Makeup Hype: Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette

The freshly-launched Subculture Palette by Anastasia Beverly Hills has been getting a lot of attention these past few days… perhaps for all the wrong reasons.


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As an avid fan of makeup, I read and watch a lot of reviews on new launches, products in general, or just overall beauty community shenanigans.  I’m no reporter or expert of any kind (we’ve been over this many a time), but I thought, “hey wait a second, what if I take all my hours spent on makeup research and condense them down into one short report of my own consumer opinion,” and thus the Makeup Hype “series” was born.

There is usually a lot of “hype” surrounding new launches, but the first post in this series will be on a launch that has been met with a lot of controversy – and that’s the Anastasia Beverly Hills “Subculture” Palette.

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The Subculture palette, which retails for $42, boasts 14 shades in total comprised of 11 mattes, two duochromes, and one metallic.  According to the product description, the shade breakdown is as follows:

  • Cube (duo chrome pink pearl)
  • Dawn (ultra-matte sand)
  • Destiny (ultra-matte sage green)
  • Adorn (metallic bronze)
  • All Star (ultra-matte vintage wine)
  • Mercury (ultra-matte slate grey)
  • Axis (ultra-matte blue-green)
  • Roxy (ultra-matte muted coral)
  • Electric (duo chrome lime-gold)
  • Fudge (ultra-matte warm brown)
  • New Wave (ultra-matte citron orange)
  • Untamed (ultra-matte tarnished green)
  • Edge (ultra-matte gold mustard)
  • Rowdy (ultra-matte blackened purple)

Although it is currently sold out on the ABH website, it’s in stock on the Sephora website, and it will be available on the ULTA website on August 15.  It has also been reported that this palette is part of ABH’s permanent collecton and has been described as Modern Renaissance’s “sister.”

While I think the Modern Renaissance palette is beautiful, I unfortunately don’t own it, and with the amount of eyeshadow palettes I currently have, I wasn’t planning on picking it up.  However, I was extremely curious about the Subculture palette because I thought the shades are pretty unique – I wasn’t sure if they were necessarily up my alley, but as I said before, I just like to look at product reviews in my down time.

THE REVIEWS:

1.) Alissa Ashley

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Alissa Ashley // ABH SUBCULTURE PALETTE…WTF?
The first review I watched was Alissa Ashley’s review on YouTube and let me just say… I was shocked at how the palette performed.  You can see above that at 6:42, she says they blend poorly, are extremely powdery, and blend into each other in a “slightly ashy way” and skip on her eye.  In the just over 17 minutes the video lasts for, she tries three times, removing her eye makeup and starting all over again, using various primers and brushes to see if she can make it work, and at the end wonders if she got a faulty palette.

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 12.32.02 PM.png giphyHer YouTube video also features a video she posted on her Twitter prior to releasing her full review, in which you can see her swirling around a fluffy brush in the “Roxy” shade and hitting pan on her first time using the shadow – at 13:33 she talks about how much powder is flying around upon dipping into the product, acknowledging, “…and you know, while a lot of palettes do that, I’ve never seen it do that that much.”

2.) RawBeautyKristi

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RawBeautyKrisi // UM.. WTF!? | NO BULLSH*T HONEST REVIEW ABH SUBCULTURE PALETTE | Swatches & Tutorial
The next video I watched was by RawBeautyKristi, who – spoiler alert – shared the same sentiments.  In her video, she has trouble blending the shadows, saying, “it’s almost as if I’ve never done makeup before.”  She says she is “shocked” by this palette says she loves ABH as a brand, thinks the color selection on the palette is beautiful, but the amount of time she spent trying to blend (around 30 minutes) disappointed her.  She does acknowledge the fact that she expected there to be some amount of kickback (“that’s something I know ABH shadows to have”), but that the formula seems different from their other shadows.  She takes a look at the ingredients on the back of both the Subculture and Modern Renaissance palettes and notes how “minimal” the ingredients for the subculture palette looks – “it looks like they’ve simplified their formula in a way, but in the same token, that formula is more difficult to use.”

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At 19:45 in her video, she begins to compare the “blendability” of the shades with the Sephora Pro palette.  She takes New Wave from the ABH palette (left) and a similar shade from the Sephora palette (right) and points out that for the ABH shade, attempting to blend it out creates a “ring” and shows a clear line of demarcation from where she placed the color. After continuing to try to blend the shadow, it ultimately still creates a harsh edge.

She also compares the Fudge shade from the Subculture palette (left swatch) and the Fudge shade from an older palette (right swatch) called the Shadow Couture World Traveler palette (which I believe was a limited edition and has since been discontinued) because people have been saying they’re actually different – she says the older formula is deeper, while the newer formula is lighter.  Taking the same amount of both shadows, she finds that there’s a tiny bit of fallout from the old shade, yet not nearly as much as the new formula, the colors are totally different, and the old one just blends so much better.

In terms of actual staying powder of the shadows themselves, she addresses this earlier on in the video at about 15:52, saying she wore the shadows all day, which held up “not great” by the end.  I took screenshots from the very beginning of the video (left), which I’m assuming she filmed right after completing her eye look, and from the part where she’s talking about how she can see her skin peeking through after a full day of wear (right), and you can clearly see that the shadows have faded.

3.) Shopper Mandy

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Shopper Mandy // WHAT THE F*CK! ABH SUBCULTURE PALETTE REVIEW, SWATCHES, COMPARISON, & DEMO (THE TRUTH)
Finally, the last and most recently-posted video I’ve watched is by Shopper Mandy.  She starts off by saying she “can’t believe this is going on especially with Anastasia Beverly Hills.”  She says the video is “painful to makeup” because ABH is one of her favorite makeup brands known for consistency, quality, innovation, and setting trends.  She says even though the palette is a huge disappointment, she won’t stop supporting the company because sometimes companies are “allowed to have hiccups if they aren’t companies that try to intentionally deceive people and try to make money in greedy, disgusting ways – Anastasia Beverly Hills has never been a brand like that, so I will continue to support them.”

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She says she loves the colors and that they are beautiful, innovative, and that there is definitely a “very strong thought process behind this.”  She loves everything about the palette, but acknowledges there is one big issue – “There is a lot of fallout with this palette.  It is insane.”  At 3:19, she inserts some clips of her dipping her brush into the palette, going on to say “with the Mario palette [Master Palette by Mario], I did note in my review that there is a lot of fallout.  Now, a lot of fallout is a relative term.  If the shadows are soft and highly pigmented, there tends to be a lot of fallout.”

She points out that both the Mario palette and Modern Renaissance palette have fallout, so she expects fallout from ABH shadows because they are creamy, soft, and blendable and says, “I never ever faulted them for that because I understand there are tradeoffs. You can’t have the perfect shadow – it just doesn’t exist.  There are tradeoffs in formulation,” but compared to other ABH shadows, there is almost an “infinite amount” of fallout in the Subculture palette and that they’re “just not comparable” with her other shadows, which makes her “believe that there is something that went completely wrong in production and ABH may not even be aware of it because maybe the ones they have that they have been using and testing out aren’t like this.”  She further goes on to say, “This is not normal and I do not believe that this was intended – there is just absolutely no way.”

At 6:25, she says she tried to do her makeup using the Subculture palette four times, only to end up being so frustrated that she gave up and instead turned to the Modern Renaissance palette to do her eye look for the video.  She says the Subculture palette “just wasn’t easily usable – maybe you can use it if you work hard at it, but I worked pretty hard and it was not there.”

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Mandy says Edge and New Wave didn’t have a patchiness issue for her, but just had an insane amount of fallout.  Fudge; however, was extremely patchy and unusable even with different brushes and primers.  Roxy had so much fallout and wasn’t patchy – Rowdy and All Star were patchy and had a lot of fallout.  She says for her, the lighter shades weren’t patchy, but the darker shades were and that she believes it has to do with her skintone – since she has a lighter skintone, the patchiness of the lighter shades isn’t really detectable, while the dark shades are obviously different from her skintone so the patchiness is more apparent.  In terms of the shimmer shades, she says they’re “very strange” because they don’t really apply over matte shadow and that while there is always some difficulty applying shimmer over a matte, these are very difficult, which is not normal.

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At 11:20 she compares the fallout from Roxy in the Subculture palette to a similar shade called Isabel from the Mario palette using the exact same brush, swirling motions, and pressure to show how this amount of fallout from ABH shadows isn’t normal.

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At 13:33 she shows the patchiness and blendability issues, taking All Star from Subculture, which doesn’t blend out – “even though purples are harder to manufacture, they should be performing better than this, especially for Anastasia Beverly Hills shadows.”  She says Edge and New Wave did blend out really well on her skintone, even though other YouTubers had a lot of problems with patchiness with them.

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In comparing the shimmer shades, she shows how Adorn from Subculture (left) doesn’t want to apply over Roxy from Subculture, while Primavera from the Modern Renaissance palette (right) performs so much better in just one dip.

COMPANY RESPONSE:

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I haven’t really seen Anastasia Beverly Hills as a company responding to customer complaints other than to email customer services, but I have seen Norvina, Anastasia’s daughter, replying to a bunch of people.  Above is Norvina’s response to Alissa Ashley’s “is this normal?” tweet, where she responds that no – that amount of fallout is not normal and that Alissa Ashley should get a replacement from customer service.

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From Norvina’s Twitter, it seems like ABH is working on some kind of solution to the Subculture palette; HOWEVER, I’ve seen a lot of people in the comments talk about how “shady” she was being about the criticism due to the following tweet about 15 minutes after her response to Alissa Ashley’s tweet:

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Many people on Twitter actually viewed this response as being “shady,” to which Norvina denies was her intention:

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RawBeautyKristi also addresses Norvina’s tweet in her video (around 17:15), responding “I own a lot of palettes… I own maybe upwards of 20, 30 palettes.  I own Modern Renaissance and that didn’t happen.  These shadows are a different formula – they have to be.  I think from the packaging we can see that they, in fact, are.  You can swirl you brush around in it all day and hit pan.  It doesn’t happen with my Makeup Geek shades.  It doesn’t happen with my other Anastasia palette that I’ve been using for over a year, it doesn’t happen with Morphe… it happens with Subculture, and I don’t know why.  You can’t deny that there’s something weird about this palette.”

MY OPINION:

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While I have seen a few people who say they love the palette for it’s pigmentation and blendability, as seen in this tweet below:

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That being said, I find that the majority of reviews are all on the negative side – most people have the same blending issue of the shadows creating a strange “ring” as shown by RawBeautyKristi and almost all of them have issues with the seemingly insane amount of fallout and overall patchiness of the shades.  All the negative reviews have created enough concern that some Twitter users were even “worried” about the palette:

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130 reviews on Sephora has it rated 2.7 out of 5 stars, with many users citing the blendablity and fallout being the issue, while acknowledging the great pigmentation and beautiful color selection:

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With all this in mind, I think this palette is just gonna be a no from me, dawg.  Although Norvina argues that “a little goes a long way,” I fail to see from all the video evidence how you could actually pick up “a little” of the product as the shadows seem to disintegrate upon the lightest touch, and wiping or tapping off that amount of product seems like such a waste of product to me.

At $42, I think you shouldn’t have to work to make this work – for professional makeup artists who might have the time, skill, and/or patience to blend all these shadows out properly, maybe it is worth it, but for your run-of-the-mill everyday consumer like me who is most likely sitting down and hoping to just slap some makeup on first thing in the morning, it doesn’t seem very practical.  Personally, my makeup routine is something that calms me in the morning before I start my day – I’m not looking to be stressed with blending and getting fallout all over my desk!

In terms of Norvina’s response, while I’m not exactly sure if she really meant to be shady (although she did post this literally 15 minutes after supposedly reading Alissa Ashley’s tweet… hmm…), I don’t think what reads as a defensive “education lesson” was exactly the appropriate response here.  I’m not a professional-anything, but as a consumer (and I know I don’t speak for ALL consumers), I tend to believe in impact, not intent – I don’t think ABH tended to “dupe” anyone into buying a faulty product, but now that the damage is done, I do believe a more sympathetic response other than “oh that sucks, please contact CS for a replacement” is warranted.  Also… who wants to replace a faulty palette with another faulty palette in the first place?

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At the end of the day, I think this is a good example of a reputable company releasing a dud.  ABH hasn’t really had any other controversy like this, and as Shopper Mandy says, should be “allowed to have hiccups,” albeit maybe on a smaller scale.  Hiccups usually come in the form of bad batches – not the entirety of the launch – but still, I don’t think this is anything to boycott the company over.  I’d be curious to see if they’d change the formula back to their original as it’s pretty obvious something is different here.

What are your thoughts – have you tried the palette? Would you still buy it? I’m curious to hear other opinions!

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5 thoughts on “Makeup Hype: Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette

  1. I love this post so much!!! ❤ I saw Alissas review first, and I always find them to be honest. I never think her intention was to sound negative or hateful at all, but she was just speaking the truth. I did find Norvinas tweet to be somewhat shady. But I think she found out Alissa wasn't the only one having these issues, and then started to look into it. I think the shades are beautiful, and If I lived in the US I might give it a try (because of the return policy). But now they're gonna change the formula, so I I'm not getting people who are buying it immediately. Like maybe wait a little, if they're going to change.
    Beauty On A Budget

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! I totally agree about Alissa’s review – she started off so optimistic and really wanted to like it and tried so hard to make it work and just couldn’t! I think the timing & wording of Norvina’s tweet was also kind of shady – it sounded a tad condescending to me, as if she was trying to “educate” people who clearly knew how to do makeup how to do makeup! I did read after posting this that people on Twitter think there was an issue with batches – apparently P3 was a “bad batch,” but then they also realized people with the P7 batch were also having issues, so nobody can figure out if one is worse than the other right now. Hopefully they get the formula/pressing method figured out soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this information about the palette. I have been on the fence on whether to get it or not. I am a stay at home mom and use makeup only on special occasions, so was not sure whether the price justified me buying it.

    Liked by 1 person

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