2017’s Most Controversial Eyeshadow – Reviewing the Subculture Palette

Hi guys! Guess who finally jumped on the Subculture train? That’s right, I did. It only took 8 months and a lot of convincing, but I’m now ready to review last year’s most controversial makeup item. So if you’re not sick of hearing about it just yet, keep on reading.


I have this weird thing with Anastasia Beverly Hills’ palettes: they don’t appeal to me at all when they’re released. Add to that the drama around Subculture, and it was a no from me. Then I started seeing people using it on Instagram, and I was sold. It happened with Modern Renaissance, then Subculture, and now Prism too. Basically, I’m always one release behind with them. I almost settled for a dupe, but a failed attempt with the Mint Chocolate palette and a £10 discount from Beauty Bay convinced me to go for it.

The Details


I’m sure we all know these at this point, but just in case, here’s a little overview: at £43, Subculture is the same price, size, and comes in the same velvet packaging as ABH’s recent eyeshadow releases. You are getting 11 mattes, 2 duochromes, and 1 metallic, all in gorgeous Autumn shades. Definitely season appropriate again now that the cold has hit the UK again!

The Quality

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. I have never been this nervous about a makeup purchase, but I didn’t need to be. I’m not sure if the eyeshadows have been reformulated, or if they are being pressed harder, but I know that I have zero issues with fallout. They’re more powdery than other brands, but there’s no more kickback in the palette than with Modern Renaissance, and I don’t get any product on my cheeks. I’m also not getting the same weird lines or oxidation other people did.


With this palette the consensus is that it comes down to technique: you don’t need to tap your brush in several times to pick up product like you might be used to. But, don’t be scared of it! The first time I used it, I was so lighthanded that I spent ages building pigmentation up, and the final result didn’t look quite right. Dip your brush once, but firmly, and only go back in once you are done blending (a little really goes a long way!). I would recommend using nice, fluffy brushes with it (I use my Iconic London set) , as I think stiffer brushes wouldn’t work as well.

Because of the pigmentation, you will need patience and a certain skill at blending, otherwise you may struggle with the formula. Blend too much however, and some of the shades might muddy together, for example if using opposites on the colour wheel.

The Shades

If you’re a pale girl like me, you may have noticed the lack of an “all-over-the-lid” shade. Just like with the Huda Beauty Smokey Obsessions though, I don’t mind: I already have that shade in several other palettes, so I don’t need another. If you don’t own one, I  recommend investing in a single shadow which you will end up using all the time. There also aren’t many options for a brow bone highlight other than Cube, but I usually use highlighter anyway. Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking for an all-in-one  palette.


What I love about Subculture is the amount of mattes you get: that’s what makes it so versatile. I think this palette didn’t initially appeal to me because of the shortage of shimmer/glitter shades; what I didn’t realise is with 11 mattes this varied in colour, there are so many options for creating different looks, which can be completely transformed depending on which of the remaining three shades you choose to add to it.


Remember how stuck for ideas I was with the Mint Chocolate palette? I can’t imagine that happening with Subculture. I might top it up with glitter or the Modern Renaissance here and there, but I wouldn’t feel uninspired if I had to use it by itself. Where Mint Chocolate gives you multiple matte browns and the colour in metallic form, Subculture’s mattes are neutral, blue, yellows, berry, warm, cool. It gives you everything you need to build a strong foundation for your looks easily.

Speaking of using Subculture alongside Modern Renaissance, I have actually paired the sister palettes together a couple of times. They complement each other perfectly, so that if you’re missing a certain shade to complete a look in one, it’s usually in the other! Plus as much as I love a dark, gothic eye, I don’t find it particularly season appropriate; pairing the two should result in some Spring looks with an edge.


The Not-So-Good


Which segways nicely into my one issue with Subculture: the shade Edge.  In the palette, it looks like an amazing Mustard shade, which I couldn’t wait to pair with Axis. Unfortunately, when applied, it’s not as vibrant or even the same colour (which is why the term oxidation came up a lot in reviews). It’s one of the reasons my first attempt at this look didn’t turn out as planned, but mixing it with Golden Ochre from Modern Renaissance made my second try a success. By itself I also found it has little to no staying power, and fades quickly.

Should You Buy It?

If you like the look of Subculture but you’re a little too nervous to buy it, don’t be! So far, I love it, and I think ABH shadows are becoming one of my favourite formulas. I thought I would get buyer’s remorse, but actually my biggest regret is not getting it sooner to use throughout Autumn and Winter.


This look previously featured in my recent haul

I would just add that if you are newer to makeup, and you are thinking of getting this, I would actually recommend going for a cheaper dupe. Subculture definitely requires a more advanced level of blending, so you might struggle with it and feel like you wasted your money. The dupes from W7 and Makeup Revolution have had some great reviews, so if you’re really keen on the shade selection you may be happier starting with one of those.


Details of all three looks are available on my Instagram

You can buy the palette from Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and the UK ABH website.

What about you? What did you think of the Subculture palette? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments!