Y’know, when the photos of the palette were first leaked, I wasn’t that interested. I love me some warm shadows, so Modern Renaissance is definitely more my jam. But then #Subculturegate2017 happened, making this THE most controversial palette to release this year, and I had to get in on it. So I picked the palette up when it was released in stores and gave it a good solid try before weighing in.
The packaging is reminiscent of Modern Renaissance, but with a dirty teal situation that hints at the shades inside. Like MR, I don’t love the fuzzy exterior – it gets dirty super easily if you travel with it, but I would never travel with this palette. More on that and the rest of the controversy shortly.
Although at first glance the palette reads cool, and there are a lot of cool shades, there are some warm ones too. In fact, I was most interested in the peach/yellow/mustard vibes of shades like Roxy, New Wave, and Edge. However, I was also pretty excited about the likes of Axis and Untamed because I don’t have any matte teals in my collection. Shades I’m comfortable with like Dawn (matte beige), Fudge (matte brown), and Adorn (metallic gold) help to round this palette out and make it wearable.
One of the problems people were having with Subculture was the amount of powdery kickup. However, if you go back and take a look at Modern Renaissance reviews, you’ll notice that users (myself included) also noticed a lot of powder with that. That’s honestly not a problem for me – I think that’s just what happens when you have super soft, pigmented eyeshadows that are pressed rather loosely. All good things, right? It’s also worth noting that I didn’t have any of the pans crumble apart on me like Alissa Ashley did.
Another major complaint of users of the palette was that the shades went kind of muddy or oxidized when on the eye. Unfortunately, I did encounter that issue with the likes of Axis and Untamed. I tried to do a teal smokey eye, and just ended up looking bruised. It’s also worth noting that this palette contains a lot of complementary colours – colours that live across from each other on the colour wheel – and mixing them can give a muddy effect. However, I avoided doing this, and still ended up looking bruisey.
The third major palette complaint is regarding blendability and performance on the lid. Again, I ran into trouble here. No matter how light a hand I used, or how much I blended, I had a really hard time getting the shadows to perform consistently for me. If I put a shadow in the crease on my right eye, I could not replicate the same shadow shape on my left eye, no matter how much I blended. This is an unusual issue for ABH shadows – the singles, Modern Renaissance, and the Mario Palette all but blend themselves. I also had issues getting Adorn to stick to my eyelid…weird.
If you ignore my super oily skin (I was testing something and didn’t want to blot), you’ll see that I fluffed All Star through the crease and ended up with different shapes on each eye. The blending is uneven and patchy and I swear I’m not that bad at makeup, you guys.
TL DR: Eyeshadow shouldn’t be this difficult. Every time I use this palette, I’m unhappy with the look I end up with. Although I love the shade selection, it takes way too much effort to get a really mediocre look out of this palette when I could pick up something like UD Naked Heat or TF Sweet Peach and be super happy with my makeup all day. Back to Sephora she goes!