Highlighters Hourglass Cosmetics

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders

January 21, 2016

This spring Hourglass has launched some additions to the Ambient Lighting family with the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders ($38 each for 0.16 oz/4.6 g) and the Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor ($22). I stopped by the Hourglass Store in Venice Beach last week to check these out and fell in love. One of the strobe powders Incandescent Strobe Light was introduced to us before in the Ambient Lighting Palette (Trio) as an exclusive. If you have this palette, you’re familiar with the beautiful natural glowy finish and smooth texture of the strobe powders. They look sheer on the hands/arms. On the face they add the perfect natural glow and highlight. The sparkle isn’t over the top and it makes the skin glow without being too frosty and they do not emphasize pores.

There are four shades of the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders. If you ask me if you think all four are necessary to have, I would say no – but after seeing them at the store, I had to buy all four. The colors are:
  • Euphoric Strobe Light – A pearlescent beige powder bestowing a natural highlight
  • Iridescent Strobe Light – An illuminating pink powder imparting a soft highlight
  • Brilliant Strobe Light – A shimmering gold powder imparting a lustrous highlight
  • Incandescent Strobe Light – An opalescent pearl powder bestowing a celestial highlight
Euphoric is the darkest option available. Iridescent and Incandescent are very similar, Iridescent is slightly deeper and more pink. Brilliant is a gorgeous yellow/gold option. I find the powders very finely milled and apply flawlessly with the Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor or a regular powder brush.

The packaging of the Strobe Powders is similar in size to the Ambient Lighting Blushes, except the color is silver.

A quick look at size comparisons:

Ambient Lighting Powders $45 for 0.35 oz/10 g (review)
Ambient Lighting Bronzers $50 for 0.39 oz / 11 g (review)
Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder $38 for 0.16 oz/4.6 g
Ambient Lighting Palette $58 for 0.35 oz/9.9 g (review)
Ambient Lighting Blush $35 for 0.15 oz/4.2 g (review)

Close ups of each powder in sunlight:

The product in the pans will look different depending on lighting situations. The shimmer particles are highly reflective. I have a couple shots to show the base color and the shimmers depending on light. Both sets are in the same order.

Top: Incandescent Strobe Light, Euphoric Strobe Light
Bottom: Iridescent Strobe Light, Brilliant Strobe Light

Swatches and three sets of comparison swatches, first in natural light:

With sun + flash – they look frosty here, but I can assure you on the face they are more finely milled and naturally glowy:

A quick look at the Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor – it applies these perfectly to the cheek bones by tapping on the areas you want highlighted. A regular blush brush works just as good, although if you want to apply the powders damp for more color, I found the brush worked better.

Comparison Set 1: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in Luminous Light (reviewed here), Diffused Light and Dim Light. Luminous Light has a shimmery quality that acts as a highlighter while some other shades like Diffused and Dim Light are less shimmery and can be used as an all over setting powder for me without looking too glowy. Below the swatches are done with a heavy hand to show the color differences.

Comparison Set 2: Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powders in Starlight and Candlelight (reviewed here) are a lot more shimmery. On me Candlelight looks too white for my olive/yellow skin although it looks good on many of my friends. I prefer the Hourglass Strobe Powders by far. Also shown is Becca Champagne Pop (swatched here) and the Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Duo in Moodlight (review). The Becca is one of the most shimmery highlighters I own (and adore). By comparison the Becca Champagne Pop almost feels sharp because the shimmer is so pigmented.

Comparison Set 3: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade is one of the softest most finely milled highlighters from MAC that I own. It’s a lot paler than any of the Ambient Lighting Strobe Powders but has a similar effect. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle by comparison has a lot more shimmer/frost. I added a swatch of the MAC Extra Dimension Highlighter in Whisper of Gilt (d/c, review here) to show texture comparison. The effect of the powders is similar to that of NARS Hot Sand Duos (review here). If you already own Hot Sand, you can probably skip Incandescent or Iridescent.

Quick look at the beautiful store on Abbot Kinney:

One last shot, clockwise from top left: Euphoric, Iridescent, Brilliant and Incandescent

Bottom line all winners. I tested these over the past week and am thoroughly impressed. They lasted all day on the cheek bones without getting too glowy or dewy looking by late afternoon. I’ve been testing them over a number of foundations from Tom Ford, NARS, Laura Mercier and Natasha Denona. They all held up remarkably well. I am already on highlighter/glow overload – I’m completely obsessed with glowy highlighters, but I thnk these are well worth a look. If I had to narrow down my picks, I would say Brilliant Strobe Light offers the best strobe highlight for my olive skintone. It brightens the complexion with a gorgeous candlelight glow. Euphoric is the most natural on me since it’s deeper, but it still shows up like skin but better. I would say there’s a tie between Iridescent and Incandescent – I think the pink tones in Iridescent make it more special, but you can’t go wrong with either. The sponge is nice to have, but not a must.

You can find the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders ($38) and Sculptor ($22) at Sephora and Hourglass Cosmetics right now. It is expected to launch at other retailers later this spring.

Have you checked these out yet? What’s your favorite highlighter right now?

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  • I have not yet bought any of these because I think I am leaning more towards the Natasha Denona glow system. Creamy formulas tend to do better on my drier cheeks. My favorite highlighters right now are the liquid ones from Burberry and Becca. Becca's rose gold really warms up my winter skin. But these all look pretty!

  • I limited myself to only Incandescent, but I want them all!


  • ame

    Just to clarify–you said in your post that Incandescent Strobe Light is the same as the original. Actually it is NOT the same as the original Incandescent Ambient Light. I really wish they had not named it as such. I have confirmed that not only with the powders in person on my hands, but the Hourglass people have confirmed that to me as well.

    The ORIGINAL Incandscent is "glowy" and more opaque on the skin — I LOVE this one, I basically buy that palette, use that til I clean the pan out and throw the rest of it out with the other two shades literally unused entirely, they are too dark for me, and are basically worthless to me. I have been asking them forever to release just that shade on its own, I have even tried to get the custom palette they supposedly do at the main store with that shade and they will not do it, despite that shade already being in that size already. But the Strobe version is basically a glitterbomb. It's just clear glitter all over the place. Dry, and dusty and glitter flying all over the place. It's horrible. It's not what I would call a high quality, high end product at all. I took it back to Sephora immediately, I was so disappointed. I looked at the other four in person, and all of the Strobe options are exactly the same–clear glittery messes. They felt and looked like dollar store product to me, not like something you spend upwards of forty dollars on.

  • Also, as Ame was talking about above, Iridescent is the one that is in the Ambient Lighting: Edit palette that was released last fall.

  • Thank you for the comparison swatches! I was wondering how the Strobe powders would compare to Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight, which I absolutely love. –Myan

    • Myan, I love the KA Candlelight too. I have the HG six pan palette and none of those come close to KA.

      I will check these out in person but my bar is set high.

  • Christina

    Such a fantastic and comprehensive review. Thanks Sabrina! I was considering these and debating which ones to get because none of my stores have them yet, so this really helps!

  • I don't need them…..I have Champagne Pop, Moodlight, Candlelight & Starlight, all the Ambient Lighting Powders and Delilah Cosmetics Aura Illuminating powder but am I going to get them all? Hell yeah! Beautiful photography Sabrina, you've really captured the Hourglass 'personality' in these pictures. Xx

    • Anonymous

      Amanda, what do you make of the Delilah now that you have it in your possession-is it the L♥VE you had hoped?

    • I haven't received it yet…..I ordered it last week and am just waiting for it to land as there had been such a huge demand for it that it's out of stock until Feb. I tell you what did land this week and I have sent it back in disgust is the Dior Glowing Gardens Compact. They have reduced the weight by 4g and changed the compact from a weighted part metal which was super elegant and lovely to hold to a copy in plastic imitation. It looks and feels cheap but, and here is the rub, it's exactly the same price as last year but with production values greatly changed to make it cheaper to produce. It may well be super pretty but like Guerlain when they cut the size of Meteorites I'm not accepting cheapening of a product while they charge the same not with the vast, vast profits these brands make. Credit Card says no so I have sent it back. I will let you know about Delilah Pure Aura Illuminating Powder as soon as it arrives…….I hope it's worth the hype it's got in the British press as it would be lovely to support a British Brand for a change. XxXx

  • Ooh and I picked up the Dior Diorskin Nude Air Glowing Gardens Edition Illuminating Powder with Kabuki Brush in Glowing Pink (001). I don't want to be caught short. ?

  • For us pale people, I think incandescent is going to be perfect!

    • ame

      I am a "pale person" and it's just clear glitter in a pan. Just as a warning, it's not worth the effort or money. Skip it and stick to the "real" incandescent one from the original Ambient Powder palette.

  • Wow, this is in depth! I love the look of all of them, but as I have the ambient wardrobe I will eventually pick from the other three….. But which one ? Big decisions lols x
    The Beauty Bloss

  • Anonymous

    This product is on top of my wish list so long, look increadible, can't wain to try it. Love all the photos!


  • I love all of these! They look so pretty! Sophie xx


  • I think I want every single powder from this collection! They are all so beautiful!

    xo, Pam


  • Oh, how I love highlighters! Even back in the late 50's-early 60's, long before highlighting products became ubiquitous, I used to use a pearl eyeshadow brushed lightly on my browbone and on the tops of my cheekbones. Needless to say, over the years I've purchased more highlighters than any sane woman could possibly use. LOL I really wanted to love these new powders and settled on Iridescent as the one to try. The charming SA at Hourglass demo'ed it on me and told me to walk around the store a bit and catch glimpses of myself from different angles. She said that was the best way to determine how other people would be viewing me and that how a highlighter plays with the light as we move is the best way to judge it. I did as she told me and I loved it but wanted to give it time to settle on my skin before purchasing. So, my friend and I took a short stroll and stopped for coffee. An hour later, neither my friend nor I could see where the strobing powder had been applied on me and yet it still looked beautiful her. Poor me! LOL. Oh, well. I'm consoling myself with my new Dior highlighter.

    • I love reading your comments Eileen!!!

    • These look beautiful – thank you for your fantastic review!

  • Great review Sabrina. Do you prefer any of these strobe powders to Luminous? I' m debating between one of these and Luminous. Thank you!

  • Bzzzzzzzz I want them so much! I was at Mecca today to grab a sample of the Hourglass Veil Primer, and I didn't even think to check the Ambient range! Unbelievable. The girl giving me the sample was saying how I would love the primer, because it was so good and I said "That's what I'm worried about!". I haven't tried the sample yet, but part of me hopes that it doesn't work on me so I don't have to cave in and buy it at that price…

    Definitely going straight on my wishlist though…


  • They all look very promising. If I ever come across a Hourglass counter I will def check them out to see which one will suit my rather light complexion best. For now I stick to my rms beauty Living Luminizer. I think it is a great not shimmering or overpowering option to add a little bit of highlight to my cheekbones.


  • Is the Hourglass Iridescent strobe light the same as the middle highlight shade in the Ambient Lighting Edit?

    chloé⎪ status.chlo

  • These are so gorgeous! xx


  • This is really nice post. I want reduce my discolouration. Few days back I have heard about skin brightener cream by dermology and I started using it and the results are awesome.

  • They landed at Liberty and Net-A-Porter this morning. I've chosen Brilliant and Iridescent for my NC20 skin so thank you Sabrina for your very detailed reviews as it helped me choose as opposed to just buying the lot. I also bought the Burberry Runway Spring 2016 Illuminating powder in Nude Gold which is so pretty. Combined with my trolley dash around the Tom Ford Spring 2016 releases, this week has been very, very expensive but I have some truly beautiful products. Chanel La Sunrise launched today in UK and for the first time in as long as I can remember I didn't buy a thing. I did order the Chanel Les Sautoirs de Coco Perles et Fantaisies Palette Illuminating Powder from a seller in Singapore as it's not available on European counters but I am having a real issue with Chanel at the moment. Instead of leading the field they are stragglers and looking and feeling behind the pack. Dare say I say it but I even think it's all looking a bit tired and cheap? xx

  • I am really wanting to pick Incandescent Strobe Light because every time I go to Sephora, I swatch it in the palette that it comes in, but I couldn't see spending $58 on a palette when I would just use one of the products in it. I have been wanting Hourglass to come out with the highlighter powders as singles and the finally did! Yay! By the way thou, my favorite highlighter at the moment is the Chanel Perles Et Fantaisies highlighting powder! Love!!

  • hi dear,
    i want to thank you for sharing latest tips.