Setting Sprays – The Good, The Bad & The Awful
Are they worth it? Which brands are best? How long do they really last? lets find out. Even different ways to use them.
From Left to right: Tarte Stay Spray, KVD Vegan Beauty Lock-it, Ulta Beauty Wanna Be Free, Urban Decay De-Slick oil control setting spray, Morphie Continuous Mist, Elf Makeup, Set & Mist, NYX Matte Finish, & MAC Fix+ primer & Setting Spray
Settings sprays are all the rage right now. I had never tried them until I was sent one to try. I have to say I never looked back. I even learned a trick or two that really sets my makeup for what can possibly be days if I wanted it to be.
I used to think setting spray was just another thing for makeup companies to sell, then a company sent me a sample of their setting spray in a tiny few uses bottle which I still reuse for travel. I learned some tricks along the way too. Like transforming powder shadow into a cream. I call it dip & paint which I’ll talk about too. I liked this setting spray so much I ventured out to try other brands and here’s what I found.
Lower End of the Price Spectrum
The 1st spray I tried at the lower priced end of things was NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray. It has good hold and a few finish options, I prefer matte (my personal preference) but they also have shimmer and dewey looking finishes too. I feel like those make me look more like an android but that does also have it’s uses. NYX is reasonably priced at the lower end of the pricing spectrum it runs for about $8.50 a bottle. It works equally good for both the setting after application and for the dip & paint application. Dries medium to fast and holds the color for a few hours before it starts to crease. With little to no transfer and a good hold I recommend this for a low end setting spray.
Elf Makeup Mist & Set is the least expensive at $5 a bottle it’s ok for the price. Just ok though. As a rule I generally really like Elf Cosmetics. This setting Spray however doesn’t have the most amazing hold. It has no scent and a basic finish mostly matte but more natural than others with the matte finish. Elf spray takes a little longer to dry and is also a small bit heavier making it take longer to dry. This spray has a really good hold and no scent. Does not cause flaking and dries relatively fast. it’s better for the dip & paint trick than as a finishing spray. It’s also good for spritzing the brush before dipping into loose powder or shadow. This is ok if you want the least expensive setting spray but must admit this is a case of getting what you pay for.
Ulta Wanna Be Free Setting Spray- $12 this is a lower priced option. It doesn’t have a scent and is pretty light for the lower priced options. It has no scent. It doesn’t feel sticky but sprays out of the pump heavy so make sure you go easy. It takes alittle longer to dry than other sprays I have tried. The stay power of this one is not so great. The eyeshadow still faded and smudged when I tested it. & the color transferred. Another thing I noticed is when I use the dip & paint method it waters down the color which most of the others don’t. I don’t recommend this one unless it’s a last resort.
Tarte Shape Tape vegan Setting Spray – this is a good spray. At $25 a bottle, It gives a matte finish and has good hold The issue I have with this one is that it’s scented. It doesn’t smell bad but it is a bit heavy and triggers allergies causing my eyes to run and then causing makeup to also run. This defeats it’s own purpose. If however scents don’t bother you then this one is pretty good as long as you keep it light. It goes on medium not as light as some others & a little sticky. (Good for glitters) due to how sticky it is. If you apply too much it will cause flaking. It has a pretty good hold as long as you don’t use too much. Keep it light. I recommend this if you can’t get some of the better ones but those are better.
Morphie Continuous Setting Mist at $16 a bottle This one is different than the others due to it’s aerosol application. this has it’s benefits though aerosols aren’t my preference. They allow for a more even application across your face without having to apply to heavy a layer of it. This also prevents making it too heavy in any one spot and allows you to keep it light and even. The down side of this would be that it does not allow for spot application which I am known to do. It also doesn’t work for the dip & paint method since it cannot be poured into a cap. It does work well if you spritz the brush before dipping into the shadow but that’s as close to spot work as you’ll get with aerosol. It comes in a can much like hairspray and is very light going on. it’s lightly scented & dries fairly quick. It’s also less sticky to the touch when 1st applying. I like using it for those highly blended airbrush looking styles of eyeshadow. Also due to how light it is doing your whole face won’t feel as bothersome as the heavier sprays. Make sure to hold far enough away from your face so you don’t soak your look. This spray has a nice hold once it dries and it does not transfer. You only need a small spray of it too. This is not my 1st choice as a recommendation as I feel limited using it.
KVD Beauty Lock It makeup setting mist- $29 This by far is my favorite. I has a slight scent and runs about $29 a bottle. A $29 well spent if you ask me. It works very well for the dip & paint method and gives not only a nice deep dark application but allows for even color across the line. Once dried it does not budge. I love the detailed looks I can do with this. spray alittle into a cap and dip a skinny liner brush in then use the eyeshadow as a paint and the possibilities are endless. Just make sure to use a good creamy eyeshadow. Nothing dry or crumbly. if it’s too dry and not creamy it will just ball up in the liquid instead of dissolving into an even paintable texture. This goes for any setting spray. Also good for lightly applied and blended soft looks. Spray your entire look lightly when done and you have makeup that will stay on until you remove it. Even in hot weather. I highly recommend this one.
MAC Prep & Prime Fix + Prime and Setting Spray- $30 This spray is more unique because it can not only be used to set makeup but can be used as a primer. It also has moisturizers in it. This bottle has a different type of pump as well and typical MAC packaging it comes in a pretty frosted glass looking plastic bottle. The pump has a turn and lock pump sprayer and slight scent. It feels very light going on. it’s not drying at all due to the moisturizers. I started with this as a primer under my makeup instead of my usual primer to see the full effect of this type of setting spray. Since it is also a primer it’s not sticky. It needs alittle time to dry before applying your makeup. It smooths the surface of the skin, making pores very tiny to not visible. This makes a good canvas for makeup application. Once it dried I applied the makeup. This spray dried fast and the makeup didn’t budge for a very long time. Works very well for dip & paint, as good as KVD. When I removed my makeup after using this as both primer and setting spray my skin was super soft and smooth. It also still had that pore less look. I also highly recommend this one.
Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Setting Spray – $33 The packaging for this one in rather interesting because it has 2 caps. An outer cap that’s larger and a smaller one over the spray pump underneath the larger one. This is very lightly scented spray. This one has a very fast drying super holding formula. It’s an oil controlling formula so is very good for oily skin but can be drying. Most setting sprays can be drying but this one a little more so. Not as good for the dip & paint method because it thinned the color so I had to apply 2xs to get the darker even application. As a finishing spray it’s amazing. This is also good for the whole face since it’s so light & fast drying & makeup is completely free of any transfer. I highly recommend it if you want it just to set your final look, but if you want to do a long lasting painted on wing or graphic liner I’d stick to one of the 2 others mentioned just above this one. I do recommend this for the staying power alone.
A video tutorial on how to use the setting spray to apply eyeshadow as a cream that doesn’t budge is coming soon!
Note there are two ways I use setting spray, one is to spritz on when done to set the look. Another thing I do is pour alittle into a cup and dip my brush in the spray then use that brush to pick up the shadow creating a cream shadow which I then apply usually with a super fine skinny liner brush. One more thing I do is spritz the brush lightly then tap the brush on my eyeshadow allowing it to pick up the powder better. All of the setting sprays mentioned were tested with the following makeup:
The look pictured here was set using KVD vegan Beauty Lock-It Makeup Setting Mist, Eyeshadow by Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow in Carbon. Foundation by Natasha Denona Transformatte pore vanishing matte foundation in 20Y light, Powder by Tarte Shape Tape pressed Powder in 22N light neutral, Lashes by Lujo Lashes in Champagne, Lips I’m wearing Jordanna lip liner in Burgundy & Milani Amore Matte lip cream in Devotion, and Highlighter by Sephora Midnight Magic Highlighter in Holographic.