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Step Into Your Perfect Light With Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders

I have a peculiar relationship with overhyped products. Sometimes I am very much skeptical about them, but other times I just get suckered into the whole dealio and when the dust has settled, I find myself several dollars poorer with no clue as to why I bought into the whole thing.

This could very well be the latter situation, except… these “Ambient Lighting Powders” by Hourglass Cosmetics are so worth the hype.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Packaging

If these things were horrible products, I’d be kicking myself in the face for falling for something so pretentiously named. But, I needed to know if these “Ambient Lighting Powders” could actually artificially create a lighting effect on the face using powders. It sounds like sorcery to me and anything that brings me a step closer to being able to get Lumos! to work is worth a try.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder - Luminous Light

First, I ordered Luminous Light to try out. Since I enlisted the help of Carefreeshopper, I needed to wait about a month to get my order.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder - Ethereal Light

I was really getting antsy and meant to get at least two anyway, so I asked Sarie to get me one more on her trip to the States, because that is super logical. I asked for Ethereal Light, because I figured it would be hard to go wrong with a translucent powder.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder - Mood Light

And then my experience with Luminous Light was so fricken good, I asked her to get me Mood Light, too.

At $45 a pop, this seems excessive, but holy cow. Words cannot describe how much I love these things. I’ve never really been a powder person, so I can’t really tell you why I was so into these, but I’ll try my best.

So, these Ambient Lighting Powders are supposed to mimic certain lighting effects on your face. They come in six “shades” or effects:

  • Ethereal Light — transparent; mimics a moonlit glow
  • Diffused Light — light warm creamy yellow; mimics a soft ray of morning light
  • Dim Light — neutral peach beige; blurs imperfections & highlights a radiant complexion with a perfect combination of warm and cool tones
  • Mood Light — soft sheer lavender pink; mimics the softest most forgiving light, reveals the brightest complexion
  • Luminous Light — champagne pearl; creates a soft, incandescent candlelit glow
  • Radiant Light — sun-kissed golden beige; overall complexion with believable, subtle warmth, and also extends a summer glow

Sounds like mumbo jumbo, right? I wasn’t really lured into it because of these descriptions. I think it was this story that did me in:

“I learned early on how different types of light can truly flatter the complexion. Growing up, my mother had pink light bulbs in all of the lamps throughout the house. She loved pink light because it was the softest and most flattering, and she always wanted to look good. I used this concept of lighting in Ambient Lighting Powder.” — Carisa Janes, Hourglass Founder

Still, I don’t regret being suckered into a product with a good story, because these things are freaking great.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powders

Here are some heavy swatches. All the powders are quite fine, and I these are applied much heavier than you would apply them to your face:

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders - Swatches

Swatches, L-R: Ethereal Light, Luminous Light, Mood Light

When I first used Luminous Light, I was like “EH?” and was so heartbroken that I’d been suckered into some gimmick. I was on my way out of the house, but then I had to go back into my room to get something I forgot. I caught my reflection in the mirror, just with natural light and not the bulbs I usually have turned on when I put on my makeup, and wow! I felt like freaking Galadriel.

And that is when the love affair started. Here are some Instagram photos of me wearing Luminous Light, which is supposed to mimic “an incandescent, candlelit glow”:

MAC Plumful, MAC Mehr

I use this one all over my face, though it has a bit of a pearly sheen to it, so some people use it just as a highlight. I personally love the haloed effect it gives to my face, especially when I am not drowning in sweat.

Here’s one where I used Ethereal Light.

LOL it’s kind of a funny pose and facial expression, but I think you can see the difference, even with the filters. I find this to be a little pale on me, but I think I was a bit heavy-handed with it since this was the first time I used it.

It’s pretty much a straight-up matte powder, and I can see how it imitates the moonlight. You know how everything the moon touches lights up with a bluish, cool light? That’s how I find this powder. It’s not bad, but it’s not my favorite.

Also, it really proves to me how these powders serve different functions. Which makes me want all of them all the more!

And, finally, Mood Light in action:

I look super tan here, and I don’t know why. It’s weird that Mood Light is supposed to provide “the brightest complexion” but I look really tan here. I do kind of love the effect, though!

On super pale skin tones, Mood Light can actually work as a blush! For me, I use it all over the face (lol my answer to all the powders, apparently), though I want to try experimenting and using a couple of these at a time, concentrating certain “shades” on different smaller areas.

I think the shade that will get the least use from me might be Ethereal Light. While it does mimic a moonlit glow, it kind of makes me look washed out and might be a tad bit too cool for me. I think my favorite is Mood Light, though Luminous Light is an absolutely joy to use as well.

I initially thought these were just highlighters, but to my surprise, they helped keep my oil levels down! They’re not so effective as an oil control powder when the weather is excessively hot, however. The coverage is very, very minimal.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powders - Packaging - Hand

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder - Packaging - Guerlain

The packaging looks very luxe, with a sort of sleek shiny bronze finish and curved corners, but there is very little weight to them. By that, I mean, they look like Guerlain’s cousins, but there is very little heft to the compacts themselves. I don’t mind, but I was very surprised because I expected them to be heavier. They come with a mirror on the lid.

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powders - Brushes

You can purchase a special brush made by Hourglass, but I just use my RealTechniques blush brush (from the travel set) or more frequently, my Hakuhodo H610. I get a bit of product on the brush, not fully extended, sweep across my cheekbones and other parts of my face, then blend out with the fully extended bristles.

I know these are sort of divisive products (though there are more people who love them), but I don’t know, man. These are such a dream to use for me, personally.

Here are some comprehensive video reviews, so you can see them in action. They’re also very helpful, if you’re thinking of maybe picking just one of these babies up. 🙂

By Dustin Hunter

By Josh Collier

In case anyone was wondering, these are “free of parabens, talc, fragrance, nano-particles and gluten.” Hourglass Cosmetics is also cruelty-free. If that weren’t enough, Google the founder, Carisa Janes, because she is super inspiring and super beautiful.

That’s all folks, thanks for reading! Do you have any of these up? What has been your experience with them?


  1. Abi says

    I discovered your blog thru Regina Belmonte and now you’re my number 1 favorite blogger. I go to your site daily. I can skip other blogs but not yours. Hehe! I just love the minimalistic and classy way of how you describe things. Also, I envy your skin SO MUCH. Please continue blogging forever and ever ❤

  2. This is not helping my shopping ban, and it’s only my third day! Haha. I’m staying strong.

    So interesting that you had your Galadriel moment, because I had a Galadriel moment this morning on the bus! I’ve busted out the old Wulong compact and am using it again. This morning — and I wasn’t feeling particularly chipper today — I accidentally looked into the bus’ rear-view mirror and saw how glowy i was. Obviously I’m over the moon haha.

    Even with the Wulong I still want these powders, though!

    • EEP, sorry. I’m staying strong, too! Haha yay us, yay maturity.

      Ahhh, I really wanted Wulong, but I’m glad that they kind of do the same thing (give people Galadriel moments).

      These are permanent, though, so lucky us 😀

  3. Luminous Light is so pretty on you!! But I think I want Mood Light, too. Nako, following you & Kate (gh0stparties) is very bad for my wallet!

    • Yeesh, it’s very bad for my wallet, too. Hahaha kaya ako nag No Buy. These are definitely worth trying, though!

  4. oooooooooh. New layout. it’s like a discovered a new blog! I likes. 🙂 I love these powders. Dim and Luminous are gorgeous and Mood is a great pre-blush. you could probably use as a pre-blush as well to add more dimension to your other powder or cream blushes you apply after.

    • Yes! Haha that’s true. I’m definitely excited to play around with these, but I have a problem with subtlety hehe. I’ll give that a shot. 😀 I just basically use these all over and like, love them already.

    • Hey Paige, I’m not that sure. You could try Space.NK, which ships internationally. I ordered mine through Carefreeshopper (they order from Sephora for you), and you used to be able to get Hourglass from Zuneta, but I can’t see their brand page anymore.

      Thanks and good luck!

  5. My Lucite Dreams says

    I love them! I have Diffused light and so glad I went for the hype too. I love Mood light on you, you look so glowy

  6. Love Ethereal and Luminous Light. And you look gorgeous! I’m still holding strong, haven’t bought any of these yet! I need to use up at least ONE powder before buying another 🙂

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  8. O.O I loved the idea of the product, but I didn’t believe that it would actually work like that. Now I’m going to have to try it out.

    If you like these kinds of powders, I’d suggest you try Guerlain’s Meteorite Pressed Powder compact! It always gives a lovely glow, and was the powder i always used as a finishing powder for photoshoots and stage.

    • Yep, I was pleasantly surprised, too. 🙂

      I’m not usually a powder kind of person, though I briefly considered those! I settled for the actual météorites, though, as I found the pressed powders a little expensive. Wulong was, anyway.

      • The Metorites pressed powder is a lot cheaper. XD Wulong’s crazy. I haven’t tried out the actual meteorites, but I read the pressed powder has a more subtle effect in comparison. Check out Teint Dore! =) I think I’ll be buying Luminious and Diffused from Hourglass after reading your post, thanks again for the introduction!

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  10. You’ve got to try the shade Diffused Light! I’ve just got it and since it’s a slightly yellow shade, it cancels out my redness and goes with my warm skintone. Once I put it on my skin just seems ten times smoother and looks so much softer. It’s gorgeous!

  11. Hi Carina! Knew your blog through Tellie’s post 🙂 I’m really looking forward to have Luminous light. Super ganda ng effect sayo. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this! ❤

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  13. Finally got my Ambient Lighting Palette and I had to go back to this post, I don’t know what brush to use with it 😛

    • YAY! So happy for you. I wasn’t going to buy it but my brother asked what I wanted for Christmas/my birthday. 😀 The Hourglass brush for the ALPs are flat and wide, which I assume is for highlighting. Hope you like it! 😀

      • Bummed that I didn’t think of that before my brother came back. Will just have to find something similar… or maybe my fan brush will do. Thanks Carina! This post was really helpful. And just so you know, the Galadriel reference had me. 😛

      • I personally don’t find the brush necessary! 🙂 If you search for Dustin Hunter’s video review, he uses a powder brush. Yay for Galadriel 😀

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  17. I know this comment comes pretty late but I just really had to thank you for reviewing the ALPs! There weren’t any Filipina bloggers reviewing these babies before your review came out so I was hesitant to buy them. I thought of them as a cross between a finishing powder and a highlighter, so I thought they might not work in humid climes! Your review convinced me otherwise so I had my mom pick up Mood Light and Dim Light for me when they were in the States a few weeks back. I’m happy I did–it’s done wonders for my routine! Hoping to pick up the rest of the powders (except Radiant Light) and the palette soon.

    P.S. I don’t know if this is at all helpful–they work best for me on top of Bourjois’ Healthy Mix Serum Gel (though they’re wonderful on top of pretty much any foundation, really).

    • Yay, I’m so happy this was helpful for you! 🙂 I agree with you, it’s beautiful on top of the Healthy Mix Serum.

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