Face, Reviews

Review: Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer

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Wow, guys, it has apparently been forever since I did a foundation review. I always feel like they’ll be kind of boring for you, because wouldn’t we all rather play with the fun stuff? But I’ve had a few questions about foundations recently, so I guess it’s a good time to take another look at them.

Last summer my go-to everyday foundation was Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation, because my skin was being super-duper oily and the matte finish was much appreciated in hiding the uneven texture from breakouts. A couple months after I started taking accutane, that all changed though. My face was incredibly dry and flaky, so Immaculate had a tendency to get a little powdery-looking sometimes. I honestly had never even considered using their tinted moisturizer because, well, tinted moisturizer. That can’t possibly be enough coverage, right? But I got a couple foil samples in a Sephora order and figured it couldn’t hurt just to give it a try – I could use a little more moisture anyway! Spoiler alert: after testing the foil pack and a sample pot from Sephora, I did end up buying a bottle.


Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer Light Beige

The bottle for the Illusion Tinted Moisturizer is identical to the Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation, aside from the color. I do appreciate that, because I still have a tiny bit of Immaculate left, and it’s nice to not have to check both bottles to see which one is which. It’s a metallic-painted glass bottle with a metal pump top and cap. After a couple months of use I haven’t had any issues with the pump clogging. However, since the product is pretty thick (more on that in a minute) I suspect I’ll need to stand the bottle upright when I get near the end of it instead of lying flat in a drawer. The bottle is too chunky to fit in the slim Muji drawers, but it fits fine in my deeper InterDesign drawers.


The coverage is what sold me on this. I normally think of tinted moisturizer as being really sheer, but this, it’s basically a medium coverage foundation that happens to be really moisturizing. It actually is a little more opaque than YSL TTE, which is my other everyday foundation right now, so it’s great for days when I don’t want to bother with concealer. The texture is thick enough that it doesn’t drip at all when I pump some onto the back of my hand. Even though it’s thick, it spreads easily and you have some time to work with it before it sets. You can build it up a bit without it looking cakey and it sets to a luminous satin finish. I’ve tried all different types of application methods – buffing brush, damp blending sponge, round angled brush, fingers – and it goes on seamlessly with all of them. I was really surprised that it looked good when I used my hands to apply it, because that’s my very least favorite way to use base products – it makes most of my other favorites look attrocious. There’s not any fragrance that I’ve noticed.

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer Light Beige

Bare skin

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer Light Beige

With Illusion TM (no concealer or powder)

As for wear time, it’s fantastic on normal/dry skin – it breezes through the work day with plenty of time left over for going out afterward. We’ve had a couple days over the past few weeks when it was actually warm enough to be pleasant outside (like 60’s or 70’s), and I did notice a teeny tiny bit of shine in my tzone on those days. The product certainly didn’t break down or slide off, but what I’m saying is if you have oily skin you may want to get a sample first if you can.

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer Light Beige

Full face (including concealer and Hourglass ALP Diffused) after 10 hours of wear – no blotting and no touchups (except lipstick)

As for the package claims:

Ultra-rich and deeply moisturizing, Illusion offers moderate coverage to help even out skintone and create a natural, flawless finish. Added Instalift® at 3% lifts and visibly tightens the skin within one hour of application. Hyaluronic Filling Spheres™ at 3% help minimize the appearance of wrinkles while increasing skin’s hydration levels to deliver a healthy, dewy radiance.

I don’t know about the lifting & tightening thing. Maybe that’s because I don’t really think my skin has much of a need to be lifted & tightened? But it certainly does add enough moisture to my skin that fine lines are less noticeable, and my dryest areas don’t get patchy and flaky like they can sometimes.

One thing I’m not a huge fan of as far as the packaging claims go is that is says it’s broad spectrum SPF 15. The Sephora description doesn’t list the percentages of sunscreen ingredients though and I unfortunately didn’t keep the box to see if it’s listed there. In either case, there’s an almost 0% chance you’ll be using 1/4tsp of this stuff on your face, which is the amount spf ratings are based on. One pump is maybe 1/8tsp (that’s a guesstimate) and even that is really more than I need to cover my face and down onto my neck. That little rant isn’t unique to this product, but just know that it isn’t a substitute for an actual sunscreen. The active ingredient is octinoxate, so I wouldn’t think there’d be issues with flashback under flash photography.


Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer Light Beige SwatchMy color is Light Beige, which is a pretty neutral light-medium. For reference, my other ‘winter color’ foundation matches are YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat B40, Burberry Sheer Luminous Trench No 5, and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua B30. The color range is really the weakest point here – there are only six shades. I feel like regular sheer tinted moisturizers can get away with that sort of thing because some of your natural skin color shows through, but this has enough coverage that a mis-match is going to be more obvious. The existing shades will probably work for the majority of folks, but extremely light or deeper-toned folks might get left out in the cold. The Immaculate line also came out with a small number of shades and added more later – so Hourglass, if you’re reading this, please add more shades to Illusion also, kthx!

In Short: This has been my perfect winter-skin foundation.

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer ($55) is available at sephora.com


  1. Robyn

    March 28, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Question: Do you know if the shades are analogous to the shade names in Hourglass Immaculate? E.g. is Shell the same color in Immaculate and Illusion?

    (Because daaaang that means they don’t make my color…)

    1. Nikki

      March 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

      I haven’t compared them side-by-side but I think they do run fairly similar; I’ll try to check this weekend while I’m at Sephora. HOWEVER – Immaculate oxidized a tiny bit dark on me so I have to go a shade ligher than I normally would, and that isn’t the case with Illusion.

    2. Nikki

      March 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

      I swatched them at Sephora yesterday, and the shades are similar, but not identical. This pic is Shell in Illusion (left) and Immaculate (right): http://i.imgur.com/soeCBJ6.jpg

      In Illusion that shade has a more olive-y undertone, and it’s definitely not any lighter :-(

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