Best Makeup Setting Sprays

Updated September 2021
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best makeup setting sprays

When you take the time to do your makeup, you want to be sure that it will last all day. But as the hours pass, your skin’s natural oils can cause makeup to fade, crease, and break down. With a makeup setting spray, your makeup will last longer with fewer touch-ups.

Many makeup setting sprays contain polymers that form a waterproof coating over your makeup. Alcohol is another common ingredient because it can help soak up your skin’s natural oils to prevent them from breaking down your makeup. If you have dry skin, a makeup setting spray with hydrating ingredients will keep your skin moisturized so that your makeup doesn’t become patchy or cakey.

If you want your makeup to look fabulous all day (or night), it all comes down to choosing the best setting spray. That means taking your skin type into consideration, deciding on the right formula, and selecting the most flattering finish, among other factors.

Our buying guide covers everything you need to consider when shopping for makeup setting sprays. For our five favorite setting sprays, see the matrix above.

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If you go a little overboard with your face powder, a light misting of makeup setting spray can tone down the powdery look in an instant.

Key considerations

Types of makeup setting sprays

Makeup setting sprays generally fall into two categories: those meant to prolong the wear of your makeup and those meant to melt together powder products for a smooth, hydrated finish.

Makeup setting sprays designed for longevity prevent sweat and oil from breaking down your makeup. They can also keep your makeup from transferring or becoming cakey. These setting sprays can make your makeup appear less powdery as well. Many also make your makeup waterproof, which is ideal in warmer weather.

Makeup setting sprays designed to melt together your powder products and hydrate your skin are sometimes called fixing sprays. These sprays add an immediate glow to the skin and can stop your makeup from looking patchy over the course of the day, but they generally don’t extend the wear of your makeup.

Skin type

Your skin type is what determines what you need in a makeup setting spray. That’s because oily skin and dry skin have very different issues when it comes to keeping makeup in place, so you need to choose a makeup setting spray that addresses your particular concerns.

If you have oily skin, excess oil from your skin is usually the main culprit in making your makeup fade, crease, and melt off. Opt for a setting spray with polymers that can stop the natural oils in your skin from breaking down your makeup. It should be able to soak up excess oil so your makeup doesn’t become cakey or start looking greasy throughout the day. It should be oil-free and may contain alcohol.

If you have dry skin, you don’t have to be concerned about excess oil breaking down your makeup. Instead, you need to worry about your skin becoming dehydrated, which can cause your makeup to fade and cling to flaky patches. Opt for a setting spray with hydrating ingredients, such as humectants like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or butylene glycol, to keep your makeup looking fresh and smooth. You should avoid settings sprays that contain alcohol because they can strip moisture from the skin.

If you have normal skin, your face isn’t too oily or too dry. That means nearly any setting spray can work to keep your makeup looking fabulous all day.

Features

Finish

Most makeup setting sprays have a matte finish, which means that they don’t add any shine or glow to your skin. A matte finish is ideal for oily skin because it absorbs excess oil and prevents your makeup from looking greasy or cakey throughout the day.

You can also find some makeup setting sprays, usually fixing sprays, with a dewy, glowy, or radiant finish, which helps keep your makeup from looking dull and dry. These tend to be more hydrating formulas, so they’re well-suited for dry or mature skin.

Fine mist

All makeup setting sprays come in spray bottles, but the fineness of their mists varies. If a setting spray does not have a fine mist, the drops that hit your face may be too large and cause splotches in your makeup. A fine mist, on the other hand, casts incredibly small droplets over your face, so it doesn’t disturb your makeup and ensures that your face is evenly covered with the spray.

Wear time

Many makeup setting sprays claim a specific length of time that you can expect the product to preserve the look of your makeup. Some formulas offer 12 hours of wear time, while other sprays promise up to 24 hours of wear.

SPF

Since setting spray is usually the last step in your makeup routine, it’s always a good idea to choose a formula that contains SPF. A makeup setting spray with SPF also allows you to reapply sunscreen throughout the day without disturbing your makeup. For the most protection, opt for a setting spray with at least SPF 15.

Scent

Like many cosmetic products, makeup setting sprays often have a subtle scent. Most have a clean scent that isn’t overpowering, but if you’re sensitive to fragrance or have sensitive skin, opt for a fragrance-free spray instead.

Makeup setting spray prices

Makeup setting sprays vary in price based on the quality of their ingredients and the size of the bottle. Most sprays range from $3 to $38.

The most affordable makeup setting sprays are usually found at the drugstore and typically contain a higher concentration of alcohol. They generally cost between $3 and $15.

Mid-range makeup setting sprays may contain alcohol but also feature other ingredients like polymers that are better for your skin. They usually range from $15 to $26.

The most expensive makeup setting sprays contain many high-quality ingredients, including those that hydrate the skin. They typically cost between $26 and $38.

Tips

  • Before you apply makeup setting spray, shake the bottle well to make sure all the ingredients are fully combined.

  • Hold the bottle approximately 10 to 12 inches from your face, and spray in an X pattern to evenly cover your skin.

  • If your setting spray is taking a little too long to dry, help it along by fanning your face or using the cool setting on your blow dryer to lightly dry your face.

  • Instead of using water to wet your makeup sponge, try dampening it with setting spray to ensure your foundation really stays in place.

  • Give your eyeshadow a foiled, metallic look by spraying your shadow brush with setting spray before picking up the shadow.

  • For the longest-wearing makeup, use a primer under your foundation, set liquid foundation with translucent powder, and finish your look with setting spray.
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You can also use makeup setting spray as a primer. Mist your face before you apply foundation and after you finish your makeup.

FAQ

Q. Is makeup setting spray bad for your skin?

A. If you choose a setting spray that contains a high concentration of alcohol, it can be potentially damaging to your skin. Using alcohol on your face daily can strip your skin of natural moisture and leave you with a dry, flaky complexion. It’s particularly hard on dry skin, but even oily skin can become dry if you use an alcohol-laden setting spray daily.

Q. When should I apply makeup setting spray?

A. Setting spray is typically the last step in your makeup routine. That means you should apply it after foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, highlighter, eye makeup, and lipstick. However, if you really need your makeup to be budge-proof, you can spritz your face several times during your makeup routine to lock it in place. You can also apply setting spray throughout the day to help refresh your makeup when necessary.

Q. How much makeup setting spray should I apply?

A. Less is more with setting spray, so you don’t want to saturate your face with it. Two to three sprays should be enough to cover your entire face.

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