Ambient Lighting Powder

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Makeup > Face & Body Illuminating/Shimmer > Face Shimmer
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Yes, this pressed illuminating and highlighting powder is expensive; however, if you're in the mood to splurge it's a frontrunner for enlivening skin with a flattering, very subtle light-reflective appearance.

The company sells this as a finishing powder to apply all over your face. You can certainly apply it that way, but we found it looks best when applied to key areas (top of cheekbones, center of forehead, bridge of nose, and even under the eyes) as a highlighting powder. You'd simply use a brush to dust this on over those key areas after applying your regular powder.

What's particularly lovely about this powder is its smooth, non-flyaway texture and even application. It's difficult to overdo this, and the shine is soft enough that it can be worn during the day without being a distraction.

Kudos to Hourglass for their nearly impeccable shades: Only the Radiant Light shade has obvious golden sparkles. If you want obvious, sparkling shine, that's the shade to get; the others are more natural-looking and subdued, with the most versatile being Dim Light and Luminous Light. The shades work best on fair to medium skin tones; those with darker skin tones will need an illuminator with more oomph and depth of color.

Ambient Lighting Powder is fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types.

  • A gorgeous, easy way to softly illuminate the skin.
  • Powder has a smooth, non-flyaway texture that glides over skin.
  • Gorgeous, soft, understated colors for subtle radiance.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Can be considered expensive (but many will find the results worth it, and a little goes a long way).

According to founder Carisa Janes, Hourglass Cosmetics are "homegrown luxury cosmetics." Sounds like an intriguing marketing angle—but what does that mean for the consumer? The "luxury" element becomes overly apparent in the price tag, and the "homegrown" aspect seems to be related to the brand's humble beginnings as a small storefront in 2004. Other than those points, there is really nothing inherently special about this relatively small line of makeup, which is now available at most Sephora stores nationwide.

The most hyped product in the Hourglass line is their Veil Fluid Makeup SPF 15. This liquid foundation gets a lot of chatter online as being a "must-have" product, but that doesn't mean it's the only one or even the best option out there. In reality, although this foundation has a beautiful, lightweight texture that provides good coverage with reliable sun protection, it has a serious problem in that it noticeably separates in the bottle, which really puts into question the stability of the sunscreen. For $60 an ounce, this really should be perfect!

What you should know about any cosmetic product is that expensive doesn't necessarily mean better; there are good and bad products in all price ranges. Unfortunately, many consumers find it hard not to expect a line like Hourglass, with its luxury price tag, to be far better than "bargain" brands. But, even when an expensive product is great, you can almost always find a more affordable alternative that is just as good (if not better!) than the expensive one. The bottom line: In making the decision to purchase any cosmetic, you shouldn't rely solely on how much it costs, and Hourglass is no exception.

Case in point: Hourglass's exquisite, expensive makeup brush collection. Yes, these are soft, beautifully made and completely luxurious brushes, but so are plenty of other Taklon (synthetic hair) brushes that are available for far less money. Or even consider Hourglass's silly Oxygen Mineral Powder, a pressed powder that overhypes its mineral content (it's a stretch to call this product "mineral" at all) and makes unsubstantiated claims that it can deliver oxygen to the skin. But, worst of all, this $46 product seriously underperforms when compared to many $10 powders at the drugstore (Neutrogena, L'Oreal, Sonia Kashuk, and Rimmel come to mind).

Hourglass's underlying philosophy (and brand-name symbolism) is meant to speak to the benefit of using well-formulated products that ward off the ever-marching effects of time. Unfortunately, this lofty goal is nearly unattainable for any makeup company. For Hourglass, it extends only to their foundations with sunscreen, not exactly earthshaking given the number of companies who can provide this benefit, and it certainly doesn't take super-expensive products. In fact at Hourglass's prices, it's unlikely you'll apply these as liberally as needed for adequate sun protection. Just another example of how expensive doesn't mean better!

For more information about Hourglass Cosmetics, visit or call 310-392-7799.

Member Comments

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  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
Page of 1
  1. Jaimee H
    Reviewed on Friday, May 16, 2014
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    Lovely powder!
    • Absolutely gorgeous finishing powder for my medium skin. Approaching 40, I love the radiance this gives without being teen sparkly. The texture is smooth and buttery soft. I bought the color 'Dim Light' and couldn't be happier with the results.

  2. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder - Dim Light - neutral peach beige powder
    • Claim: A universal finishing powder that features state-of-the-art ('photoluminescent') technology to recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light to filter out harsh light and refine the appearance of the complexion. Review: This powder goes on smoothly to give a nice dimmed glow to the face. A little goes a long way, so I would recommend just lightly tapping the product with your brush and then apply gently to the entire face.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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