August 22, 2012

Hourglass Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo - in Sunset

I was introduced to the Hourglass brand back when I worked for Sephora and, let me tell you, they have one of the best national trainers of any brand I've ever come across. After he was done, I was ready to buy every single product, and then backups, and then doubles for my mom. He was just so charming and informed, it was impossible not to love him or the brand.

It's been years since that experience, and Hourglass is still one of my favorite brands - on its own merits. Their aesthetic design, product quality and inventiveness should serve as an example to other high-end brands. I also appreciate that they have focused on growing their brand slowly and organically, rather than jumping onto the limited-edition bandwagon. It seems like every new addition to the line is well-considered.

Knowing that, I didn't hesitate too much when I saw the Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo at the Sephora in Montreal. I have been waffling forever on the Chanel Soleil Tan Bronzing Makeup Base, but this looked like it might prove to be more useful in the long run.

The packaging is elegant and luxe without feeling ostentatious or old-fashioned. Plus, I am a fan of the swivel-top mirror construction. Not only is the mirror a nice, substantial size, but since it can turn all the way around (and lie flat either way) and stay in whatever angle you chose, it is terrific for travelling, especially if you want to apply your makeup while using both hands. 

Ok, I have to say the orange tone of the bronzer portion freaked me out a bit. Under the store lighting, it looked more brown than it does under natural lighting, and my initial reaction when I took it out at home was...bemused, to say the least. (You can view it live in this youtube post, 3 minutes 30 seconds in.)

But I needn't have worried.

Swatched with a lip brush, indirect natural light.

Artificial light.

Direct sunlight.
Blended out, indirect natural light.

Blended, mix of artificial and natural light.

 The pigment on these is beautiful - intense, but utterly pliable. It can be layered up as much as you want to, or sheered out for the barest hint of color.

The blush is a very flattering warm rose that looks what you'd like your natural flushed cheek to look like (as opposed to the hectic shade most of get, that looks like you're about to have heatstroke on the spot). The bronze thankfully came out as more of a warm-toned light brown than anything resembling a citrus fruit. It can work as both a bronzer when applied with a fluffier brush, and as a contour when applied with a narrower brush, like the Real Techniques Contour Brush.

The texture is ultra-light. Though it is a cream, it has an incredible kind of slip to it. It doesn't feel greasy or silicone-y, and smooths onto the skin without gripping or dragging, making it very easy to blend in. I had no issues applying it to bare skin, on top of foundation, or on top of powder.

The lightness also means that is second-skin, virtually invisible on the skin in terms of texture. It goes from cream to powder, but without a powdery finish, and it give you a good 4-5 minutes to blend and play before setting. Once it sets, it wears throughout the day, even on bare skin. The finish looks a bit luminous here because of the lighting, but it actually dries down relatively matte. There is no shine or shimmer. It works on oilier skin and doesn't pick up on dry patches.

This is one of my favorite new items, and while it's perfect for Summer, I think the shades are classic enough to be appropriate for any season. It's ideal to toss into your purse for work or into your weekender for a no-fuss look. It it pricy, but you're also getting two products in one. (For comparison, the duo is 11 grams, and a Stila Convertible Color is 4.5 grams.)

Availability: Sephora stores and online. The price 46$ CAD.

Pros: Flattering, neutral-ish shades that should work with a variety of skin tones, up to deeper medium, and across most complexion types. Imperceptible texture, natural finish. Fully buildable from sheer to HELLO THERE.

Cons: Nothing I can think of, except maybe that the packaging is not airtight and may be problematic over time, but I haven't experienced any drying out or change in texture so far.

(I purchased this item at Sephora.)


  1. Stefanny28.8.12

    Hi Maggie!

    I've just discovered you on youtube and clicked to your blog. Not only are you fantastically organised (nearly OCD about it it seems), but you are so meticulous and thorough in your reviews. You are probably the makeup guru with the most professionalism on the net I've seen thus far.
    I was wondering, do you give lessons around Montréal? Also, for your youtube channel, since you are so well educated about makeup (it shows in everything you write and say on your blog and youtube channel), I would really like it if you went more into the technicalities of choosing the right makeup/colours as well as how to properly apply makeup.

    Keep doing what you do - you are excellent at it!

    1. Wow, thank you!! That is a tremendously nice and encouraging thing to day. I'm actually a Pisces, so I'm generally the opposite of organized (I've been told I leave a trail of chaos behind me)!

      I don't currently give lessons, as I am stretched a little thin between my day job, my micro-business, my family, my makeup stuff and the blog, but that is something I will definitely keep in mind.

      And thank you for your suggestions, and your support! =)

  2. Pretty! I've seen these but skipped over them, mainly because it's likely it'll be too light for my skintone. But I love the way it looks and I think it would make a really good gift since it's a two-for-one, and Hourglass makes such stellar products. I think you made a great choice here, Maggie!

    1. They really do. I haven't come across one bummer from Hourglass. It makes me feel a little better better about plunking down the cash!

      Thank you, Toyarosie! =)

  3. OMG I love Hourglass too! And yes I love how they really thought about their products collections and don't just jump about in the LE bandwagon.

    I am so so so glad I have this duo, as well. And omg, can I just say, you photograph these so so so beautifully!!!! If I didn't have this duo already, your photos here just sold me to it!

    1. Hourglass needs more appreciation out in the blogging world, that's for sure!

      And wow, thank you - that comment made my day! =D


Hi! Thank you for your comment, I love to hear back from you guys. =) I try to respond back to every comment within a few days.

Please don't use this comment form for self-promotion, though. It's bad blogger etiquette. And we don't wish to upset Emily Post. ;)