Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cult Classics: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer Review

Remember that post where I swore off using make-up primers? Yeah, well, I sorta went back on my word, and yet again fell prey to the typical beauty junkie compulsion of 'MUST TRY ALL TEH THINGZ'. I thought hey, what if I'm missing something, and there's a primer out there that will magically erase all my pores and keep my make-up intact for all eternity? I pinned all my hopes on the cult Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($18 for 0.33 oz/ 10ml; by the way, note the volume discrepancy on the outer box). Despite the ridiculous price tag, a lot of beauty bloggers dub it as their must-have and keep purchasing it again and again - so that surely stands for something, right?
I bought the smaller travel size to start with - even though it's less economical in terms of price per ounce than the regular bottle, I was not going to shell out $52 on a primer; I haven't completely lost my mind... yet. I quite like the packaging: it's a sturdy frosted glass bottle with a pump, and I like being able to see how much product I have remaining inside. Now, the claims for this primer are that it's a mineral-based, water-resistant product that 'neutralizes the skin, minimizes shine, and creates a smooth, uniform canvas for flawless makeup application' (from Sephora's website). It's supposed to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines by 'evenly distributing light' across your skin - quite a similar idea to Hourglass' Ambient Lighting Powders, no?
I was rather surprised by the texture of the Veil; most of the primers I've tried thus far were quite thick gels or creams, with the exception of Laura Mercier's lotiony Foundation Primer, but the Hourglass' version is ever thinner than that - you can see in the photo that it's starting to run when I tilt my hand. The liquidy texture allows me to spread even a small amount evenly across my T-zone, and the primer blends in quite well. The Mineral Primer contains physical sunscreens (4.2 % zinc oxide and 2.45% titanium dioxide), and like most mineral SPFs, it does leave a bit of a white cast on the skin initially, although on my fair skin, I've found that it disappears within a couple minutes and doesn't interfere with foundation application.
To test the performance of the Hourglass Veil, I applied it on half of my face, leaving the other half bare for one day, and another day, applying a Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer to compare. In both tests, I've found that the Hourglass primer did indeed minimize the appearance of pores on my nose and inner cheeks. My skin felt soft and smooth, although I didn't find my foundation applied any different on top, and the primer did nothing to soften or conceal my dry patches. As for longevity, I have not found the Hourglass primer to significantly extend the wear of my foundation, or slow down/ prevent my usual oil breakthrough. I paired the Veil with a longwearing, mattifying foundation anyway, so maybe I'd notice a bigger difference with a dewier, more moisturizing formula, but I'm just speculating here.
To be quite honest, I've found that this hyped-up 'miracle' primer is in fact quite similar to... a liquid sunscreen. To me, it has that same runny texture and lightweight siliconey feel as most Japanese and Korean face sunscreens, and it leaves the same finish on the skin, even down to that slight white cast. Compared to the Mentholatum Sunplay SPF50+ sunscreen I reviewed here, it has more of a matte finish and feels lighter on the skin, but the Sunplay is meant to be a moisturizing product, and there's plenty of Korean sunscreen formulas meant for oily and combo skin that I think would perform rather similarly to the Hourglass product at a fraction of the price, giving you better sun protection than just SPF 15.

I'm glad to have gotten the Hourglasss Mineral Primer out of my system, but for me it's definitely not a must-have, and while it does make my skin look more poreless, it's not an essential step in my make-up routine. Now that I've tried it, I think I'll just stick to using my favorite sunscreens in lieu of make-up primers. Have you tried the Hourglass Veil? What is your favorite way of priming your face for make-up application?


  1. Thanks for this review! I've been curious about this stuff (but not enough to buy it). I haven't found that most primers improve my foundation application or longevity significantly, so I've wondered if this mystical product would be different. Usually I think primer is better on bare skin, since it blurs and mattifies, but applying foundation on top of it negates those benefits.

  2. That's funny, I was JUST giving a sample sachet a go this week and thinking, hmm... for a smoothing and mattifying product, might as well just re-purchase the Biore sunscreen!

    1. You know Belly, this is what makes me so mad that I still sometimes fall for the hype around certain products - I don't recall any of the gurus who raved about this EVER mentioning how similar it was to a liquid sunscreen *fumes*. It's like that stupid Ambient Lighting palette they released this year for the Holidays - none of the rave reviews mention what a rip-off it is in terms of price per gram.

    2. I know! *rants* But to be slightly fair, for those sensitive to alcohol & chemical sunscreens would find some Japanese sunscreens objectionable. :D Me, no such quibbles or preferences!

  3. I lost my mind and bought the full sized a while ago. I have dark skin so when I first tested it on my face I was left pretty unhappy to see a vivid blue/white cast and glow against my skin. However, when I applied a decently pigmented foundation on top all the ills were re-written. Currently I've been trudging through my current primer (translucent finish) so I haven't tested Hourglass enough to make claims but I will do. Good review and smart move for buying the smaller size - it is very similar to liquid sunscreen and gives me the same effect but who knows perhaps it might do more?

  4. I've used the Hourglass one before but now I'm loving my MAC Prep and Prime Natural Radiance primer.

  5. I still have fond memories of this primer. :) But your conclusion is quite correct - I replaced this with a sunscreen while desperate for a cheaper dupe and I've stuck to that same sunscreen for years now.