Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder

I was ultra-intrigued when I saw Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder ($45) at Sephora online. Then I read a couple of glowing reviews (the powder would make me glow), and I was sold. I had to have one - except that the colors looked fascinating, so I ordered three. One is in my take-back box at the moment, along with a few Stila Color Balm Lipsticks I never opened.

Carisa Janes, Founder of Hourglass, had articulated something I've observed. “I learned early on how different types of light can truly flatter the complexion. 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. I used this concept of lighting in Ambient Lighting Powder.” Think about how good you look in soft candlelight in a restaurant. If you've never noticed, pull out a mirror and look!

"This universal finishing powder features state-of-the-art technology to recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light." When I read that, I was sold.

Create your perfect light. Ambient Lighting Powder is a groundbreaking collection of finishing powders that capture, diffuse, and soften the way light reflects on your skin. Ambient’s illuminating particles are one of the first ever to exhibit both photoluminescence and color-correcting capabilities. The transparent micron-sized spheres with an entrapped diamond core - called photoluminescent technology - do not simply cloak imperfections like traditional powder, but rather, alter and refine the perceived appearance of the complexion by manipulating and filtering out harsh light. Delivering a multidimensional luminescence to every skin tone, skin appears softer, younger, and lit-from-within. With six universal shades available, you can choose to create your desired lighting effect - not unlike having a personal lighting technician. Ambient is free of talc, gluten, fragrance, parabens, and nanoparticles.

I had high expectations. So high, I even ordered the Ambient Powder Brush ($35), a densely packed brush said to be ideal for evenly dispersing Ambient Lighting Powder all over the face. It comes equipped with extra-soft, high-grade Taklon bristles and is packaged in a protective travel-pouch.

Here are Diffused Light, a pale yellow, and Dim Light, said to be a neutral peach-beige. The brush is shown below.

The brush was an experiment. It's relatively large, which is good for applying powder to the entire face, and also useful for getting into the corners near the nose. On the other hand, it's not a great tool for buffing, something you might want to do with your finishing powder. It's soft. It feels good, but won't buff the powder once you apply it - if you wish to buff it into your foundation.

This is where my story derails. I found nothing novel, unique, or noteworthy about these Ambient Lighting Powders. Perhaps I selected the wrong shades for my complexion, but I had the impression that I could mix and match to suit the appearance I wanted to create. I don't want to discourage you from trying these. They seem to be popular, but maybe they are best for different skin types and complexions.

Here are the two shades I've been testing, pictured in full sun. Because they are finishing powders, I had to apply them heavily to my arm so that they would show up in photos.  Diffused Light is shown at the top, with Dim Light below. The colors are as-described: light yellow and a peachy, warm beige.

Neither of these powders makes me glow - no glow, no shine, no special effects. In fact, you can see in my photos that my own skin glows from the direct sun more than the swatches.

One would never apply these powders as heavily as I did for these swatch photos. So imagine these color sheered out significantly and what do you get? A tinted powder. If you want to use them for color correction, I think they would be great - along the lines of Bobbi Brown's Retouching Powders. Actually, the only one I can use as a finishing powder is Diffused Light. Dim Light is too dark for my skin. I can only use it where I wish to create shadows.

Since these powders have received such critical acclaim, I feel like there's something wrong with me - my expectations, my approach, my application, my impressions. How could reviewers claim to glow with an ethereal light? One had darker skin for sure, but I just don't get the glow.

I'm going to throw this one open for suggestions and feedback. Did I buy the wrong colors? Hourglass says, "Choose one or more and step into your perfect light." I'm wondering if I should have purchased Mood Light, a sheer lavender-pink. Have you tried these new wonder-powders? What colors? What did you think?

I'm not giving up yet. However, I'll be holding my Guerlain and Chantecaille powders tightly and with a renewed appreciation.

Photo at top courtesy of Sephora; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

41 comments:

paintedladybeauty said...

If you're looking for a more illuminating glow, I heard that Luminous Light (the champagne) had the most, "glow" out of the selection. I'd try that one before you give them up for good :]

Jane C. said...

I love your blog and your honesty but this review really hit home for me. I feel the same exact way. I was literally afraid to post my review of these powders because so many had praised them. I tried to convince myself that what I was putting on my face illuminated rather than darkened my complexion. I'm much darker than you, an NC30, and yet Dim Light is too dark and pink on me and looks unnatural. I tried this compared to the Guerlain Meteorites and while I could never really see the difference of Meteorites before, the Hourglass made me appreciate them so much more.

Jane C. said...

Someone (paintedladybeauty) mentioned that Luminous Light had the most the most glow. It works nicely as a very subtle champagne highlighter but is too shiny for the entire face.

Val J said...

I went to Sephora intending on purchasing a couple of these, but after trying them I thought they appeared too powdery on my dry skin. After talking to the Sephora girls, they steered me towards the Nars light reflecting powder. Both girls I spoke with preferred the Nars over the Hourglass powders. So, I ended up leaving with the Nars powder & have really been enjoying it.

Charleston Girl said...

Thanks, PaintedLady! Since I have to go to Sephora in the new few days, I'll give it a try.

Charleston Girl said...

Thanks, Jane. Dim Light is, frankly, a bronzer on me. If that is your photo, I can see why it didn't work for you as a face powder. It would add that peachy beige, very warm color all over. Not a good idea.

I really need to see if Champagne is too shiny for me. Since I have no oil, maybe I could wear it?

Charleston Girl said...

Hi Val,

That's VERY interesting. First, you found some gals at Sephora who were helpful. :) Second, they steered you to NARS. I have read some good, some not-so-good reviews of that powder.

I am testing a By Terry powder that is REALLY nice. Guess I need to write it up soon. Need photos.

kelly logan gould said...

Diffused light does NOTHING on me. However Mood and Luminous are beautiful on pale skin tones. I wear luminous almost every day and adore it. But you have to find the exact one that is right for you. I never thought the ones with pink would be good for me, but they are. That said, the NARS setting powder is also great. And it really brightens my pale skin, which is a major score for me

Eileen said...

I suggest everyone watch Josh Collier's YouTube video before purchasing these. He is an Hourglass MA with Sephora and also freelance MA. He has an excellent review of all the shades. In his video, he discusses the different levels of shimmer (from matte to full on shimmer) and which skin tones are best suited to which powders. It is evident that not every powder will suit everyone. Even though he works for Hourglass, he recommends swatching before purchasing.

I watched his video, went to swatch the powders, and left empty handed. It's not a miracle or revolutionary product by any means. If you already have good finishing powders (Guerlain, Chanel, La Mer, etc.), these aren't going to rock your world. In truth, I wasn't even that impressed with the texture of these and that surprised me because I love the texture of Hourglass eyeshadows. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Sooooo . . . NARS--tried and rejected. Hourglass--tried and rejected. Next on my list are the new Les Beiges that Chanel has coming out. They seem to be straight forward finishing powders designed to add a bit of warmth to the skin but without being gimmicky. We shall see.

Nina said...

I just want to follow up on Eileen's comments. I saw these powders on my last trip to Sephora and a SA explained that they had received training on the use of these finishing powders. The color you use is based on both your complexion and the type of effect you want to achieve. There was one out of all of them that did look very nice on me, but I can't remember which one! I really think these need to be tested in person.

Evelyn said...

I have Luminous Light which actually warms my complexion slightly (always good for NYC pale skin!). I'm giving Dim Light a try. The one I thought was pretty in its idea was Ethereal Light. I swatched it on my hand and it had that kind of moonlight glow that you see on the water at night. It's not as pink silver as the Rouge Bunny Rouge liquid highlighter that I have which is good. :)

Chris El @ MyFashionTrendencies said...

I thought I would walk out with dim light or radiant light, but left with luminous. I have medium-tan skin and dim light was too white and powdery for me, radiant is gorgeous for indoors but too shimmery for outdoors, and luminous was a lovely "highlighter" for me, like a powdered version of my favorite Burberry fresh glow.

Tracy@Beauty Reflections said...

I have Dim Light and LOVE how it warms up my face and gives me a glow. I look really healthy and tanned which is great for my pale complexion. I also have Ethereal Light the palest one-that one might be better for you. The powders aren't meant to be WOWZA GLOW on you, more of a hey, you look good today slight glow, diffuse imperfections and even some colour correction.
Watch Josh Collier's YT and he explains them perfectly. I love them and next I want Mood Light the pink one! I swatched the NARS one and it's REALLY GLOWY-too much glow for this 46 year old face! It's almost greasy looking on me so nope! I much prefer the subtle glow these give.

Anonymous said...

I was so excited to see you were reviewing these- I saw them in Sephora and was instantly intrigued. Thanks for your honest opinion, I probably won't be buying these :)

Since these didn't live up to your expectations, can you mention some products that do give you the results you were looking for? You mentioned Guerlain at the end of your review, I'd love to know your faves (can you tell I'm in the market for some illumination?)

Charleston Girl said...

Well, pros and cons. Great comments here. Thanks!

Denise C. said...

I actually have three of the Ambient Light Powders and absolutely love two of them, Dim Light and Luminous Light. I don't use them as my setting powder, however. I am currently using the new Nars Light Reflecting,( which I actually don't like very much, to me it has and odd smell and i will be going back to Laura Mercier setting powder in Universal tint as soon as the Nars used up). Over that, I lightly apply Dim Light. I can actually see the difference between the two halves of my face as I apply it. It blurs imperfections and softens my whole look. I then brush on a little Luminous light where I want highlighting, this one does have a glow to it.

I have "mature" skin and I feel as if these powders really make a difference.

Mary said...

Thank you! I was underwhelmed by these and the Nars powders, both. You mention Guerlain, By Terry, and Chantecaille, which of their powders do you like? Trying so hard to find a powder I can use in t-zone and around eyes that will set concealer and bring a lightness or glow. No luck yet, and several expensive mistakes!

victoria said...

thank goodness i am not the only one. i tried it too and i don't see a difference. i've tried the nars reflecting setting powder and i definitely saw a difference but with these, i just can't. i thought something was wrong with me.

Nina said...

Thank you for the great review, CG! Wow, what a debate! Glad to know that I'm not the only one who's not impressed.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'll stick to Chantecaille HD powder for setting and to Guerlain Meteorites (any of them) for glow.

Jo said...

I have this in Luminous and I like (not love) it. It does give my skin a nice glow. I do find this powder to be a bit on the heavy side, it is not as sheer as I would like. I think it is best used as a highlighter and not an all over powder. I'll stick to my Chantecaille loose powder for a finishing powder and add this to my stock of highlighters I use afterward for a glow. I was not at all impressed with the brush that goes along with these powders and that went back. I did not like the NARS at all it gave me white face and I got no glow. I looked like a geisha. I bought the Ambient powder from Sephora before it hit the shelves so now that they have them in store I am going to test the lavender-pink shade. I can't remember what it is called.

Charleston Girl said...

Jo, that's the shade I think I should have tried.

Charleston Girl said...

All,

I'm much happier with Chantecaille HD, Armani from years past, and good ol' Guerlain.

I don't think I should have to work hard to make a product good/work for me. I'll go watch the recommended videos, but I doubt I'll do a 180.

I will give Hourglass the marketing award of the year, though. These LOOKED uber-fab, and even Christine said she got a glow. While she is younger and has totally different skin, I do trust her. Most of the time, she's spot-on.

I've got to talk to my buddy Gaia because she liked it.

What I see in your comments are mostly nays, but a few yays, so it's gotta be perfect for someone.

Ginny said...

I have been eyeing this powder for months but haven't got a chance to try it. Thanks for the honest review so I'll probably put it in my "not so urgent" list.

Tensy said...

I bought Mood and Dim. Like you, I found Dim to be a bit too dark for my skin, but plan to use it this summer for a light tanned look. I do like the Mood powder and it gives me an all-over finishing glow. I have dry skin so I don't use these as setting powders and people with oily skin should know that you will still need to use something else to combat those issues. I plan to see how Luminous works on my skin before I buy it. I like these powders.

Deb said...

Hi Charleston Girl,
I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!! I am 56 yrs old and I have fine lines and a few wrinkles. I am very fair with faint freckles and red hair and my skin has red to pink undertones. And to add more insult to injury, I have large pores; especially noticeable on my nose. Combine all of these factors and foundations and powders are just a nightmare for me to get right. I absolutely hate "shimmer" "sheen" "glow", whatever you want to call it. it just accentuates all of my problem areas. I know I am absolutely in the minority with this but I will not go with the glow. I've spent untold amounts of money looking for the product that would help minimize and/or diffuse my redness, pores, and fine lines. This is it. I have it in Diffused and Hourglass could not have come up with a better name for this particular one. It diffuses the redness, the fine lines, the pores.....very well. And it does NOT look powdery or cakey. It's impossible to overdo. And best of all, it does not "glow". IMHO, unless you are very young with flawless skin, glowy products just really, really accentuate problem areas. I know most everyone will disagree with that; that's ok. Each to her own. But don't discount this product; give it another try. Maybe in a different color or finish.

ommorphiabeautybar.com said...

Definitely, these powders need to be tested before one buys. With your paler complexion, I would say that Luminous would have been a better match, as well as it having the most "glow". I bought Dim Light, and it fits well with my skin tone, but I didn't expect it to be that peachy. With a satin-ish finish, I'm glad it doesn't glow more than that - I wasn't looking for a highlighter. I find it works well as a finishing/setting powder and even kept oil at bay, but I don't know if it recreates the lighting conditions as described. I do like it, however, and found it gave my face a softy diffused look - which is good if you want to shed a few years!

Ellen said...

No one has mentioned Bobbi Brown's brightening powders in Porcelain Pearl or Nude. I think they were released at the same time as the Hourglass and Nars and seem to be trying to fill the same niche. I have been in the market for a new foundation with a radiant finish for a long time now. It seems everyone I try turns yellow when I use my tried and true Clinique blended face powder in Transparency Neutral as a setting powder (this has been a staple for me for eons). So at the BB counter, Porcelain Pearl was recommended to add glow to my face and as a powder that was light enough that it would not change the color of my foundation. They then sold me the foundation stick in Cool Beige, the only "cooliah" color that BB has, but one I still think is too dark for my NW15-20 skintone in the winter. I wanted to love both of them. But I swear the powder made my foundation yellower and darker too. The powder, although white, yellow, lavender and green swirled together, seemed to leave a greenish, yellow tint on my face. It also had a very dry feel to it, emphasizing, a bit, tiny lines and imperfections. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Why can't I find a foundtion/powder combo to love like everyone else can? Well, today I stopped at the MAC counter to try the new Mineralize moisturizing foundation. The lightest cool shade is NW20. I also tried the sculpting foundation in NW15. I'm not sure about the foundations, but the MA recommended the careblend pressed powder in light as a transparent setting powder that would avoid shine, not build color when used repeatedly to touch up during the day, and not be too yellow for my skin. That I bought! A plain old pressed powder that didn't seem to change the color of the two foundations I had on my face, one on either side!!! I had also bougth BB's new eye brightener at my last visit. Basically her corrector colors in a doe foot concealor tube with a glowy finish similar, I think, to the Touch Eclat type of products. I have no idea how to use this one, it sure doesn't cover anything. And where am I supposed to put more "glow"?? It seems that glowy finishing products are being marketed to us post baby boomers at record speed, are they really of any value to a daily make up routine? I need your advice because sales people are not very well trained in this, I think they speak from a script they have been taught. I want a dewy, young looking complexion. I've taken very good care of my skin over the years and want to be able to show it off. Why am I having such problems finding the right products??

Jo said...

Hi Ellen,

I'm so sorry you're having such a hard time. For a good foundation/powder combination I highly recommend you try Chantecaille or Armani. There is nothing like the Chantecaille loose powder! Their HD powder is good too. Best of Luck!

Lulle said...

I'm so happy to read your review... but sorry you wasted your money!

Just like you, after reading so many extatic reviews on the web, I got really excited and headed to my Sephora, planning on buying at least one.

I swatched them. I tried them on my face. And I left the store with my hands empty and my wallet still full!
Most of the shades looked atrocious on my complexion (Luminous and Mood particularly), and the ones that could have worked... well they did absolutely nothing. I was expecting a revolutionary product that affects the way the light reflects on the skin. Instead, I saw nothing but basic powders!

I'll stick to my Météorites pearls from Guerlain to give me a nice, subtle glow and brighten my face. They do a much better job!

CGstrein said...

I am with Deb on this, I LOVE this product! I have it in Luminous. I want to get it in Mood next and was thinking about Dim or Diffused. This says a lot because, besides blush on my checks, I never use powder anywhere else. I have dry skin and my pores are so big you can park a car in 'em. Any powder I tried prior to these ended up sitting in said pores screaming "look at me!" It wasn't pretty. I haven't had a problem with this powder and I don't find it too shiny for me. It just gives me a little glow. I don't use the Hourglass brush, I use a nice fan brush that I have. I don't know if that makes a difference.

Eileen said...

Hi Ellen,

Have you taken a look at Dior? They offer four different undertones at each level of intensity. Their intensities are numbered 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, etc. with 01 being the lightest. Then, they offer the intensities in four undertones. 0 is beige, 1 is yellow, 2 is pink, and 3 is apricot. So, for example, shades 020, 021, 022, and 023 would all be the same intensity (02), but with a different undertone (beige, yellow, pink, or apricot). The Nude Skin Glowing liquid foundation gives a nice soft-focus, "real skin" glow without being shiny or glistening.

You might also take a look at Chantecaille. They have a wide selection of beautiful shades that encompass a variety of undertones and their finishing powder is superb.

Good luck!

Ginger said...

Hi CG! Which Chantecaille finishing powders do you recommend for a subtle glow? Thanks!!

Ellen said...

When you recommend Chantecaille or Armani for a good foundation/powder combo, do you mean their powders (if so which one) or their foundations too? I appreciate the advice, don't want to waste more money or time!!

LoveSugarBabyDoll said...

i have not tried the Hourglass powders yet- but have been dying to try them. i can't wear the Guerlain meteorites as they contain gluten and was hoping for a nice all over swirl and glow powder. i really enjoyed Josh's video. informative and thorough. i think i'll watch it again before i go :)

that being said- i LOVE the new NARS light reflecting setting powder but i can advise you to use it very sparingly. less is more. i buff it in my t zone. i think i agree with the review in Cafe Makeup- i feel airbrushed, not so much glowy, but airbrushed.

really love reading everyone's thoughts and experiences.

Anonymous said...

Hi ellen,
I have really good skin am in my 50's and have tried everything under the sun :Armani(every type they offer all aretoo yellow) YSL Touche eclat foundation- way too greasy and heavy; Dior (nude foundation, nude BB and Forever)all are good but not perfect BUT my favourites for dewy skin that looks natural are: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisteriser (why I ever stray?) and By Terry Sheer Expert.The later is very expensive contains a lot of silicone but is very dewy and natural when it finally dries.
The best glowy powder I have ever used is an old one by Nars but I cannot remember its name-they said originally it was a blush but as it is golden vanilla in colour I think it was mis marketed.

Ellen said...

Thanks anonymous,
I have sampled the Armani Luminous Silk foundation. Don't love the smell and found the finish a little powdery, but they now make colors 3.75 and 4.75 which have pink undertones, close that of MUFE HD in 115. I think these two match my skin pretty well but both have fragrance and are not the best for a dewy finish. I recently bought the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer in the new color Blush, a tad darker than Porcelain but much less yellow. Unfortunately, a bit too dark and very little coverage, even when applied with just my fingers. I think the By Terry products have a lot of fragrance, but they do carry them at the Space NK counter at my Bloomingdale's, so I can hopefully get a sample. Thank you for the recommendation. A make up artist used Touche Eclat on me at my wedding!! That was the last time I wore it, it has fragrance and I have no idea what to do with it. As I mentioned, Bobbi Brown, a line I used to love, has come out with a number of brightening products. I bought the one that used to be in a click pen but is now is a traditional concealer doe foot container. It comes in the same colors as her corrector, which I use religiously in light bisque to attempt to erase indominable undereye circles. The new one is way too light coverage to help undereye circles or any other discolorations, so I have no idea how to use the slightly pink, shimmery liquid. Maybe return it? As for powders,I've used Clinique since birth, they were the only ones making fragrance free products before the make up artist lines drove all others to start reducing the fragrance in their products. I don't know why it started turning my foundation darker, maybe I just started noticing it? With the advent of the glow powders this spring, I thought it would be a no brainer to find a replacement, but as I noted, NOT!! Which powder are you using now?

wwendalynne said...

Like many others, I'm very thankful for your review. I had this item on my radar screen as a result of the numerous positive reviews and as someone with maturing skin, I think it is something I can certainly do without and will not miss in my collection. Thank you for the additional information and swatches.

Adriana said...

I went to Sephora and tried on all six powders and left with Mood and Dim light. I love them both very much. They make my skin glow and diminish my flaws. I think everyone's skin is different and you have to find something that works for you personally. I love Guerlain Meteorites, they give me a nice glow as well but they do nothing to hide or diminish the appearance of my fine lines. I suggest watching the video everyone keeps mentioning if you don't have a Sephora close by.

monica said...

Thanks so much for your honest discussion and review of this, CG. I'm very skeptical when a product gets uniform raves across the blogosphere--my first question is, how much was the blogger paid to like the product? I am very happy with my Guerlain and Laura Mercier finishing powders (Meteorites and Matte Translucent pressed powder) and I am loathe to jump on a bandwagon. We are witnessing lemmings in action!
Powders are a tricky business and must be tried in person, the undertones and texture of the skin are unique to each person.
Have a great weekend!

Amalia said...

MY LADY, YOU MAKE ME HAPPY,BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE HOURGLASS IN GREECE !

Aileen said...

I'm so glad I found this blog. I'm going to be returning the new Nars Light Reflecting Transluscent Powder, which isn't any better than the MAC prep and prime transluscent powder (which I have now realized is my HG finishing powder). I was thinking about picking one of these up instead and glad to know that I can save my mula for something else!