Is This Eyeshadow Palette Sexist? The Balm’s ‘Nude ‘Tude & Dude’ Causes Quite A Stir

Some of the most successful brands are somewhat controversial. They thrive off the conversations they stimulate and benefit from heightened brand awareness – which inevitably translates into sales. Some brands even court controversy and claim it helps them smash targets like never before (‘beach body ready’ has never been more of a talking point,) whereas others shy away from anything negative until the hoohah dies down and they can get on with business. Over the last week or so The Balm, a quirky and kitsch makeup brand that are certainly giving Benefit a run for their money, have caused quite the stir with their Nude ‘Tude and Dude eyeshadow palettes; they’ve been deemed ‘sexist’ as consumers compared the rather positive names of the latest palette with the somewhat negative names of the previous incarnation. So, should we all be boycotting this tongue-in-cheek brand – or is it all just a ‘storm in a teacup’ over a little bit of makeup?

First things first, where did this all begin? The original Nude ‘Tude (short for attitude) palette was released three years ago as an alternative to the Urban Decay Naked collections that we know are more popular than One Direction. (I featured it last year here.) It included shade names such as Sassy, Sophisticated, Seductive, Sexy and Sleek, but also Snobby, Stand-offish, Stubborn and Selfish. The second version (Nude Tude) now features half naked guys with descriptions such as Flawless, Faithful, Fearless, Firm, Fit and Friendly – but importantly nothing in the slightest bit negative or derogatory. Understandably this has caused a huge amount of conversation, with consumers questioning why the original still carries somewhat negative descriptions when they could have easily replaced them with positive names such as Strong or Smart.

Marissa Shipman, The Balm’s president, has responded to the allegations in an email statement: “Nude ‘Tude is about attitude and being able to express yourself however you want (as that is the name of the palette). Nude Dude came two years later (the name came about primarily because it rhymes with ‘Nude ‘tude’), and this is more about qualities we feel naked men should have. As a brand, we strive to maintain a light-hearted approach, and always position women in the driver’s seat… It saddens us that we approach product after product with our sassy twist on women empowerment and this was taken so out of context (we even have a blush brush called “Women Empowderment”). In any event, it’s never our intention to upset or offend anyone.”

Although I do understand why some women feel a little bit let down (why they thought to call one of their shades Stand-offish rather than Strong is beyond me,) we do have to remember that this is just an eyeshadow palette. They’ve not done anything unethical or operated illegally, nor have they been posting body shaming content across their social media (cough). It’s so easy for us to get our knickers in a twist and shout from the rooftops in a world where social media allows us to do so, but we forget about the *really* important issues that we could be championing instead. I can see every one of those descriptive qualities, good and bad, in myself and sure the majority of women can too – it’s not about saying we’re Stupid or Secondary, but celebrating everything a woman is without questioning whether it’s right or wrong. We’re not perfect, so I don’t see the harm in naming a dusty pink Stubborn or a charcoal grey Selfish. If anything, I would’ve thought ‘objectifying’ men in this way would have caused more of a stir than admitting a woman can be Snobby!

Back to the eyeshadows in question: they’re actually lovely quality and provide a great pigment. The pans are very small and don’t provide much product (there’s a lot of space wasted with cardboard,) making them quite expensive for what they are – £30.00 for a palette of twelve shades, vs £38.00 for the same quantity of tones (yet bigger pan sizes) from Urban Decay. It is a quirky, cute, fun and wearable palette, but I’m just disappointed it doesn’t offer more value or point of difference to justify such a high price point. However, it’s definitely checking out the other bits and bobs The Balm has to offer as they certainly provide tongue-in-cheek treats that will be treasured. I don’t think the hoohah surrounding this launch will have an impact on the brand, but I do think consumers will be questioning whether this new palette offers the value they want.

What do you think of the controversy surrounding these eyeshadow palettes? Should they be hanging their head in shame, or do you think those complaining need to pipe down?

The original Nude ‘Tude and new Nude Dude eyeshadow palettes are available from ASOS, priced £30.00 each.

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  




  1. Cara PS
    July 22, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    I do think sometimes we can get a bit up in arms over the little things because we're given the platform too, I also think that brands know this and can sometimes use it cause a bit of controversy and media buzz around a product. Personally, I don't see how the name of an eye shadow can be 'sexist' I would be more concerned that a male counterpart is being paid significantly more than me. X

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:04 am

      Very valid point. Is that more important than the shade names?

  2. Pam Scalfi
    July 22, 2015 / 3:37 pm

    people need to find better things to do, that's all I will say :DPam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  3. Emily Knott
    July 22, 2015 / 3:37 pm

    Blimey, it’s just a bit of fun. Everyone picks at everything these days and always find something to complain about!

  4. abigailalicex
    July 22, 2015 / 4:34 pm

    I disagree in regards to the more important and bigger issues. Whilst the problems that are staring at us in the face are often huge and demand a lot of attention that doesn't mean we should allow little things that bother us to slip through the cracks because it's not as big of a problem as something bigger such as sexual/ verbal harassment in person rather than on a product. A lot of the names that The Balm feels naked men should have I feel women should have wether clothed or not. I wonder what their justification was for their first palette… Perhaps qualities we think our naked female enemies should have? Surely The Balm can be more creative with their names and products. Great post and very eye opening. thanks for sharing your opinion.Check out my latest post<3

    • Mikaelahjade
      July 23, 2015 / 10:08 am

      I agree with you. Just because 'oh its just makeup' doesn't mean its an issue we should ignore. This is just contributing to the overall, large issue of sexism. It would be different, but still horrible, if the men also had rude and degrading shade names but since its just the women, it really does seem incredibly unfair

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:05 am

      I understand your points – but my issue is the fact that this was on the market for 3 years before anyone decided to take objection. To me that's just finding an issue with something for the sake of it.

  5. Dagmara K
    July 22, 2015 / 7:55 pm

    I found the palettes found and quirky and never thought of them being sexist! I think nowadays people too much drama about everything. There's so much more important thing to worry about then the name of eyeshadow 🙂 xMummy’s Beauty Corner

  6. A Certain Romance
    July 23, 2015 / 5:39 am

    I think this *is* a very big and important issue. Not with The Balm specifically, but at a deeper cultural and social level. Why is it okay? Why is it seen as 'just a bit of fun'? I don't see how this is just 'a bit of fun' when it clearly showcases how far we still have to go in regards to gender issues of all kind. I don't see how the brand having a blush brush that plays on the words 'women empowerment' makes any difference to be honest, it's dangerously close to the 'I can't be racist if I have black friends' argument.

  7. Bijou Beauty
    July 23, 2015 / 8:37 am

    he he he. ya this one is great & funny. But the shades are

  8. Rhianne
    July 23, 2015 / 9:05 am

    I'm more perplexed as to why the men have towels on ha – its nude tude and the eyeshadows are obviously meant to cover any areas that aren't meant to be shown – but its ok for the women to be assumed to be completely naked (yet stubborn and standoffish) whilst the men get to protect their dignity and be friendly and faithful? I don't think you should underestimate the effect of every day sexism – this may be one small cog in a bigger problem and perhaps there are bigger fights to fight – but this to me is just another example of how there are still double standards in the representation of men and women in packaging and that if you do feel uncomfortable with it and offended, you're just told you're making a fuss about nothing – or you're misreading the situation rather than the situation being the problem.It's a shame really as I like the concept of it a lot (empowerment through makeup, being able to feel however the hell you want and wear what you want to reflect that…) and they could have done it really well (and got better publicity from being the brand that nails it) but the details in the packaging as a collection of products don't reflect the intention I don't think – they just show that this is still how things are, even when companies try not to be and that they still don't understand why its a problem when it does go wrong.Or perhaps it is just a makeup palette and I'm just a silly (selfish, stubborn, standoffish, snobby) woman and I don't really understand these things…

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:08 am

      I think if it offends people then they need to have a re-think. They obviously didn't mean to cause offense, but they need to learn from it for sure. It doesn't personally offend me (I don't think that women should always be portrayed in a positive way as it's not realistic – and a lot of the time that's the issue,) but clearly the opinions here are very split. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Mikaelahjade
    July 23, 2015 / 9:52 am

    I won't be boycotting this brand because I do love their products but I am VERY disappointed in their choice of names. They're only further encouraging that females are annoying and bitchy and that men are almighty. Its true that nowadays everything will offend someone in the world but I think this is something to understandably be annoyed over.

  10. Cruelty Free Kitty
    July 23, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    While I'm not offended by this, I do think the company's president handled it a bit poorly. Her statement was more along the lines of "you're wrong to be offended, lighten up!!!!!!" when it should have been "we're sorry that we offended some people, naming one of the shadows Smart would have been a fab idea".

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:09 am

      I agree totally. Her statement could have been a lot more positive and promised to take feedback into consideration in the future.

  11. Natalie B.
    July 24, 2015 / 3:43 am

    As an old-school feminist, I do think the shadow names of the original palette aren't appropriate. Even though "we all have these qualities" at times, they shouldn't be given a green light by a cosmetics company. I understand that they're whole vibe is cutesy and I like that. I just wish they'd be a bit more careful in naming their products and shades. It may seem subtle but we, as societies, are moved by subtlety more often than we realize. In the end, This controversy isn't enough for me to not buy their products because I don't believe anything was done intentionally. Hopefully, in the future they'll keep the fun of their products and packaging while being more aware of the connotations. 🙂

  12. Siobhan Marie
    July 24, 2015 / 12:50 pm

    To be perfectly honest, I think people are causing a massive commotion over nothing. The eye-shadow's are named to fit in with the theme of the palette. If Benefit can get away with their blatant lack of respect for women in general in the body shaming incident on twitter, I don't understand why this has become an issue for The Balm. In my opinion, it is petty, and says more about the people who are offended by the names than anything else.

  13. Allyadores
    July 27, 2015 / 9:41 pm

    The 'tude' stands for attitude, when people have an attitude they can be seen a 'snobby' and 'stand-offish'. I own this palette and I didn't even think about the names of the shades, I just use the colours I like. I personally don't see it in anyway sexist. I doubt people are thinking 'that shades called serious…I'm not serious, I'm fun! I can't possibly use that!' haha!Ally x

  14. Gweni Rees-Evans
    July 30, 2015 / 8:19 pm

    Hi! Sorry for the late comment. I agree with you although they are just eyeshadows it is unnecessarily derogative to women. I know they're not harming women in a direct way but I do think that we should point out minor sexist flaws. If we don't point out the smaller stuff, then it makes it easier to push aside the bigger stuff. I don't think they need to be hanging their heads in shame, I just think it's a shame that they didn't want to empower women more. Their loss! Your pictures are looking fab though 🙂 Gweni xxxx

  15. Tamzin Swann
    August 2, 2015 / 11:42 am

    I do think some things are just read into far too much. I love this palette and it's never once made me think about comparing myself to the names. I do agree about how much product their is though, the pans are so tiny but I love them so a viscous circle. I can't wait to try the newest one out

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