Anastasia Subculture is a discontinued eye palette that retails for $42.00 and contains 0.28 oz.
Anastasia Subculture Eyeshadow Palette ($42.00 for 0.28 oz.) includes 14 eyeshadows with three shimmery shades and the rest having a matte finish. I suspect that the palette is going to be a love/hate product in the community as sometimes it can produce really stunning looks and other times, it feels like a lot of work to make the palette come together. I feel the color scheme works cohesively as a concept, but the products themselves were troublesome to get to work together sometimes. My best tips for working with this palette are:
- Use a lighter touch and less than you think you need, especially for the mid-tone and deeper shades--they are really, really pigmented
- Use a smoothing base or primer or a lightly powdered lid/prep routine (damp, tacky, or creamy bases might make it even harder to blend these out)
- Be aware that some shades darken once on the lid (try dusting the lid with translucent or flesh-toned powder first)
Updated @ 7/31/2017 8PM PST
I spent part of my evening chatting with a long-time friend, Leesha, who you may know as xSparkage, one of the OGs of YouTube. We were messaging on Facebook, and it was over Subculture. We were trading videos and images using the exact same shades, and the experiences were wildly different. She tapped her brush a few times into Dawn, and it was like an explosion of powder--as if there was no binder and nothing to keep the eyeshadsow intact. I repeated her actions in my palette, and it had powderiness but not an explosion; it wasn't disintegrating before my eyes. She showed me a picture of her after having tried apply Axis, where very little of it stuck to the lid. I took a fluffy brush and dabbed it into Axis, and I had a lid full of Axis with no fallout. She asked me, "Does it stay when you blend?" And I volley back with a video me blending the ever-loving-life out of my lid and there's nothing come off. She and I don't review things the same way, and sometimes we agree, while other times we don't. The difference is not just a matter of pressure or technique--it was baffling, concerning, and at this point, with reviews ranging from "I had zero issues" to "worst palette ever used," there seem like there are real, genuine issues in manufacturing or production of the palettes.
Updated @ 8/5/2017 11AM PST
I suspect this will likely be my last update on Subculture, unless the brand issues a more formal/official response (e.g. "a re-release featuring a harder press and an updated formula") that is newsworthy. As I mentioned in this post of Subculture dupes, I purchased two more palettes from Sephora and Beautylish sent me another, which gave me the chance to play with four palettes (three difference batches). I tried my best to discover inconsistencies but did not seem to come away with one of the disastrous palettes going around. I continue to feel that there are issues with the consistency in the mixing of the shades and pressing of the eyeshadows into the pan that results in inconsistent results across palettes. I have not had a "failed" look, which the more I think about it, the more those fails were the result over-application than the product having no blendability at all, since the two I documented in the review (so uses #1, #4-16 have been successful for me--which does not mean perfection since none of my looks are perfection).
My experience using the palettes on the eyes remains consistent with the experience I had with my original palette, purchased from Anastasia directly, where using smaller brushes and slightly less product than one might expect to use, I had little fallout and did not have issues with the eyeshadows not adhering to the skin nor did I have problems where the color refused to blend out. After working with this palette and thinking about it from every angle--overthinking it!--I still think it is a palette that is going to be harder to work with. Part of that stems from the colors themselves, as they are all richer but muted shades with many that do not blend as seamlessly as peach to orange or gold to copper might. I think that it could be pressed more firmly, even if it was at the expense of some pigmentation, because the formula is really, really pigmented and there's a fine line between perfect application and over-application. If you go over, the area is so densely packed with pigment that it is difficult to diffuse or blend or sheer it out. I genuinely did not feel like I had to severely alter or baby the palette to make it workable. I have had to do more tricks with other palettes, and there are other palettes that are much more difficult to use without primer.
The other thing I noticed was that there really does seem to be a stronger white base in shades like Dawn, Roxy, and New Wave (possibly Edge as well but to a lesser degree). I think some of that can cause lightening or an ashier cast when layered over deeper shades like Axis and Rowdy. I experienced this when using other brands, like Viseart, and taking a more white-based shade (like a yellow) and layering it over a deeper shade (like a deep green). However, due to the more powdery quality and the pigmentation level of the Anastasia formula, it can just be more noticeable and harder to control.
Three looks are using the three Subculture palettes (two from Sephora, one from Beautylish) and one uses Viseart Dark Mattes/Warm Mattes palettes, can you spot the one created with Viseart? Click here for the answer. Click here for a larger image.
For the above looks, I used the same placement and brushes for each look to try and mimic as much as possible. I also timed each spending between eight and ten minutes per eye, as I wanted to put in some effort but also not be unrealistic and spend 45 minutes trying to perfect every edge. I used Smith 253 (three of them) to apply each shade to the lid--Rowdy (inner lid), New Wave (middle of lid), Axis (outer lid). I used the Smith 253 slightly angled and on its side to drag Axis into the crease but used a large, domed eyeshadow brush (Tom Ford 11) to blend. I used a fluffy crease brush (Hakuhodo J142) to apply Dawn above the crease. I used a fluffy blending brush (Hakuhodo J5523) to apply Burberry Trench eyeshadow (discontinued) as a brow bone highlighter but was careful not to use it to "help" anything along (Dawn is just too dark for a brow bone highlight on me!). I used a small, domed eyeshadow brush (Zoeva 237) to apply Electric to the inner tear duct and lower lash line (for the look with Viseart, I substituted Make Up For Ever 4 Frozen Green). The lower lash line is Marc Jacobs Beauty Whirl(pool) Matte Highliner.
I noticed that New Wave from the palette from Beautylish was lighter and more yellow compared to the two palettes from Sephora. I also felt that using Electric dry was superior to using it damp.
Three looks are using the three Subculture palettes (two from Sephora, one from Beautylish) and one uses Viseart Dark Mattes/Warm Mattes palettes, can you spot the one created with Viseart? Click here for the answer.
Testing blending (for grayness, patchiness, and product lifting) between New Wave and Axis across all four Subculture palettes I have. The very furthest (on the right) is using Viseart Dark Mattes.
One of my palettes from Sephora arrived with three broken pans. Dawn was almost completely obliterated and Roxy was nearly there; Cube was halfway there but dropped out in a big chunk when I turned it over in the trash (to start the cleaning process). I think this illustrates how the press and binding of the formula can make or break it; it seemed particularly finely-milled but loose, more separated. I have received many broken products over the year, and it is pretty rare for anything to arrive with almost no chunks intact.
Editor's Note: Based on using this palette more than probably any other palette I've used in the last 5 years, there were no significant changes made except for Cube, which became particularly worse with continued use, which dropped raw rating to 82.4%, which dropped the averages to 7.5/9.5/8/8/4 for the palette as a whole. I have only added edits where applicable but left the original review intact.
When the shades blended together well, they looked good and lasted all day without issues, but it says something when I apply it, have to remove it as there was no saving the look, and then have to remove a second time for the same reason before getting something decent on the third try is highly unusual. I didn't even attempt the same look twice; I just tried something totally different to see if happened to be placement/particular shades. The more I worked with the palette, the more important is became that using less product was key when using any of the mid-tone to deep shades, but it was easy to over-apply product, which is where it became difficult to blend edges. Edit on 8/5/17: Part of the "failed" looks came from applying too product too quickly, and rather than spend 45 minutes trying to diffuse it (which probably would not have gone well), it felt like a situation where removing and redoing was going to be better. I've worked with Axis SO much since my initial review and find it blends out about as well as most matte, dark teals have but is much more pigmented/richer from the get-go.
The first failed attempt consisted of Electric on the inner lid, Destiny on the middle, Untamed on the outer lid, and Axis in the crease, where Untamed had darkened so much that it was almost indistinguishable from Axis and Destiny was splotchy, so with so much darkness, so high up over the crease with Destiny looking patchy, I needed to start over. The second failed attempt consisted of Edge on the inner lid, New Wave on the middle of the lid, Roxy on the outer lid, Fudge in the crease, and Rowdy in the deep crease/outer lid, and where it all went wrong was when I applied Fudge in the crease, because it gave me a cut crease and refused to diffuse and blend with the lid colors (which had all blended beautifully together!). The last attempt that managed to work decently was the third look above (with All Star all over the lid). The very first look I did (the day I got my palette) came together with ease and gave me no problems at all (except Cube).
Before I went to bed, I decided I wanted to try to put together two more looks to see how everything would blend together, and one attempt went awry where I tried putting Dawn all over the lid prior to applying the rest, which just resulted in a chalky, faded mess (all pigmentation from All Star vanished but applied over bare skin, boom!) but this technique is often hit/miss for me (laying down a base powder shade first). The next two attempts were moderately successful with extra patience, even more care and attention, and using smaller, flatter brushes and building up as much as possible (trying to account for the intense pigmentation of the darker shades) - those would be looks four and five.
I also decided to compare ingredients of Fudge, which exists in the permanent line, and the ingredient lists are different (see the single of Fudge ingredient list here): dimethicone was the first ingredient but now is the sixth ingredient (that seems more significantly changed) but much of the list is different with some ingredients missing altogether and a few in very different orders. What's strange is that they do not feel inferior in any way until starting to blend/work with them. I thought maybe there was an update, so I checked the ingredient lists for Realgar and Brick (singles, launched this year), and they follow more closely to the single of Fudge's as well. Modern Renaissance has comparable lists for Realgar and Brick but has mica as the first ingredient (whereas on the singles, it is listed in the +/- list, so I'm not sure if that's just a discrepancy in how it's listed vs. amount in it).
There was something about the texture of the matte eyeshadows that resulted in inconsistent application and poor interactions between the shades within the palette. If you have ever taken a matte eyeshadow and applied it over bare skin that still had a bit of still-damp moisturizer or some natural oil from the skin itself and seen it darken slightly in places, these seemed to be particularly prone to that (and that is not something I've experienced too often with the brand's products) but curiously, this happened even over more silicone-based eyeshadow primers, which typically yield a very smooth base. This type of application can mean that one day, everything is easy and looks great, and the next, it's quite challenging to produce a quality look.
I noticed that sometimes the eyeshadows did not blend as well into each other, and this seemed particularly true when attempting to layer and blend the deeper shades over the lighter ones, but while trying to apply some of the lighter shades over the deeper ones, they seemed to wash out and muddy up the colors. The thing is, this hasn't been an issue I've encountered often with Anastasia's eyeshadow formula. I've tried the palette over bare skin (duh) along with four primers: Smashbox 24HR, Marc Jacobs Coconut Eye Primer, Urban Decay Original Primer Potion, and LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer. It did not get better or worse with or without a certain primer; it remained inconsistent.
I watched the brand's video introducing Subculture, where they mention two duochrome shades, but I did not hear anything about them being sheerer products. I also looked at the swatches they shared, which showed both duochrome eyeshadows as being quite pigmented--not what I personally experienced. In fact, Cube did not work well with a dampened brush as the base seemed very powdery and more matte, which made it go on unevenly and caused hard pan. There are so many shades just like Cube and Electric (neither is a unique duochrome) that work better and more easily, and I was really taken aback by the lack of opacity and blendability from the duochromes given how well Anastasia has done shimmers in the past.
The texture was of the mattes was quite substantial; they were denser with a very silky, smooth consistency, which made them pigmented and apply that way so long as I applied them to the lid first. When I tried to apply Rowdy on the outer corner and into the deeper crease (with Fudge as a transition shade and Roxy on the outer lid), it seemed to sheer out a bit and never appeared as intense as it did on its own (it seemed more an issue of Rowdy not adhering onto Roxy rather than Roxy overwhelming the depth of Rowdy). I struggled to get Fudge to blend downward from the crease with the lid colors--it looked like a cut crease, though it was not an attempt to do so!--but I could diffuse it moderately above the crease, where there was no eyeshadow yet.
Some of Anastasia's matte eyeshadows are so soft that they can be powdery in the pan, and I only had more moderate powderiness with shades like Dawn and Destiny, whereas I didn't have a lot of excess product kicked up just patting my brush into deeper shades like Axis or Rowdy. With the exception of the ones I noted above, the majority were soft but a light touch was fine with the brushes I used (a mixture of flat, domed-shape eyeshadow brushes and tapered crease brushes) and were consistent with the softness of Modern Renaissance.
The eyeshadows were quite pigmented so not much was needed (a tap will do you!), so my lack of swirling might have naturally minimized the potential downside, but after hearing concerns from others about powderiness, I went back and used a fluffy blending brush (Hakuhodo J5523) through all of them and saw an excessive amount of powder kicked up with Dawn and Destiny and only a small amount with the other mattes (none with Adorn nor Electric, and my Cube needs to be scraped off). The more surprising part was I felt like there wasn't much fallout during application, as the eyeshadows adhered quite well to the skin (perhaps, in a way, too well, since blending was sometimes an issue).