Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 3 - review and swatches


If you read this blog, it will come as no surprise to know that when the two Hourglass 2017 holiday releases were made available to Level 3 Mecca Beauty Loop members at the end of October, I jumped at the opportunity to buy them ten days before their scheduled release.

I knew I was going to buy them, I knew they would be the only things I bought from the festive releases this year, so I didn't think twice about adding them to my cart as soon as the email came in.

So I've been testing them both now for almost two weeks, and I'm ready to review them. First up is this palette, and I'll try to review the Metallic Strobe Lighting Palette in the next few days.

A quick comment on the value of these palettes because a lot of people talk about that and I agree that you're not getting good bang for your buck when you compare these small little 1.3g pans to the amount you get in Hourglass' full-sized powders, bronzers, blushes and highlighters.

So if you want a good-value product, then this mightn't be for you. But if you want the opportunity to try six different powders from Hourglass for around the price of two individual full-sizes, then it suddenly looks like a better deal.

Also, Hourglass powders last forever and they're very hard to pan (I know this because I've done it), so these little pans will last a lot longer than you might think. I use my edit from last year perhaps three times a week and I've barely made a dent in four of the pans, and the only reason I've finished one of them is because I deliberately used it every day as a setting powder and also a highlighter (both on the face and on the eyes) until I finished it. That took over six months of daily use.

So are they that small in practice? Not in my opinion, no.

And what's good value? Is value based on price per gram or is it based on how much you'll use something that's going to last a long time anyway? I think you know my answer to that question.

On the packaging: Hourglass has gone back to its metallic finish for this year and it's chosen rose gold packaging this time around.

I personally preferred the marble packaging from last year's palette (reviewed here) because it felt more different and special, but in the end it doesn't really matter - so long as the quality is the same (it is).

I also preferred the shade selection last year because all the shades were new, but I do like this year's edit too and I can see myself using it to death.

Hourglass claims/product details:
  • A limited edition Ambient® Lighting Edit featuring three bestselling and three new exclusive powders for a flawlessly lit complexion
  • This travel friendly palette of lighting essentials takes you from day to night, so you can create your perfect light anytime, anywhere
  • Available in a limited edition rose gold compact this holiday season
  • Includes Dim Light and Diffused Light (Ambient Lighting Powders), Luminous Bronze Light (Ambient Lighting Bronzer), Surreal Halo and Pure Effect (Ambient Lighting Blushes) and  Hypnotic Strobe Light (Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder)
  • RRP $117 AUD for 6 x 1.3g (7.8g total)

Worth mentioning is that I initially didn't think I was going to buy this palette because it contains what looks like a bright pink blush, and since pink doesn't suit me, I wasn't going to invest the money in this if I wasn't going to use one of the shades. But then the swatches came in and I saw that it was more coral when applied, and indeed it looks more coral on my face. Huzzah. Coral's my favourite.

I had also worried that the plum blush would be too much like Mood Exposure, which I own in another palette and which I like in theory, but it's a tiny bit flat on my colouring in practice so I don't wear it often. But this plum is different, and it looks a lot better on me than Mood Exposure does. Double Huzzah.

So, running from left to right, top to bottom, we have:

  • Diffused Light
  • Hypnotic Strobe Light
  • Dim Light
  • Luminous Bronze Light
  • Surreal Halo 
  • Pure Effect 

There they are again:

I already own Dim Light in full size and not only is it my favourite Hourglass powder, it's my favourite makeup product of all time - so I don't mind having it again and I'm super glad that I now have this palette to travel with.

I've also always wanted to try Diffused Light and now I can without committing to the full size, and I own Luminous Bronze Light in a mini (it's almost finished) so I'm pleased to have another one - although do note that the one in this palette isn't exactly the same and I actually prefer this one because it's a little cooler and less peach. 

Below I've photographed the pans in direct sunlight: 

And again for good measure: 

Now for swatches.

Below I've given you swatches of all six shades, then I've given you swatches of last year's palette, and after that I've given you some comparison swatches between a few of the similar shades that I own from Hourglass.

First, direct sunlight:

*L-R: Diffused Light, Hypnotic Strobe Light, Dim Light, Luminous Bronze Light, Surreal Halo, Pure Effect

Indirect sunlight: 

 *L-R: Diffused Light, Hypnotic Strobe Light, Dim Light, Luminous Bronze Light, Surreal Halo, Pure Effect

Here's last year's palette (again, I've reviewed that here if you're interested):

Now for comparison swatches: 

*L-R: Luminous Bronze Light (palette), Luminous Bronze Light (original), Surreal Halo (palette), Mood Exposure, Pure Effect (palette), Surreal Effect (Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 2)

What you may notice first is that all the shades from Volume 3 appear to have more glitter in them and more of an overall sheen than my other powders. Now I didn't notice this until I did these swatches because it's not something I notice when I apply them to my face. This may in part be because I don't wear heavy makeup so I don't use a lot of powder each time, but it's something to be aware of.

What I also notice is that the Luminous Bronze Light from the palette is a little cooler and paler than the original one that I own (and it definitely looks that way on the face), the plum blush from the palette isn't as deep and rich as Mood Exposure (although it looks warmer and more flattering on my colouring), and the blush from the palette looks more peach and less pink than the one from last year - even though I initially thought it was pinker! On me, the one from this year looks more coral and the one from last year looks like a candied peach. 

Of course, how they look may well depend on what colour you are. Eg if you have a cool-toned complexion, the pink blush may look pink on you.

Yes there's often a difference between shades when you look at how much pigment you get as compared to the swirls of Ambient Lighting Powder, but I do think it's fair to say that this palette is more glowy than the other Hourglass powders I own.

The comparison swatches again: 

 *L-R: Luminous Bronze Light (palette), Luminous Bronze Light (original), Surreal Halo (palette), Mood Exposure, Pure Effect (palette), Surreal Effect (Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 2)


This is an excellent palette and I love mine. It's of the same standard as the other Hourglass powders I own, so I don't think that any corners have been cut with the festive releases - and you can't say that for all brands so that's a plus.

Each powder is silky smooth to the touch and they all apply and blend like a dream. It doesn't get any more finely milled than this. I use Dim Light as a finishing powder and it takes years off my face, I use Dim Light to brighten my under-eyes and I use the other shades as you'd expect.

Probably the only shade in this that doesn't suit me is Hypnotic Strobe Light, because it's a little pale and frosty for my light/medium to medium skintone. It's not that it looks bad, it's just that I have other highlighters from Hourglass that look better on me.

The plum blush looks more nude/brown when applied and I personally prefer that because it means I'll wear it more often because it goes with everything. As mentioned, the pink blush looks more like a soft coral on me - although I think that the plum blush would look more plum and the pink would look more pink if I applied them heavily, which I don't. I also think that both blushes and the bronzer would look more shiny and glittery on me if I used a heavy hand (which I don't), so that's something to keep in mind.

As mentioned above, I prefer the Luminous Bronze Light in this palette because it's more neutral and less peach than the original - but if you were hoping for the original then it's definitely worth noting that I don't feel the colours are exactly the same, even when I look at them in the pan (I'm not the first person to have said this, nor will I be the last).

Overall I absolutely recommend this and think it's beautiful. Sure, it's not good value for what you're getting in terms of amount, but I personally measure value in terms of how much I'll use something - and I know that I'll use this to death so the value is there for me.

Indeed, Hourglass makes my favourite blushes, finishing powders, bronzers and highlighters, so of course I was going to love it! But I would absolutely have this applied to your face before deciding to buy it because it's not cheap. Don't just swatch the powders or you won't see why they're so special - you need to see them in action.

Otherwise my only complaint about this palette is that Hourglass needs to start releasing palettes that will suit deeper skintones. The brand hasn't done that yet with these limited edition releases and it needs to.


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