Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Dupes?

This post didn’t originally start out as trying to find a dupe for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, but I ended up with a few “glowy” type of face powders / highlighters in my stash so I decided to see how they look against each other.

• Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light – C$55 for 10g
• Freedom Pro Highlight Powder in Diffused – C$4.97 for 7.5g
• Wet n Wild “Bronzer” in Reserve Your Cabana – C$5.99 for 13g
• Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in Be My Highlight – C$5.99 for 6.5g

All of the contenders are very affordable – let’s see how they compare to Hourglass!


Hourglass dupes
First, I thought I’d define some terms for various words I will be using to describe the glowy finishes. These are my own interpretations and usage for these words, and your understanding might be different. But to level set, this is what I mean when I say:
Sheen: is a smooth, even glow with low reflective qualities and no individual sparkle is apparent
Shimmer: individual scattered sparkles are visible but in small particle sizes, at a distance, looks fairly uniform
Glitter: individual scattered sparkles that are larger in size, and look distinct even at a distance
Frost: highly reflective finish with an even, shiny coverage; borderline metallic

(Let me know in the comments if these definitions resonate with you… 😛 )


The highlighter in question is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. Hourglass offers 6 different finishes of their highlighting powders and arguably, Dim Light is their most popular one.

I’ve been contemplating about getting it for ages and then Polished and Inspired give me this travel sized one when we met up last year! 😀

It’s a baked product with the telltale domed shape to the powder and slight texture to the surface.

I would describe the finish as a sheen, without any visible shimmer or glitter. In fact, I wear this as an all over face powder, not as a highlighter. It provides a glowy effect that doesn’t make me look like the Tin Man. 😛  The shade is a touch dark for me but it adds warmth to my complexion and when applied sheerly. I really enjoy this powder and keep it in my purse for touch-ups.  Read a more detailed review of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette which includes this shade over at Polished & Inspired’s blog. 🙂


So, originally I was only going to compare the Freedom Pro Highlight Powder in Diffused against the Hourglass because I’d heard that it is a dupe. Where I heard about this was from the person who sent me it!

This came all the way from the UK from Rachael of HelplessWhistDrying, through her massive giveaway!

Here’s her review of this product so I won’t go into too much detail myself. I do want to show how it compares to the Hourglass:

Discounting the difference in undertone (Hourglass is peachy whereas Freedom is light pink), the Freedom powder has a more shimmery, bordering on glitter finish.  I tried using it as an all over powder and it was just a bit too much glow for my liking. It is much better served as a highlighter for the high points of the face. It is still a subtle highlight, which is what I prefer. To provide a point of comparison, highlighters like theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Highlighter are frost finishes and provide very strong highlights.  The Freedom highlighter is very pretty as an everyday highlight.

This is so old, the lettering has rubbed off on the lid

The Wet n Wild “Bronzer” in Reserve Your Cabana (totally not a bronzer, those liars 🙄 ) is the oldest one in this lineup and I’ve always suspected it could be similar to Hourglass in its finish.

I’d say the finish is quite similar – a sheen without any visible shimmer particles or frostiness.

The colour of the Wet n Wild is more of a light beige so it is better suited for lighter skin tones.  I do wear this as an all over face powder, especially in the winter months to make my dehydrated skin look more alive. 😛


The Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in Be My Highlight is the newest one on my comparison list which I recently received from Jill Jacks. This product has been the darling of the beauty community lately, and I was curious to see how it compares to the Hourlgass:

I was encouraged by the Essence because, like the Hourglass, it is also a baked product.  Colour-wise, they have similar tones – Essence is more of a golden bronze while Hourglass is pinky peach.

The finish of the Essence turned out to be quite shimmery and closer to a frost, along similar vein as theBalm or Becca. I do find Essence to be a nice topper for warm coloured blushes, but it might be a tad dark for those with fair skin (I didn’t even realize that this has a shade name: “#10 Be My Highlight” – as far as I know, it only comes in this shade).


Overall, I would rank these 4 powders in the following order from low sheen to high shine / frost, as follows: Hourglass, Wet n Wild, Freedom, and then Essence.

L to R: low shine to high shine

I’m able to wear both the Hourglass and Wet n Wild as all over face powders whereas I’m not able to with the other 2. For reference, Hourglass is made in Italy, Essence in Poland, and both WnW and Freedom are made in China. For me, the Hourglass hasn’t found its match exactly but I do think Wet n Wild is worth a look. Have you tried any of these items? What low sheen face powders can you recommend for me?

Thank you to Polished and Inspired, Rachael of HelplessWhilstDrying, and Jill Jacks for enabling me with all these highlighters! 😀 Without their contribution, you’d be just reading a post about the Wet n Wild powder. 😉

68 thoughts on “Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Dupes?

  1. I have three of the freedom powders now and there’s only one I like for all over and this one isn’t the one I like but instead I like it as subtle highlighter!
    I’ve looked high and low for the essence highlighter and it hasn’t made its way here yet / we aren’t going to get it 😰
    I thought the Essence one of comparison of pan would be most similar, and what planet were they on calling that a bronzer? Maybe a bronzer for a polar bear at a push!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh which Freedom powder do you use as all over?
      Yes, I looked for the Essence highlighter everywhere here too but couldn’t find it. I guess it’s so popular it’s sold out everywhere. Do you guys typically not get the full assortment of Essence products? Ours has a separate stand away from the permanent brands – sometimes they have LE collections at the end cap. I always live in fear they’ll just remove those special Essence displays.
      Hahaha, yes, that “bronzer” is for the Corpse Bride! 😉

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      1. I will check when I get upstairs what the other shade is called, it’s something as equally hourglass sounding though!
        We didn’t even have a space for the highlighter, in fact we didn’t have any highlighters and it’s quite a large counter, a hella lot of nail crap and dodgy looking nail art sets though! Essence is stocked only in one shop here and it’s an odd shop called Wilkos which is predominately home supplies, no limited edition stuff for us, the line doesn’t seem to change from me looking for that highlighter for the past few months!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s so weird they don’t stock the highlighter if they have an actual counter. In our displays, the slot for the highlighter is at the very bottom of the stand, beside the blushes and pressed powders / concealers.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Catrice does the Sun Glow Minarel Bronzing powder that may just be a worthy dupe as well. If only I could get my hands on the Hourglass but alas, the prize it too steep for me. It is every but similar to the description you gave for the Hourglass. Sheen with no visible glitter, almost could be used as a powder.
    Good eye Stashy! A deeper shade of the Wet n Wild would probably be a spot on dupe eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I have the opposite problem – can’t get my paws on Catrice here! XD It does sound very similar. I agree, the Hourglass is quite pricey – if I were to purchase the full size, I would wait until the Sephora 20% off sale in Autumn.
      The Wet n Wild “bronzer” does come in deeper shades but there’s a huge jump from the Reserve Your Cabana to the next shade up – I would love to see a mid-tone.

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    1. I understand what you mean, even after you find the dupe, you want the “real thing”. I agree, the whole presence of the Hourglass is so gorgeous – from the packaging to the way the pan looks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have the WetNWild and I love that! and Essence is nice but nothing special. I still need that Hourglass though.. that’s what Im missing in my Hourglass family. Hehe

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    1. Maybe try out the Hourglass in the travel size – per gram it’s really overpriced but at least you can try it before committing to the full size. Haha, what else do you love from Hourglass? (maybe I shouldn’t ask…)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooh, a post on highlighters…my current obsession!
    Wow, I knew that the Essence one couldn’t be worn all over the face, but I’m surprised it’s the most frosty out of all of them, because it’s still a highlighter that I consider more “natural” – Becca is much more metallic to me!
    Ahhh, I can’t believe how orange Dim Light is on you! But you’re right, it’s not noticeable when you use it as an all-over powder. I tried it as a highlighter once when I first bought it, but realized it was not highlighty enough.
    Reserve Your Cabana has never appealed to me…but now, looking at the swatches again, it’s so pretty!
    I NEED that Freedom highlighter! Love the pink-champagne tones to this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised how frosty the Essence one is compared to the rest of these. Maybe I should do another post comparing the super frosty ones like Mary-Lou Manizer, Becca and the Essence. I seriously have enough highlighters to last me a lifetime! 😛

      I was surprised how peachy the Dim Light was too. But I like the warmth it adds to my face. I’m terrible at remembering to bronze my skin so this does dual duty. I’m very tempted to pick up the full size… maybe I’ll wait until Fall Sephora VIB sale.

      Ahem, you can buy the Freedom highlighter here:
      https://www.tambeauty.com/en/Freedom-Makeup-London-Pro-Highlight—Diffused/m-977.aspx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m wearing the Essence highlighter today. I swatched it on my hand as well and it seems to be frostier swatched than it is on the face. It doesn’t seem to have that “BAM!” effect that the Becca or Mary-Lou Manizer does…but that’s just me!

        I’m glad you’re enjoying Dim Light! 😀 It’ll probably take a while to get through that travel size, so the Fall Sephora sale sounds about right.

        LOL, you’re the worst (and also the best) for sharing that link to buy the Freedom highlighter! Thanks!

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    1. Diffused Light looks really nice too – when I was researching I toyed with that one and also Mood Light (cuz me a Crab, very MOOD-y 😉 )
      The Freedom one would look gorgeous on you – like a unicorn kissed you on the cheeks! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a travel size of Dim Light too. I tried it as an all over face powder and it made me look like. Greaseball. But then I tried mixing it with one of my pressed translucent powders to set my undereye concealer and I like how that works. It helps make my under eye area not look so dried out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I can see how it wouldn’t work for your skin type. My skin has been so dehydrated lately, this powder helps with giving some luminosity back to my face. I’m glad you found a use for it – I actually haven’t tried it with my under eye concealer – will have to give that a whirl!

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  6. I had dim light and it was just way too dark for me and looked almost muddy sadly! I had to sell it! I have one of the freedom powders which is pretty nice! I love a good frosted highlight though so the freedom one is a bit of an inbetweeney product for me! Lovely comparison post and I love the look of that Essence one! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt similar to you about the whole notion of highlighting. My very first highlighting product was theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer which was crazy intense frost. I was scared to touch it! But now they have such a range of highlighting products, it’s easier to find the level that suits your taste. I hope you’ll find one that you like!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think Hourglass created a unique product here. I’ll keep searching of course, since the full size of that powder is quite pricey! And yes, Wet n Wild is nuts to call that a bronzer, but at least it’s a nice product!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I dipped my toe into the Hourglass powders via the travel size in Dim Light. It’s one of the only powders I’ve actually used up completely, so I went and got the full size during a VIB sale. Haven’t used it much recently, but that’s because I’m so pale right now it works like a bronzer on my skin. I’ll be able to use it more in the summer, when I’m just that little bit darker. I’ve wanted to get another HG powder, but they’re all so shimmery/glittery that I would have to use them as highlights, and since I only use highlighters 3-4 times a month, it would be a waste of money.
    I haven’t been able to find the Essence highlighter yet, but I’ll check out more end caps next time I’m in Shoppers – my local one likes to put new makeup displays in the middle of random aisles, because lipstick and mascara displays work really well next to the condoms, deodorant and baby wipes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it’s more of a summer time colour. I do like how it gives me a bronzer glow now. I did check out their other powders too and I did find they were more shimmery than this one – the Dim Light is definitely special among their line up.
      I hope you find the Essence highlighter – just be aware that it’s a darker shade of highlight so it gives a bronzey colour. LMAO I don’t get why Shoppers dumps a random makeup display in front of the condoms, but they totally do. 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I bought Diffused Light as an all over face powder as Dim Light is just a touch too dark for me like 75% of the year. I’ve hear that a Physician’s Formula powder foundation (youth wear? in illumination) is a good dupe for the Hourglass powder in Dim Light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Dim Light would be too dark for you, definitely.
      The Physician’s Formula powder might fit the bill – I also just realized that I do have the Insta-ready powder. I wonder if that would be similar?

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      1. I keep them forever basically… or until they change texture or harden. I will sometimes wipe the surface with tissue and continue to use it.
        The key with powder products is to use a clean BRUSH. I’m kind of obsessive about it but I wipe off the brush every time I dip into the pan. So I dab the brush in the pan, then apply to my face, then I wipe off the brush, then dab in the pan… and so on.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. 😂 I love how the wet ‘n wild one was nothing like a bronzer *lol* the shade is so light haha what were they thinking 💭

    How about the L’oreal highters? http://m.sephora.fr/index.html#!catalog/product/view/P2667001?cm_mmc=Search_Search_Google_PLAMaquillage_Teint_&skuId=361809 it is crazy, I haven’t come across their tester yet, it looks like it maybe a shimmer? No idea, haven’t been able to swatch 😭 don’t want to buy blind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They sell L’OREAL at Sephora in France? That’s so weird! Here, L’Oreal is firmly a drugstore brand – they’re not at Sephora or at department stores. I think people would start laughing if they saw L’Oreal at Sephora here!
      I digress… we don’t have to particular product here but I suspect it’s the same as our Lumi ones:
      http://www.lorealparis.ca/en/products/make-up/face/highlighter-and-illuminator/true-match-lumi-powder-glow-illuminator-w102-golden/
      I haven’t tested them – I’ll have to check the store tomorrow… the DRUGSTORE. 😛

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        1. Ours are firmly in the high-end and some designer brands but not luxury like La Mer. Those brands are only at department stores – brands like La Mer, Cle de Peau, Chantecaille, Sisley are not at Sephora. The highest end at Sephora are the designer ones like Dior, Chanel, Burberry, Marc Jacobs. The lowest brands at Sephora are probably the Sephora brand itself, Benefit, bareMinerals, Clinique, Tarte, Too Faced…

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I have Dim Light and I’m just at a loss with it – if I use a light hand with it I just don’t find it does anything to my skin – if I use a heavy hand it looks orange. I’m glad I just bought the travel size of it. I was going to give that Essence highlighter a try but I honestly think that’s going to be too dark for me. Reserve your Cabana looks like it might be a good alternative for me – that’s a huge pan! That could last you a lifetime! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine the Hourglass Dim Light can look quite orange if applied with a heavy hand. I use a fluffy brush to dust it all over. For me, it’s not to control oil or mattify – it just gives a smoother, more luminous finish to my skin.
      For sure I think that Essence highlighter would be too dark for you – skip it. I think you’re better off getting the Wet n Wild! Honestly, that pan is getting buried with me! XD

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  11. Really enjoyed this post, I defo agree with your descriptions, I tend to think of glow as something that is dewy or sheeny but without the shimmer. Shimmer to me is as you said a small amount of glitter but not really detectable often they’re light infusing particles, anything that’s glittery I try to avoid and frost again I’d say borders on metallic so very apt! I still haven’t tried an Hourglass product (although they all seriously speak to me) would you say they’re worth it? xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad my descriptions align with yours too! I never know if my assumptions are correct or not. 😛 I would say the Hourglass is nice but I feel overpriced. There are SO many baked products out on the market now – for instance Kiko has some – that I don’t think it’s necessary to pay the big bucks for Hourglass. Plus, I think the Dim Light shade would be too dark for you!

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