Subculture vs Modern Renaissance

When the Modern Renaissance was released two years ago, everyone lost their shit.

It received across-the-board positive reviews and was all anybody could talk about for at least six months. To this day, I believe it’s ABH’s most popular release.

It was only logical for ABH, as a brand, to release a sequel. Subculture, marketed as a sister palette to MR, was released a year later. Only the release didn’t garner the response I imagine ABH was expecting. People either loved it or hated it, with the scales tipping more towards the hated it side. No one seemed to understand why ABH would market the product as a sister palette when it was clear they were nothing alike. 

I purchased both palettes with the Subculture launch and have been using them both regularly since. It’s been a year, the hype has cooled down, the fake Youtuber outrage has hopefully been forgotten; so let’s compare the two palettes fairly, shall we?


Modern Renaissance

The OG. The Holy Grail. The Hyped. This palette is good. The shades are perfect for spring/summer (if you apply your makeup according to the seasons of course). It has the perfect mixture of pinks, oranges, and neutrals for it to be versatile. I also respect any palette that has more mattes than shimmers – and the mattes are fantastic (raw sienna, love letter, realgar and red ochre are all faves). It’s pigmented, it blends. Oh, it blends. If you want to fault the palette for something, fault it for everything BUT blendability, because anyone who has tried it will know you’re a damn liar. I get the hype, I really do. What are the negatives? The blendability of the product means that more filler ingredients were used – so although it is pigmented (more so than your average eyeshadow palette), it’s not as pigmented as, say, the palette I’m about to compare it to.

Which brings us to…



I’m going to put it out there once and for all. I prefer Subculture. Do not side-eye me, I’m about to explain. I ordered this palette as soon as it released, but I was also on vacation so I didn’t get to try it until a good month later. So, for about a month, I had to sit on Youtube and fret because this palette, that cost me a pretty penny, was receiving absolute shit reviews from almost everyone. I came home, tried it, and immediately wondered what form of crack these Youtubers had been on – because it was love at first application. Your feeling towards this palette will depend on your preferences, how you apply your eyeshadow, and whether or not you tried the Modern Renaissance before purchasing this.

I’ll start by saying that the shades are like no other palette I own. I’ll continue by saying the pigmentation outdoes my Viseart palette (review on that coming soon, I have A LOT to say about it). However, I do understand why those who loved Modern Renaissance so much were shocked and disgusted by this palette. Unlike the MR, whose shadows blend into your fucking eyelid like it’s nothing, Subculture makes you work for it. Not to say it doesn’t blend, it does for me anyway and I suck at shadow, but you definitely have to put more time in with your brushes.

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So, if you bought this palette thinking you were getting the same thing, I can understand why you’d react negatively to it. I think ABH’s mistake might have been marketing this as a sister palette, instead of just releasing it without the comparison. What are the negatives? I do not FUCK with the shade Edge. Not one bit. It oxidizes on my eyelid and turns muddy. I would also absolutely AVOID swirling your brush in the shadow, a light tap is all you need. Trust me. 

The lack of blendability in this palette is due to the amount of pigment in it. This was not a cheap palette to make, although I’ve heard that ABH released a reformulated version of it not long after release to make it more blendable after receiving numerous complaints. I understand why they did it (client is king) but I don’t agree with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this palette. It’s a winner.

In conclusion, both of these palettes are bomb and I don’t regret buying either one. I feel like, at this point, ABH is the only high-end that I regularly fuck with, some of their earlier releases are a bit dodgy but they’ve been releasing nothing but greatness for the last couple of years and I really trust them. I’ve sworn off buying eyeshadow palettes for a while, but if you’re in the market for one, I would absolutely recommend both.

Modern Renaissance – Places to purchase: ABH UK, Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay

Subculture – Places to purchase: ABH UK, Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay

Note: Some affiliate links used. Affiliate links means I may receive a commission should you ever choose to click through and make a purchase. It is one of the ways I keep this site running. Thank you for your support.

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