Whether applying makeup takes five minutes or upwards of an hour, no one wants their efforts to go to waste in the face of a day out and about. That’s where makeup settings sprays may come in: They claim to hold makeup in place while withstanding elements out of your control, like sweating or creasing.
After testing many top-rated makeup setting sprays, we crowned the Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Super Setter (available on Ulta) our Best Overall for its precise misting bottle and ability to keep the skin looking smooth throughout the day. We also named the Morphe Continuous Setting Mist (available on Ulta) our Best Value pick, as it seals the skin with moisture to help blend your makeup together.
These are the best makeup setting sprays we tested, ranked in order:
Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Super Setter
Morphe Continuous Setting Mist
Rare Beauty Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Mist
Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Set + Refresh Spray
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray
One/Size On ‘Til Dawn Setting Spray
Too Faced Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray
Milani Make It Last Setting Spray
E.L.F. Makeup Mist & Set
NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray
Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist
M.A.C. Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+
Wet n Wild Photofocus Setting Spray
Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Super Setter
The Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Super Setter comes in a plastic bottle, but you'd think it’s packaged in an aerosol can because of how evenly it mists the formula onto skin. A single spray from about 10 inches away provided a cloud of moisture to seal in my makeup, though I spritzed the bottle a few times as I waved it over just half of my face. (I tested the sprays on only one side to help me compare the efficacy after a day of wear.)
The spray caused my skin to feel damp without drenching it or causing streaks or patchiness on my makeup. After allowing it to absorb into my skin for a few minutes, I saw that the side I’d treated had more of a sheen, and my foundation—the Kosas Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation—appeared to blend into my skin better around my T-zone where my pores are more noticeable. Still, my makeup looked up to my standards on both sides of my face, albeit a little shinier than I would prefer on the side with setting spray—something I could have easily fixed with a dusting of powder if it bothered me enough (it didn’t).
The true test came several hours later when I peered in a mirror to see how well my makeup stayed on throughout the day. The most noticeable deterioration always occurs under my eyes—the Kosas Revealer Concealer I used for testing always eventually settles into my fine lines, wears away to reveal darkness, and ends up looking dry. The Benefit setting spray isn’t a miracle worker—I still saw creasing—but my under-eyes on the side of my face with the product looked dramatically better compared to the side without it.
My makeup still faded over the hours—no setting spray will make makeup appear freshly applied forever, as my tests proved. And as long as I’m emoting (hello, smile lines), I’ll probably always see creasing. But the difference I observed from using this setting spray convinced me that there could be something to its “Super Setter” moniker.
I’d purchased the Morphe Continuous Setting Spray long before I conducted these tests, so I already knew I liked it—and its drugstore price. But of course I was curious to see how it would compete with bestsellers across the price spectrum. As it turns out, it’s a winner.
This spray comes in an aerosol can, which I credit for its ultra-fine mist. (Though Benefit proved me wrong in that regard, I suppose.) Even still, the mist is so fine and light that it doesn’t leave the skin feeling uncomfortably wet and, as a result, it dries very fast. The experience of using this is pleasant—it feels hydrating and adds a subtle dewy appearance to the skin that’s less sheen-y than that of the Benefit spray.
If you like to use a setting spray for helping to meld together your complexion products and give the skin some hydration, you’ll enjoy this option. But if you’re only using one for keeping your makeup in place, you may not be impressed. While I think it helps my makeup look better in appearance at first, I didn’t see a tangible difference in the longevity of my makeup after several hours of wear—it faded about as much as I expected.
I’m Jessica, the beauty editor at Reviewed. I test all sorts of beauty products, from skincare to makeup to hair tools, as well as write and edit educational beauty stories. I’m not one to spend the money on a product if I don’t think it will be a game-changer for my routine, which is why I’m skeptical of setting sprays and their claims of keeping makeup in place for hours on end. I wanted to see if any of the options I tested could change my mind and convince me I must add this final step to my makeup routine.
I searched makeup retailers and other editorial bestseller lists to arrive at the selection of makeup setting sprays I tested. To test them, I applied the same foundation, concealer, and powder to my face each day, switching up what I used for blush, bronzer, and highlighter, depending on the look I wanted. I then held up a notebook to cover half of my face, positioned the respective setting spray I was testing from about 10 inches away (all of the instructions recommended something to this effect), and sprayed it in sweeping motions a few times to get an even coating. After initial application and then several hours later, I answered questions about the sprays’ most important attributes, including:
Application and drying time: How easy is it to use the setting spray? How evenly did the spray coat the skin? After application, how does the skin feel? How quickly does the setting spray dry?
Wearability and longevity: Immediately after application, how does the makeup look? After several hours of wear, how did the makeup hold up as compared to the non-sprayed side of my face?
What You Should Know About Buying Makeup Setting Sprays
Now that I’ve tested the best makeup setting sprays out there, I feel confident in saying that good ones can significantly improve how your complexion looks or how your makeup feels on your skin. With some sprays, like our Best Overall pick, I noticed a dramatic difference in how my makeup looked under my eyes (my problem area) at the end of the day, and I also enjoyed the dewy finish and makeup melding effect it had.
On the other hand, our Best Value—and most others on this list—fell flat with preventing my makeup from fading or creasing; instead, the best part was the hydrating feel it provided and the overall healthier appearance I saw on my skin.
Before purchasing either of our winners—or any other setting spray—consider what your main goal is, keeping a few attributes in mind:
Texture: A face full of makeup can result in the skin looking powdery or cakey. A makeup setting spray can help all of your complexion products melt together and look smoother. If that’s your main objective with using a setting spray, look for one that includes dimethicone, a silicone-derived synthetic polymer that’s often present in cosmetics to coat the skin and cause a blurring effect. A spray can also provide hydration to your skin, also helping it to look more even and less textured. Some hydrating ingredients to look for include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalane, aloe, and panthenol.
Finish: Some sprays claim to provide the skin with either a matte or dewy finish. If your skin leans oily and has natural sheen, you may prefer a “mattifying” effect from your spray. The opposite can be said for those with dry skin that often see a powdery finish post-makeup application and may prefer a glowier appearance. If one of these options sounds more appealing, you can seek out a setting spray that claims to offer a shine-free look or a luminous one. (After testing a dozen sprays, I’m not confident all results will match their claims on this front, but there’s no harm in trying.)
Longevity: Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, setting spray should set your makeup to keep it looking as fresh as possible in the hours after application. You’ll find sprays that claim to keep makeup in place for up to 16 hours on this list. Your makeup most likely will wear away as you go about your day, but selecting a formula that’s waterproof or smudge-proof, like our Best Overall, and re-applying it every few hours may swing the odds in your favor.
Other Makeup Setting Sprays We Tested
Rare Beauty Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Mist
Rare Beauty’s Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Mist has such a fine mist that I couldn’t tell if I was coating my face. While this may sound like a negative, I liked that I could casually spritz this without ending up with a drenched face and smeared makeup. After several sprays, I saw a finish that looked shiny in a healthy, dewy-skin way.
I also saw an immediate effect on my under-eyes with this spray. Though both sides of my face looked more powdery than I’d prefer (thanks, dry skin), the sprayed side appeared much better hydrated. My makeup still faded after several hours of wear, but this rang true in varying degrees of every spray on this list. That said, I’d recommend this for someone who is more concerned with adding luminosity and hydration to their skin post-makeup application.
In general, the sprayer on the Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Set + Refresh Spray evenly coats the skin, but I could feel some extraneous large droplets landing on my face. Luckily, they didn’t interfere with my makeup, so this was easy to forgive. My skin felt tackier on the side I sprayed but not at all uncomfortable, and the formula dried within a couple of minutes.
Like our Best Overall option, the magic of this setting spray is apparent after several hours of wear. On the sprayed side, my makeup looked less powdery on my cheek and the creases of my concealer—an inevitability for me—were only visible directly under my eye and didn't fan out beyond the outer corner of my eye as they did on the side without spray. I think this spray is a solid option because it produces similar results to our Best Overall, but the application of our winning pick is better because of its finer mist.
The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray mimics a couple of sprays on this list, including our Best Overall, as the reduction in creasing by the end of day made more of an impact on my experience with it than the initial application.
I used four to five sprays to coat my skin; the formula dried quickly and didn’t feel tacky or uncomfortable at any point. My skin looked dewier on the sprayed side, but I only noticed because I examined my face closely for testing. After several hours of wear, though, my concealer appeared very creased on the side sans spray compared to the side with it. I’d use this option again because of those under-eye results, but I don’t think it offers anything unique from the other sprays on this list.
At first glance, the One/Size On ‘Til Dawn Setting Spray has a lot of similarities to a hairspray for your face but without the sticky, uncomfortable finish. Unlike most of the sprays on this list, this one has a strong, perfume-like fragrance and it’s housed in an aerosol can. Together, these two elements may make you feel like you accidentally pulled the wrong product from your shelf.
As for actual application, it doesn’t leave the skin feeling wet, which means a faster drying time, but that also made me wonder whether I applied enough to see the purported results: keeping the skin matte for 16 hours. Post-application, I could tell that my skin looked slightly more matte (as opposed to shiny), but perhaps because several of my face products, like the Supergoop Glowscreen Sunscreen, impart their own sheen, the matte effects of the spray weren’t very obvious.
Like many of the other sprays, my makeup wore off about as much as I’d expect it to, but I also did not see any difference between the two sides of my face to indicate that one side stayed put or produced less shine.
Too Faced Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray
The Too Faced Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray feels refreshing on the skin without making it too damp. It dried quicker than most and didn’t leave a hint of tackiness. All of these qualities make it an easy, comfortable product to use.
It left my skin with a pretty sheen, but I’d want to tamp it down in certain areas, like my forehead and around my nose to prevent my face from looking oily. At the end of the day, I saw less creasing under my eye with the setting spray, but overall, it didn’t make enough of a difference for my skin to warrant the extra step in my routine.
Based on my experience, Milani’s Make It Last Setting Spray has a wetter formula than most. My skin felt drenched despite applying it in the same quantity and from the same distance away as I’d done with everything else. After fanning my face with a piece of paper—something I did with most, if not all, sprays—I was relieved to see it finally dry in about two minutes, but it left behind a tacky, shiny finish that I didn’t love.
I used this briefly years ago and remember liking it, but my skin was drier then, which leads me to believe this formula could be a great option for those with very dry skin who want that ultra-hydrating formula. I also think you may like it if you want something refreshing to keep in your bag in the warm months. It delivers cooling results, but it didn’t do much for my makeup.
There’s not much to say about the E.L.F. Makeup Mist & Set. The mister provides an even coat on the skin and leaves a luminous, yet not-too-damp or shiny finish with a few sprays. I’d still prefer a more matte finish to avoid my skin looking oily, but I didn’t mind this. At the end of the day, my makeup looked the same on both sides—a little dry, in this case.
The NYX Professional Makeup spray is supposed to leave the skin with a matte finish, but I would have thought it promised a dewy one based on my results. Because of the tackiness I felt on my skin, I thought the spray may just need even more time to dry to become matte, but that wasn’t the case either.
After my full-day wear test, the side of my face with the spray looked drier and my pores were more noticeable. If my skin had zero shine to it, I’d understand the dryness and attribute it to the claims of a matte finish, but my skin still looked dewy—it just also had areas where the foundation looked patchy and dry. I’d suggest you skip this, especially if you have dry skin.
As its name implies, the Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist is supposed to leave the skin with a glow, and in my experience, it delivered on its claim. However, when I touched my skin to compare how tacky one side felt compared to the other, the side with the spray left foundation residue on my fingers and felt slick—it was almost like Tatcha never dried. I wouldn’t mind this so much if the oilier formula led to a long-lasting sheen on my skin, but both sides of my face appeared equally dry and makeup-faded at the end of the day.
The M.A.C. Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+ fell toward the bottom of this list for a simple reason: It made my skin look drier than the side without spray. Sure, others didn’t provide noticeable benefits, but few made my foundation look patchy right off the bat. My makeup also wasn’t any more preserved on the side with the spray after hours of wear.
Right out of the container, I didn’t like the artificial, sweet scent that the Wet n Wild Photofocus Setting Spray had, but my complaints didn’t end there. My makeup looked heavier and my pores more noticeable on the side of my face I tested this on than on the no-spray side. Hard pass.
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