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Setting sprays have gone from being an unknown beauty insider secret to one of the most coveted items in a makeup bag. But if you’ve never used one before, how do you know which one is a keeper?
We’ve uncovered the best drugstore setting sprays that won’t break the bank and will keep your face looking fresh and flawless for the whole night. Plus, a little insider insight into choosing a spray that suits your skin and how to use them for the best results.
What Are Setting Sprays?
First things first: a rundown on what setting sprays actually do. These liquid mist sprays go onto the skin to prolong the lifespan of your makeup. They keep everything in place, avoid smudging, and make it look like you’ve just applied your makeup —even as the sun rises the next morning.
This makeup magic is achieved with simple ingredients (usually a combo of water and alcohol) and a few quick spritzes on your face. You can choose one to suit your skin type, desired effect, and longevity goals, so they’re totally personalised to your needs.
How to Choose the Right Setting Spray for Your Skin
We get it; choosing a setting spray can be a little overwhelming. To make it easy, there are three main things you should be looking for in a spray: skin type suitability, lifespan, and makeup effect.
Most importantly, a good spray should suit your skin. These days, you can get the best setting spray for oily skin, a setting spray for dry skin, and even those for skin in between. Like the rest of your skincare, you want to choose a spray designed precisely for you. Those still unsure will want to check out the setting spray vs powder debate to see what’s best.
Another point to consider is how long you want the wear. Some setting sprays are designed for shorter lasting makeup — say a few hours —and others can go all night.
Finally, the matte vs dewy makeup question. Are you looking for a dewy or matte finish? There’s a setting spray to help you achieve either look. Some of us even have both!
Benefits of Using Setting Sprays
Still wondering why you should add one of the best drugstore setting sprays to your makeup kit? Here are a few reasons for its huge following:
- Stops creasing: There’s nothing worse than applying a perfect beat only to have it look wrinkled when you’re up close. Setting spray helps smooth out these lines in your makeup to give an overall flawless finish.
- Prevents fading: This is the big one. A setting spray is primarily designed to stop your makeup from fading, giving you that freshly applied face for hours on end.
- No smudging: Accidentally rub your face or bump into someone on the dancefloor? Setting sprays provide a crazy amount of defence that guarantees your makeup stays put.
- Alleviates skin concerns: You can buy two-in-one sprays that protect your makeup, hydrate the skin/smooth your complexion/prevent oil build-up/or treat any classic skin concern you might have.
Our Picks: The Seven Best Drugstore Setting Sprays
- NYX Dewy Finish Professional Makeup Spray
This is the best affordable setting spray and a must for anyone wanting that dewy finish. It works on liquid or powder and provides lightweight coverage so that you won’t feel a thing (both good points in our book).
- e.l.f. Matte Magic & Mist Set
Just as the name suggests, this is the perfect spray for those looking for matte perfection. The spray is loaded with nourishing ingredients, too, like vitamins A, C, and E, plus aloe and green tea. Divine!
- Urban Decay All Nighter
Arguably the most popular setting spray on the market, this is a must if you plan a long night. With serious staying power, some people find it a little drying, but it keeps your makeup looking flawless for hours.
- Cover FX Illuminating Setting Spray
Sick of setting sprays that dull your complexion? Cover FX has the solution. This setting spray creates a radiant glow with illuminating particles, keeping your makeup in place underneath.
- Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray
Those happy to splash a little more cash to get the top-shelf setting spray will love this one from Charlotte Tilbury. It truly makes your face look as though it’s been airbrushed and comes in a lightweight, oil-free formula that smooths everything out to perfection.
- Milk Makeup Hydro Grip + Refreshing Spray
Another slightly costlier option, but amazing nonetheless, is HydroGrip. Those planning on sweating or getting wet will want to invest in this because it works its magic for up to 12 hours and in the craziest conditions. There is also NO alcohol (perfect for those with sensitive skin!). For best results, spray this one on first and last to seal your makeup in place.
- Rare Beauty Always an Optimist 4-in-1 Mist
This mini mist is perfect for carrying in your bag and spritzing when you need a pick-me-up. With four powers, including setting spray, pre-makeup primer, hydrator, and refresher, it alleviates any makeup concerns.
How to Use Setting Sprays?
Setting sprays are one of the simplest makeup products out there and deliver some of the biggest results. Follow these quick steps to make the most out of your new fave.
- Apply a primer underneath your makeup.
- Follow your usual makeup routine of foundation, blush, contour, or whatever else you use.
- Spritz the spray gently all over your face and neck. Give the first layer time to set.
- Apply a second gentle spray over the same areas. Once dried, you’re ready to go.
As always though, follow the instructions of your setting spray for the best results.
To prevent any face makeup product building up in your wrinkles, laugh lines, or under eyes throughout the day… use a damp beauty blender and a setting spray! Spray a few mists onto the sponge and gently tap it in the textured areas of the face when your makeup look is finished to ensure that your look remains flawless!
The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Sprays
Want to become a setting spray expert with minimal training? These do’s and don’ts will help you achieve MUA status with your spray and avoid the common mistakes.
- Give your spray a shake every time before using it. This ensures all the ingredients are mixed as well as needed.
- Spray an X on your face, followed by a T. These simple patterns ensure you cover all the prime spots.
- Spritz a little on your makeup sponge or brush to get even more of the effects.
- Try and rush the drying process by using a hair dryer. Air-dried setting spray will always work best.
- Leave your setting spray in heat or direct sunlight. Not only can it damage the product, but it’s dangerous, too.
- Spray it too close. About six to eight inches (or 15 to 20 cm) away from the face is best.
Flawless Beauty You Can Set and Forget
Adding a simple setting spray to your makeup routine can be a game-changer. With our picks for the best affordable setting spray and some insight into choosing the best one for your skin, your all-night beat will thank you.
Which setting spray is best?
There are many brands and types of setting sprays, so choosing one that matches your skin type and makeup goals is best. Some popular brands include Urban Decay, NYX, Cover FX and e.l.f.
What is the difference between setting mist and setting spray?
A skin mist hydrates the skin and is generally considered a skincare product. A setting spray is a product that goes on top of your makeup to give it a longer wear life.
Is it worth it to buy setting spray?
Setting spray prolongs the life of your makeup and prevents smudging and creasing, so if you plan on wearing it for more than a couple of hours, it’s a brilliant addition to your routine.
What goes first primer or setting spray?
Primer goes on first, underneath the foundation and other makeup you wear. Setting spray is usually the last step to set everything and keep your makeup in place for longer.