foundations over the years) but hopefully someone else who reads this post can! x

  • Amy

    I’m keen to try both of these. I love the Naked Skin concealer -which is actually full coverage weirdly- but think of the two, All Nighter would be better suited to my needs. I think I’ll have to pay a visit to my Urban Decay counter!

    • I do love the Naked Skin concealer. Next on my list is the colour correction ones! x