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I’ve been putting off this review for quite a while because it’s hard for me to write meh reviews, y’know? LOVE or HATE reviews seem to write themselves, meh reviews are like extracting teeth.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – Luminous & Dim Light

The Ambient Powders have received both raves and rants, it seems you either love or hate them and yet I lie somewhere in the middle. Essentially, Ambient Lighting Powders are designed to mimic flattering light – as though someone was following you around with a candle or some shit. I was hoping that the effect would be somewhat similar to the Guerlain Meteorite Pearls; soft focus blurry effect, pore-eliminating, subtle illuminating goodness. Right off the bat, they’re not dupes – the Guerlain Meteorites (or at least the OLD ballz, they’ve since been reformulated) have a harder texture and so the brush picks up very little product while the Hourglass powders seem to have a more generic powder formula.

I think the key to success lies in picking the correct shade – I purchased Dim Light myself and was gifted Luminous Light (you know who you are, I lurve you!) and lucky for that! I would have had a poor opinion of the Ambient Powders otherwise.

Dim Light

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – Luminous & Dim Light

It’s hard to tell from my swatch (my fingers are really pink, wtf) but Dim Light has an almost dusty rose undertone. The sheen is more refined when compared to Luminous Light and the tonally, Dim Light is deeper (right swatch but more discernible in pan pictures). Strangely, the sheen that registers on my finger doesn’t quite to translate to the face; I didn’t notice any added luminosity after a light dusting of Dim Light. That’s fine, I figured, it’ll be a nice finishing powder for eliminating unwanted shine.

The real deal breaker for me: Dim light altered the shade of my base, the dusty rose undertone was jarring against my slightly olive skin and I found my base looked a touch deeper, a little dull and kinda… peachy pink? It looked as though my foundation has oxidised, that’s really the best way to describe it!

So Dim Light was a big fail on me and was sent to another home via blogsale. I think if your skin is within the medium plus spectrum and you don’t share my olive undertones, it could very well work for you.

Luminous Light

Luminous Light is less of a finishing powder and more of a subtle highlight; the sheen is more pronounced and the product is not as densely packed. Shade wise, I found it to be more of a neutral beige on the skin, perhaps leaning a bit warm but I did not experience any alteration to my foundation shade. I’ve actually really enjoyed a whisper of Luminous Light on the high points of my face in instances like job interviews, first dates and meeting the parents (not that I’ve been subject to such occurrences for years but you catch my drift). It doesn’t scream HIGHLIGHT, the glow is so soft that it can be used down the t-zone without making the complexion look frosty or oily.

While I sufficiently enjoy Luminous Light so that it remains in my collection, I was a little underwhelmed by the Ambient Lighting Powders. I think the incredible buzz surrounding the launch catapulted my expectations, resulting in inevitable disappointment.

Have you tried the Hourglass Ambient Powders? What do you think?


Complete list of products mentioned

Ambient Lighting Powder
Ambient Lighting Powder
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews :)

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  1. I own the palette & I like it but don’t love it. I use it to set my under eye concealer & it does the trick. It hasn’t totally put me off their products though, I’m keen to try the blushes that are mixed with the ambient powders.

    1. Hey Anna πŸ™‚
      I think I could have kept Dim around to set my under eye concealer but I own too many awesome products to justify that. I’d still be interested in trying the blushes, too! x

  2. I own two- ethereal and diffused. Ethereal doesn’t do anything on my NC 15/20 so I mostly use it as a very light setting powder. Any skin darker then a NC20 and it will likely read as chalky white. Diffused is supposed to be yellow like morning sunlight or whatever. I wish it was more yellow. Also, you don’t see the shimmer in the pan but if you are under harsh sunlight your face will be sparkly. I do like to use this to set my under eye concealer. But yeah, not worth the money. It actually has turned me off from trying the blushes.

    1. I almost purchased Diffused but I wanted something a bit more yellow, too. I think the blushes might be up my alley since they’re sheer and somewhat shimmery, I’m not rushing out to buy them but if I maybe… stumble across them… maybe purchase… πŸ˜›

  3. Yes! I’m of the same opinion. It seemed like everyone and their mother was raving about these when they first came out and after I tried them, I just didn’t get it. It really did just look like my foundation was mismatched, in a dusty sort of way. With a lighter hand, I really didn’t notice any difference inside but outdoors I saw the sparkly particles. Just not for me, I guess!

    1. I’m with you, Mimi. I think that’s the danger with hyped up launches, reality just can’t keep up with the buzz and a lot of people are underwhelmed. I actually read some reviews that said the powders made their skin feel ‘gummy’, which is unusual! I didn’t experience that. Goes to show, makeup is so personal!

  4. Me too, me too!! I got the palette the other day as it has become available again in Oz on meccacosmetica and I just don’t get how to use any of them!! I seem to be able to get away with Dim light on the outskirts of my face as a sort of gentle blush effect, incandescent is obviously a highlight but its super shimmery, i guess ok for this time of year. But radiant light….hello? Its orange! Is this a bronzer? This is going nowhere near my face in large quantities. This product needs to come with direction on how to apply as I am much confused. Hugely disappointed for the $95 price tag on this “cult” product.

    P.S. Love your work Karima πŸ™‚

    1. I think you have a really good point there, Gemma! Lots of us were confused – how do we use these?! The shades are all over the place really. They’re not bad products but I just wasn’t wowed, y’know?
      Thanks for stopping by, m’dear πŸ™‚ x

  5. Hey Karima! I was hoping to get your Dim Light during the sale, but someone else beat me to it! πŸ˜› Anyways, I think Dim Light is more suitable to some much deeper in skin tone than you. I in fact have the palette which comes with Dim, Incandescent and Radiant and I love all three for different purposes! I want to get Radiant Light at the first opportunity! It makes for the most beautiful bronzer on me!


  6. True! I was not really blown away either! The subtle highlight is pretty handy sometimes when you don’t like that Shine regular highlighters give on your face. Sometimes I use it to set my undereye concealer…but in the bright daylight it kind of looks like I have glitter under my eyes -___-

    I have dim light as well…it’s a little too dark for me, but since I have yellow undertones its not too bad…but only OK

    My favorite one is probably the Diffused Light…a good mix of neutral color, sets makeup, and a little bit of shimmer.

    1. Hey Desiree!
      Yeah, there are so many awesome products out there that I try not to hold on to things if I’m not blown away. Diffused Light sounds like it would have been a better match for me but I’m not rushing out to buy it. xx

  7. I have Dim Light and Diffused
    Like for you, dim light altered my shade, it made me darker and pinker. At first I didn’t know what to do with it but now I use it most days around the temples and perimeters of my face it gives me a very natural sun kissed/flushed look yet i’m kinda meh with it.
    And diffused? <3!! I love that one lit from within glow in a pan, works great on my skin tone.

    1. Maybe I should have picked up Diffused, huh? The excitement has died down and I’m a bit meh on the range but maybe I’ll swatch it in Europe. I’m not paying Mecca prices, ugh. PS: You heard that Sephora is coming to Aus? And they’re matching the US prices?!
      I’m curious how this will change AU makeup retail. Much excite. xx

      1. I just googled this like crazy. That’s such good news! I wonder how David Jones, Myer and Mecca Cosmetica will deal with this, though.

  8. I LOVE these so much! I think I might be one of the only few who really, really do. Heh. I actually am only missing one, Diffused Light, and I dare not get it lest it enhance too much yellow on my face. My favorite is actually Mood Light, which looks great on my skin, I think! Though I do agree that they’re not very similar to the MΓ©tΓ©orites.

    1. I’m so glad you love them! You’re definitely not alone πŸ™‚ I think base products are so personal, what works for one may not work for another. xx

  9. whew – I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who feels “meh” about these! i had huge expectations. i also have two shades (the names escape me). neither do anything for my NCVampire skin. they’ve been sitting at the bottom of my bag since the week i bought them.

  10. Long time reader and lurker here – thank you so much for posting this! I have pale skin with yellow undertones and I was using Dim Light as a setting powder. I loved the finish but didn’t realize that it was THIS that was giving my skin that same peachy, oxidized look that you were experiencing. I had moved my vanity to a location with more natural light at around the same time I started using it so I never pegged the powder as the culprit. I didn’t use it today as an all over setting powder and I’m back to my pale, yellow self. I did use it as a bronzer and it worked beautifully. I think I’ll purchase the diffused next. Love your blog!

    1. Hey Esther!
      I solved the mystery πŸ˜› Woohoo. Let me know how you like Diffused, in hindsight I think it would have been a better match for me (but everyone was raving about Dim so I was a sheep and purchased that). xx

  11. I have to admit, I wasn’t totally sold on these powders at first, but after a lengthy experimentation period I finally started loving them. I agree that it depends on the shade that you try – Dim Light works wonders on my NC30/35 yellowish skin and gives me the effect everyone talks about – slightly illuminated, blurred skin, etc while I wasn’t so impressed with Incandescent light (from the Ambient Lighting Palette). However, at the end of the day I wouldn’t consider them a “must have” product since it’s the first product I’ll leave out if I’m running short on time or I don’t feel like wearing many products!

    1. Yes, shade is really important! Especially if you’re on the paler side because some shades actually impart colour. I’m glad you love them, lots of people do! x

  12. I completely agree with you. I’m underwhelmed by them, it took me 2 days to write my review. I don’t love them or hate them. I have Mood Light, it’s a great highlighter but not all over the face powder. Recently I started using it bellow my Dior setting powder, and that actually works well. x

    1. Exactly, it’s not love or hate. They’re just… nice? I’m not excited to use them though so they sorta get thrown to the back of the drawer. Pity that xx

  13. Oh, one of the reasons I love your blog is that that you always make such honest reviews!
    I recently got Diffused and I have to say I’m not completely wowed by it. I didn’t really got cought on the whole excitement around these powders at first, but Diffused seemed like a good idea for me, because I thought it could counteract redness and I heard it was one of the most matte ones. So far, I think it does help with redness and works nicely as a finishing powder, but it’s much more shiny than I expected it to be. If I wear it during the day, I can definetely see glitters all around my face… you can’t notice it from a distance, but still.. It’s a night product for me now. Oh, and I really like to use it to set my concealer, mostly because I usually go for a peachy toned concealers.
    Anyways, I’m just glad a friend brought it for me from the US. Brazillian Sephora sells Hourglass for the equivalent to more or less FOUR TIMES AS MUCH AS it’s sold on the US. Seriously. I know we do have ridiculously high import taxes, but still, make up is usually sold here for the the equivalent to more or less twice the american price. Hourglass is a good brand but WTF.

    1. Hey Lena,
      That’s interesting, I thought Diffused Light might have been a better option for me but I’d heard it was more matte?
      FOUR TIMES?! That rivals Australian ridiculous pricing πŸ™ That sucks, sorry!

  14. I’m in two minds about this product! I agree that it’s fairly overrated and yet… I use mine every day! I have it in Ethereal Light, which definitely doesn’t give me any of that much-vaunted ‘glow’ or ‘illumination’, but it is basically WHITE and I am ridiculously pale so it’s a pretty decent setting powder for me. A lot of supposedly transparent/translucent powders show up quite dark and obvious on my skin tone. I don’t regret purchasing it but when it runs out I should probably look for something cheaper, given that its job in my routine is so basic.

    1. Hey Naomi πŸ™‚
      White powder – that sounds a lot like the Shiseido High Beam White (WT905) that I own and love! Not sure if it’s any cheaper than the Hourglass, though. xx

  15. Hi Karima,

    I honestly think you would really like Diffused. It has much more yellow in it than Dim or Luminous (neither of which I liked for the very reasons you listed). I always choose yellow based powders – Finishing or otherwise – Because of unwanted redness. Diffused is the only highlighter I have ever liked or used on any kind of regular basis – I almost feel like it gets rid of any remaining flush on my cheekbones.

    Lastly, you can wear this in the evening under your eyes – It reads as a more intense Laura Mercier Brightening Powder, and I feel like the color cancels out any dark circles I might have. For reference I’m just a shade lighter than you (NC15, almost 20ish).

    Definitely worth a try on your trip! <3

    1. I’m kinda hesitant to try any more because I have mediocre opinions on the shades I own but I’ll swatch it in Europe (cheaper!) and see how I go πŸ™‚ xx

  16. Yes, i do completely agree- epic fail. I purchased Hourglass ‘diffused light’ from Mecca a couple of months ago and I just can’t seem to fall in love with it. Sits on my skin rather flat and because it’s so light I really can only use it as an under eye brightener or highlighter. I use it only because I don’t want it to go to waste but prefer my Laura Mercier Universal powder for a similar effect.

  17. I got the palette (the first time it came out) and was also underwhelmed. I don’t get the same life changing results from Dim Light that everyone else claims. I do, however, appreciate Radiant Light for summer months. A pretty golden glow without the shine.

    1. Interesting, thanks for your insight, Alison!
      They’re nice products to me but sadly, not groundbreaking. I guess I had my expectations too high!

  18. I have the palette with Dim, Incandescent and Radiant and I really like Dim and Radiant. I originally looked into making the purchase because I wanted a Talc free powder. I know Chantecaille makes a great Talc Free powder. Radiant is really nice for the summer. In the U.S right now it is definitely summer in CT very very hot.

  19. wait, so i have medium skin (in mac i’m about NC35) with yellow undertones. so do you think dim light would work for me? i’ve been wanting them for the longest time but always debating because im so afraid i wouldnt like it ;P

  20. I have Dim Light. I really wanted to love this product based on all the amazing reviews. When I first started using it I did not notice any difference, I have fair NW20 skin. I even thought about returning it and Zi never return products unless the color is off, which is rare. The thing is I could not bring myself to return it. I use it everyday. Do I agree with you also. I don’t love it but I do use it. It adds color to my fair skin and Zi can use it as z blush too.

  21. I also own the palette and like, but don’t love it. I pull it out now & then and just drag a brush across all 3 shades, haha. Subtle. Very subtle. I also have the Ethereal shade, which I like very much as it’s slightly glowy but not sparkly, which I hate. I Suspect it’s similar to your Shiseido product…basically big girl highlighter. I have MAC “Soft and Gentle” (yeah, right) somewhere…haven’t used it in years since it’s anything but. I find that lately my preference runs to liquid highlighters, though. More versatile. Has anyone tried the Rouge Bunny Rouge liquid highlighter? I’d be interested in a review of the white and pink shades, since I’m fair.

    1. Soft and Gentle is pretty intense, if I remember correctly :-S I gave mine away, it looked glittery on me for whatever reason.
      Rouge Bunny Rouge liquid highlights are INTENSE. Stronger reflect that the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors, if you’ve tried those. I do like them but I generally mix with a bit of foundation to dilute.


  22. I never comment on blogs but found yours as i was doing a google search for “hourglass dim light oxidize”! Yay I am not crazy and other people have been experiencing the same crazy experience with this powder… I swear everytime i use it it looks like i’ve fallen into a pot of bronzer. I’m a light to medium with strong yellow undertone and I was looking this very subtle effect and was so so so disappointed by the effect this had on my skin!! I see some of the comment suggest using this as a blush/bronzer and I might do this with the rest of the powder. Although i have swatched Luminous on my hand I think I’m much too worried about another disappointment to take the plunge again… It’s gone at the bottom of my wish list which is a shame because I usually love anything hourglass. I might give the strobing ones a go though! Thanks again for sharing your experience, i really thought I was being a freak!

  23. I am mainly more disappointed by the packaging. It does not feel luxurious at all. It feels very cheap plastic coated with metallic finish. The smell is also not my favourite. They’re far from the beautiful Guerlain meteorites pearls, not even in the same league in packaging.