If you don’t already use a make-up setting spray in your make-up routine, you’re missing out. They make your make-up look less powdery and more blended, and can act as a shield against sweat and rubbing and general clumping as well. If you’re wondering how they work, or how to find a dupe, I’ve got you covered!
Types of Setting Sprays
There are two types of setting sprays:
- sprays that shield against sweat, rubbing and clumping, AND make your make-up look less powdery/more blended
- sprays that only make your make-up look less powdery and more blended (this can also help with clumping)
Confusingly, the name “setting spray” is used for both. “Fixing” is usually only used for the first type that shields.
Setting Sprays That Shield
Let’s start with the shielding and de-powdering sprays. These contain polymers dissolved in a solvent, usually alcohol. Polymers are long molecules like plastics which are great at forming films that don’t budge.
When the setting spray is sprayed onto your skin, the solvent evaporates, leaving behind the polymer. The polymer droplets merge together to form a film that holds your make-up in place and provides some waterproofing power.
The solvent also acts to dissolve your make-up slightly and help it merge together so it looks more blended. Unfortunately, if you spray too much, the solvent will dissolve your make-up and make it run, so make sure you use a fine spray (test new sprays on your hand before you ruin your face!).
These types of sprays will generally have a polymer in the first 4 ingredients. The most common polymers found in setting sprays are PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone) and AMP-acrylates copolymers.
If you’re looking for a dupe of a setting spray that works well for you, a good place to start are different setting sprays with the same polymer. While the other ingredients in the formulation will also make a difference (for example, the dewy and matte NYX setting sprays contain the same polymer, and some sprays like Algenist Splash Hydrating Setting Mist contain beneficial skincare ingredients), the polymer is crucial to how well it performs.
A lot of the same polymers are used as the holding ingredients in hairspray, so hairspray can work as a make-up setting spray in a pinch!
Examples of settings sprays that shield, sorted by polymer and listed in alphabetical order: