Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette - Review, Swatches

When I first saw a picture of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette, I was completely underwhelmed. ABH Modern Renaissance palette was one of my favourite makeup releases of 2016 and I have loads of the individual ABH eyeshadows that I absolutely cherish, but the colour selection in Subculture left me feeling a bit meh - a few teals, a mustard - I just wasn't gone on the colour lineup because it wasn't my beef. I didn't think I was going to purchase it but I couldn't stop myself from picking one up on the day that it was released because I just had such brilliant experiences with the other ABH shadows that I had tried that I thought that this might be the palette to make me come out of my brown eyeshadow comfort zone. On the back of the palette itself, it describes Subculture as "an essential eye shadow collection with fourteen shades featuring grungy mattes and bold metallics with an underground edge." Whilst I am not even remotely grungy, this palette screams Autumn to me and of course I feel like I can justify the purchase because not only do I love Autumn, I don't have a collection of colours like this in any of my other palettes. I ordered directly from Anastasia Beverly Hills UK website, it arrived in a few days and of course I did not have to pay any customs. The palette is now available on Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay if you are interested in purchasing it by the time you have finished reading this post.

I know that there has been controversy around this palette since it was released (my Youtube and Instagram feeds are full of ABH Subculture bashing or "honest" reviews) but I have not watched or read or followed up on this because I want to take the palette as I find it and not have my opinion swayed by others before I got a chance to give this palette a good try for myself. I've often been disappointed with products that other folks have raved about and vice versa - different folks, different strokes c'est la vie. It's very easy to come online and jump on a slating bandwagon, even where that criticism is totally deserved, but I wanted to provide a comprehensive review based on my own experience. Makeup is all subjective. I'm not going to lie - I forked out €50 for this so I wanted to like it.
The Basics : The packaging is pretty much identical to the Modern Renaissance palette expect there is a flocked dark teal velvet cover on the Subculture palette, they are the same size and both have a decent mirror. I am fully bracing myself for the fact that it will probably get filthy in time from use. Like the Modern Renaissance, the palette comes with a brush and I'm usually not a fan of brushes that come with eyeshadow palettes but this one is actually not bad (probably still won't use it though...). You get 14 colours in the palette - 11 mattes, 1 duochrome, 1 metallic and 1 duochrome metallic shades - in a variety of hues from warm, cool and neutral tones. It is an interesting combination of colours for sure - possibly not the most cohesive selection and not the kind of colours that I would reach for everyday but I don't reach for the same things every day anyway.

The Swatches : As you can see from the swatches below, the pigmentation is strong. Most of the matte shades have incredible pigmentation, but they are very soft, very powdery and leave a lot of fallout. One single finger swatch packs a mighty punch - that rich pigment also translates to the lids if you use the tiniest amount of product, a very light hand and pat it on very gently. In my opinion, the ABH Modern Renaissance palette leaves more fallout and kickback than the standard individual ABH eyeshadows that you can buy directly from ABH website or Sephora, but the fallout and kickback from Subculture can be something else altogether in comparison if you don't take care with these shadows. I spend an extra few minutes applying these colours and blending slowly and carefully and to be honest, I don't really feel too aggrieved by that.
Firstly, the low down on each of the shadows. I definitely have favourites and shades that I have been disappointed with for one reason or another, there is a difference not only between the matte and the shimmer shades but also between the shimmer shades themselves so it's not a completely consistent palette. Most of the matte shades needed two very light layers as the first layer applied quite patchily - again, I can't stress enough that light softly-softly is the way to go with this palette. The powders themselves are not packed tightly enough into the pans, so even if you didn't want to pick up loads of product, you cannot help it, and all that is needed is literally just to tap your brush into the product, to hover it over the pan even. The plus side is that once these shadows are applied to your spec, they last incredibly well, upwards of 10 hours over the MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, with no unforgiving creasing.
Cube is the only duochrome shade and this appeared to be the most poorly pigmented. In the pan this looks white with a pink/lilac pearl so you might expect it to swatch like that also but all I've ever been able to get from this shadow is a slight pink sheen. Very disappointing and a complete waste of  precious palette space.
Dawn is a gorgeous muted peach similar to one of my favourite Makeup Geek eyeshadows called Peach Smoothie. This colour is a brilliant transition shade because it just barely shows up on my crease when it is blended out. This blended out evenly.
Destiny is a dark matte khaki green brown shade that I probably would never ever pick up individually. It is very soft and smooth and pigmented and applied pretty well to the lid when packed on but looked a little messy once you started blending.
Adorn is one of my favourite looking shades in the palette, a rich metallic copper. This feels like cream eyeshadow but is a powder. It doesn't apply like a cream however unfortunately - I have to use either a small synthetic brush or my finger tip to place this on my eyelid and I feel like it applies like a ton of coppery glitter with no base shade binding it together.
All Star is a matte plum shade which looks incredible in the pan and incredible swatched but it applies patchily to the lids if you try to use a flat brush like the Blank Canvas E24 and when you try to blend it out, it just blends to nothingness. I was disappointed by the performance of this shadow because I adore burgundy shadow shades.
Mercury is one of the cooler shades in the palette and is a lovely cool taupe brown but I feel like this eyeshadow is actually too pigmented to be used as a crease colour or blended out.
Axis is a deep teal shade and possibly the shade my eye is always drawn to first when I look at the palette. I've found this shade difficult to work with because it is unbelievably pigmented - like crazily so - and I'm not a mad one for blue or green eyeshadows so it's a bit intimidating. You literally need to just hover your brush over this to pick up enough product to cover your entire face (I'm only kind of kidding). It is a very difficult shade to work with - it is just too pigmented. Also, I used this with a brush on my lids before taking a finger swatch for a blog photo and I realised that the texture of this powder seems drier and grainier than any of the other matte shades in the palette.
Roxy is a vivid matte apricot shade and one of my favourites in the palette, particularly against blue eyes. I love a little pop of coral crease and this colour is so bright and cheery. It applied and blended well.
Electric is a gold that flashes green under the light and looks green when applied to the eyes. This looks interesting in the pan - you can make out the duochrome effect from the pan itself. On the lids, this looks like green glitter particles. It is drier and less cream like than Adorn and it is most definitely not the bold metallic shade which ABH promise on the back of the palette!
Fudge is a medium warm red toned brown eyeshadow which should be right up my street but the massive pigment you pick up with this in the beginning just fades to mud on your eyes, it is difficult enough to work with.
New Wave is a matte orange shadow that looks yellowy in the pan but applies like a true orange. This applied well and blended well.
Untamed is a mid toned smokey green shade - I don't mind the shade in the pan but I am not at all enamoured by the way this looks on my eyelids with my skin tone - suffice to say, greens are not my thing. Also, like Axis, this is just too pigmented.
Edge is a dark warm matte yellow eyeshadow and the most intimidating eyeshadow of the bunch in my opinion - I still have not incorporated this into an eyeshadow look but I live in hope that one day I will grab life by the cojones and embrace the yellow. I think it might be nice as a transition shade with a shadow like Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear.
Rowdy is a deep matte purple-ish burgundy shade that looks gorgeous in the pan but applies and swatches patchily. I've tried to use this to line my upper lashline instead of eyeliner and it turned to fairy dust and disappeared.
Overall, this palette hasn't impressed me one hundredth as much as the Modern Renaissance palette but it's grand. Am I glad to have forked out €50 for it - not really, I don't have anything else like it in my collection and I look forward to trying to master this, but I wish it was just easier to use. It's not comparable to the ABH single eyeshadows or the Modern Renaissance palette but it's not completely unworkable either, it requires an alternative method of application to what I am used to and leaves an end result that I would not normally end up with. It might be unfair comparing it to Modern Renaissance but the Subculture palette was the eagerly anticipated follow up so I cannot help but compare the two. What I will say about Subculture - and this is really important if you are considering a purchase- I think this palette would work best for those of us who like to limit our eye looks to 2/3 colours, particularly complimentary colours that don't need a lot of blending. The more colours you use, the more work you are going to have to put in. I'm not one for mad eye looks really so I've gotten on ok-ish with this but when I have tried to use more than three colours in a look, it can look a little busy or muddy. I haven't been rushing out the door when I've applied this so I have had the time and patience to do what I need to do. I feel like this is the opposite of pretty much every other eyeshadow palette in the world in that usually you apply your eye colour, blend like a boss, apply some more to build it up to your desired intensity etc. This palette packs a mighty punch when you apply it first, it goes on super strong in the beginning and you have to work it down to the best of your ability. I don't think you necessarily have to be the most skilled makeup applicator in the world to use this palette but you do have to have patience and a vision.

The irony that the very reason I was not going to purchase this palette in the first place (the colour selection) became the thing I appreciate most about the palette is not lost on me. Even though it does take me longer to apply my eye makeup, I'm happy that it lasts a decent amount of time. I don't regret this purchase yet, I don't hate this palette but I don't certainly do not love it either - I'm in that middle place of meh. If ABH were to release another new palette in the morning, I will still probably be on it like a car bonnet. I understand that ABH were trying to bring us the most pigmented shadows ever but they went a step too far on that journey in my opinion in bringing us pigments so strong that some are borderline unworkable. Maybe Modern Renaissance was eyeshadow palette perfection that just cannot be replicated. I wouldn't really recommend purchasing this - not because I think it is all bad - but because I don't want to inflict that workload on anyone.

Have you tried Subculture yet or been dissuaded from trying it from all the negative press it has gotten?


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