In the Spotlight – Hourglass Cosmetics

Felicity Barnes, Elys Beauty Insider
I love the industry I work in, I’m passionate about all things beauty and wellbeing, from skincare to candles and everything possible in-between. Beauty can empower you, shift your mind-set, help your mental wellbeing, solve problems, manage daily struggles, protect you, heal and lift you up.

Beauty is a noisy market, as a consumer it’s difficult to navigate and, as a brand it takes a very clear vision, commitment to principle and strong brand founder to establish a devoted clientele who remain enthusiastic and engaged.

This is especially true in the world of colour cosmetics which can suffer our magpie tendencies to be attracted by shiny new launches that lure us…

My job is to immerse myself in this world, testing, creating, critiquing and innovating, so often it is difficult to establish an unwavering collection of favourites that never change. But, I do have a few products that are non-negotiable.

So, when you get the chance to try a new product ahead of launch as well as address your questions to the founder, well…it’s a moment people!

So you know what I said about shiny new launches to lure you….well, I do have one to tell you about. Fortunately it is with a brand I have enormous trust in, admiration for in terms of quality, performance and brand ethics.

Hourglass Cosmetics.

If you haven’t experience the brand or products, let me invite you to just take a moment to connect to a seriously classy brand, innovating and using their reach and platform to positively affect change, under the leadership and vision of their founder Carisa Janes.

Carisa Janes - Hourglass Cosmetics Founder

Carisa Janes - Hourglass Cosmetics Founder

Beauty Insider: Carisa, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Elys customers, it is a rare treat to get first hand insight from a brand founder who is forging new principles in the world of beauty.

So, when you established Hourglass, what were your guiding principles? Was there a trigger point for you to dive into development? How hard did you find this to achieve in the current beauty market? Do you feel things are changing? 

Carisa: When I established Hourglass Cosmetics in 2004, I was working in cosmetics and had an idea for a brand founded on innovation and integrity. I saw an opportunity in the market for high-performance colour cosmetics with skincare benefits, delivered in beautiful packaging.

The concept of Hourglass Cosmetics was to fuse science, beauty and purpose: cruelty-free, multi-tasking products that instantly make people look great. 

We were one of the first cruelty-free luxury beauty brands, the industry has come a long way since then. 

Every decision someone makes has an impact, so they want to feel good about the businesses they support. We’re seeing people seek out brands that align with their own values and ethics. It’s great that we, as an industry, are giving consumers more thoughtful purchasing options. 

BI: Hourglass Cosmetics has always been synonymous with cruelty free positioning and vegan products since its launch in 2004. What is the biggest misconception, or misrepresentation in the market, with consumers with regards to “cruelty free” that you are wishing to address by “redefining cruelty free” as a brand mission? 

CJ: I don’t know if it’s a misconception, but our definition of “cruelty free” is about more than just animal testing. By the end of this year all of our formulas will be vegan, because it just didn’t sit right with us to call ourselves cruelty free when animal-derived ingredients were in the mix. 

We really try to be thoughtful of our impact on living beings and their environment, whether it’s during development of a new formula, packaging or our charitable partnerships. 

For us, being cruelty free is a combination of ending harmful practices and creating positive change. 

Note: as at 2018 80% of the range was vegan

BI: Your Eye to Eye campaign has created some striking, beautiful imagery and explores the humanity in the eyes of animals. Through your promotional social media campaign, you have been raising funds for NhRP donating $1 for each image shared online. Have you found good engagement with your customers? How much have you raised for the cause to date?  

CJ: We've had thousands of people participate in our Eye to Eye campaign, and it’s a good reminder of the effect we can have when we come together. 

We also raise funds for NonHuman Rights Project through our Unlocked collection, which was inspired by a documentary called Unlocking the Cage – that’s actually how I first discovered the NhRP and their work. 

Five percent of the profits from our latest launch, Unlocked Mascara, are donated to the organisation, as are five percent of profits from the entire Unlocked collection.  

I think people are increasingly looking for brands that support their values, which shows in the response we’ve had to the collection. This is a meaningful partnership for us, and we plan to continue raising funds for NhRP through the Eye to Eye Campaign and the Unlocked collection.  

BI: What propelled you as a brand to work with this organisation particularly?  

CJ: Being cruelty-free is the cornerstone of Hourglass Cosmetics, and The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organisation working to secure fundamental rights for animals. We share a mission to protect animals in the beauty industry and beyond, so it was just a perfect fit for us to come together for a greater impact. 

BI: Who inspires you?

CJ: I really admire Jane Goodall and how her strength comes from passion and empathy. She proves that there are many ways to do good in the world, and even small acts can have an extraordinary ripple effect.  

BI: So you have recently launched Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara.

Lash extensions and the 'false lash' effect have been having a moment, but there are compromises to lash health and strength with some treatments. Was this the direction behind the development? Create the look without compromise? 

CJ: Yes, that was definitely part of it. I love the look of lash extensions when they’re done correctly and not overdone, but I don’t love the time, cost, commitment and irritation they can cause. Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara is a special formulation that coats each lash in lightweight fibres to instantly mimic the ultra-long, fanned out effect of extensions. The best part is that they slide off with warm water at the end of the day.   

Hourglass Cosmetics Unlocked Mascara model lower lash closeup

BI: Did you always want this to work alongside Caution to create the 'triple threat' of volume, length and definition, or was this a happy coincidence?  

CJ: Caution Extreme Lash Mascara fulfilled one of my beauty fantasies: dramatic lashes with 400% more volume. But I also love the lengthened, defined look I typically get with lash extensions. We developed Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara because you don’t necessarily want the same look all day, every day. It's important to have some versatility in your beauty routine. 

BI: How would you recommend customers combine these two formulas for maximum impact?  

CJ: You can absolutely layer these two formulas for a custom look with volume, length, lift and definition! There’s no ‘right’ way to combine them – we recommend experimenting until you find your perfect lash routine. 

BI: Amongst your customers, what seems to be the priority products? Is the focus on eyes coming from customer demand or how you see the industry innovating?  

Right now everyone wants a natural look, so our customers are prioritising glowing skin and long, lifted lashes. We see that reflected in our recent bestsellers: Vanish Airbrush Concealer and Ambient powders, along with our new Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara.  

Carisa Janes' three desert island Hourglass Cosmetics products


No 28 Lip Treatment Oil in Cameo

No 28 Lip Treatment Oil in Cameo: I use this multiple times a day to keep my lips soft and hydrated, so it’s a must-have on a desert island.

Shop now

                Vanish Airbrush Concealer

Vanish Airbrush Concealer: I won’t go anywhere (even a desert island) with this ultra-pigmented formula, which blurs fine lines and instantly makes me look more rested.

Shop now

Unlocked Mascara

Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara: Just one coat of this instantly opens my eyes with length, lift and definition, plus…it’s smudge-proof, so it could withstand the island heat!

Shop now

BI: What is next for Hourglass Cosmetics?  

CJ: Hourglass Cosmetics will be 100% vegan by the end of 2020, which has been an exciting challenge to take on. We’re proud to keep making high-performance luxury beauty products that are truly cruelty free. As always, we will continue exploring ways to amplify our positive impact on animals and their environment.  

Hourglass Cosmetics Unlocked Mascara Review – Our Beauty Insider shares what she thinks…

So, having had the opportunity to put some questions to Carisa, I was also fortunate enough to get a press sample of the new mascara ahead of launch which I have been using for a few weeks.

I should point out, these are my personal opinions and I am under no obligation or incentive to review the mascara by Hourglass Cosmetics.

First off, there is something that is always exciting about a new mascara isn’t there? The promise of finding 'the one', the instant WOW in trying a new formulation…it is a very personal preference.

First sight

Hourglass Cosmetics Unlocked Mascara wand

The immediate visual gratification of this new launch does not disappoint. The covetable, cool barrel of the packaging, golden, shiny and detailed with the Unlocked campaign logo, definitely appeals to the magpie within. 

The brush is conical in shape and made up of plastic brittles. This is preferable in lengthening and defining mascara as it really helps comb through the lashes, ensuring the mascara clings to each individual lash to create the separation and fanned effect.

The wand and brush pull through the wiper with a satisfying 'pop', loaded with the perfect amount of product – there is no tail of mascara left on the end to wipe around the edges. This has meant my sample has remained pristine around the top – a welcome change from most mascara. 

The formula claims ultra-black and doesn’t disappoint, it is indeed a deeply glossy, rich black that frames the eyes well, especially worked into the root of the lash line.

In application

I am a huge fan of Hourglass Cosmetics Caution mascara, it is the most impactful volumising mascara, so I had to remind myself that this was not developed to achieve the same effect. This was about elegant definition and lengthening.

The brush is perfectly coated with the product and the brush is tapered to reach all the finer hairs and lower lashes without transfer. The brush grips the lashes and glides through to separate and shape.

A second coat will achieve impressive length, with fine, natural looking lashes in deep black with a glossy finish. Wet mascaras are a pet peeve of mine and I can happily report that this is not. It is a brilliantly purposeful texture and consistency that results in extraordinary results.

I did not experience any clumping in application. I like to continue to ‘fiddle’ with my lashes to achieve the shaping I want and even with this, I did not see clumping. The wand carries more product than might appear, I think it’s possible to do both eyes with a single dip, on average I have applied around two coats. 

The formulation is weightless in application, applying effortlessly.

Unlocked Mascara before and after

Unlocked Mascara before and after


The big test of any mascara, after seeing the initial impact, is wear through the day. 

I was sceptical, I don’t mind admitting. I felt the lightweight feel to the formulation may indicate that the wear would be compromised.

How wrong I was. I was very impressed that the effect remained fresh throughout the day, even staying put through a run!  

The formula is what I would describe as elastic, it has a pliability to it that enables you to reapply should you wish to, lashes can still be stroked and fluttered.

Remember this is a tubing mascara so can be removed gently with warm water and a cleaning cloth, or with your normal cleansing routine. It is fantastic that the mascara slides from the lashes with such ease and they are left feeling soft, clean and conditioned.


If you don’t already know this…STOP pumping your mascara wand in and out of the pack! 

This action can mean you are running the risk of introducing potential bacteria, aside from the risk to eye health through continuing this, it also alters the performance and longevity of the formulation.

Try to change mascara every three months to ensure the formula performance remains optimised.

Shop Unlocked Mascara

Discover and shop the Hourglass Cosmetics collection online at Elys.

Join the Hourglass Eye2Eye movement.