Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Face, Reviews

Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

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I’ve been excited about the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette since I first heard about it, but didn’t buy it right away – partly out of a need to prioritize my makeup purchases and partly because I couldn’t find any information on how much product was in it (hey, we all want a good deal, right?). The fact that I already had one of the colors in the palette complicated things too. My self-restraint crumbled pretty quickly though, so here we have it. I have two warnings though – 1) this post will be pretty picture heavy (that’s ok, right?) and 2) all the swatches are really heavy to show the color and finish (don’t wear them like that!).

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

The palette comes in reflective red and silver cardboard box. The palette and the primer sample are nestled in a thick foam insert.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

The compact for the palette itself looks like an elongated form of the individual Ambient Lighting Powders. The lid of mine had a few faint scratches on it, which I was a little disappointed by. The powder inside was pristine though, so I didn’t think it was a big enough deal to go through the trouble of returning it (not to mention I always feel bad returning things because it’s such a waste of materials and good makeup).

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Here’s a comparison of the palette to a full-sized Ambient Lighting Powder (Ethereal). Each pan in the palette is .116oz/3.3g, adding up to .348oz/9.87g. That’s just a hair less than a full size powder (.35oz/10g). The palette costs $58 rather than $45 for the singles, so it is a little more expensive per ounce, but then again, you get to try three colors, including a limited edition one. It’s looking like it’ll be foreeeeever before I hit pan on the full size, so I still think the palette is a decent value for the money.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Usability-wise, the pans are a little smaller than I prefer, at least for Dim, which I use as an all-over powder. I apply that one with the Hakuhodo J104, which is large and fluffy. It fits perfectly in the full size powders, but when swirling it in the smaller pans it spills over into the next color. For Incandescent and Radiant I use smaller brushes (Hakuhodo G5521/Wayne Goss 02/Hakuhodo J5538) so I don’t mind the smaller pan size.

As far as the colors go, I love them, and I think they’d work fairly well for a wide variety of skin tones but they maybe aren’t quite universal. My skintone is mediumish (NW25-30 on the MAC scale, depending on how much of a tan I have), so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of picking these up for yourself.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Hourglass describes Dim as “a neutral peach beige.” I’d say that’s pretty accurate. It doesn’t have visible shimmers, and I use it all over as a setting/finishing powder to even out my complexion and add a little bit of luminosity. It doesn’t leave a color cast on me, but I’ve heard other people mention that it can on very pale skin (NC/NW10-15 or NARS Siberia/Mont Blanc).

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Incandescent (the limited edition shade) is an “opalescent pearl”. It’s a slightly pinkish beige that does have visible fine shimmer particles when swatched. Used on the face (I use it as a highlighter), it has a bit of a sheen but it won’t turn you into a disco ball. It’s light enough that I think it would look good on pretty much all skintones, though you might want to use it sparingly on very deep tones to avoid it looking ashy or chalky. I like more pink-toned highlighters so this is perfect for me, but it might not be your first choice if you like warmer highlight colors.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Radiant is a “sun-kissed golden beige” which again I think is a spot-on description. It also has fine shimmer particles, but not quite as many as Incandescent. For light-to-medium skin tones it could work well as a luminous bronzer, or as a golden highlighter for most skin tones. It’s warmer than the other colors but doesn’t appear orange, even on cooler skin tones.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette Swatches

Left to right: Dim, Incandescent, Radiant, Ethereal

Here are some heavy swatches to show off the colors (I included Ethereal because, hey, why not?).

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette SwatchesAnd the same swatches blended lightly to give you an idea of the finish, though they’re still much heavier than you’d use them on your face (click to enlarge the photo – it’s easier to see the difference).

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Left to right: Benefit High Beam, Hourglass Incandescent, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Opal, Hourglass Radiant

For the especially curious, I’ve swatched Incandescent and Dim along with the most similar highlighters I have – Benefit High Beam and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Opal, which are both liquid formulas. Incandescent is more beige and has a less frosted appearance than High Beam. Compared to Opal, Radiant is more of a bronzy gold and is deeper in color. Both of the powders apply less densely than the liquids, giving them a more subtle effect.

In Short: This is an excellent buy if you want to try out some different shades of the Ambient Lighting Powders without committing to the full size ones.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette FOTD

Wearing Dim all over, with Incandescent on the cheekbones and down the center of the face.

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette ($58) is available at, and


  1. anita

    October 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I wanted to get this palette but it was a bit over my budget and I’m really sad that I didn’t get it now.. oh well! But from your swatches they look great and I’d like it if your photographs were a bit bigger xx

    Dull Weather, Bright Nails

    1. niccigilland

      October 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Hopefully it’ll be around for a while! Dim and Radiant are also available as singles and both are really nice.

      Did you click the photos to see the larger version? I can definitely upload larger photos in the future, thank you for the feedback :-)

  2. Judy

    October 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I have the Radiant and really love it. On its way from Sephora is the palette, and, judging from your review, I’ll love it also. I was going to try the Dim next as a single, but was glad to have the chance to try it along with the limited edition that sounds like it might be perfect for holiday looks.

    1. niccigilland

      October 24, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Incandescent definitely is a great highlighting shade for winter – the shimmer in it is subtle if you use it lightly, but you can build it up if you want a more dramatic highlight.

  3. Lovisa

    November 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Just got mine and the lid was a tad bit scratched as well! Saw on Sephora’s fb page that some girls had the same problem. How weird!

    1. niccigilland

      November 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      So strange! Were your powders ok? Mine were perfect so I assume the scratches had something to do with the packaging process, not like it was dropped or anything.

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