In the days before Photoshop, filters and Kim Kardashian-style contouring, good lighting was a girl’s best friend. In old Hollywood, the stars would deploy all sorts of underhand tactics to secure the very best angles - Joan Crawford was famously ruthless about it - and there are endless tales of feuds between actors vying to secure the services of the studio’s top lighting engineers.
Sadly we cannot all have our own personal lighting technician in tow; but we do have the next best thing: Hourglass Ambient powders, £40 .
Hourglass is one of the few brands I will - and do - actually pay good money for: a single one of their products is worth a 1,000 chalky freebies. Their stuff is simple yet elegant, with lovely solid packaging and practical yet stylish products. The colours are rich and long-lasting (their lipsticks are awesome) and the skincare textures incredibly fine. The attention to detail is truly impressive, some might say verging on the obsessive.
I find a very light dusting is all it takes, with perhaps a bit extra on the tops of the cheekbones and temples
Having never been much of a powder-wearer in my youth, I find that as I get older I am starting to discover the benefits. These days I tend to favour concealer over foundation, since I find that foundation can sometimes make the skin look a bit thick and only serves to highlight open pores and lines. By contrast, concealer can be used sparingly only where required and blended to tone down the inevitable dark spots and patches of redness that come with age.
So a good powder is essential, helping to set the product in place and also depositing a light veil of protection that evens out the complexion without being too obvious.
Hourglass’s Ambient range comes in six different colours: Dim Light is the one I seem to use the most, since I’m, you know, about a million years old and really ought not to be allowed out during daylight hours at all. It gives a very soft finish with a gentle glow that tones down imperfections and looks very natural even in that pesky direct spring sunlight.
There’s also Ethereal (a pearly pink), Diffused (a warm pale yellow which tones down redness), Mood (a soft lavender to brighten dull complexions), Luminous (a peachy colour designed to imitate the look of candlelight) and Radiant, a gentle, golden bronzer that’s perfect for those cold winter mornings when everything - including one’s skin - seems impossibly grey.
You can buy them individually or in a metallic highlight version as a set of three, Hourglass Ambient Metallic Strobe Lighting Palette, £59 . I find a very light dusting is all it takes, with perhaps a bit extra on the tops of the cheekbones and temples. It looks great on cleavage and collar bones too for the evenings - perfect for channelling your inner Joan.