Why I returned my Ambient Lighting Palette

Posted on July 25, 2015 under Reviews

Last month I went to Sephora for a (small) birthday haul. One of the things I picked up with my birthday money was the now-iconic Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette. Let’s be clear: I never would have purchased it with my own money, as the price is a rather extravagant $67 CAD, the most I have ever dropped on a single makeup item. But I thought, hey, I have other people’s money to spend and everyone likes this thing!

Impulse purchases, man.

The other two items I picked up in that haul (YSL Rouge Volupté lipstick in Rose In Tension and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector pressed in Moonstone) were thoroughly researched and, as a result, I love them. But with the ALP, I was mostly going off hype. And, not so surprisingly, I was disappointed.

I gave it a try for a month, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the palette was underwhelming. Now, part of this does have to do with my colouring. The peach-toned Dim Light is pretty much unuseable to me; it’s too dark to use as a setting powder on my fair skin but too light to work as a bronzer. Speaking of bronzer, Radiant Light does work as one for me – it’s subtle, soft, and blendable, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Make no mistake – the texture of these powders is divine. Incandescent Light doesn’t work as a highlight for me (again, due to my fairness), and as a finishing powder I really don’t feel that it does anything special. So, that’s one powder out of three that I have warm feelings about – and for $67, that’s just not going to cut it.


And so I took advantage of Sephora’s generous return policy. I did feel a bit bad since it’s been used several times, but it’s well within the parameters of their policy. And, well, if it was half the price I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But with the $75 I got back after taxes I managed to pick up an Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush and to replace my tragically lost MAC Rebel – so now I have two products I enjoy instead of one I don’t. Plus, this was a very potent reminder that hype absolutely does not guarantee satisfaction. Also to swatch before I buy instead of just throwing things into my bag in a blind excitement, which is probably the more salient lesson.

By the way – my friends Jelena, Kristin, and Aisling all returned their ALPs, so I don’t think this is one of my They’re Real!-esque unpopular opinions.

There are 16 responses to “Why I returned my Ambient Lighting Palette”

  • We don’t have Hourglass or Sephora here but I’ve been wondering about these powders, I can obviously get them online but I find it a bit scary to drop that amount of money on a product that I can’t swatch. You definitely made a good point about this palette, I think the beauty blogger sphere is a bit too obsessed with palettes at the moment but most of the times you end up only using half of the palette (that also why I don’t get contour palettes).
    I haven’t read your blog in a while so I’m gonna catch up a little! xx

    • Yeah, I’m hesitant to try any contour palettes for the same reason. I feel like I’d only ever use one light taupe shade and none of the others!

      There’s not too much to catch up on – I took a month off from basically everything while I was obsessively watching The X-Files. ;) I am back now, though!

  • I have a single ambient lighting powder (Dim Light) and even that I’m on the fence about. I didn’t get the palette because I felt like the three didn’t show enough of a difference on my face to warrant purchase, so I got Dim Light. I like it, but it’s not like I go to fancy events with intense lights or anything like that so… not really sure if I’ll continue to hang onto it.

  • I was thinking about getting the ALP too but I have the same thoughts, I think it’s super overhyped. The powders are lovely and I always go and swatch them in store, but $75 man… :-(

  • I actually still have my ALP, but I NEVER use it. I offered it to my friend to use for her wedding because it CAN be a nice thing on special occasions just because it’s a bit fancy, and she said she wouldn’t take it in case one of the bridesmaids accidentally took it (her honeymoon and my Canada trip follow each other so I won’t be seeing her for a month so she didn’t want it to get mixed up or whatever). And my honest reaction was “meh, wouldn’t bother me too much.” I have the same problems I think… Dim Light is too dark for me when I usually prefer to be a bit paler. Incandescent Light is nice for a highlighter but so are a lot of my cheaper highlighters, and I tend to favour something more golden toned. And Radiant Light… well. It was always too dark for me. I’ve been into self tanner this summer so MAYBE I should give it another try, but again I’m generally okay with my Body Shop Honey Bronzer and my golden-y highlighter stick from Kiko.

    So, yeah… definitely not worth the money, and not something I would purchase again. Now, the Ambient Blush palette IS one I love. I like all of the colours and it is quite versatile. But since you have 2 in singles, I imagine you’ve nearly reached the limit of what you’d need since they’re mostly very similar!

    This has been a novel.

    P.S. I tried the Maybelline contour palette and the contour is probably too warm for you, but I did like the highlighter. It would be nice if they made the highlighter on its own! Also I got the Kate Rimmel nude lipsticks in 43 and 45 I think and in a SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS the cool toned one looks best on me and is a new fave!!!!

    Anyway now this is just turning into an email. OKAY BYE.

    • Hahahaha I love this. And yes, I agree that the blushes are totally worth the money! I was torn between two when I picked up Luminous Flush – I think Radiant Magenta was the other one? There’s a good chance that I’ll end up buying that one at some point, but I swatched them all and none of the others appealed to me in terms of colour.

      We don’t have the Maybelline contour palette or the Kate nudes yet!!!! Also we JUST got the Rimmel Provocalips and only in 3 colours. Coming back to Canada was like going back in time in terms of drugstore beauty products. When we got the Provocalips in I was like”Oh these are really nice!” and my coworker asked how I knew. BECAUSE THE UK IS THE FUTURE!!!!!!!! We also still don’t have those Maybelline matte pencils that all the beauty gurus were saying were dupes for the NARS ones.

  • To me it has always seemed a bit overhyped. So I definitely get it. You’re so lucky that you can actually RETURN stuff there! You cannot do that here. They don’t take back anything once it’s been opened. And sometimes they even give you a hard time over unopened things.

  • Being able to return stuff freaks out my brain – that could never happen here in Australia, once you buy it you are stuck! I haven’t tried the ALP’s but I adore the blushes (I have Radiant Magenta and the trio palette also) and I’m pretty content with just that right now. The bronzers from Hourglass seem quite nice though, to warm up the face? I think being fair makes powders like this a tricky one, even some ivory setting powders are orange and dark on my complexion which is quite frustrating.

  • Pingback: Top 15 Products of 2015 |  My Darling Clementine | Canadian Beauty Blog

  • Pingback: Review: Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent » My Darling Clementine | Canadian Beauty BlogMy Darling Clementine | Canadian Beauty Blog

  • Pingback: Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush |  My Darling Clementine | Canadian Beauty Blog

Leave a Reply

Please feel free to leave a comment; I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please don't leave a link to your blog in the body of your comment. If you leave your URL in the appropriate field in the form I will be able to click your name and check out your blog. Comments that don't adhere to this policy will be edited or deleted.