Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - review and swatches


This Ambient Lighting Palette from Hourglass barely needs an introduction. It's raved about by beauty lovers worldwide, and for good reason: in my humble opinion there's nothing quite like Hourglass' powders on the market, and if you're going to invest in one good thing, this would absolutely be my pick.

Perhaps the best way to explain how good this is, is to note that I once applied Dim Light on my mum's face before we had some photos taken - this is a woman who rarely wears a scrap of makeup except to things like weddings and never has (she owns one crusty Lancome eyeshadow palette that she's had for at least seven years) - and right after the shoot, we went straight up to Mecca and bought her the full size, and she now wears it often. That's saying something!

From memory this was my first-ever purchase from Mecca when we returned from Berlin, so I've had it for a couple of years now and it's certainly showing some good wear, as you can see below.

Mind you, there's still plenty left - which I can't quite believe since I use it every day - but that tells you this is something that will last the distance and I reckon it's worth every penny.

I do wish I'd taken photos of the palette when I first bought it, but I wasn't blogging then and it's been one of those products that I've shied away from photographing because it's so hard to catch its glorious subtle effects on camera. It's really something you need to try for yourself so you can see what it does, but I have attempted at least to show you what it looks like on the skin below.

Hourglass claims/product details:
  • Create your perfect light with this palette featuring three shades of Ambient® Lighting Powder
  • Uses photoluminescent technology to filter out harsh light and refine the appearance of the complexion
  • Recreates an exquisitely flattering light source
  • Powders can be applied individually or layered to imbue skin with a multidimensional glow
  • Mimics universally flattering light sources, not unlike having a personal lighting technician at your disposal
  • By manipulating and filtering out harsh light, powders conceal skin imperfections, pores and wrinkles
  • State-of-the-art formula delivers a multi-dimensional luminescence to every skintone, making it appear softer, younger and perfectly lit
  • Universal powders make them suitable for every skintone
  • Enhance skin in any type of light, including flash photography
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Palette includes Dim Light, Incandescent Light and Radiant Light
  • RRP $92 AUD

There's the palette in direct sunlight above (left to right: Dim Light, Incandescent Light and Radiant Light).

Dim Light is described as 'a neutral peach beige powder that blurs imperfections and highlights a radiant complexion with the perfect balance of warm and cool tones'. As you can see, this is my favourite!

Incandescent Light is called 'an opalescent pearl powder that brightens the complexion with a celestial glow'; and Radiant Light is 'a sun-kissed golden beige that enhances the overall complexion with believable, subtle warmth, and also extends a summer glow'.

The above shot is taken outdoors in natural light, and below I've photographed it indoors (also natural light).

Now for the impossible swatches!

There they are in order below, photographed in natural light. They're very subtle, but they do show up and you can see the colour difference between them:

Below I've left the shot out of focus, so you can see that Dim Light is the only one of the three that doesn't contain any tiny tiny flecks of glitter:

Last one, indirect sunlight:

Below is what I look like when I'm not wearing the palette (I've just got tinted moisturiser and bronzer on my face, nothing else):

And below I'm wearing it (Dim Light as a setting powder, Radiant Light as a cheek colour and the middle shade as a highlighter - click on any image to enlarge it):

Below I'm not wearing it:

And there I am wearing it (you should just be able to notice a soft-focus effect, so I look a little younger and healthier):


Like many reviewers before me, I want to say from the outset that photos do not do these powders justice: you really need to see them on the skin to know just what they can do.

I don't go a day without wearing Dim Light, even if that's all I wear. Once you've tried something like this, you really can't go back: one fine wash of this product and I look younger, healthier and less lined (it blurs pores too) - and the product doesn't announce itself as makeup, which is why someone like my mum has fallen for it as hard as I have. It just makes your skin glow in the most believable way.

I also find myself reaching for Radiant Light quite a lot: it's my perfect 'fixer' product. If the lines of my bronzer are a little too severe (or if I've gone overboard), I use Radiant Light as a transition colour and all of a sudden the bronzer looks good because this blurs any harsh edges and merges my powders into one. Those with super pale skin have also noted that Radiant Light works beautifully as a bronzer alone.

Radiant Light also works brilliantly as a 'booster' product, so eg if I've applied my blush and want it to look a little warmer or more intense (but I don't want to use more of the blush or I'll get clown cheeks), then one swipe of Radiant Light and it looks perfect. I've also been known to use Radiant Light over anything that pulls too ashy or cool on me (whether blushes or eyeshadows), so it's one of those shades that does a lot more than I thought it would when I first got it.

Incandescent Light is the only shade of the three that I don't love, and this is because it's a little cool for me so it's not something I would use as eg a highlighter. Mind you, I have worn it over other highlighters that emphasise texture, and this fixes the issue up: so I do use it but I wouldn't consider buying it separately (unlike the other two shades).

You can wear any of the Ambient Lighting Powders as finishing powders for your whole face, but I personally would only wear Dim Light or Mood Light (for daytime at least) because these are the only two that don't contain tiny flecks of sparkle. People will say that the sparkle doesn't show up on your skin, but I don't agree with that: I can see it and I'd prefer something without it. But of course it all comes down to personal preference.

This palette is an HG product of mine, and I've already bought Dim Light in the full size because my supply is dwindling. If I were to pick a second it would probably be Mood Light, but I'm happy with Dim Light for now because it's the best colour-match for my skintone.

All in all, I can't fault this product and I absolutely love it. Yes it's pricey, but it's lasting a lot longer than any other powder I've tried, given that I use it daily and I've had it for a couple of years. I mean, I use Dim Light on my whole face and it's still going strong!

I honestly can't recommend this enough. Do test it before purchasing, however (unless you can easily return it), because it ain't cheap and there are people out there who don't feel it works for them.


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