Ingredient Wise: The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders

Hi everyone!

This is another installment to the series called Ingredient Wise, that I started on my blog a while back. Here we take a look at the ingredients in a product and see if the marketing claims are backed up by the stuff listed in the ingredient list. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders catch my fancy every time I step into Sephora..there is something about its texture and claims that attracts me to it :). I usually like to splurge on eyeshadows and blushes ( I can never have enough of them!) but something stops me from spending 45$ on what is essentially a finishing powder! So, I decided I should take a look at the ingredients of this product and see for myself why this product is pretty unique in the market at this point of time.

Lighting Powder

(image source: Hourglass website)

The Claims (from

A wardrobe of six universal finishing powders that recreate the most exquisitely flattering light—from ethereal moonlight to luminous candlelight. Each powder captures, diffuses and softens surrounding light with groundbreaking photoluminescent technology. Choose one or more and step into your perfect light.

• Powders capture, diffuse and soften the way light is reflected on skin, brighten the appearance, and conceal skin imperfections, pores and wrinkles.

•Infused with technologically advanced soft-focus particles that help make skin appear younger, even-toned and radiant

• Unlike traditional powders that use opaque pigments, Ambient utilizes “photoluminescent technology” – micron-size spherical particles that refract light and create transparent coverage

• Universal powders make them suitable for every skin tone, while each can be worn for day and night

• Free of parabens, talc, fragrance, nano-particles and gluten

 The Ingredients

Mica, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Boron Nitride, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Octyldodecanol, Silica, Benzimidazole Diamond Amidoethyl Urea Carbamoyl Propyl Olymethylsilsesquioxane, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sorbic Acid, Olyacrylamide, Benzoic Acid, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Potassium Sorbate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Laureth-7, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trimethylsiloxysilicate. May Contain : Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride),Ci 77491 (Iron Oxide),Ci 77492 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77499 (Iron Oxide),Ci 75470 (Carmine).

 So do the claims work?

If you cut through all the eloquent talk about these powders their main function is to manipulate light falling on the skin to give a soft focus that blurs out skin imperfections. If you look at the ingredient list there are quite a few ingredients that play with light… lets take a look at each of them individually!

 1. Mica: We all know what Mica does in cosmetics 🙂 Its responsible for the sheen or sparkle in makeup products. Finely milled mica is one of the main ingredients in mineral makeup and here too its the top ingredient listed.

2.Synthetic Fluorphlogopite: If you check your cosmetic ingredient lists you will see that this is a common ingredient in many metallic or pearlescent  eyeshadows and blushes…so what is this exactly? Its basically synthetic mica (has similar light reflecting properties) and is a translucent powder that can be coated with pigments.

3.Boron Nitride: It is used as a talc substitute in many cosmetic formulations. It is responsible for the silky smooth texture these powders have. Additionally, it has fantastic light reflecting properties and depending on the particle size used it can blur out fine lines and give the skin a natural sheen.

4. Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer along with Silica: This is also an ingredient that can imaprt a silky smooth consistency to the product. It can also scatter light to diminish the look of fine lines on the skin, while letting enough light through so the look of the skin is natural.

5. Polymethyl Methacrylate: It has light reflective properties especially in the UV region of the spectrum. It also has the same glide on  and fine line filling properties as silicones.

6. Benzimidazole Diamond Amidoethyl Urea Carbamoyl Propyl Olymethylsilsesquioxane:  Now isn’t that name a mouthful! From technical literature available from one of the companies that supplies this ingredient, I think this is one of the star ingredients here! These particles manipulate light by converting invisible UV light to blue light (photoluminescence) and selectively scattering favorable blue and green light. The particles settle in wrinkle and fine lines and the scattered blue and green light emanates  a blue glow that decreases the appearance of wrinkles and discoloration.

As you can see, the soft focus effect that these ambient lighting powders claim to provide is due to a complex inter play between these 6 ingredients which manipulate light in different ways! Overall, looking at the list of ingredients it is possible to that blurred candle light like soft effect on the skin. I think the method of application and also how much you apply can affect the outcome of the final look drastically. For example some of the ingredients like Boron Nitride if used in excess can come off looking oily and greasy on the skin instead of a dewy finish.

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