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Grunge meets glam in the “sister” release to the ABH Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette! The Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00 // Sephora) is certainly rife with controversy unlike I’ve ever seen before… and I’ve been blogging since 2009 so it’s safe to say I’ve seen a lot. After entertaining myself a bit with videos and other peoples experiences with Subculture I decided to bite the bullet and buy it myself. Challenge accepted.
Because there is so much hype surrounding this palette this review is going to be a little bit more in depth (like my Morphe x Jaclyn Hill Review) than usual. If you follow me on Instagram or watched my Instagram stories you’ve seen a little sneak peek, but now you’re getting all the thoughts.
what is it
As stated on the Sephora website the Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette is “an essential eyeshadow collection with fourteen shades featuring grungy mattes and bold metallics with an underground edge. Each of these shadows is made in a highly pigmented and easy-to-blend formula. The palette comes with a dual-side soft bristle brush for easy application.”
individual shade reviews
Roxy. Ultra matte muted coral
The shade that broke the internet. Yes, there’s pickup and no it’s not that serious. I go into more depth on the kickup of the shadows in this palette below, but Roxy is one of my personal faves in this palette. It brightens up the looks, blends nicely alone and with other shades and has awesome pigment.
(used in looks 1, 4, 6 & 7)
Electric. Duo chrome lime-gold
It looks like yellow gold sparkle of nothing unless you use it wet. When used wet everything about this shade is beautiful, especially if you place it over a darker shadow color that it pairs well with (Untamed and Electric got me like….yasssss).
(used in looks 1 & 6)
Fudge. Ultra-matte warm bronze
I have no experience with Fudge the single but this Fudge has me feeling good. It’s a lid shade for sure, but it’s not a terrible blender. It’s one of those ones you can blend, but you better go easy and be careful about it (see tips below on blending).
(used in look 2)
New Wave. Ultra-matte citron orange
A bit chalky but beautiful when packed on the lid! I used this as a base to create my favorite look and it faded in nicely with the other shades.
(used in look 6)
Untamed. Ultra-matte tarnished green
At first use I loved this shade because all I did with it was smudge it under the lower lash line. For the final look I tried to do a halo eye with it and after trying twice I gave up. It doesn’t blend well and is the patchiest of all of the shades unless you’re just packing it directly onto the eye lid. Do not in any way shape or form even try to blend any part of this color. When it’s just on the lid, it’s even, perfect and beautiful. Again, DO NOT BLEND AT ALL EVER.
(used in looks 2 & 7)
Rowdy. Ultra-matte blackened purple
The second most temperamental shade in the Subculture Palette. This was the ONLY shade I experienced fallout with. Like A LOT OF FALLOUT. No matter how I used it or what I did it was all over my cheeks and it was not easy to swipe away. That being said I love the way the look came out and for one of the darker mattes it did blend out less patchy than the rest.
(used in look 5)
Axis. Ultra-matte blue-green
A major love. So pigmented, saturated and even. Definitely a shade you need to press/pack onto your lid. Beautiful as a shadow and as a liner!
(used in look 4)
Mercury. Ultra-matte slate grey
I never thought I’d ever like a shade like this but here we go, I love it and I even love it as a blended transition shade. Easy to use and blend.
(used in look 3)
All Star. Ultra-matte vintage wine
This color is so pretty that when you see it on your eye in person it actually takes your breath away. Super saturated, easy to pack on the eye and stunning as an eye liner.
(used in looks 3, 6 & 7)
Adorn. Metallic bronze
When used wet this is the shade of all shades. So gorgeous, glistening and shiny. It works with every color in this palette no matter if they’re warm or cool. If you mess anything up, Adorn is there to fix it.
(used in looks 2, 4, 6 & 7)
Destiny. Ultra-matte sage green
After watching countless YouTube videos this was one of the ones I feared the most, yet it ended up being one of my favorites. Super pigmented and easy to place on the lid.
(used in look 1)
Dawn. Ultra-matte sand
I’ve loved using this as an all over lid color, transition shade, for blending out the crease… it’s your Subculture Jack of all Trades! It’s got some kickback but it’s not terrible. I will say that after 7-8 uses there is a very slight dip in the center, which is uncommon for me to have.
(used in all looks)
Cube. Duo chrome pink pearl
When used dry this shade looks like it’s virtually nothing. When used wet, particularly over a powder shadow, it is INSANELY GORGEOUS. I used a MAC 242 Shader Brush to press this into place.
(used in looks 1, 3 & 4)
Edge. Ultra-matte gold mustard.
Edge is one of the most bizarre shades I’ve ever come across. Like New Wave it’s a bit chalky but has good pigment when packed on with a brush like the MAC 239. What makes it bizarre? You can watch it oxidize right before your eyes… but for me, only on certain parts of my eye. I put another layer of Edge on the lid, same thing. Even on the first layer it looked like I had 3 different colors of yellow on my lid and through the crease when in fact I only had Edge. I’ve never seen anything like it. My lids are very oily, so that might have something to do with it and also explain why this shade as well as a few others are acting differently depending on the user. It’s the only shade in this entire palette I’ll never use again.
(used in look 7)
overall review + tips
When using the eyeshadows in the Subculture Palette I began going in very lightly, for fear that I’d hit pan on first dip. I learned there is such a thing as going in too lightly. You don’t want to slam your brush into it but as long as you’re not overly aggressive I personally found doing my normal thing wasn’t a problem. As you blend you do want to be more dainty simply because the pigment in these shadows just doesn’t need that much help.
On videos you’ll see people tapping off the powder from the brush and it’s flying everywhere….. well listen, that happens to me with EVERY PALETTE I USE. That’s something I never noticed until this drama and only did now because I started to pay attention. Maybe it’s not as much with other palettes, but it’s a lot more than I thought would be flying around.
The darker Ultra-Mattes are not to be blended. It sounds so ridiculous, but this ain’t the palette for that. Shades like All Star, Untamed, Axis, Rowdy, Destiny, New Wave, Edge and even Fudge a varying levels of patchy when they’re overly blended (and by overly I mean normally). These shades are for placing. Meaning you’re taking a firm AF brush and pressing that color into your lid. After I do that I take a soft blending brush with a bit more product on it and blend lightly. Ever so slightly fade the edge a bit. THEN YOU MUST STOP. If you need more color, repeat process with more product. Don’t ever let the brush run out of product or you’re screwed.
The lighter Ultra-Mattes are blendable, and easily so. Shades like Dawn, Roxy and Mercury worked really well for blending out color as well as transition shades, crease shades and all over the lid.
You must use the metallic duo-chrome shades Cube, Electric and Adorn WET or you’ll be wasting your time. When used wet these shades are glorious and I love them. I’m actually in talks with Adorn to run away and get married.
For kickback I tend to use the powder that puffed up on the other eye so it’s not totally wasted. Yes, you’re getting a lot more than you’re used to but the same can also be said about Modern Renaissance. I have MR from it’s initial release and there is also a lot of kickup. Less than Subculture, but still more than I’m used to. I think the reason it was such an issue with Subculture is because the shades aren’t as everyday, user friendly as those in MR. I don’t have the Mario palette to compare to and I kick myself every single day for not getting it. Not because I want to compare it, but because of all three palettes the Mario is the one I’d use the most.
The included brush is 50% terrible and 50% awesome. The blender side is rough, scratchy and worthless when it comes to this palette. The shadows are so soft that all it does is kick up extra powder (unnecessary) and then not transfer it well onto the eye. On the flipside the other half, which is a firmer shader brush, is a dream. I love it for packing on the deeper shades to my lid. I wish they’d have scrapped the blender side for a firmer pencil brush similar to the MAC 219.
As far as primers go when using this palette I tried out 3 – Urban Decay Primer Potion, PUR Cosmetics Get a Grip and Smashbox 24hr Photo Finish. UDPP was good but Smashbox was the absolute best. The shadows all responded really well to it. Get a Grip was a stickier base and the shadows didn’t play nicely with that. With that in mind I’d stay away from any sticky base unless you’re doing the metallic/duochromes all over the lid (still use them wet).
When using the UDPP or Smashbox primer none of the shadows creased, faded or migrated on me all day. With the PUR base (remember, it’s stickier) I did get creasing by days end.
what the pros say
Emmy award winning makeup artist Kevin James Bennett cleared the air on the issues regarding patchiness and oxidizing by speaking with actual labs that create product. The screenshot is below (taken with permission from KJB and was posted to a Facebook group that I belong to) and gives an astute insight into product production and formula.
Below the matte eyeshadows are swatched dry with no primer. The duochrome/metallic shades are swatched both wet & dry, no primer.
In the looks below you’ll see every single shade from the ABH Subculture Palette in use, one even mixed with the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette.
Look 1 // Shades used: Destiny (all over lid except inner corner, smudged under lower lash line), Electric (inner lid, used wet), Roxy (transition & crease), Dawn (blending out crease/brow bone) and Cube (inner corner).
Other products used: Urban Decay Primer Potion, Jouer Matte Black Slim Creme Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 2 // Shades used: Dawn (all over the lid up to brow), Fudge (all over the lid except the inner corner), Adorn (inner lid, used wet) and Untamed (smudged under lower lash line).
Other products used: PUR Get a Grip Eyeshadow Primer, Makeup Geek Espresso Full Spectrum Eye Liner Pencil and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 3 // Shades used: All Star (inner/outer corners & through the crease), Cube (center lid, used wet), Mercury (blend out the crease) and Dawn (blend out crease color and brow bone). All Star & Cube are mixed to smudge under lower lash line.
Other products used: Smashbox 24hr Photo Finish Shadow Primer, IT Cosmetics Superhero Liner, Jouer Matte Black Slim Creme Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 4 // Shades used: Axis (all over lid to crease, smudged under lower lash line), Adorn (crease), Roxy (above the crease to blend out Adorn), Cube (inner corner) and Dawn (blend out crease and brow bone).
Other products used: Benefit High Brow, Smashbox 24hr Photo Finish Shadow Primer, IT Cosmetics Superhero Liner, Jouer Matte Black Slim Creme Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 5 // Shades used: Rowdy (all over lid except the inner part and throughout the crease) and Dawn (to blend out the crease color) + Modern Renaissance shades in Antique Bronze (through the crease and above), Vermeer (brow bone, above Dawn) & Tempera (inner corner).
Other products used: Smashbox 24hr Photo Finish Shadow Primer, Chanel Horizon Stylo Yeux and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 6 // Shades used: New Wave (all over the lid), All Star (outer V, through the crease and up, smudged under lower lash line), Roxy (blend out the crease), Adorn (inner 2/3 of lid, used wet), Electric (inner corner, used wet) and Dawn (blend out Roxy up to the brow).
Other products used: Urban Decay Primer Potion, IT Cosmetics Superhero Liner, Marc Jacobs Blacquer, Make Up For Ever ME-42, and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Look 7 // Shades used: Edge (all over lid and through the crease), Roxy (above the crease to blend out Edge), All Star (top liner), Untamed (smudged under lower lash line), Dawn (to blend out Roxy and up to the brow) and Adorn (to line above All Star).
Other products used: Urban Decay Primer Potion, Tarte Rose Gold Clay Pot (base for Adorn), ABH Liquid Gold Metallic Luster Liner, Make Up For Ever I-34 Artist Liner (Aqua XL I-32 is similar) and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture is not a bad palette. It’s definitely not the easiest to use by any means, particularly for the every day makeup wearer – which is essentially their market. But with a little playtime and tips you’ll get the hang of it really quickly. The shades are stunning for Fall and the looks you can create with it will be gorge. If you have Modern Renaissance already you can combine the two to make your Subculture looks even more wearable – using this palette with MR actually made me love it more.
I’ve heard people saying that cheap brushes are the problem and I disagree with that. I used different brushes as cheap as Morphe all the way up to expensive AF Tom Ford and it didn’t matter. For the light shades that you blend you’ll want a super soft blending brush (just feel them, you’ll be able to tell) and for the dark shades you’ll want a flat shadow brush like the one side of the included ABH brush or like a MAC 239. For the metallic/foils something like a MAC 242 sprayed wet is best.
As for the drama here is what I think. I’ve read and watched all the uproar. I LOVE a lot of the people that said this palette is junk. I believe they got a bad batch. Norvina showed a Snapchat of what a batch is to ABH and it was just a tray. ONE tray. IDK how many fit on there, but certainly not an entire shipment. Whether or not I’m right, I’ll never know. I don’t produce makeup and I’ve never followed anyone from ABH around the lab that they use. All I know is really talented artists that I can’t even hold a candle to couldn’t make this palette work, and that’s a problem well beyond “user error”.
The way ABH allowed their artists to handle the situation was appalling. It actually kept me from purchasing Subculture sooner. There is no reason for anyone to talk down to customers for any reason. I don’t care who you are. This palette was produced for mass market retail. A very small percentage of your paying customers are makeup artists. If this was a palette intended for artists it needed to be marketed that way when promotions started with tips and tricks given to the public so they knew how to work with the shades. I adore ABH products and hope they’ll learn from this and do better in the future.
where to buy
If the ABH Subculture isn’t something you care to mess with you can pick up similar (yet not identical) palettes in the Sephora Pro Warm Palette, Viseart Dark Mattes, Natasha Denona Star Palette, Jeffree Star Androgyny, NYX Olive You Perfect Filter Palette, Models Own Supernatural Palette. They’re not exact dupes but are more user-friendly (Jeffree Star and Viseart are probably the closest in terms of full palettes). There is also a blog post that tells you which Makeup Geek Eyeshadows dupe this palette almost exactly.
please end this blog post
To sum this really long blog post up I DO recommend Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture to those that love to step outside the box and are into the grungy glam Fall shades that are featured. You can absolutely work with it when you have time to play around and figure out how the shades will work with you and your personal application technique. If that’s not something you have time for or want to do then you should pass.
What are your favorite ways to wear Subculture? Do you know of any more dupes? Let me know all the things in the comments below!