If you’re not familiar with Hourglass, it is a high-end, luxury American cosmetics brand. Their products are expensive so I’ve managed to avoid falling down the Hourglass rabbit hole until now. I bought the small travel size version of their Veil Mineral Primer earlier in the year because so many people rave about it – I’m glad I didn’t get the full size as I wasn’t too impressed and it didn’t really do anything for my skin; if anything I felt like it made my t-zone oily quicker and my foundation slide around more in that area.
However in September, Hourglass came out with this special limited edition Ambient Lighting Edit Unlocked Palette and as soon as I saw it pop up on my instagram feed I was obsessed. I’ve really been gravitating towards all in one face palettes recently; I travel a lot and it’s so handy to be able to grab one palette that I can use to do my contour, highlight and blush.
This palette does not come cheap though. It retails for a hefty £69 for a total of 1.4g of product (which is 0.049 oz x6). I did however manage to get it for £15 off on SpaceNK but it has now sold out there. It can still be found at Liberty London right now.
This year we have been graced with the Unlocked palette in addition to Volume 4 to commemorate the brand’s commitment to being 100% cruelty-free and vegan friendly across all their products going forward. This is symbolised by the new logo on this palette that features a little bunny. In addition, 5% of profits from the purchase of Unlocked, will go towards supporting the Nonhuman Rights Project.
Now let’s have a look at what this palette includes and see if its worth its price tag.
From top left to right we have:
- Soft Light – finishing power
- Filtered Light – finishing powder
- Golden Bronze Light – bronzer for contour
- Nude Glow – blusher
- Mood Flush – blusher
- Champagne Strobe Light – highlighter
What makes this Unlocked palette extra special is that it features 6 brand new and exclusive shades. Hourglass typically release a limited edition annual holiday palette which combines mostly existing products in their line already, with maybe a couple new shades thrown into the mix – which is what they’ve also done for this year’s Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 4 that was released this October 12th.
The 6 exclusive shades are all formulated with pure Photoluminescent Technology to capture, diffuse and soften surrounding light for skin that appears softer, younger and lit from within. I was eager to put this to the test as Hourglass is most known for their light diffusing powders and we’ve all probably been in situations where certain lighting can be very harsh and unflattering for our skin.
Note: Each individual powder pan shown below – left is in natural sunlight and right is in natural dim light.
- Soft Light – a pale beige that suits fair to light skin tones best, or can be used as a brightening powder under eyes and other targeted areas. On me this blends seamlessly with my skin colour. Not to be confused with a setting powder, this finishing powder is to soften and diffuse light and gives your skin a beautiful, soft, natural glow. It doesn’t claim to prolong your makeup or keep oil at bay. I apply this one all over my face after I’ve applied foundation and focus particularly in the centre of my face.
- Filtered Light – a warmer, deeper beige that might be too dark for very light skin tones as an all over finishing powder but could work for contour. I like to use this mixed with soft light or dip into this when I use foundations that are slightly too light for my skin tone and this helps give me a little colour back. This one also makes my skin look incredibly soft like I’ve placed a filter over it. It would be great in summer for a sunkissed glow.
- Golden Bronze Light – a warm golden bronzer with shimmer particules in the pan but on the face you actually can’t see any glitter so it works well for nose and cheekbone contour. It does lean warm but isn’t as deep and intense as Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer so I don’t run the risk of looking too muddy and warm. You can also build up the colour intensity and it blends easily so you don’t have to worry about being too heavy handed.
- Nude Glow – a peachy-nude blush with shimmer. I wasn’t as excited for this blusher compared to Mood Flush when I first saw it, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. A very natural, buildable colour and definitely a versatile nude/neutral that would suit a lot of skin tones. The shimmer particles in the powder are super fine so you don’t see chunks of glitter on your skin, you just get a lovely glowy sheen. In dim, flourescent light it can look like highlighter which I think makes it great for nights out. I also sometimes apply it as a topper over Mood Flush for more of a glow.
- Mood Flush – a dusty-rose blush which is my perfect everyday colour. I love dusty rose blushers so this is definitely my favourite in the whole palette. It’s the only shade without shimmer and is a soft matte which is stunning when applied because it doesn’t look powdery or dry but still gives you that glow like the rest of the Unlocked powders.
- Champagne Strobe Light – a metallic champagne highlighter that doesn’t lean too cool or warm. A great neutral colour for all skintones and my 2nd favourite after Mood Flush. I love a good highlighter which is glowy, has the perfect shine/wet look without being too frosty or OTT and this one ticks all the boxes. The colour payoff is fantastic and a little goes a long way. I don’t find myself having to layer up on this, 1 dip of the brush is perfect for a daytime look.
Overall, I am absolutely in love with this gorgeous palette. It is stunning and I love using every single powder. Using this in the morning makes me that little bit more excited to apply my makeup everyday. All the shades have the perfect colour payoff, especially the bronzer, highlighter and blushers. They aren’t too intense for people who find strong colours daunting and prefer to build up to it, yet they satisfy people like me that hate makeup products where you have to constantly dip back into the pan before you get any visible colour. They are perfectly pigmented in my opinion.
What has also now made me a huge fan of Hourglass powders is that they are all so finely milled, which makes them incredibly soft and smooth. They apply and blend like a dream and every one gives you that soft lighting effect and glowy finish which I’m a huge fan of! I never thought much of finishing powders before and didn’t think I needed it but it really does give you that photo filter finish effect. I have noticed the difference to how my skin looks in certain lighting – Soft Light and Filtered Light both soften the look of my skin so imperfections and texture are more blurred rather than emphasised. I always prefer foundations that have a soft airbrushed finish effect when you take a photo. However that doesn’t always translate in real life as you can’t control how different lighting makes your skin look. With these powders you can.
Another great aspect of this formulation, is how seamlessly they blend into your skin without ever looking heavy or cakey. These would be incredibly forgiving and suitable for dry, dehydrated or mature skin types. I have used blushers and setting powders before where I can see it starting to settle and sit on top of my skin and it becomes powdery looking. That never happens with any of these, even if you apply layers of the finishing powders. If you have oily skin, just don’t expect these powders to alter your oil production because I didn’t notice anything different. It will help set your makeup initially, but I still get oily on my t-zone after 5/6 hours like usual and typically use a primer to stay oil-free.
Despite me raving about this palette, we should also address the downsides. The biggest one for me is that for the amount you get in this palette, it is incredibly expensive and not the best value for money. Each pan is quite small and if you’re used to the Benefit face palettes, those ones are much bigger, hold a larger quantity and I have hit pan on a couple after a year (not using everyday).
Also, the small pans mean it can be difficult to get bigger brushes in there without accidentally dipping into others and mixing colours. All my Zoeva brushes that I have are generally a good fit for the pan sizes, but this is something to consider if you have big brushes. Hourglass recommend one of their dual ended brushes specially for the Ambient Lighting palettes but it’s crazy expensive so I’m not even considering it.
I’ve heard people say that this palette is way smaller than they expected and yes it is tiny and could do with being a bit larger, but I see the positive in that it is super handy to carry around in my bag and take with me when I travel. It fits in the palm of my hand and has a very decent sized mirror. Despite the gorgeous gold luxurious packaging, it is not heavy at all but doesn’t feel cheap despite its lightness. It is however, a major dirt and fingerprint magnet with the highly reflective lid.
Overall this Unlocked Palette is stunning and I’m seriously addicted to it. The pros definitely outweight the cons. I’m even considering getting another one as back up because I’ll be gutted when I eventually hit pan, which won’t be difficult given the small quantity they contain. As all the shades are exclusive to this limited edition palette, I wouldn’t even be able to pick up a full size single version should I want to. I would be ecstatic if they ever made Mood Flush and Champagne Strobe Light permanent and would happily buy them full size.
I mentioned how I’ve been loving face palettes recently, but this is hands down the best one I’ve seen because I absolutely love every single shade which is rare because I think for most people there’s always that 1 or 2 in the palette that you don’t like as much or doesn’t work with your skin tone. For me there are no duds in this palette, the colours are very versatile and would work the best for anyone ranging from fair to medium in skin tone. I highly recommend grabbing one before they are sold out and discontinued.