Highlighter · Skin

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – Ethereal and Diffused Light – Swatches, Comparison, Review


These powders hardly need an introduction. Ever since Hourglass launched their Ambient Lighting Powders they have been the talk of the beauty community. I read reviews that heralded these as incredible complexion finishers while others thought they were a total waste of money. I have always been curious to try them for myself in order to forge my own opinion but I always balked at the price tag.


I also found it extremely difficult to know which powder to choose and where to start. When I was in New York in November, I spotted these at the till point in Sephora and thought it was the perfect opportunity to give the Ambient Lighting Powders a go. They sell them in travel sizes for a fraction of their usual full price and so I picked up the two lightest shades, Ethereal Light and Diffused Light, as I presumed they would be the ones I would get on best with.


The packaging on these is cute. It is a miniature version of the full size and equally as sleek and shiny. The compact is secure and while it doesn’t click closed, it is sturdy and I would have no fear about it swinging open in my bag. I like cute packaging but I’m a stickler for well made packaging on high end brands and this doesn’t disappoint.


Inside the compacts is the product and a mirror that fits to the lid. Because these are travel sizes, these mirrors are very small and difficult to use. They might work for an eye look but they are very difficult to see your cheek in!


The powders are next to impossible to photograph but I think if you look carefully you can see that the Diffused Light leans more yellow than the Ethereal Light.


Diffused Light is described as a soft, warm, pale yellow which is said to conceal redness and give skin clarity like a soft ray of morning light.

From the get-go, I reached for Ethereal Light more because it was paler and I was instantly attracted to it so I definitely have not gotten as much wear out of this one. I don’t find it as brightening as the Ethereal Light but it still does smooth out the skin and make it appear more perfected.


Here is a before and after using the Diffused Light and while it is hard to see because my camera washed me out in the second picture (I really need to learn how to fix that), I think when you look at my nose, you can see how it looks slightly clearer.

I find Diffused Light slightly too yellow toned for my liking. It isn’t like it turns my skin banana yellow but I can see the slightest tinge that it adds which I don’t like. I don’t think it would be visible to anybody but me but I’m still not a huge fan. I also find it quite glittery which I’m not crazy about either.


Ethereal Light is described as an opalescent, sheer, cool white powder that mimics a moonlight glow.

Immediately I loved both the description and the look of this. Being a pale-skinned girl, cool tones, white powders and any promise of moonlight had me sold. I have been reaching for this almost every day (except for the days when I simply forget because it IS an extra step).


I think in this before and after, you can see the true brightening effect that it has. Here I used it underneath my eyes and down the centre of my nose. This brightens, smooths and adds the most beautiful glow to the skin. I am obsessed with it!

My one issue with it is because it is quite luminous, it can sometimes accentuate pores so I always ensure to use a pore-filling primer underneath.

I believe that people who are disappointed with these powders are simply using them the wrong way. These aren’t setting powders, they’re finishing powders. They won’t set makeup or stop oil production throughout the day. I apply my full makeup, powder and all and then pop an Ambient Lighting Powder under my eyes to brighten, down the centre of my nose, the middle of my forehead, on my cupid’s bow and on my chin. I apply these OVER my setting powder. I honestly have never received so many compliments on my skin until I started using these.

I am having a serious love affair with Ethereal Light and I do like Diffused Light – I wonder if I had only purchased Diffused Light, if I would love it more because I would’t be comparing it to its Ethereal sister. I know that as soon as I run out of Ethereal, I will be using Diffused daily instead anyway, even though it doesn’t quite have my heart in the same way.

There are six shades available in the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder – all of which come in a travel size at Sephora. The minis contain 1.4g of product for $22, while the full size holds a whopping 10g for $46. While the larger versions are definitely better value for money, if I get to the States again, I will definitely pick up some other shades in the travel sizes so I can try them out (as well as a full size Ethereal, of course). If you’re not going to be Stateside any time soon, you can pick up the full sizes in Space NK on Grafton Street or from the Space NK website where they retail for £40 (I’m not sure how much they sell it for in euro but £40 is about €47).

While it may be a little trial and error (or extensive research) to find your ideal shade, I definitely think these are worth a look. If you want photoshopped skin, these are magic!

Have you tried any of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders?
Which shade do you gravitate towards?

Disclaimer: No PR samples were featured. No affiliate links were used.


4 thoughts on “Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – Ethereal and Diffused Light – Swatches, Comparison, Review

  1. I love these. I have a full size of Dim Light & a mini of Ethereal Light. My sister is currently in the US for a few weeks and she’s gotten me a mini mood light to try as well. Like you I use these as finishing powder and am convinced anyone who complains about them is using them wrong.


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