5 Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Dupes
It's a blessing and a curse when you find a luxury beauty product that you absolutely love. It complements your routine and your skin exceptionally well, but suddenly nothing else can measure up — and when it's quadruple the cost of its lesser competitors, you really can't afford to splurge every time you run out. That, in a nutshell, is why countless people are searching far and wide for the best Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder dupes.
While no formula will ever be a 100 percent identical substitute, there are some that reviewers swear come shockingly close. That said, in order to find a worthwhile dupe, you first need to understand what makes the original so great: the Ambient Lighting powder from Hourglass is known and loved for its softening and illuminating qualities. Halfway between a finishing powder and a highlighter, this formula utilizes tiny luminescent particles that filter out harsh light and refract softer wavelengths. As a result, it covers and blurs while creating a transparent, shimmery glow. It's also $48 for a .35-ounce compact.
The vast majority of highlighters on the market will not have this effect, and neither will the vast majority of setting powders. In order to find an effective dupe, you'll need to locate a product that blurs the line between the two categories — which is no easy feat. The most raved-about substitutes contain lightweight, buttery ingredients that appear dewy without looking oily. They also utilize light-refracting particles that offer that a shimmery, highlighting effect. Last but not least, they're effective for all skin tones (or are offered in multiple shade options), and they're versatile enough to suit dry and oily skin alike.
These five products check most if not all of the aforementioned boxes — and as a result, they're the best affordable, accessible dupes for Hourglass' Ambient Lighting powder.
1. The Most Affordable Ambient Lighting Powder Dupe
There are several reasons why the e.l.f. illuminating palette has earned a spot in the top-five best Hourglass Ambient Lighting dupes. For one, at $6 a palette, it's easily the most affordable option. For another, the four varying shades allow you to blend and balance the tones to suit your own personal complexion; they can also be used separately for various parts of the face. Finally, the shimmery, iridescent particles create a dewy finish, while the powders work to set your look for long-term wear.
Beauty-loving Reddit users in particular are huge fans of this dupe. "I have the e.l.f. Illuminating palette and love it," one user says, while others rave about its versatility given that the shades are separate: "The bottom-right bronzer shade is great for eyeshadow looks and highlighting on the browbone when you're wearing warm colors. Looks amazing!"
2. The Most Popular Substitute
It's virtually impossible to research Ambient Lighting dupes without coming across Wet n Wild's Color Icon bronzer in the shade "Reserve Your Cabana." The formula is dermatologist-tested, oil-free, and protects against UV rays — but reviewers say it's a also great substitute because it has light-refracting particles similar to those in the Hourglass powder.
Even though it's marketed as a bronzer, buyers use it more for highlighting and finishing purposes, and say it "gives the same soft glow effect" while saving them some serious money. That said, its caked-powder formula is quick to crumble, so if you're buying online, make sure to purchase from a reputable seller.
3. For A Glowing, Photo-Ready Finish
Buyers regularly rave about how Hourglass' Ambient Lighting powder creates a dewy, glowy appearance in photographs. If selfies are your top priority, Laura Geller's New York Filter Finish setting powder is your best bet. "Finishing powders are meant to give you that diffused yet polished look you get from photo filters," one reviewer says, and this pick measures up.
Much like the original, this sheer, packed powder is extremely adaptive, all thanks to the various blendable pigments and light-filtering particles. It suits virtually every skin tone, and also doubles as a dewy setting powder. At $32 a compact, it's still a bit pricey — but reviewers say the luxury-beauty formula is definitely "worth the money," especially given that it's $13 cheaper than Hourglass.
4. If You're Looking To Set Makeup And Control Shine
For this list, Bourjois Java is the odd one out because it features a loose-powder consistency instead of a packed one — but for those looking for a longer-lasting, more matte appearance, that's a good thing.
This highlighter-infused formula is shimmery for a luminous effect, but the finely-milled rice powder also aims to absorb excess sebum and set your look for all-day wear. As a result, it's a better option for those with more oily skin who are looking to balance their shine, but without losing that dewy glow. "It has iridescent shimmer, but it shows up matte on the skin," one reviewer says, while another raves that it only needs to be applied once, and it "helps [control] shine all day."
5. A Better Replacement For Sensitive Skin
While some people shy away from the original due to the price, others do so because of the ingredients. Hourglass' formula is free from parabens, but Physicians Formula Murumuru highlighter is free from over 150 common irritants — and it's entirely hypoallergenic.
Despite its skin-gentle formula, this pick is still buttery and shimmery. It contains refined pearls and blurring pigments that help to give skin an iridescent glow, all while keeping the complexion moisturized and happy. Like the Ambient Lighting powder, it's also offered in various shades for all different skin tones.
"I have a very sensitive skin to the point that I can only use one line of a high-end product," one reviewer says, but Physicians Formula highlighter turned out to be a "wonderful product" that didn't irritate their skin at all. "This does the trick for me and I’m hooked!"
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