Keeping my makeup looking fresh throughout the day is one of my biggest beauty battles. A combination of sweltering South African heat and daily stresses mean that by 17h00 I’m usually a melted mess. A makeup setting / finishing spray has become a must in my beauty routine, and so over the past few years I have tested a quite number of them to see which ones keep my face looking flawless.
Makeup setting sprays have been popular amongst the beauty community for quite some time now, however, in the past many of them have come from high-end brands (which means they often came with a hefty price tag). I thought it was high time I reviewed 6 makeup finishing sprays that are currently part of my beauty arsenal. Some are affordable, and others are on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. As we all know ‘expensive’ doesn’t always mean great quality, and so a couple of the products mentioned in this blog post will be getting less than stellar reviews from me. Not all are traditional makeup setting sprays, and not all are suitable for all skin types but we’ll get into that a bit later in this blog post.
Top Tip: Pop your makeup setting spray in the fridge during Summer, it takes the refreshing feeling to a whole new level.
What is the difference between a refresher spray, a makeup setting spray and a makeup fixing spray? Good grief, when I first started using MAC Fix+ a few years ago, I honestly thought all 3 were basically the same thing. Turns out I was wrong.
Refresher Spray – A refresher spray is generally just mineral water in spray- or aerosol form. It is usually good for refreshing the skin and adding a little hydration, either prior to your skincare routine of prior to makeup application. This definitely won’t set your makeup because it doesn’t contain the right ingredients to do so. A refresher spray usually contains minerals to benefit the skin and since most makeup these days contain silicones, these ingredients and water just don’t mix together. A refresher spray will simply just bead on top of the makeup, it won’t absorb into your makeup at all. Examples of this is Vichy Eau Thermale, Avene Thermal Spring Water Mist, MAC Mineralized Charge Water, The Body Shop Vitamin E Face Mist, and Evian Facial Mist.
Setting Spray – Also referred to a ‘finishing spray’, this product settles powder products and gives the skin a smooth airbrushed finish. Do not use a setting spray to prep the skin prior to applying your makeup (as a type of priming product) because your makeup will start setting on contact and will be a lot more difficult to blend, so you might notice caking and patches. Setting sprays usually contain some form of purified water plus botanical extracts and oils. They are an oil & water emulsion, which means the oils will ‘burst’ the microspheres in your makeup giving it a natural, fresh-faced finish. It is the last step in your everyday makeup routine, think of it as a type of ‘topcoat’ on your makeup. Makeup setting sprays are translucent and won’t change the colour or texture of your makeup, but in some cases might change the finish of your makeup. It will blend and marry your powder and liquid products together, and set your makeup in place but won’t fix it in place. Examples of this is MAC Fix+, Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray, NYX Makeup Setting Spray, e.l.f. Studio Makeup Mist & Set, and Avon Makeup Setting Spray.
Fixing Spray – This is the absolute last step in your makeup routine, because it seals everything in place. Usually packaged in an aerosol can, these mists will always contain alcohol as an ingredient because it evaporates instantaneously and will form a protective film on top of your makeup. They are usually highly fragranced (to disguise the alcohol scent) and might cause skin irritation and clogged pores if used too often. Fixing sprays are usually used by makeup artists for bridal makeup, theatre productions, fashion shoots etc. and is not suitable for everyday use. Examples of this is the Kryolan Dermacolor Fixing Spray (white can) and Kryolan Fixing Spray (blue can).
Some setting sprays have the capability to help your makeup last a little longer, but it’s not really what they are designed to do. Most makeup setting sprays are suitable for all skin types but if you have dry or sensitive skin, watch out for alcohol as an ingredient, as it will dry out your skin. That’s why I don’t suggest using a fixing spray (which always contains alcohol) on a daily basis because the alcohol will affect your skin. Makeup setting sprays are my personal favourites to use because they are multi-functional products – you can use them as per normal to set your makeup and perhaps help you makeup last longer, you can also use them to foil your metallic / shimmery eyeshadows, or you can even use them to intensify glow-enhancing products i.e. they help amplify highlighting products on your cheekbones.
Now that we’ve covered the technicalities, here are my reviews of 6 different makeup setting sprays in my collection. Each product has been rated out of 5 hearts:
MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Finishing Spray (R 250,00 for 100ml) – I’m starting off with my absolute favourite makeup setting spray! The name of this product is a bit misleading because it doesn’t fix / seal your makeup in place, it sets it. I have combination skin (oily T-zone), so I feel I always need to set my foundation and concealer with a powder. Fix+ removes that cakey look that sometimes happen when I get too powder-happy, it melts powder and foundation into the skin to give you a natural, slightly airbrushed finish (it breaks down that chalky, flat finish that powder can sometimes create). I also find this does prolong the wear of my makeup throughout the day, especially on a particularly hot / humid day. This fine, lightweight mist is suitable for all skin types (even dry / sensitive skin because it is alcohol-free) and contains detoxifying green tea, soothing chamomile and calming cucumber to soothe and refresh the skin. Unlike some other makeup setting sprays, Fix+ doesn’t contain film-forming agents, so it won’t clog pores or irritate the skin. It doesn’t disturb makeup, and sits well on the skin giving it a natural-looking flawless finish. Also, if you struggle with eyeliner transferring to the crease of your eye because you have hooded lids (like moi), try Fix+ because it prevents creasing and transference.
I think Fix+ is a hybrid product, a mix between a refresher spray and a setting spray because you can apply it as a base before starting your makeup routine and it doesn’t make foundation look patchy or blotchy. It also works great with my trusty Beautyblender makeup sponge because it sheers out a full coverage foundation for a more natural and lifelike finish. I dampen my makeup sponge (Beautyblender or Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge) with water first to ensure it has expanded all the way, then mist it with Fix+ and then dab foundation onto my skin. You can even use it with a foundation brush (like the Sigma F80 or Real Techniques Buffing Brush) – mist it onto the brush before applying your foundation, and then buff it out for a similar effect. I have given Fix+ 4,5 hearts out of 5 because realistically nothing can ever be 100% perfect. Yes, I’m one of ‘thoooose’ people.
MAC Fix+ is a non-negotiable in my makeup routine, I love it so much I bought a few extras when the limited edition fragranced product extensions were released a few months ago. I bought the Coconut, Rose and Yuzu scents and I must admit, I love each one for different reasons. Even though they are fragranced, I haven’t found any of them to cause irritation or sensitivity on my skin. Rose is lovely because it is delicate and refreshing, like a dewy rose bouquet that is not too intense. The rose water infusion is perfect for dry and dehydrated skin. Coconut is my favourite because well…coconut scents and I are star-crossed lovers. It smells like a delicious tropical infusion of fresh coconut water. And Yuzu (a Japanese fruit) has a very unique invigorating citrus scent that is both uplifting and refreshing, a great morning pick-me-up! The limited edition variants sold out online within a couple of minutes, I’m not even exaggerating! I’m holding thumbs they will come back as permanent products soon.
You can purchase this in-store at your local MAC counter (in Edgars, Foschini and Truworths stores) or in the MAC South Africa online store. Certain stand-alone MAC stores also stock a travel sized version of Fix+ in case you want to test it before purchasing the full-size.
NYX Dewy Setting Spray (R 179,95 for 60ml) – This is a semi-lightweight mist that that promises to prolong your makeup wear, whilst giving the skin a luminous finish. This setting spray is a great option for someone who has drier areas on the skin because a quick spritz of this will hydrate the area to give it a softer, smoother finish. As you can see, I own both NYX ‘Dewy Finish’ and ‘Matte Finish’ sprays and I must admit, both formulas are actually very similar. I don’t really feel ‘Dewy’ gives the skin a more glowy finish than ‘Matte’, in fact, I think ‘Dewy’ actually gives the skin a satin finish. It does prolong the wear of my makeup and prevents fading to some extent, but I didn’t find the formula to be particularly hydrating. The misting action of the nozzle is okay, it’s not terrible but it’s not the best either, because it can sometimes disperse too much product which feels like a droplets rather than a mist. You have to be in it to win it when you spritz your face with the NYX setting sprays, because if you half-heartedly press down on the pump nozzle, you will end up with big droplets all over your face.
With products such as these you want a fine mist, not something that resembles a sprinkler, because the droplets will disturb your makeup. This setting spray gives my makeup a satin sheen, it evens out the coverage of my makeup plus gives it a smoother and slightly silkier finish. It’s an effective option for temporarily setting makeup in place and giving a fresh-faced finish to makeup.
BUT when you look at the amount of product you get for the price – NYX Dewy contains only 60ml, whereas MAC Fix+ contains 100ml. For that price, I’d rather save up the extra R70 and buy MAC Fix+.
NYX products are available at selected Clicks stores nationwide.
NYX Matte Setting Spray (R 179,95 for 60ml) – Much like the dewy version, this dries to a satin finish but definitely not matte. I would recommend the NYX setting sprays for relatively light makeup setting duties, but not for super hot & humid days, or a situation like bridal makeup. It’s an effective everyday setting spray and I find my powder bronzers, blushes and highlighters remain looking vibrant and do not wear off for most of the day. This tells me it does increase the longevity of my makeup to some extent.
Like its dewy counterpart, the spray nozzle of this product isn’t the best. I suggest you hold the bottle as far away from your face as possible and then spritz 2 or 3 pumps all over the face, anything more will be too much and might cause your makeup to shift. The same also goes for the amount of product you get, 60ml isn’t a heck of a lot of product for the price. I personally think the price tag should be around R 100,00 to R 120,00.
NYX products are available at selected Clicks stores nationwide.
Clarins Fix Make-Up (R 335,00 for 30ml) – I really like how this setting spray manages to settle and bind any cream and powder makeup products to the skin. You know the look when you apply a setting powder, then bronzer and blush and you end up looking a bit too matte, and sometimes even chalky? The Clarins setting spray will settle and blend your powder products for you, plus this ultra fine mist dries instantly and provides enough hydration and glow to refresh your skin, without looking shiny or oily. I would classify this as a true setting spray, because it binds all your products together, giving your makeup look a smooth & flawless finish with the added benefit of slightly prolonging the wear of my makeup.
There are 2 cons to this product, though, one being the amount of product you get for the price you pay. The bottle contains only 30ml of product – eeeeek! With a price tag of R 335,00 I’d expect at least 100ml. And my second con (which might not be a con for someone else) is the mist is so light & weightless, it really doesn’t feel like you are spraying anything on the skin at all. This often makes me use more than I should in one sitting. And if you use too much product on a daily basis, your bottle will be empty before you know it.
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water (R 400,00 for 116ml) – Initially there was a lot of hype surrounding this product, mainly because it was marketed as a very unique makeup primer. It promises to prep the face for makeup, hydrate the skin, and boost radiance. When I bought this, I asked the Smashbox sales assistant whether I could use it as a makeup setting spray as well and she said: “Absolutely, the ingredients will ensure your makeup stays on from morning till night.” I was very excited to try this product because everyone and their dog was raving about it on the ‘tube (I mean YouTube). After a couple of months, though, the rave reviews stopped and I often wonder why…
Anyway, I was keen to try it because 1. it is a primer WATER; and 2. it is supposedly a setting spray as well (talk about a double-duty product). The formula of this primer water is free of silicones, oils, and alcohol and is apparently packed with electrolytes to restore moisture to the skin. Alcohol can lead to dehydration, so the lack of this as an ingredient is a huge plus. I like that the spray nozzle dispenses a lovely light & fine mist, it feels so refreshing on the skin.
I was very disappointed by this product, and knowing I paid R 400,00 for this…well, let’s just say it frustrates me. ALOT. To be quite frank, this is more of a facial mist / refresher spray. I didn’t feel this formula was particularly hydrating, plus I didn’t notice any major extension in the wear of my makeup. I tried using it as a primer, then as a setting spray, and then as a primer AND setting spray. I would classify this as an entry-level finishing mist, because it does refine the look of powder on the dry areas of my skin.
I like the smell of this – I can smell a hint of sweet melon, very similiar to MAC Mineralize Charged Water Spray. What I find extremely interesting is the ingredients in Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water (down to the very last one) are the exact same as the ingredients in the MAC Mineralize Charged Water Spray, it might be because both are owned by the same parent company.
Smashbox products are available at selected Woolworths, Edgars and Red Square stores or online here.
Beauty Fix Radiant Makeup Finish Spray (R 200,00 – R 250,00 for 100ml) – This cruelty-free beaut of a product is locally produced, all natural and free of alcohol, synthetic colours, fragrances, parabens, sulphates, mineral oils and silicones. The formula is quite fast-drying, refreshingly unsticky and contains rosewater, cucumber extract and aloe vera to nourish the skin. The nozzle does tend to spray quite a bit of product onto the skin, so I suggest you hold the bottle as far away from your face as possible. It gives my makeup extra staying power, and prevents the dreaded makeup meltdown all while giving my skin a healthy glow. What I love about this product is that it has multiple uses – it soothes sunburnt skin, reduces inflammation and irritation on adult or baby skin, and can even be used by pregnant ladies as a daily refresher.
You can purchase Beauty Fix at selected salons and online stores, for a list of stockists click here.
A little birdie told me the L.A. Girl PRO Setting HD Setting Spray will be coming to South Africa soon and I have a sneaky suspicion it is going to be the most budget-friendly option yet.
Have a good Monday, everyone! Let’s hope Friday will be upon us before we know it.