I bought the ABH Subculture palette partly because I am a lemming.
[Me, as a lemming. I never realized how ADORABLE lemmings are! D’awww!]
Unfortunately, it is terrible.
I am not going to talk about my ~feelings~ about this palette — that stream-of-consciousness mess is in another post. I am going to give an object account of my experience with these shadows.
I used the included brush for my swatches; because I’ve had the luxury of reading others’ experiences with this palette, I picked up product by oh-so-gently tapping the flat side of the brush once into the pan. (If I veered away from this process for a specific color, I’ve noted it in the comments.) For the arm swatches, after I [painstakingly] applied them to clean dry skin, I rubbed at them to test their adhesion … the result is pretty obvious.
Cube is a sheer white with a pink shift. It arrived with hardpan and felt like hardpan all the way through — the only way to pick up enough product for it to show up was to scrape it with the flat brush, repeatedly, and then press hard on the skin.
Dawn is a muted midtone peach that applied darker than it looked in the pan. It was powdery and very soft, but it didn’t skip or get patchy, and I was able to blend the fallout smoothly into the swatch with no problem.
Destiny is the dirtiest olive can get before it becomes a greenish-brown instead of a brown-ish green. The product clung to the spot in which it was first placed, so the rest of the swatch was less even. This had quite a bit of fallout — the amount you see on my arm is after I tapped the excess off the brush!
Adorn is a glittery metallic bronze. It was not remotely powdery — rather, it had an extremely dense, creamy texture that necessitated dragging my brush through the pan a few times in order to pick up enough color for it to show. Unfortunately, the glitter and the base don’t seem as tightly bound as they should be, and the base wasn’t totally opaque — you can see in the swatch how the base sheers out towards the bottom and the glitter flecks just sit on top. Because it was stiff and sheer, I used three layers for this swatch.
All Star is a rich maroon that leans more purple than brown. It was also extremely powdery; and while the product did cling to the spot in which I first placed the brush (as with Destiny), it was easier to smooth out and get a fairly even application when I ran the brush over it.
Mercury is a mid-dark greyed taupe. It was excessively powdery, but it applied fairly evenly to the skin.
Axis is a rich blackened teal. It was quite powdery, but did have a tendency to sheer out too easily in a way that made it look patchy (unlike Destiny, the problem wasn’t that it portions of it bound too well and then looked uneven — the problem is that it didn’t want to stick).
Roxy is a dusty pastel coral (much lighter and more muted than I was expecting!). It was less powdery than the rest (though still very soft) and applied smoothly, though it could have used a second layer for full opacity.
Electric is a chartreuse-tinged gold with tonal sparkle. In direct sun, it flashed a little bit of darker green and blue sparkle. (I actually loved this color in direct sun — I couldn’t quite capture it with my camera, though!) The base was quite sheer, but — unlike Adorn — the glitter clung pretty well to the skin.
Fudge is a warm rich brown. It was powdery, but less powdery than most of the other mattes. It applied more evenly and opaquely than most; and though you can see one spot of patchiness in my photo, it was easily fixed when I ran the brush back over it a couple of times.
New Wave is a not-too-bright but not-actually-muted tangerine. It was one of the least powdery mattes, and applied quite well; though you can see one area in my swatch that is darker, the product smoothed out nicely and blended into itself when I ran the brush over it again.
Untamed is a dark, greyed-out green. It was excessively powdery, not quite opaque, and applied unevenly. Though a second layer did bring it to full opacity, it did not blend well and remained patchy. (As a reminder — the fallout in this swatch is after I tapped the brush!)
Edge is a rich medium yellow that leans more mustard than goldenrod. It seemed to oxidize and darken after application. It was less powdery, with less fallout, and applied smoothly and evenly.
Rowdy is a blackened purple with a hint of brown. It was excessively powdery and had tons of fallout, but it applied with full opacity and wasn’t too patchy (it was ever-so-slightly streaky, but that was hardly noticeable).
I quite liked Dawn, Roxy, and Edge. Though they were powdery, it was easy to blend them to full opacity and even coverage.
No, I haven’t tried these on my lids; yes, it’s possible that they perform better on the lid than they do swatched. Frankly, I don’t want to deal with the fallout (or the staining — Axis and All Star both took quite a bit of scrubbing with soap to remove from my skin).
The thing is … I struggle with placement even with forgiving eyeshadow palettes. Given how much powder gets everywhere with these, and how patchily they blend, I know that I don’t have the skill set to get the color where I want it (and keep it there).
I was surprised by how dark many of the shadows were. I was expecting Axis and Rowdy to be dark; but Destiny, Mercury, Fudge, and Untamed all applied much darker and greyer than I was expecting.I don’t see myself using any of these as lid colors, and I rarely do dramatic smoky eyes — so I wouldn’t get much use out of these six dark shades.
Of the remaining six, three had application issues: Cube was difficult to pick up and apply, and I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say that if I wanted to use it as an all-over lid shade, I’d probably hit pan in ten or fewer uses — I had to literally scrape this with my brush to pick up any product at all, and then I had to liberally layer it for anything to show up. Adorn was pretty, but I already have plenty of bronzes in all finishes — I don’t need one with a sheer base and glitter that gets everywhere! Electric was interesting, and like no other eyeshadow color I own, but I’ve never sat and thought “Man, I really wish I had a chartreuse-gold sheer eyeshadow with glitter.” If I’m ever in the mood for a weirdish green, I can try layering Urban Decay Acid Rain over a pale gold.
That just leaves three that I might use — Dawn, Edge, and Roxy. Though I was surprised by how pastel Roxy appeared, I liked it; though I was surprised by how dark Dawn swatched, I liked that, too. I think I could probably use all three in the crease or on the lid, depending on what I paired it with; but I have no reason to keep a $42 palette for three shades.
THE VERDICT : NAH. I tried to be detached, but this palette is HORRIBLE. It is SO BAD. I’m assuming (hoping?) they had quality control issues that they can fix; but given Norvina’s insistence that the formula is intentional and passed their “drop test,” I’m not holding out much hope.
I feel bad for their customer service team right now — I can only imagine how many return/exchange requests piled up over the weekend! (Including mine — Untamed fell out the first time I opened it, and it falls out if I don’t hold the palette completely flat.)
Tried it? Loved it? Hated it? Do share!