Spotlight: Hourglass Cosmetics

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Spotlight: Hourglass

If you somehow sneaked into my makeup room and rummaged through all the drawers (which would be suuuuper creepy) you’d find a little bit of Hourglass in almost every one of them. For real – I apparently have more stuff from them than just about any other brand. The thing that’s sort of unique about Hourglass, though, is the range of different products you’d find. Normally I fall in love with a particular thing from a brand – eyeshadows, say, or lipsticks – but these guys do everything well. Grab a drink and let me tell you how much I love them. I’ll be fan-girling pretty hard in a few spots, so in case you were wondering – everything in this post was purchased by me.

Ambient Lighting Powder

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Swatches

(Top to bottom)
Left column: Radiant, Incandescent, Dim
Right column: Diffused, Mood, Ethereal

I’ve already written about the Ambient Lighting Powders many, many times since I acquired them gradually. I’m not sure there’s much more I can say about them that I haven’t already! I use the shades in different ways. Incandescent and Radiant are both pretty shimmery so I use them as a highlighter and sheer bronzer, respectively. The other four pull duty as all-over finishing powders depending on the look I’m going for and the time of the year. You can read more about how I use each shade here, but all of them help fake a smooth, flawless skin texture. They’re not necessarily the be-all end-all of powders – mainly because they don’t really control oil at all – but I feel naked without it. At this point the only one I’m missing is Luminous. Not that I really need it, obviously, but I may pick it up in the next Sephora sale just to be a completionist.

Eyeshadow Duos

Hourglass Eyeshadow Duo Swatches- Suede/Gypsy

Top: Suede
Bottom: Gypsy

I almost feel bad to mention these, because I’m pretty sure they’re being discontinued. At least, a few of the shades are still on the Hourglass website but they’re not listed anymore on other retail sites. The formula is very smooth and pigmented, and blends easily. I can see why they might discontinue them in favor of their new eyeshadow¬† palettes though. The duos are nice for a very simple eye look, but I usually end up wanting to add a third color in. The packaging and price point were sort of weird too – each shade is .10oz (3g) for a total of .2oz/6g per duo. To put that in perspective, that’s more product that most of the eyeshadow quads/quints I have from other luxury brands. So even though it ends up being a fairly low price per oz, the $38 price tag feels really expensive for a duo but isn’t as versatile as a quad. As much as I like these, I would understand if they weren’t selling like hotcakes.

Modernist Eyeshadow Palette

Hourglass Modernist Palette Infinity SwatchesThe brand-new Modernist Palette, on the other hand, is much more in line with other brands’ quints as far as pricing and product weight go ($58/.17oz or 5g). That means a higher price per ounce, but it’s still plenty of eyeshadow to use for a loooong time. This one is the shade that launched at Barneys recently. It seems to be out of stock at the moment, but it should be coming to other Hourglass retailers soon. I did a first impressions review soon after I got it, and everything there still holds. The shadows wear beautifully – no fading or creasing after a full day of work. I love how easily the soft, velvety texture blends, but I could see some folks not enjoying how soft it is or having fallout problems with certain brushes. A few photos have popped up on instagram of versions in other colors, so hopefully those will be in stores soon too.

Ambient Lighting Blush

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Swatches - Mood Exposure/Diffused Heat

Left: Mood Exposure
Right: Diffused Heat

As far as I know, these are the first (and so far, only) powder blushes from Hourglass. I was super pumped when I first heard about them because I already loved their ALPs and eyeshadows. They know how to do some crazy fine-milled powders, that’s for sure. I started off with four of these, but ended up swapping Radiant Magenta and Luminous Flush because they were a touch too similar in color to other blushes I have. You can see swatches and my full review here. I’m normally ruthless with my makeup purges and never look back, but I’ll admit that’s one I regret; the blushes blend so seamlessly with the ALPs that the finished effect is completely natural.

Retractable Foundation Brush

Hourglass Retractable Foundation Brush When I first got the retractable foundation brush and opened it up, I wasn’t at all sure I was going to like it. I normally use foundation brushes with short, dense bristles so this one was a bit of an adjustment. The synthetic hairs are fairly long so there’s a lot more flex than I’m used to. My fears were calmed after the first few uses, though. The brush blends foundation perfectly, and you can slide up the metal sheath to ‘shorten’ the bristles if you want the brush to be a little more firm. The only small gripe I have with it is it needs to be cleaned more frequently than my other foundation brushes – after 2-3 uses product will build up and affect how well it blends. Despite that, it has a permanent place in my travel lineup.

Opaque Rouge Lipstick

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Lipstick Swatch - CanvasThis mini of the Opaque Rouge lipstick is the newest addition to my little Hourglass family. Of every Hourglass product I’ve tried, this one is the most finicky to work with. The first time I applied it, it went on unevenly, gathered in lines and refused to dry down. In short, I was a hot mess. I went back to read the product description and it all became clear. Always RTFM. Hourglass is one of the few brands that actually puts useful information in their product summaries, and there’s an important gem in this one:

How to use: Your lips must be bare to ensure optimal coverage. Apply directly from the applicator and allow to set for one minute.

Yes, this. I usually prep my lips with a balm of some sort, and for this lipstick you need to wipe any excess off thoroughly. Once I tried that – full, even coverage, quick dry-down (maybe slightly longer than a minute, but not more than 2 or 3) and no movement. The applicator on the mini is a bit tricky to use – certain angles feel awkward – but I think that probably doesn’t apply to the full size version. Once it dries, there’s very little transfer and it wears for around 4 hours without drying my lips.

Veil Mineral and No28 Primers

Hourglass Primer Swatches

Top: No28 Primer Serum
Bottom: Veil Mineral Primer

Posting swatches of primers feels a little bizarre, but hey, maybe it’ll give you an idea of the texture. The top swatch that you can just barely see (look for the shiny spot) is their No28 Primer Serum, and the white one is the Veil Mineral Primer. These two are basically opposites, but I use (and love) both of them.

The Veil primer is more of a traditional primer – helps control oil, smooths your skin for makeup application and creates a layer between your skin and makeup. It also has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to add a little bit of SPF – only 15, so you’ll still want to wear a regular sunscreen, but the physical ingredients in the primer won’t interfere with other sunscreens. The texture is really lightweight and smooths on easily without balling up. There can be a hint of a white cast if you use too much – one pump is plenty. I wouldn’t say this is the most oil-controlling primer I’ve used, but it’s definitely the most oil-controlling primer I’ve used that doesn’t have a really thick silicone texture. Heavy silicones tend to clog up my pores, so this is my favorite for everyday when it’s humid out (which around here is most of the year). I’ve gone through a full size and around 3 travel sizes of this stuff, so it’s definitely repurchase-worthy.

The No28 primer serum, on the other hand, is more of a skincare/makeup combo. My skin is somewhat oily but gets dehydrated easily so in the winter I need pretty heavy duty moisture. Otherwise my skin soaks up all the moisture from my foundation and I end up with powdery/patchy spots. Not cute. This primer adds serious moisture, baby. It feels like an oil when it’s applied, and takes a couple minutes to soak in. Once it does, my skin feels really soft, and stays that way all day. I go through slightly more than one travel size bottle per winter, which I feel is a totally reasonable amount of time for the price.

Illusion Tinted Moisturizer and Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation

Hourglass Illusion/Immaculate Swatches

Left: Immaculate in Natural
Right: Illusion in Light Beige

These are possibly my two favorite foundations ever. Just like with my primers, I need two very different foundations at different times a year to deal with my skin’s moodiness.

Immaculate is on one extreme end of the spectrum – matte and extremely oil-controlling. I’m getting close to the end of my second bottle, and I’ve raved about it before. I don’t even know how many times I’ve recommended it to people who are fed up with trying to find foundation for oily skin. Now, it does have it’s quirks, don’t get me wrong. It oxidizes a little bit dark on me when my skin is oily, so I buy a shade lighter than my skin tone. Interestingly, I’ve worn it a few times this winter and that’s when I realized it does not oxidize if my skin isn’t oily – one of the few times I’ve used my Dim ALP in winter, to add a bit more color. You learn something every day. This is also another case of useful nuggets in the product info:

How to use: Prep your complexion with a primer. For best results, apply with a foundation brush or Kabuki brush. Apply one pump to the back of the hand and load the product evenly onto the brush. Using circular strokes, apply and buff the product onto the face, loading the brush as needed. Work quickly as Immaculate immediately transforms from a liquid to a powder as you blend. Sponge application is not recommended.

Everything in there is so right. It sets really quickly so if you don’t work in sections you’re gonna have a bad time. Same if you try to use a sponge – it’s a disaster. I’m willing to put up with a little fussiness for the results, though.

If you look for the Illusion Tinted Moisturizer in the packaging above, you won’t find it. However, I’m nearly positive that their Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint is the same product, just with a different name and packaging. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – I haven’t purchased the new one (trying to finish up another winter foundation) but from swatching it at Sephora it looks and feels very similar. One thing I’m really excited about – it now comes in twelve shades vs the original six, and the new tube packaging is much more practical even if it doesn’t look as nice. Despite the name, this is actually one of the most full-coverage foundations I’ve used. If you want proof, check out my review from back when I still had TONS of hyperpigmentation from breakouts. It has a fairly thick texture and unlike Immaculate, doesn’t set so fast that you need to hurry with it. It has a satiny, slightly luminous finish and lives up to its all-day moisture claims.

What didn’t work

The brand as a whole is chock-full of my favorites, but there have been just a few things that didn’t work for me:

Hidden Corrective Concealer – I got this to use under my eyes, but ultimately it just didn’t have enough coverage. I have comparison of it and several other concealers here.

No28 Lip Oil – I sampled this, but it had such an incredibly strong scent (very heavy on clove) that I just couldn’t use it. The No28 Primer has a similar but less strong scent that wears off quickly, but there was just something about the lip oil (maybe being so close to my nose) that made me nope right out of there.

Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil – I tried this in Dark Brunette (reviewed here). Objectively I’d say it’s a great pencil, but the shape of it is better for filling brows than drawing them in, and there just isn’t a color that matches my hair.

Next up on my to-try list? I really want to see what the Veil Fluid Foundation is like (I’m guessing if falls somewhere between the other two) and I still haven’t tried out their Femme Rouge Lipsticks.

You can get all your Hourglass things at Nordstrom, Sephora, Barneys and the Hourglass website.




  1. tirurit

    January 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The veil primer has been on my wishlist for what seems like forever!!

    Very nice post, as with all the hype around their powders sometimes it seems that their other products disappear ;)

  2. Robeen Hood

    January 9, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I am in love with Hourglass Cosmetics after reading your post :)

  3. Sara@Colormeloud

    January 11, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Such a nice round-up. It must be because I have never had the chance to play with these at a counter, I feel like Hourglass cosmetics is a little overrated. All the products I have purchased until now (some blushes, skin finishes and eye shadows) are nice but not that special. It is common to have such a feeling though since I can’t try the whole range. It seems I should check out a few lipsticks as well.

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