Well…Hourglass did it.
In my holiday post from last year, I wrote at length about the things that would need to be different in order for me to be willing to purchase another palette from the brand. I had hoped for a more accurate reflection of the shades in their marketing images, a clearly designated palette suitable for tan to deep skin tones (or darker) or at least an extension of the permanent bronzer range. I also believed three face palette options should be the standard minimum (although I’d begrudgingly continue to accept two). In the mockup section for holiday palette ideas, I mentioned that I would have been satisfied if they swapped out Radiant Light and Coral Flush for Transcendent Light and At Night in the Universe Unlocked Palette and that would have made it appropriately deep skin friendly.
The deepest powder face products Hourglass has created thus far plus two other blushes not pictured here (The deepest blush in Universe Unlocked ’21 and the darkest blush from the Unlocked Butterfly ’22 palette).
This year, they actually did put in Transcendent Light. Iridescent Rose isn’t as deep as At Night, but it’s at least workable for me. So, because the Tiger palette hit so many of the marks I specifically was critical about in the past, I decided to give this holiday palette a chance. It also helps that the Tiger design is beautiful!
So, this will be my review for the Tiger palette. Even though I had been stalking the website and was among the first to purchase one even ahead of the early access launch, I haven’t had the most time to spend with this palette because of my post-surgery recovery process, then losing power for over a week due to Hurricane Ian, and getting COVID. Thankfully, Hourglass powders perform consistently, so there weren’t any surprises. The formula is solid. Whether this palette is a good one to purchase really depends on a person’s skin tone and makeup preferences about the blush vibrancy and pigmentation level, highlighter intensity, and opinions on shimmer and texture.
Transcendent Light is a warm dark brown finishing powder that leans a bit red-orange and that I use as a very subtle bronzer. It first debuted in the Ambient Lighting Volume III trio palette, but I could swear the one from the Tiger palette is a hint darker and a touch more neutral. However, I have mixed my other face powders (which are lighter and lean yellow or golden) with Transcendent Light, so perhaps my original one looks different on the surface level for that reason.
Brilliant Glow Strobe Light differs from the Ambient Lighting face powders in that there’s a shimmer quality to it. I find it interesting though that the intensity level of this shade is significantly more tame than the other two Strobe powders in this palette, in addition to the other “Strobe” formulas from Hourglass that I own. This product is more similar to the original Guerlain meteorites that can be used all over the face, though the particles are still visible, so I prefer to use meteorite-esque products as very subtle highlighters. Or, at least I would if this wasn’t borderline ashy on me despite the added peachy-brown swirl that gives more pigment to the shade. Because of the shimmer level, it keeps me from wanting to use it to brighten under my eyes. This is essentially a less refined version of Radiant Light. That aspect is disappointing as I wish the color stood out a little more within my Hourglass collection. It feels like getting more of the same again, with a different name. This isn’t to say this shade is pointless, as I’ve been successfully using it on top of the Copper Flash highlighter to lighten that color and make it more suitable for my skin tone.
Speaking of getting more of the same, Divine Strobe Light looks an awful lot like last year’s Solar Strobe Light from the Universe Unlocked palette. The main difference is that Divine Strobe Light is more of a traditional gold while the undertone of Solar Strobe leans toward a champagne gold. The differences are minor, but I do prefer Divine Strobe Light. It’s perfect for me! It would be great to have more of a shade variety among what I have, but since this slight tweak gives me an even more flattering highlighting option, I don’t mind. The formula for this one is more of what I expect from Hourglass Strobe powders with the metallic finish that can be built up for more intensity or present without being understated.
Unlocked Tiger on Top Compared to Universe Unlocked Below
Copper Flash Strobe Light is deep highlighter that’s a bit difficult for me to pull off if I’ve been too heavy-handed with it, but I can add Brilliant Glow on top to make it lighter. It also still works if I apply the barest layer on top of a pink or brown blush as a sort of blush topper, but not adding it too low on the face since this strobe formula isn’t the most texture-friendly depending on how much unevenness one has in the highlight and cheek zones. I don’t consider myself as having an issue with texture on the high points of my face, but I have some bumps and moles in my cheek area, so I personally just use Copper Flash as a highlighter and not a glowy blush. Even though I have to be creative with making this work for me, I appreciate that there’s such a rich option for those who are darker than me.
Burnished Glow is the blush I was the most excited for because Hourglass hasn’t done an orange blush in the past, let alone one that’s such a rich pumpkin color. In addition, my Oden’s Eye blush purchases this year made me forget how much of a struggle it used to be for me to find a shade of orange I liked. I usually love blushes with a sheen, but for some reason I really don’t like the intensity level of the sheen in this one. The shimmer is super finely milled, but the finish is a bit pearlescent, which is okay but not preferred. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was matte. I also wish it was closer to a terracotta color to be better suited to my preference, but it’s objectively pretty, it shows up, and it’ll likely look great on others who are of a deeper brown skin tone than mine. I don’t think this tone of orange is bad on me, but it’s not going to be one I reach for by itself. Adding a bit of pink from another blush (like Incandescent Rose) creates a more pink-orange coral tone, and then I really enjoy that combination! Also, this blush is buildable. I can get it to look sheer easily, but it can be packed on for a more intense orange look.
Incandescent Rose is not a new shade like I thought. It looks quite ashy on me in swatches and barely shows up on my arm, but on my face with a dense brush I can build up the color easily enough and blending it in mixes the pink with the base color and takes that ashy powdery look away. I’m a bit at the mercy of the pink marbling because I need that deeper pink for it to show on my cheeks, but thankfully more of the pink is available deeper underneath and I can get to it when I swirl my brush around enough to shed more of the top layer. I was worrying about that with my At Night blush in using too much of the darker pigmented veins in the blush. At Night is still a better fit for me than Iridescent Rose, but since I mix Iridescent Rose with Burnished Glow (plus it pairs well with Copper Flash), it’s still useful for me within this palette. Ironically, I ended up mixing both of last year’s blushes together as well to create a shade that I liked more.
Tiger Palette Used on My Face
I can use every shade in this palette. The powders all show up on me. However, I have to admit that though I like this palette, I don’t love it. I’m very happy that Hourglass has given more options for everyone, but just as I said about last year’s palette, it still has to suit my taste in order to be worth buying and to be something I’ll continually want to select out of my vast makeup collection to use. I’m not confident that this will become a favorite face palette, though I do prefer Unlocked Tiger over Universe Unlocked. I think one day I’ll do a DIY project and depot the powders to form one ultimate palette of my favorites. However, for that, I would need Hourglass to finally make a mini of the At Night blush so it can fit in the 6 pan tins. If possible, I would put Transcendent Light, At Night, and Divine Strobe Light. I’m less certain about the other three spots.
In the photos above I didn’t fully blend Copper Flash Strobe Light because the shimmery pink from Iridescent Rose blush blends in with the pink tones within that highlighter and on camera just looks like an extension of that shade. That’s why I prefer using those two together, but I had to keep it partly unblended so it would be easier to see in pictures. Also, when I wear a dewy foundation base, it’s harder to mix Brilliant Glow Strobe light with Copper Flash Strobe Light for the lightening effect. I also built up the Iridescent Rose shade of blush, but I did not build up Burnished Glow to full intensity and just showed it as lightly as I would likely use it.
I still don’t understand why the Butterfly palette with the palest face powders was the one with the deepest blushes of them all. I wish Hourglass could have committed to making deeper bronzers this year and had actually given the Tiger palette a true bronzer for deep skin tones rather than a face powder that is also deep enough to be used as a bronzer for those with skin tones in the dark tan and lighter range. However, the brand’s effort is admittedly better than last year and last year was already a small step in the right direction. So, I give Hourglass some Kudos. I also think it was brilliant to make the cases customizable because if the darkest palette didn’t have the Tiger print, I would have been sad to have missed out on it. I wish it was possible to make the actual powders inside customizable as well, but the price already went up this year by $5, so perhaps that kind of option would likely put us in the territory of being $100+ instead of $85. Also, how fun would it be if Hourglass used their “miscelare technique” to mix two medium or darker colorful shades in a series of blushes instead of pale beige bases with a single color? As it stands, I’m happy someone at Hourglass is doing more listening to their customers. I am still tentatively watching and waiting to see if the improvements towards inclusivity continues and if I can get to the point of feeling confident about the direction the brand is going. I truly hope they continue on this path.
Thank you for reading!
Also, thank you to those who have been understanding of my scheduling issues due to recovery, but also after being hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Being without electricity for nine days made it impossible to work on my blog during that time.