Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in Ethereal and Dim
Before these powders were released, I wasn’t really sure what to think about them. For one, most of the powders I’ve used in the past haven’t done a lot other than get cakey-looking as the day wears on. On top of that, Hourglass describes their Ambient Lighting Powders as giving “a multidimensional luminescence” – which in my mind immediate translated to “shine,” which my oily skin certainly doesn’t need any more of. As the reviews started rolling in though, I decided I had to at least swatch them since everyone seemed to love them so much. After trying them out in the store I decided they were worth some extended testing, especially considering I had a shiny new VIB 10% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket at the time. My first choice was Dim, but it was sold out online and at my local store, so I picked up Ethereal. Which I wore pretty much every day until recently when I finally decided that they are different enough to own more than one, so I bought Dim.
Like all Hourglass packaging, the compact for the Ambient Lighting Powders is very sleek and expensive-looking. It’s made from heavy, slightly reflective plastic and the inside of the lid has a nice-sized mirror inside. And for once, here’s a product that doesn’t include a crappy, barely-functional brush! I’m guessing this is probably because they want to encourage you to buy their Ambient Powder Brush (which I did not purchase). Unfortunately, the lack of brush didn’t reduce the size of the packaging all that much. The Ambient Lighting Powders are certainly the thickest powder compacts I own; they’re still thin enough to fit in my Muji drawers (which are quite shallow), but too bulky to comfortably put in a clutch. I would love it if they made a travel size version of these someday.
The powders themselves are perfection. While some of the shades do give a little bit of a glow, Dim and Ethereal don’t make me look shiny or dewy, and there aren’t any shimmer particles. I use both of them all over my face as setting and finishing powders, applied with either a large, loose powder brush (Hakuhodo J104) or a smaller dense fan brush (Hakuhodo fan). They’re sort of an odd thing to review, because once it’s on the skin, you don’t actualy see it, which of course you wouldn’t want to. Instead, it smooths out minor imperfections and in general just kind of makes it look like someone photoshopped your face (not in a scary face-swapping way, though). Neither one leaves a noticeable color on my face – I was a little worried about Ethereal looking ghostly or ashy, but it doesn’t – but they do have fairly distinct looks. Ethereal has a “moonlit” look as claimed – think Liv Tyler in the Lord of the Rings movies. Dim is more of a natural radiance.
Possibly the best thing about these is that they wear well. I haven’t had any issues with them making me look cakey or powdery. They don’t control oil, but they also don’t claim to. By the same token, they don’t suck the moisture out of my easily-dehydrated skin, which is a problem that I have with other powders sometimes. Another thing that I freqently have issues with is powders settling into fine lines or pores, but the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders don’t. They also aren’t silica-based, so there’s no need to worry about them causing flashback under flash photography. They’re very finely milled and you don’t need much product, so I don’t see myself hitting pan for a very long time even though I wear them pretty much daily.
In short: Out of all the setting powders I’ve used, these are by far the best.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are available for $45 at hourglasscosmetics.com, spacenk.com, sephora.com and Sephora stores.