Subculture Ultimate Review and Swatch Fest: Everything You Need to Know

ABH Subculture Palette

You guys, I am still SHOOK over this drama. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette came out almost a month ago and the internet is still going crazy about it. There are SO many mixed reviews and people are getting super heated over it.

I find it odd that ABH promotes this as the sister palette to Modern Renaissance (which is hailed as one of the best palettes out there) since the formula is definitely not the same. There appear to be major inconsistencies from palette to palette, with some producing crazy amounts of kickback while others seem to be only mildly powdery. My initial thought was that this had to be due to a few bad batches but there hasn’t been any official statement on that.

With some people hitting pan with their first use and others loving it, this is one of the most controversial palette releases in a while. The general consensus seems to be that the Subculture formula is very pigmented but super powdery and people are having a lot of trouble working with it.

The colours in the Subculture palette are absolutely gorgeous and so different from anything I have in my collection so, obviously, it was love at first sight. When it first came out and all these negative reviews started pouring in, I was super hesitant to buy it; but, my lack of self-restraint got the best of me so here we are.

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Subculture Swatches

When I got my Sephora order with the Subculture palette in the mail, I was literally so excited I almost dropped it (seeing as the shadows are so soft, that could have been disastrous). It seriously took all my strength to take pictures of the fresh palette before swatching all the pretty colours!

Indoors, natural light:
ABH Subculture Palette Swatches
Left to right, as they are in the palette: Cube, Dawn, Destiny, Adorn, Allstar, Mercury, Axis, Roxy, Electric, Fudge, New Wave, Untamed, Edge, Rowdy.
Outdoors, in the shade:
ABH Subculture Palette Swatches, shade
Left to right: Cube, Dawn, Destiny, Adorn, Allstar, Mercury, Axis, Roxy, Electric, Fudge, New Wave, Untamed, Edge, Rowdy.
Outdoors, direct sunlight:
ABH Subculture Palette Swatches, direct light
Left to right: Cube, Dawn, Destiny, Adorn, Allstar, Mercury, Axis, Roxy, Electric, Fudge, New Wave, Untamed, Edge, Rowdy.

The shades in this palette are even more beautiful in real life than they are in pictures. They are SO pigmented and would look great on any skin tone or eye colour – Subculture nailed it in this aspect. There are 14 shades in total, with 13 exclusive to this palette. The shade Fudge is the only one that is available as a single shadow. While some of the shades are a little bit outside my comfort zone, I think I’ll get a ton of use out of all 14 shades just because they’re so darn pretty!

Subculture Review

I find that the texture varies from shade to shade, so I decided to go a little more in-depth and talk about each shade individually.

Ultra-Mattes

Subculture is definitely a matte-based palette with 11 matte shades, two duo-chromes, and only one metallic.

The matte shadows produce quite a bit of kickback, as many other reviews have pointed out. Being so pigmented, this can get quite messy and annoying. I wish the matte shades were a little less pigmented and more buildable but I think the amount of pigment is what drew people to this palette in the first place. Having said that, I was surprised to find that I don’t really get any fallout at all when using these on my eyes! This is a major upside for anyone who likes to do their base before their eye makeup.

My biggest problem with the Subculture ultra-mattes is how muddy they get when layered. It absolutely drives me nuts when I’m trying to blend and the colours get muddy and oddly dark where they meet instead of creating a smooth transition. A few of the darker matte shades also tend to get patchy when blending. I’m still experimenting with eyeshadow primers and bases to try to fix this issue but nothing seems to get rid of it completely. Let me know in the comments what primers you guys are loving right now because I’m open to trying anything at this point!

Anywhoooooo, onto the individual colours. I swatched each colour (from left to right) with my finger, a dry brush, and a wet brush so you can get an idea of how they apply.

Dawn

ABH Subculture Dawn ABH Subculture Dawn

Dawn: Ultra-matte sand

(The order here is finger swatch, wet brush, dry brush, oops!)

This is a great transition shade for me. It looks very powdery in the finger swatch here but it applies beautifully and blends well.

You can’t really see it in the picture but it got super patchy and changed colour when applied with a wet brush. Since you don’t usually apply matte shades with a wet brush, this isn’t much of an issue.

Destiny

ABH Subculture Destiny ABH Subculture Destiny

Destiny: Ultra-matte sage green

I was really excited for this one because I don’t have anything like it in my collection. Unfortunately, it’s one of the duds. Not only is it very powdery, it gets super patchy right after applying and only gets worse when you try to blend it out. This one really bummed me out.

All Star

ABH Subculture All Star ABH Subculture All Star

All Star: Ultra-matte vintage wine

This one is also kind of powdery but it’s definitely better than some of the other ultra-mattes in this palette. It’s a little bit hard to blend evenly and will get patchy if you over-blend. The colour is pretty but it’s nothing original.

Overall, it’s a decent shadow. ABH quality? Not so much.

Mercury

ABH Subculture Mercury ABH Subculture Mercury

Mercury: Ultra-matte slate grey

To me, Mercury is the odd one out in this palette. All the other shades are so beautiful together yet, for some reason, this one just feels out of place (don’t ask me why, haha, too neutral perhaps?). This is also one of the most powdery shades in the palette so it tends to make a mess.

Axis

ABH Subculture Axis ABH Subculture Axis

Axis: Ultra-matte blue-green

This one stained my brushes blue. Not impressed.

I think this is the most powdery shade in the palette and it stains everything it touches. Just a recipe for disaster. It’s a no for me.

Roxy

ABH Subculture Roxy ABH Subculture Roxy

Roxy: Ultra matte muted coral

This is the shade that made headlines for producing so much kickback, people were hitting pan on their first news.

Interestingly enough, this is one of my favourite shades. It isn’t too powdery and blends like a dream. Go figure.

Like Dawn, this one got patchy and gross when wet but there’s really no need to use it wet anyways.

Fudge

ABH Subculture Fudge ABH Subculture Fudge

Fudge: Ultra-matte warm bronze

Kind of powdery but I like it. It doesn’t get patchy when blending like some of the other shades and it’s a nice colour so it’s a win.

This is the only non-exclusive shade in the palette but the texture seems different from the single shadow. The Fudge in Subculture is more powdery while the single is very creamy but they look pretty much identical when applied.

New Wave

ABH Subculture New Wave ABH Subculture New Wave

New Wave: Ultra-matte citron orange

This is one of the better shades in the palette, in my opinion. It blends well and isn’t chalky. One of my favourite shadows at the moment.

Untamed

ABH Subculture Untamed ABH Subculture Untamed

Untamed: Ultra-matte tarnished green

SO chalky. It’s less patchy than Destiny, though, so I guess that’s something?

Edge

ABH Subculture Edge ABH Subculture Edge

Edge: Ultra-matte gold mustard

I love this one. It’s super pigmented and blends well. Can’t get enough of the mustard yellow trend!

Rowdy

ABH Subculture Rowdy ABH Subculture Rowdy

Rowdy: Ultra-matte blackened purple

The camera didn’t pick up the colour very well. It’s a deep purple and doesn’t look brown/burgundy at all in person.

This one’s so powdery it gets in my lungs – not a good time. It flies all over the place and can get very messy very quickly. It also stained my skin hot pink and that’s definitely not something I want around my eyes.

Overall, Rowdy and Axis are my two least favoutite shadows in this palette.

Metallic

I wish there was more than one metallic shade in this palette because I’m obsessed with ABH metallic shadows! Anyone else out there a huge fan?!

Adorn

ABH Subculture Adorn ABH Subculture Adorn

Adorn: Metallic bronze

This shadow is my favourite! I saw some videos of people finding this shade to not be very pigmented so I was not expecting much. I guess I got lucky, though, because the one in my palette is pretty great. Coppery colours are my favourite but this one blows the others out of the park! It is so creamy and smooth, and the colour payoff is amazing, both swatched and on the eyes – seriously can’t get enough of this shade.

Duo-Chromes

The other two non-matte shades are Cube and Electric. They’re both described as duo-chromes but I just don’t see much of a shift in Electric. To me, Electric is more of a metallic shadow that looks different from the pan when applied.

Cube

ABH Subculture Cube ABH Subculture Cube

Cube: Duo chrome pink pearl

Cube is a white duo-chrome shadow with a hot pink shift, similar to Pink Heart from the ABH Moonchild Glow Kit. This is one of those shades that you either love or hate. I, for one, LOVE it. It is a quite a bit more sheer than the other shadows in this palette but that’s what makes it so perfect as an inner eye/brow bone highlight. I also use Cube as a lip highlight because I’m extra like that. It’s very sheer and almost undetectable in the dark (okay, maybe that’s just because I’m super pale) but when the light hits it, it reveals this gorgeous hot pink shift that glows brighter than the sun.

Electric

ABH Subculture Electric ABH Subculture Electric

Electric: Duo chrome lime-gold

Out of the entire palette, I was probably most excited to try the shade Electric. When Subculture came out, every look I saw on Instagram seemed to feature Electric so, in my head, this was the shade that really represented the palette.

I can’t even tell you how disappointed I was when I finally tried to use Electric and it had no colour payoff. Like, none at all. In the pan, it looks like a shimmery yellow gold. When applied, it turns into a very sheer lime green.

The first time I tried swatching this shade, I was surprised at how densely packed it is -almost as if there was a film coating it. It took a few swipes of my finger to soften it up to the point it could be picked up at all. It’s no surprise that when I tried using a brush with Electric, it simply did not work; the brush did not pick up any shadow at all.

The only way I’ve found to get this shade to its full potential is to apply it with my finger. Some people prefer this method with all metallic shades but I personally don’t like applying shadows with my finger because I forget it’s on my finger so it ends up all over my face tend to get it in all the wrong places. Using a wet brush is the next best thing but, even then, the shadow is hard to pick up and colour payoff is limited at best.

With all the inconsistencies in quality with these palettes, I wonder if it’s possible I just got one with a faulty shade.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been playing with the Subculture palette for a couple weeks now and, while I have had some issues with it, I love the colours too much to let them stop me from using this palette. Yes, the matte shadows are more powdery than most; but, they’re workable if you only pick up a tiny bit on your brush then build it up. I’ll continue experimenting with different techniques and eyeshadow bases to see if I can figure out how to make the matte shades less patchy and/or muddy because look how pretty!!

ABH Subculture Palette

It’s hard for me to say this palette is worth the price at C$55 from Sephora. However, if you’re a diehard fan or an eyeshadow expert, it may be worth the investment simply for the beautiful shades and insane colour payoff. Think of it more as a pressed pigment palette. It’s a very versatile palette and the looks you can create from it are endless.

Let me know in the comments what eyeshadow bases you use and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Subculture palette! Don’t forget to subscribe to email updates in the sidebar on the right (or scroll to the bottom if you’re on mobile)! Ta-ta for now!
Subculture Ultimate Review & Swatchfest

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