Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette – swatches and review

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Hourglass-Ambient-lighting-palettepress sample


Have you ever seen vintage photos of Hollywood starlets, usually black and white headshots that somehow shine with magically flattering light? The stunning glow of these pictures always stops me in my tracks. I wonder, what was the trick in those long-ago, pre-Photoshop days? Could it be the lighting? The makeup?

I’m not sure about the starlets, but in our case, it can definitely be the makeup!


Hourglass Cosmetics’ new release, the Ambient Lighting Palette ($58), offers a trio of starlet-worthy powders that helps us all look perfectly lit no matter where we happen to be. These high-tech creations give a retro glow with just a swipe or two of a fluffy powder brush. I do not say this lightly: the results are astounding!



The compact is classic Hourglass, a solid, streamlined, heavy-duty number that will look great on your dresser and stay in one piece in your makeup bag, too.


Inside, you’ll find two previously-existing Ambient Lighting powders – known far and wide as the best makeup-setting powders in existence – and a brand new shade created just for this palette. I don’t know about you, but this trio has me swooning like an old-time siren of the silver screen.

At first glance of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, the powders look innocuous and similar, but here’s proof that looks can be very deceiving.


On the left, we have Dim Light, the neutral peach beige that combines warm and cool tones for a shade that works for absolutely anyone. This finely-milled, velvety powder virtually erases imperfections and adds radiance to the skin. I’m not kidding, I thought of those starlet photos when I looked in the mirror after just a light dusting to set my makeup. Without a trace of sparkle, my skin glowed.

On the right, there’s Radiant Light, which Hourglass calls “sun-kissed golden beige,” designed to add subtle warmth to the skin or extend a summer tan. Not a bronzer, but a definitely a believable glow that, like Dim Light, has a lit-from-within effect and a soft-as-silk texture.

Sandwiched between these two powerhouses of illumination is the limited-edition Incandescent Light, a pearlescent beige highlighter designed to brighten the complexion and give a “celestial glow” to the face. Unlike the other two powders, this one is shimmery, so just a touch does the trick.

Hourglass-Ambient-7BDim Light, Incandescent Light, Radiant Light

Hourglass-Ambient-lighting-swatchesA closer look at Dim Light, Incandescent Light, and Radiant Light


As if this wasn’t enough, the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette also includes a 0.16 oz. bottle of Veil Mineral Primer to perfectly prepare the skin for all the ambient magic.


This lightweight primer is formulated to “conceal redness, minimize the appearance of pores, help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles and repel water to ensure makeup appears fresh all day long”. And once again, Hourglass delivers. Now that I’ve tried it, I’ll be buying the full size pronto.

Generously-sized trio will work on any skin tone
Packaging is everything we’ve come to expect from Hourglass
Powders are so soft, it only takes a gentle swipe of your brush per application
Bonus bottle of Veil Mineral Primer gives you a chance to fall in love with that, too

Limited edition. Don’t get your heart broken. Buy this now!
(Note: it is currently out of stock online, but try your local Sephora or Barney’s counter.)

we heartsters – Are you glowing with anticipation to get your hands on the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette?

photos: we heart this, swatches shown on NC25/30 skin tone

Melissa loves road trips, bargain shopping, drive-in movies, lip gloss and rock ‘n’ roll. She lives in Baltimore with her precious pups Zeus and Bellarina.
skin tone: NC25
skin type: dry to normal
favorite beauty product: skincare


  • turboterp

    Melissa loves road trips, bargain shopping, drive-in movies, lip gloss and rock 'n' roll. She lives in Baltimore with her precious pup Bellarina. skin tone: NC20 skin type: dry to normal favorite beauty product: skincare

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  1. I’ve tried Hourglass powder in Sephora and what surprised me was how finely milled these are. Very soft and light, you’d have to try hard to over-apply these…
    I’m just now learning the benefits of shimmers and highlights to help my complexion, I’ll have to revisit these and see how they work with my coloring. (Quickly, since they’re LE!)

  2. Hourglass has NEVER disappointed me either! I love the quality and great products, period! This looks awesome and the colors are very appealing to me! Nice!!

  3. Hourglass’ Veil Mineral Primer is amazing! I tried it out and loved it. I am getting a bigger bottle of this!! It really soothes out my complexion and brightens dull skin nicely helping my makeup last hours!

  4. Excellent review and swatches, @turboterp! I reviewed a few of these individually in the spring for another site (grrr . . . they were $48 each!). I was so impressed that I likened these to Blanche Dubois “creating enchantment” in “A Streetcar Named Desire” by placing a paper shade over a bare light bulb (same concept, perhaps?). Depending on the shade you use, the effects can be completely different, but very flattering. Ah, and I have rarely felt as anything as luxurious as the “Veil Mineral Primer.” It is akin to silk on your skin. I have to emphasize your warning to GET THIS NOW, especially with the holidays coming. You’ll give the wondrous lighting of the Season competition!

  5. How does this line manage to be so consistently awesome? Not to mention their killer, beautifully futuristic packaging. Wise move adding the primer bonus guys. Love!

  6. These are a “forget everything you thought you knew about highlighter” highlighters! Subtle, silky and gorgeous. This was a hard product to give up for review, but I knew @turboterp would do a great job, and she did.

  7. I’ve only used Hourglass lip products but these highlighters look fabulous… I have had bad luck with highlighters in the past but being that these are so finely milled I may have to give them a try!

  8. I bought this set during the Sephora VIB sale and I’m so loving it. I wanted to try the Ambient Lighting powders so bad and when I saw this holiday palette, I KNEW i wanted it. It was actually one of the first products to sell out during the start of the sale online and I had to hunt it down at a Sephora in NYC. that was hard too, because a lot were sold out as well! This is a must-buy for the holiday season. It’s limited edition so I would not sleep on it since who knows when Hourglass will do another palette like this one?

  9. I tend to have a lot of redness in my cheeks so I can’t wear many blushes. However something like this would be nice to add some light to my face since I’ve been feeling tired lately.

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