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Makeup Setting Spray Comparison [Find out which Setting Spray is BEST!]

August 28, 2018


Erin Schrader


I’ve realized as I’ve grown up that there are certain defining moments in your life that mark a new chapter in the world of adulthood. All of a sudden something happens, you’ve developed a new habit or whatever it may be and wham bam, just like that you’ve take another step into being a mature[ish] adult human. It was just this past year that I experienced another one of those moments [these days, they seem to be happening frequently and I’m not sure I’m feeling okay with all of it]. For me, it came in the form of makeup setting spray. I had zero clue that setting spray even existed until we did our LIY Tribe Beauty Favorites survey and you all picked a favorite in this category and I was all “wait. that’s a thing?” and now that I’ve been using it, I totally get why it is a thing. Apparently, there is added satisfaction to applying makeup when you realize it’s actually going to STAY on your face, ALL DAY LONG. Exciting concept, I know.

As I’ve been using a makeup setting spray more often and realizing the importance and power of doing so, I’ve started wondering which one is REALLY the best. Thankfully, the LIY team and I have been loving putting together different comparison posts recently [you can see everything else we have compared here] and so when it was thrown out to compare the sprays that determine the future of our faces, we thought it absolutely seemed necessary. Here’s how we did it, which products we compared and of course – the results!



The process was simple really. We each tried every type of makeup setting spray over a period of time and applied a different setting spray from the list above in the morning after applying makeup, took a photograph and then rephotographed ourselves at the end of the work day to see how well our makeup truly held up. As we used each product, we took notes and rated them on how each individual setting spray worked in these categories:

  • Longevity [did the setting spray truly hold up to its makeup setting powers]
  • Texture on Face [how did the setting spray make our skin feel after applied]
  • Dry Time [how quickly did the setting spray dry once applied]
  • Shine Control [how well each setting spray did in keeping our faces shine free]


To help you get the most out of this comparison, we thought it would be helpful to give you an idea on the skin type of each of the team members who tested.

  • Erin: Combination of normal to oily, not sensitive
  • Becca: Very dry skin, and unfortunately a hopeless face toucher
  • Steph: Normal to Dry, not sensitive
  • Claire: Oily, Sensitive
  • Cassidy: Oily, sensitive
  • Lauren: Normal, sometimes oily


When using a makeup setting spray, apply after ALL of your makeup is on [yes this means your foundation, powder, blush, mascara, lipstick, etc]. I always wait until my mascara is completely dry to spray just to avoid shutting my eyes while it is still wet. Once dry, hold the setting spray bottle 8-10 inches away from your face [or whatever the specific product you are using advises on the bottle] and spray in both a T and X formation to cover all areas. Remember, keep your eyes shut while spray to avoid it getting in your eyes. You definitely don’t want to drench your face, but you do want to spray enough to allow it to adhere to your skin and work. Allow it to dry naturally [typically takes 10-20 seconds] and go about your day’s duties, while your makeup will do its thing [aka stay in place].


Our winner – Urban Decay Cosmetics All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray // $32 It wasn’t a huge surprise that the oh so famous Urban Decay Cosmetics All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray came in first place among the group with the highest overall rating. This was the same setting spray that our readers voted as their favorite in our 2017 beauty survey! Here’s what a few of us had to say about it:

  • Claire “LOVE Urban Decay! My only complaint is that I did feel a bit oily by the end of the day. However, I use the the Urban Decay De-slick [made for oil control] on a regular basis. I highly recommend it if you have oily skin!”
  • Erin “I use this regularly and it has never let me down! It works so well I had a hard time figuring out which was my morning photo vs my evening photo! Definitely worth every dollar and will last forever!”
  • Cassidy “Lasted the whole day, even beyond work!!”

Coming in at #2 on the list is Mary Kay Makeup Finishing Spray // $18At nearly half of the price, Mary Kay didn’t disappoint. It scored extremely well in shine control and did an overall really good job at keeping our makeup in place all day long! It was pretty quick to dry, the only noticeable difference is that it did feel like maybe a tad bit more was needed than with the Urban Decay when spraying.

  • Lauren “ I was really impressed with the Mary Kay setting spray. Even in the heat of the summer, my makeup stayed pretty well throughout the full day. It dried quickly, wasn’t overly wet when applying, and kept the shine away!”
  • Claire “Loved it! I have combination skin [more on the oily side] and noticed I was a bit oily by the end of the day, but my makeup was all still in place!”

Next up, coming in at number three is E.L.F. Cosmetics Matte Magic Mist and Set // $4I have to admit, we were all SHOCKED with how well this E.L.F setting spray knowing that it only costs $4 to purchase. Knowing that you could purchase 8 of these to make up our first place winner, it is awfully tempting to want to use this setting spray from here on out. While it didn’t score quite as high as the other two, we mostly all agree that it got the job done “well enough”.

  • Cassidy “For the price, this is a great option! It isn’t the strongest of the bunch for me but it does a great job for a great deal!”
  • Becca “This one surprisingly lasted pretty well despite all my face touching tendencies! It did smell kinda funny, but I would say that is a small price to pay for a reasonably priced setting spray that even works for someone like me!”

In 4th from the top, we have Mac Prep + Prime Fix+ Mattifying Mist // $26It’s not a secret that a lot of people love MAC when it comes to all things beauty, which I think explains a little bit of our disappointment when we felt like this didn’t hold up to our normal MAC standards. While it did smell wonderful, it didn’t do a whole lot for several of us.

  • Becca “Definitely makes your face super wet and takes a few minutes to dry. Didn’t hold up all day for me. But I will say, it smells very nice!”
  • Claire “I LOVE MAC products and use them every day. However, I just can’t get behind this setting spray. I was SO OILY by the end of the day! I will say that my makeup all stayed on and in place. For the price, I would’ve liked more oil control for my skin type.”
  • Lauren “For 8 hours, this was a great setting spray. By the evening, I’d probably want to touch some things up. The only downfall I saw was with the dry time- it does take some time to set.”

Next on the list, we have Nyx Professional Makeup Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray // $8.49Again, another option at a great price. While we all would rather pay half the price of this already inexpensive option for E.L.F. this did have a few winning attributes. Unfortunately, where many of us felt it fell short was in the shine control arena!

  • Lauren “While it had a nice matte look at first, it did not stay. By mid day it already seemed like my face was shiny and I needed to reapply makeup.”
  • Cassidy “All around pretty average, nothing stood out [good or bad]. I like NYX as a brand but typically doesn’t have the best longevity!”
  • Steph “Nice light mist going on, but felt that I became a bit greasy throughout the day.”

While we’re getting close to the bottom of our list, we aren’t there quite yet. In sixth place we have Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set // $9.99While it is a setting spray under $10, collectively we didn’t love this product, the main reason due to the [lack of] shine control. Additionally, it did feel quite wet after using on your face which is a feeling that didn’t really escape as time went on.

  • Steph “A little heavier than I prefer, and I did feel like my face was a bit oily at the end of the day which is not usually the case for me.”
  • Claire “I loved the look and feel of this one! However, I was MAJORLY oily by the end of the day. It also made my sensitive skin break out pretty bad!”
  • Lauren “It felt like I sprayed myself with a garden hose the whole day. It never seemed to dry, and made my face look and feel greasy the whole day.”
  • Becca “ I didn’t love the texture on my face — it felt a little tight, like I had sprayed some hairspray on my face!”

And last but certainly not least, Pacifica Crystal Dew Makeup Setting Spray // $10This was the only vegan beauty product that we tested and while we had high hopes for it, unfortunately many of us deemed it our least favorite of them all. While I wouldn’t be afraid to try other Pacifica products, I don’t think we will be turning to this setting spray to keep our faces happy all day long.

  • Cassidy “ Love that it is all natural, but did not work for my skin. Still love this brand though!”
  • Claire “Two words: Grease. Ball. It also was VERY fragranced, which I thought was kinda odd. With sensitive skin, I’m blaming it for a major breakout after testing! HOWEVER, I do love that this brand is 100% vegan and cruelty free. Cheers to that!”
  • Erin “While it had quite a nice fragrance to it, I felt like this setting spray seemed to feel wet on my face all day long. I kept waiting for it to feel dry but it never really got there. I do love that it is a safe product to use and that you can snag it for $10, but I most likely won’t be purchasing again.”

And that my friends, is a makeup setting spray wrap! Hopefully you found this post helpful and are now equipped to shop setting sprays feeling a little more equipped than when you arrived today. We’d love to hear what setting spray you turn to for all of your makeup staying needs! Drop us a comment below and let us know!

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