Feb 142013

Hourglass Ambient31

Hourglass Ambient Powders ($45) have hit the market of the past few weeks via Sephora.com and soon to be available in stores. Essentially, these powders are intended to brighten, conceal by capturing and diffusing the way that light hits the skin. The company makes the powders in six different shades intended to work on all skin tones, so that one can choose the effect they desire.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders - group shot white lowres-1


According to the company:

“I learned early on how different types of light can truly flatter the complexion,” says Carisa Janes, Hourglass CEO & Founder. “Growing up, my mother had pink light bulbs in all of the lamps throughout the house. She loved pink light because it was the softest and most flattering, and she always wanted to look good.” Janes was inspired to create a new generation of powders that can be customized according to the desired lighting effect.

Unlike traditional finishing powders, Ambient Lighting Powder alters the perceived appearance of the complexion by manipulating and filtering out harsh light. As we age, skin loses its natural luminosity, and Ambient addresses this deficiency with ‘photoluminescent technology’. These transparent micron-size, color-correcting particles emulate the appearance of young, healthy-looking skin.

The packaging is a lightweight compound that feels a bit like plastic and touch-up mirror. The company has released a accompanying Ambient Powder brush ($35) that is sold separately.

Hourglass Ambient34a

We tried Houglass Ambient Powder in Luminous Light, a champagne pearl powder that looks magnificent in the pan:

Hourglass Ambient32a

We wanted to love Luminous, we tried to. We actually had a meltdown, of sorts, about the fact that the powder didn’t work for us. Well, two meltdowns, really. (We get passionate about makeup in a way that’s sort of not, well, normal maybe. What of it?).  

It was our opinion that the Hourglass powder was too visible and shimmery to use as an all-over face powder for our personal taste. For comparison, here are heavy applications of the nearly-invisible Nars Light Reflecting Setting Powder (loose). As you can see, this very heavy application of the Nars Powder sets up as a demi-matte finish and adds no color, compared to the shimmery Hourglass Luminous. I also swatched the Guerlain Pressed Meteorites in Wulong. As you can see, this very heavy application Guerlain Wulong deposits a subtle soft color, compared to the more visible Houglass Luminous. Of course, you’d never wear any of these as heavily as they are applied here–I’m trying to show relative visibility (not actual).

Hourglass Ambient1

I’m not sure how visible these will be to you, as setting powders are notoriously tough to swatch. One more, same powders:

Hourglass Ambient22

We took a cue from The Beauty Look Book, who loved it as a highlighter. I tried, but found that the color blocked up a bit on me and left a touch of frost.  Back of the compact:

Hourglass Ambient33

Edit on Feb. 22, 2013:  I was able to try Hourglass Ambient Dim by applying it over my Tom Ford foundation in a Sephora. Still not working–my husband said I looked better prior to application. I didn’t buy, and I won’t be pursuing more of the powders–this is just not the product for me.

Our advice: There are others who are giving these fabulous reviews. In our book, this is a “try before you buy.”

Hourglass sent this Ambient Powder and Ambient Powder Brush to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup)

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  13 Responses to “Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Review”

  1. I have both the new Nars powder and the Hourglass one in Dim. Dim gives me glow that sort of wakes me up if I look too pale. I do find it makes me a bit shiney after a few hours. The Nars one, I LOVE. I have both the powdered and the pressed one, and it just “fixes” things on my face…do you know what I mean? I do admit, I am tempted to by Diffused by Hourglass…I wonder if it will give a brightening affect, without shimmer? So many powders, so little time (or money!)

  2. Josh Collier has an excellent YouTube review of all six powders. He’s an MA and talks about the different effect each powder creates, the different skin tones each one would suit, the degree of luminescence each one has, etc. He’s been trying these out on clients for awhile and has a good solid take on the usefulness of these powders. He also says this is a swatch before you buy type of product.

  3. I bought the Diffused Light and it does not look as shimmery as your photo of Luminous. Perhaps there are some slight differences in finishes among the Hourglass Lighting Powders? My skin is oily but I don’t find this powder making me shiney hours later. However, I lightly use the Hourglass powder on top of my regular matte setting powder–that may be why.

    • Hi Paige,

      There are definitely differences in the amount of shimmer. In his video, Hourglass makeup artist, Josh Collier, describes each one.

  4. I’ve been waiting to show up at my local Sephora. I really love the Nars powder but I’m having difficulty buying these without seeing in person. Thanks for the honest review, and you are definitely not the only ones passionate about makeup (I had that same moment with the Chanel highlighter Routes des Indes).

  5. I’ve been seeing reviews of this powder, and I’m so torn about which one to get. I originally wanted Dim Light, but now I want this one too.

  6. So sorry this one didn’t work for you two! I bought it in the Dim shade and have to say I adore it. I’m 55 with good skin but anything shimmery looks horrible on me and highlights every fine line I own. The Dim Light powder has the least amount of shimmer (I actually can’t see any in the pan or on my face) and I use a fairly hefty swipe all over each morning. It just gives me a bit of a warm glow. I hope you’ll try a different shade. I took the plunge and bought both the brush and the powder and I can honestly say it was worth the $80. There’s not too many makeup items I can say that about, either.

  7. Do you like the Nars powder? Do you think it would work well for skin with large pores? I always struggle with wanting luminosity, but often i just end up with enlarged pores.

  8. […] Proof makeup is always your mileage may vary [Cafe Makeup] […]

  9. Thank you so much for this comparison, I’ve actually wondered how this Hourglass compared to these two products specifically, so it’s really so helpful to see your swatches 🙂

  10. […] Proof makeup is always your mileage may vary [Cafe Makeup] […]

  11. Thank you for the review. It seems that Luminous light is just the highlighter I’ve been looking for.

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