Since co-founding a retail start-up, I’ve become totally fascinated with the stories behind brands. How they started, why they started and what impact they want to make.
Rather than simply buying products without much thought, I’m trying to become the type of consumer that places value on a brand’s vision and “buys into” that instead. I’m not quite sure whether this new-found buying conscience is driven by moral or ethical reasons or whether I’m just plain nosey, but either way, I can’t help but go full FBI agent on the brand itself.
I want to know all the nitty gritty details of how they got to where they are now – their past successes and especially their past failures. Of course, this information is not always readily available, but you can usually find articles and interviews online, some of which can be quite revealing!
I love reading about the lives of the entrepreneurs behind the brands; particularly if they’re women who have worked hard to make it in the beauty industry. One of those women is Carisa Janes, founder (and 100 per cent owner) of Hourglass Cosmetics.
Janes studied fashion and then design marketing, before working in product development for various beauty brands. Inspired by old-world glamour, she wanted to create a line of cosmetics that felt luxurious – like those her mother and grandmother used – but incorporated modern formulas and ingredients that actually “did something”. In 2004, at the age of 29, she created Hourglass Cosmetics.
Hourglass epitomises modern luxury. Everything about the products, right down to the dark bronze packaging, feels expensive. Yes, the products have got the price tags to match, but Janes didn’t want to compromise on anything in favour of keeping her products affordable.
Some might wince at the thought of spending $350 on a “Biomimetic skin active serum” (myself included), but Hourglass continues to launch products that sell out and quickly become cult favourites, and that’s largely to do with the brand’s continuous scientific innovation.
Janes doesn’t like it when women wear no makeup, and is a firm believer that some makeup is better than none. Rather than trying to please everyone by saying “it’s fine if you don’t wear makeup”, she believes that wearing makeup is a sign that you care, and that any face can be perked up with a flick of mascara and the right blusher. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree (telling women they ‘should’ wear makeup is a sure fire way to annoy half the population), I do like the fact she’s clearly passionate about the power of makeup. She believes it can be transformative for everyone.
My introduction to the brand came with the Ambient Lighting Powder (£40). This has been my go to powder for applying on top of foundation all over my face (apart from under the eyes as my shade is a little too dark) for over a year.
I don’t use it every day – when a product costs the same as your weekly food shop you tend to apply with caution – but it’s fantastic for adding a subtle glow to the skin. I’d call this a finishing powder as opposed to a setting powder. It won’t make your makeup last all day, but it has a way of making everything look beautifully diffused. Maybe it’s those ultra-fine micro pearl light-reflecting particles? Isn’t science COOL.
My next Hourglass love affair was with the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Sticks. It’s rare that I’ll repurchase a foundation, especially one that costs £42, as I’d always prefer to try out a new one. But I’m well into my second stick of this stuff with no regrets.
If you “YouTubed” this foundation, you might think it’s only suited to those who want a heavy full coverage look (there’s quite a hype around this product after many big beauty influencers raved about it). But actually, I find it to be incredibly versatile. If I’m going out, I’ll apply it direct to my face and blend with a beauty blender, and that gives a super full coverage look. In the daytime, though, you can use next to no product and still get unbelievable coverage which is practically undetectable. Just dab a buffing brush (I use Zoeva or Morphe) directly onto the stick before dotting into the areas of the face that need it. If you use it in this way, it will last a long time (and you might even get your money’s worth).
Despite the high coverage, the formula is creamy and blendable, and really does look seamless if you prep your skin well and don’t use too much product. Plus, there’s no faffing around with messy liquids, so it’s perfect to keep in your bag.
My third favourite, the Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick (£22), is the kind of lipstick you might wear whilst driving along the Amalfi coast in a convertible with a headscarf on. Unfortunately I can’t say I’ve tried that, but you get the idea: the shade “Raven” is like old Hollywood glamour in a tube. Despite being a creamy formula, it is surprisingly long lasting and pigmented. I haven’t even made a dent in this lipstick (it feels like a special occasion job), but I’m already dying to get my hands on more of the brand’s lippies. Especially the Confession Ultra Slim range of lipsticks, because they are refillable!! Swoon. (Somebody please stop me.)
Do you like to get to know a brand before you buy? Have you tried any Hourglass products? What are your favourites?