l-r: Chanel N°20, Hourglass Dim Light, Bourjois 52
The major decision I had to make was which shade to pick. It came down to Diffused Light or Dim Light. I was afraid that Diffused Light might be too sheer, light and yellow for me, so I opted for Dim Light. It seemed to be the shade I'd read the most reviews on and sufficiently dissimilar to my other recent powder purchase, Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour in N°20. The Chanel is more translucent, paler, less peachy/tan and more cream in colour. Bourjois Healthy Balance Unifying Powder in 52 Vanille is more opaque, thicker and more powdery in texture, significantly lighter, more of an off-white/pale yellow. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Power in Dim Light is clearly the darkest, peach/pink-leaning with a slight satin finish.
I've had Dim Light for a month and I've been trying to figure it out. In all honesty, I'm not really loving it. It darkens the colour of the skin which I guess would be desirable if your foundation was a bit too light, but otherwise isn't ideal. The effect is a slightly tan, peachy overlay with a very subtle whitish sheen. Although touted as "a neutral soft beige powder that blurs imperfections and highlights a radiant complexion with the perfect balance of warm and cool tones", it's simply not as transformative or skin-perfecting as I'd hoped. At least on me, I don't get any noticeable glowiness or all that much of a smoothing, soft-focus result. My skin looks drier and less natural instead of dewier and healthier after brushing it all over. Because of the darker tint and the lack of obvious light-reflecting properties, I wouldn't describe it as illuminating. Rather, it provides a thin layer of extra coverage, at the same time making the skin warmer, more pink-toned and brown. In that way, I guess it does mimic the effect of being in dim (read: not brightening) light, so perhaps I just didn't pick the right shade for what I was after. At the same time, something like Luminous Light just seems like a pink shimmerbomb not suitable for the whole face.
To its credit, the texture of the powder is very fine, smooth and soft (almost to a fault, as it can get crumbly inside the compact), and it seems to blend into the skin rather than sit on top. I do find that it assists with oil control though it's not specifically designed for that purpose, as my T-zone is less shiny a couple of hours after I've applied my foundation compared with no powder or if I use other powders. After inspecting the back of the box, there's a whole bunch of fancy-sounding, scientific ingredients I've never heard of before. The Ambient Lighting Powders also claim to be paraben, talc, fragrance, nanoparticle (?) and gluten (??) free.
I've been experimenting with the amount and what brush to use with it, wondering if the heaviness and method of application make all the difference. I've used both the Too Faced Powder Pouf and my newly purchased Ecotools Retractable Kabuki Brush, but I'm thinking they might be placing too much product on my face. This video suggests using something similar to the accompanying Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush, i.e. a powder brush with a flatter shape as opposed to round. The powders are not designed to be used in a buffing motion, but rather lightly dusted all over. I've tried it over a bare face and basically couldn't see any difference. It seems to only work as a setting powder over liquid foundation.
I've been preferring my Chanel Les Beiges over the Hourglass, which I'm put off using most days because it makes my skin look undesirably more tan and pink/orange in tint. I'm more drawn to the sheerness of the Chanel, how much paler it is and softly illuminating, especially when used with a rounder powder brush. The only merits of the Hourglass are above average oil control, improved foundation wear time, and additional light coverage to your existing base, in effect helping to further blur imperfections and even out the skin tone. But other than that, I don't see what the fuss is about. Maybe I should've picked Diffused Light instead.