Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light - review and swatches


I recently introduced this palette as part of my Project Dent 2017 series (see here) and I'm now ready to review it. I wanted to do this now because even though it's limited edition, it's still available on the Mecca website (see here) so this review may be useful to someone - even though the product is 'old news' because it was a 2016 holiday release.

This is one of those palettes that I couldn't put down when I bought it, and it's been a staple for me ever since. Indeed, I love it so much that for the first time ever, I broke my 'don't buy back-ups' rule and I picked up a second. Yes it's expensive but gift cards helped with that and it's the only holiday release I bought last year, so I don't feel too bad about the outlay : )

There it is above in all its gorgeousness. In the palette you receive a finishing powder, two blushes, a highlighter and a bronzer (although note that I didn't get much brown in my bronzer so I don't use it for bronzing, and thankfully I got plenty of brown in my back-up).

The packaging is just beautiful and the compact comes in that familiar Hourglass shape but instead of being reflective/metallic, it's matte, marbled and white. I love it. Yes it's plastic but it's a good, sturdy plastic that has some weight to it. You also get a large mirror and it's one of the few compact-mirrors I actually use because it's big and super handy.

Hourglass claims/product details:
  • The chicest, most luxe edition of the ambient lighting edit yet, this marble-encased palette houses five complexion-perfecting powders in all new shades
  • Contains two Ambient Lighting Blushes in Surreal Glow and Surreal Effect; an Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Surreal Bronze Light; an Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Surreal Strobe Light and an Ambient Lighting Finishing Powder in Surreal Light
  • RRP $116 AUD for 4 x 1.4g and 1 x 4g powder

Above is what my palette looked like when I first received it (natural light) and below is what it looked like at the beginning of March (direct sunlight).

As you can see above, my bronzer started out without much brown and although I hoped that more would show through as I used the powder, as you can see below, the ratio of brown-to-champagne got even smaller with more use.

Despite this, I've found the 'dud' bronzer to be super useful (to the point where I've now hit pan) and I still liked the palette enough that I was prepared to drop another hit of gift-card dollars on a second. Given that I never buy back-ups and that I'm a Project Panner who knows how long things take to finish, this is saying something.

Why did I buy a second? It's my perfect palette. To start with I was worried that it might be too pale for me (as indeed it is for those with even a slightly darker skintone than mine), but not only does everything show up, it's as though the palette was made for me. So rare!

Also, while I didn't think I would like the bright blush (top right) because it's pink and pink doesn't suit me, on my face (and not in the below swatches) it shows up as a candied peach - definitely not a pink - and I love it.

In the above and below swatches (above is direct sunlight), I've swatched the shades clockwise from the top left (so finishing powder, then the two blushes, then the strobe powder and then two swatches of the bronzer).

I've done two swatches of the bronzer (right) because I wanted to show you how the pale bit looks and how the darker bit looks. You'll see that even my brown bit doesn't look brown - I think because there's not enough of the brown in it. So effectively I didn't get five powders but instead got four, because the bronzer swatches are dupes for the finishing powder and the nude blush.

There we are again, indirect sunlight:

And in natural light (outdoors):

 Natural light (indoors): 


I absolutely love this palette - obviously, I bought a second - and Hourglass lovers can expect the powders in this to be up to Hourglass' usual standards. Many have commented that limited edition, seasonal releases often aren't formulated as well as products from a brand's permanent line (perhaps because there's a rush to get them out), but I haven't yet found this with any Hourglass LE product I own. So far, they've all been spot on.

I also wanted to comment on the size of the pans and the 'value' of the palette on a per gram basis. Yes it's true that 1.4g per pan (plus the large 4g one) isn't a lot of powder and I understand that many people expect collections like this to be cheaper on a per gram level (because they so often are), but I prefer to look at it in a different way: if I bought one finishing powder, two blushes, one bronzer and a strobe powder from Hourglass, I would be broke from here until Christmas. With a palette like this, I get a bit of everything so it does work out cheaper in that sense.

I also don't understand why people say 'oh you get 8g of blush in this so it's such good value' and 'you only get 3g of blush so it's not worth it' - when, let's face it, how often do you finish products like this?

Bronzers and finishing powders take me a couple of years' daily use to finish, and so far the only way I've been able to finish powder blushes is to use them eg mixed in with my setting powder or as bronzers and eyeshadows, and highlighters I only get through if I'm prepared to use them on the body or mix them in with a body cream - and even then it takes me a year to finish them.

So how is an 8g blush that costs $50 better value than a 3g one that costs $40 when you're never going to get through either of them if you only use them as blushes? Makeup has a shelf-life. Perhaps if you're a makeup artist who works on a number of different faces a day, or if you only own one or two blushes/highlighters, then this makes sense - but no beauty lover I know owns only one blush!

Let's move on.

All five powders are beautifully soft, creamy and finely milled - with the exception of the strobe powder, which is a little harder/grittier to the touch than the others. This doesn't mean it performs any less well on the face.

All five do contain tiny bits of sparkle, and while many will say 'these aren't visible on the face', I respectfully disagree. If you step into the sunlight wearing one of these, you will see a few flecks of glitter - it's not awful, but they're definitely there. Not so much that I won't wear them, however, and as someone who hates noticeable glitter on the face, that's saying something.

Note, though, that this is why I always prefer Dim Light over Hourglass' other finishing powders - including the one in this palette - because it (and Mood Light) are the only ones that are fleck-free.

I love the soft golden finishing powder in this palette and it's a great option for my light/medium to medium skintone, and the nude peach and candied peach blushes are just stunning. I would buy both separately.

I can't comment on the colour of the bronzer because I didn't really get one in my palette, but I've heard that it's not as warm as Hourglass' other two bronzers so that's something to keep in mind.

The real star of the palette, however, is the highlighter. It's my favourite of Hourglass' Ambient Strobe Powders to date because the deep/warm gold of it just works and looks so beautiful on the skin. This strobe powder is one of the main reasons why I had to buy a back-up. Yes it's true that Hourglass may release this as a single in future, but I didn't want to bank on that and I also already own two full-size strobe powders and I don't 'need' a third.

The other reason why I had to buy a second is because this palette is just so handy to have. You can get a whole face done in one hit and it appeals to the lazy side of me - no more stuffing around with bundles of compacts. I have all I need here. You can also use it on the eyes if you're in a pinch, but the colours aren't quite right for that purpose (at least for me) - the blushes are too warm for that but the others do work well enough.

You also have to love that it contains all-new shades: I didn't buy last year's edit because everything in it was from the permanent range, so I do hope Hourglass continues to release palettes like this that aren't all 'same same'.

Otherwise I can't say anything more about this product than I've already said about all the Hourglass powders I own: they just make my skin look like it's been kissed by angels and they also take a few years off my face with the tiniest sweep of the brush.


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