I Find Myself Asking the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Palette in Surreal Light If We’ve Met Before…

Published in: Hourglass, Makeup, Palettes, Product Reviews

I love a cat with marbled sides.

And I also love marbled packaging.


hourglass surreal light palette

The new $80 Hourglass Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Palette comes dressed to impress in an elegant marbled compact which, by the way, looks a lot like the kitchen of my dreams in my dream house.

When I finally win the lottery, I’m going to point to a pic of this palette and say, “Please do this for my counters, OKTHANXBAI.”

hourglass surreal light palette

The Hourglass Surreal Light Palette in my paw for scale

Please note that I said “pic of this palette,” because I don’t plan to keep it around…since it’s going back to Sephora.

Yup, I purchased it when it was pre-released early on the Sephora website for VIB members last week, and even though I love how it looks on the outside, well…

hourglass surreal light palette

A closeup of the pans

Let’s me just start by saying that I’m a HUGE Hourglass fan, particular when it comes to their Ambient Powders. I’ve been loving them and wearing them for years, and I still wear the Ambient face powders, highlighters, bronzers and blushes on the daily, because you just can’t find finishes that nuanced anywhere else.

If you like makeup that doesn’t look heavy or overdone, the Ambient powders will get you there. Their fine, silky face powders set the bar.

hourglass surreal light palette swatches

Swatches of the Hourglass Surreal Light Palette

I was looking forward to this palette’s five new Ambient powder shades — a finishing powder (0.14 ounces), a bronzer, two blushes and a highlighter (0.04 ounces each) — but, unfortunately, most of ’em just don’t do it for brown girls.

Despite being billed as universally flattering, most of these shades, with the exception of the blush in Surreal Glow (which looks like the Hourglass Radiant Magenta Blush that already lives in my makeup bag), don’t show up well on my MAC NC42 skin.

The finishing powder and bronzer are both a tad too light for me, and the other shades don’t really seem unique enough, considering the price.

hourglass surreal light palette swatches

For comparison — shades similar to the Finishing Powder in Surreal Light

I think the formulas and finishes are definitely up to Hourglass standards…but if you’ve been collecting Hourglass products for a while, there’s a good chance you already have similar shades. When I compare a swatch of Surreal Light to some existing shades from the line, they look very similar…

hourglass surreal light palette swatches

Comparison swatches of the Surreal Palette Blush (Surreal Glow) with Radiant Magenta and Luminous Flush


hourglass surreal light palette swatches

Yup…more comparison swatches!

hourglass surreal light palette swatches

Comparison swatches of Surreal Powder in Surreal Strobe Light and Radiant Light

Even though Surreal Light doesn’t really do it for me, the Hourglass quality is there. I can still wholeheartedly recommend it for lighter lasses who are new to the Hourglass line, but hardcore Hourglass fans (can I get an amen?) might want to save their tacos for a future purchase if they already have a collection of Ambient powders at home.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 21 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Chris25 says:

    Yeah, I can see this working for light complexions as well. I have some powders at home so I can skip it.
    Chris25 recently posted … Sephora VIB Appreciation Gift

  2. evo says:

    yup…mine went back to sephora today. i wanted to love it but nothing really showed up on my skin! and i wear the armani luminous silk foundation in 5.5

  3. breyerchic04 says:

    I just have Mood Light, so maybe this is worth it, we’ll see if it’s still available when Sephora goes 20% off…

  4. Christine says:

    It looks rather chalky. 😐 I love your reviews because…Pinay complexion here, too. Thank you for keeping it real for this part of the complexion spectrum. For so long I looked at beauty resources thinking that so many products would flatter my skin tone whe-e-e-n, just NO.

  5. Lulle says:

    I’m not surprised, all the swatches I’ve seen of these palettes looked very very light. I mean, the Glow blush can only really work as a blush for someone with truly fair skin.
    But even for lighter skin tones, the shades in this palette look very similar to each other. The Glow blush, the bronzer and the Strobe powder are hard to distinguish on the skin.
    Very meh palette from Hourglass if you ask me! It’s not the quality of the formulas that’s lacking, but the choice of shades.
    Lulle recently posted … #FrenchFriday: Deep Fall Looks with YSL Danger Seduction Couture Palette

  6. SiouxF says:

    Thank you! I love swatch comparisons. And I, too, have a lot of things that look just like this. And I am okay with that because I have so many other holiday palettes / sets on my list!

  7. Becky says:

    I’m with you on this one. The packaging is b-e-a-utiful but I’m not inspired by the content!
    Becky recently posted … Bio-Essence’s amazing moisturiser for oily skin

  8. Yeah, doesn’t really blow me away either.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Ticino Switzerland Travel: Gastronomy & Wellness in Ascona

  9. Rachel S. Runyan says:

    I think this looks just as over-priced for the tiny amount of product you get as last year’s did. Easy pass.

  10. Colleen says:

    Mine is going back too:( I’m fair and only the darker blush shows on my skin.

  11. Agata says:

    I think the shades would work for me but I already have a bunch of Hourglass products so I definitely don’t need this palette.

    The packaging is stunning though indeed!

  12. Lizzie says:

    Wow thank you for this very thorough review. I know you love Hourglass and I was shocked to hear it’s going back but everything you say makes total sense. I’m medium skin tone so they may still show up. I loved the last palette they came out with and I use it every day.

  13. Chelsea says:

    Yeah, I can definitely see this a being a bit chalky on darker skin, what a shame!

    I don’t do powders all over in general because they dry out my skin.

  14. KayN says:

    I find myself continually disappointed when new palettes are released/announced and they clearly aren’t going to do it for brown girls, as you say. This is way too common a problem for 2016 – manufacturers are missing out on a whole demographic they could be marketing to! And let’s not even talk about how far too many drugstore brands are only sold in shades ranging from fair to light to medium, forcing us darker-skinned ladies to shell out for high-end products (shout out to L’Oreal for NOT doing this!)

  15. hanna says:

    It’s too bad there doesn’t seem to be much unique about it.
    hanna recently posted … Review: Bamboo by Franck Olivier Perfume + Giveaway

  16. Kim says:

    It’s a beautiful package and I love Hourglass Ambients as well. Except that they break me out, which always makes me sad. My Ambient palette found a good home with a friend, though. 🙂

  17. Carolyn says:

    The packaging is pretty but feels kinda cheap. I’ve been trying to really like this palette but it just doesn’t do anything for me. Only the brighter blush shows up and I don’t like that he highlighting powder seems to have sparkles in it. Unfortunately for $95 CAD, this is not worth keeping at all. I didn’t end up keeping last years palette either. I do love Hourglass products, but I just don’t think their holiday collections are worth the price for what you get. Oh well, that’s money that can be spent on other fun stuff!!!

  18. Erin says:

    I don’t have any of the products but I don’t really like the packaging this year. I just wish they would put out a blush palette again.
    Erin recently posted … Chloe 2015 Pinot Grigio

    • ame says:

      AGREED. I just got one preowned from someone on a makeup exchange that barely used hers. I drug my feet last year and was pissed I didn’t buy it. I need more blush like I need a hole in my face, but I am psyched.

  19. ame says:

    So, I am see through, whiter than paper pale. And this is almost too dark for me/too warm for me. The main finishing powder is almost like an overly gold version of Dim Light, which on my skin, is like rubbing warm brown dirt on my face. Too dark, basically. The strobe powder is also orange. My favorite–the only one I really like, in fact–powder is the original incandescent. The only one they don’t sell on its own…(grr)

    The blushes are beautiful, though the one doesn’t even show up on me. So…not working out.

    OH well.

  20. Shawna says:

    Womp womp. So bummed, but thrilled you saved me $80! Maybe I’ll pick up a couple powders I don’t already own instead. I have many of them and love them and I adore this packaging, but so sad the shades are too light for us! Sigh. Thanks so much for your honesty as always! Love you!

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