Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palette in Exposure - review and swatches


I've been really keen to get this review up so I'd like to do it this morning while both kids are off my hands - it's a longer one so I need the head-space!

As you may know, I recently reviewed Obscura (see here) and I reviewed Monochrome ages ago (see here). Note also that these palettes were discontinued a few months back, although you can still buy them so I wanted to get this review up before they're gone for good.

As you may know, I'm obsessed with Monochrome and I plan to keep it in my collection as long as possible. It's just gorgeous and it airbrushes my eyelids so I look younger. Hooray!

Obscura I don't like as much and two of the shades are duds (the two dark browns), but happily I like the other three - the shimmers in particular - and one of the dark browns works on my eyebrows so I'll likely pan it next year alongside my Too Faced palette.

As for Exposure, I like it a lot better than Obscura and while it's not as versatile as Monochrome, I enjoy it enough to want to keep it in my collection so I don't plan to pan it anytime soon. More on that below.

Hourglass claims/product details:

  • An artist-inspired eyeshadow palette with seamless colour transitions, offering effortless blending in a single pan
  • Innovative multi-press, three-dimensional design
  • Fine, creamy consistency
  • Introduces a new level of control for blending and picking up pigment
  • Available in seven curated colour palettes
  • Complementary colours for base, crease and eyeliner allow for endless customised looks with one palette
  • Each shade and finish is specifically calibrated to work with the other formulas within the palette
  • Formula is exceptionally soft, long-wearing and crease-resistant 
  • Shimmer shades may be applied wet for more dramatic colour
  • RRP $92 AUD for 5g (yikes)

There's the palette, indirect sunlight:

And direct sunlight:

Swatches now.

Direct sunlight:

Indirect sunlight:

Below I've done some slightly lighter swatches.

Indirect sunlight:

Direct sunlight: 


Let's kick-off by talking about each shade in turn.

Shade one is a pale beige pearl with warm peach undertones and a shimmering finish that's quite muted so it has more of a sheen than visible shimmer. It's soft, smooth and creamy in texture, and it applies and blends well. I usually find pearl shades too cool for my warm complexion but this one's gorgeous and it's my favourite of all the pearls I've tried. It's just a beautiful shadow. I love it.

Shade two is a gorgeous medium-deep purple with a matte finish. It has a smooth, velvety texture and it applies and blends well. I'm surprised by how well this shadow blends because I often struggle with purple mattes, but it's perfect for running through the crease and deepening up the outer v. I also love it as a lid shade. Note that it's not super pigmented but I don't mind this because I don't wear strong eye looks anyway and I prefer something build-able that's easier to work with.

Shade three is a medium bronze with warm undertones and a shimmery, metallic finish. It has a soft and creamy texture but there's some grit to it (probably from the glitter). It applies and blends well, but I do get fall-out from this shade so that's something to be aware of (do you eyes first). This shadow also irritates my eyes (same with the two shimmers in Obscura) so I wouldn't use it every day. A pity, because I like this shadow a lot: it's great for night.

Shade four is a deep, blackened purple with a satin finish. It's very silky and smooth, and it applies and blends well. Indeed, I'm surprised by how well with blends because I normally struggle with dark shades (especially purples) but this one's lovely. The pigment is good without being too much so I can use just a little through the crease for soft definition or build it in the outer v if I want to. I don't use dark colours much but I do reach for this one because it's easy to work with.

Shade five is probably my biggest disappointment in this palette because it's not pigmented enough, and it's the shade I use the most because it's such a good lid colour. It's a lavender shadow with grey undertones and a pearl/satin finish. It's such a great colour that's perfect for everyday wear but it's harder and drier than the other shades (while still being finely milled and silky) and it sheers out a lot on the lid, so I need to build it heaps to get it to show up. A disappointment, but still wearable.

Overall I enjoy this palette and I'm glad I bought it. While the formula of my purple Marc Jacobs septet is better overall because it lasts longer (these Hourglass shadows don't last more than a few hours on me, even with a good primer, before they start to fade considerably), I much prefer the colours in this one because it's not so cool-toned that I can't use it alone and it also blends better.

What I also love about Exposure and Monochrome is that the powders have an airbrushing effect so they're the only eyeshadows I've ever used that make me look younger: that's why I'm prepared to forgive the longevity issue. They also don't emphasise texture in the way that some other shadows do so they get serious points for that.

While it's a disappointment that one of the shades (the middle shimmer) irritates my eyes, at least that irritation dies down not long after application so I can still wear it. I wouldn't want to use it every day, though.

Overall I think this is a lovely palette and I do recommend it. If you can buy either this or Monochrome before they're gone for good then I would do so, but only if you can find them discounted because they're super expensive for what they are and you don't need to spend this much to get good eyeshadows. Obscura I would leave.


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