the highlighter chronicles: hourglass ambient lighting palette

This review is long overdue…and also just long. It’s technically two reviews in one, since I’ll be talking about the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette on a whole and then focusing separately on the highlighter shade.

Hourglass Palette 5

I’ve actually owned an Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette for ages now, but it’s a custom one which I felt made it kind of irrelevant for a product review. While making my own palette was a really fun experience, I’ve gotta say the original shade combo is a little more well-rounded than what I put together (Ethereal, Mood and Dim Light).

Hourglass Palette 6

Hourglass Palette 7

Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Palette includes Dim Light, Incandescent Light and Radiant Light. They are technically a finishing powder, highlighter and complexion warmer respectively, but the nice thing about this combination of shades is that they work on a really wide range of skin tones.

For example, on medium skin tones you could mix all three powders as an illuminating all-over colour and on deeper skin tones you could mix the first two as a highlight and use the third as a finishing powder. I’m very pale so my preferred way to use this palette is to use Dim and Radiant Light together as a bronzer/subtle contour shade with Incandescent Light worn separately (and heavily) as a highlighter.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette Swatches

All the powders have a dry, velvety texture and go on sheer but can also be built up to a visible opacity quite easily. So if you’re using any of these as a finishing powder, my advice would be to use a fluffy brush and a light hand.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are known for having a subtle-but-highly-flattering effect on the skin, due in no small part to how finely milled the powders are. I’ve yet to see them look bad on anyone, which makes this a real crowd-pleaser of a makeup gift (remember this for when Christmas rolls around!) That said, if you have oily skin you may need to be careful about placement because these are illuminating and will enhance a natural sheen. I use my Ambient Lighting Powders primarily on my cheek/cheekbone area and only very lightly on the rest of my face.

Hourglass Palette 2

Hourglass Palette 1

Since this is technically an edition of The Highlighter Chronicles, I’m going to talk about Incandescent Light a tiny bit more:

Incandescent Light is available on its own as part of Hourglass’ new Strobe Lighting Powders and is the palest of the 4 highlighter colours in that line. It’s a very pale pink and like Brilliant Light, has a whitish base that makes it stand out even on fair skin.

As far as highlighters go, Incandescent is very matte. Rather than simply reflecting light, the inclusion of a white base colour allows it to highlight areas on one’s face without that metallic Tin Man effect. In my opinion this what makes it a true luxury product (in addition to its luxe packaging and texture) – it’s very easy to look polished with and very hard to overdo.

Hourglass Palette 4

Here are some swatches of it next to Brilliant Light (reviewed here), and alongside some other pink-based highlighters in my collection so you can see just how matte it is. The last three swatches in the photo are Anastasia Beverly Hills Starburst (from the Glow Kit in Gleam, reviewed here), the pink shade of MAC’s Minearlize Skinfinish in Otherearthly (reviewed here) and the highlighter from Make Up For Ever’s Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige (review to come).

Hourglass Incandescent Light Brilliant Light

Personally I’d recommend buying the Ambient Lighting Palette rather than just a single of Incandescent Light because of the versatility that the palette affords, but if you’re in the market for a highlighter only then the single is technically a better value in terms of price per ounce/gram.



This product was provided as a press sample, however all opinions and observations are my own and not influenced by the brand or its PR team. This post contains affiliate links.

the highlighter chronicles: hourglass strobe lighting powder

I’m going to start this post off with some really exciting news: Hourglass is finally launching coming to Sephora Singapore on the 14th of April! I can confirm that they will be bringing in quite a wide range of products, including these Strobing Light Powders and (my favourite) Ambient Lighting Blushes.

But back to the review:

Considering Hourglass’ reputation as THE brand for illuminating powders, the addition of highlighters to their line may not have come as a surprise, but it sure made me happy! The moment they were announced, I knew I’d love them – all the Hourglass powders I own are a joy to use due to their wonderfully luxe texture. Naturally, their Strobe Lighting Powders are of equally high quality. The powder is super finely milled and feels almost silky to the touch.

Hourglass Brilliant Light 1

Today’s beauty is Brilliant Light, but I’ll be doing a review on Incandescent Light soon.

Now before we go on let me just say that I did take proper product shots of this prior to using it, but somehow I managed to delete them and had to re-take. So this doesn’t look as pristine as it should. Oops!

Hourglass Brilliant Light 2

According to Hourglass these can be applied damp as well as dry for a more intense finish, and they make an angled sponge for exactly that purpose. I swatched these dry and damp on my forearm:

Hourglass Strobe Lighting Powder Brilliant Swatches

Though the dry swatch barely showed up on my arm, it more than did the trick on my face. With a flat brush, I was able to build it up easily to the sheen you see here.

Hourglass Strobe Lighting Brilliant 4

Hourglass Strobe Lighting Brilliant 1

Hourglass Strobe Lighting Brilliant 3

Hourglass Strobe Lighting Brilliant 2

In my opinion, this is probably the most foolproof powder highlighter for people who are interesting in strobing but kind of want to work their way up to it. You can dust this on gently with a fluffy brush for a subtle glow, pack it on with a flat brush (as I did here) for an obviously highlighted look, and when you’re ready you can experiment with a damp application for a strong strobed effect. I think it’s very well-designed to grow with someone who is new to highlighting, but thanks to its refined texture it’s also a product more experienced highlighter lovers will enjoy.

P.S. I’ve gotten a few queries about this lip colour. It’s YSL Rouge Volupté Lipstick in #29 Opera Rose, a goes-with-everything fresh, girly pink. I love the formula too – it’s very hydrating and has SPF 15 – and am right now really mad at myself for leaving it in our LA home. I might have to buy a replacement!

This post contains affiliate links.

top 10 beauty products of 2015

Happy New Year! To celebrate, I thought I’d do a round up of my most loved makeup of 2015. It was hard to pick just 10 products, so this is quite a carefully-considered list of things that made me the happiest to use. Some made the cut for their excellent formulas, some for their visual appeal, most because they have both:

top 10 makeup products

1. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush
I used to be afraid of wearing non-matte blushes because of my skin texture, but these were game changers for me. I love that the subtle glow in this formula makes my skin look luminous and healthy.
See more here.

2. SUQQU Blend Colour Eyeshadow Quads
My SUQQU obsession is already well documented on this blog, so I’ll just summarise by saying they were by far my favourite shadow formulas of 2015. #18 Sakuraori and #19 Awafujisukashi were the first two quads I purchased.
See more here and here.

3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
I’m pretty terrible with brow pencils, so this was my saving grace during the bold brow trend of 2015…though I find it versatile enough to use for more natural looks too. My only gripe is that it dries out pretty quick.

4. Marc Jacobs Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder
I can’t say enough good things about this. It’s ultra-finely milled and blendable, you get tons of product for the price, the contour isn’t orange, the highlight is matte, the compact has a gigantic mirror but is still lightweight…basically it’s perfect.
See more here.

5. Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds
Magic in a bottle, and undoubtedly the star of my Highlighter Chronicles. I love everything about this highlighter, from the bottle to the scent to the formula. Of the three shades, Sea of Clouds remains my favourite.
See more here and here.

6. Wayne Goss Brushes
I was torn between these and my Hakuhodos, but for price and accessibility these take the cake. I really should do a full review on these brushes, but in short, they’re excellent and I’m planning to buy more. (And with free international shipping, why not?)

7. MAC Lightscapade
It was a close call between this and Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight, but ultimately this won for being pretty – good makeup should delight on multiple levels. The opal-esque marbling is so dreamy, and I like that it won’t rub off with use.
See more here and here.

8. Make Up For Ever Aqua Matics
These for me are the goldilocks of eyeshadow sticks: not too dry, not too slippery – just right. I reach for these every time I have to do five-minute-makeup that I do not want to look like five-minute-makeup. Even my mom loves how foolproof these are.
See more here.

9. Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipsticks
My favourite lipstick formula of 2015. I have very dry, deeply wrinkled lips and have always assumed that lipstick was just something to suffer through for the sake of vanity…till I discovered these creamy, pigmented, long wearing and kind-to-my-lips gems.
See more here.

10. Guerlain Météorites
Specifically these limited edition Perles des Neiges, a late but stunning addition to my 2015 faves. Trust me: nothing makes you feel quite as glamorous as finishing your makeup routine off with a dusting of Meteorites. And this version has stars to boot! Review coming soon.