Makeup Setting Spray Face-Off: E.L.F., Urban Decay/Skindinavia & NYX

Publish date:
September 8, 2014
nyx, Urban Decay, face mists, oil-free, e.l.f., NYX Cosmetics, setting sprays, skindinavia

Whether you are a greasy gal or a dry dame, it's not easy to keep your makeup on your face. A day in the office or a night at the club can result in smeared and smudged foundation, blush, and even eyebrows!

Fortunately we have makeup setting sprays to help us keep it together. The first time I saw someone "set" makeup was at my mom's wedding to my stepdad. The makeup artist used a fine mist of hairspray to set her bridal look. Even at age 11, I was thoroughly intrigued.

Ironically, one of the ingredients that drives setting spray is also in hairspray. Vinyl copolymers are a synthetic ingredient meant to adhere to surfaces and form a film--be it on your hair or on your face. Some are more flexible than others, and the copolymers used in setting sprays are a bit more gentle, but both provide a working defense against humidity and sebum, two of the main causes of runny makeup.

Take E.L.F. Makeup Mist and Set: The formula has copolymers in it as well as propylene glycol, alcohol, witch hazel, aloe, and vitamins. The finish is somewhere between dewy and matte, and while it's not the most effective setting spray, it is extremely affordable.

I would suggest this for light makeup setting duty, but not for nighttime looks, hot days, or a situation where professional photography is involved. I found it decent, not a wonder product, but definitely a worthy impulse buy.

Urban Decay already has a setting spray called De-Slick (which I haven't tried), but its collaboration with bridal finishing spray brand Skindinavia promises high performance sprays for use beyond the big day. The line includes two setting sprays--All Nighter and Chill--and one prep spray, which we'll tackle on another day.

Both of the setting sprays are meant to be applied in a fine mist over completely done makeup. Spray it on in a T pattern if you're extra greasy (like my Italian ass) around your schnoz and forehead. Each formula uses vinyl copolymers, but All Nighter is meant for those with slightly more sebum. It has an alcohol base and aloe and to wick away sweat and sebum without being overly drying. It worked delightfully well for me--even on a 90 degree night. I wasn't grease-free at the end of the evening, but I didn't have any naked red spots, either.

Chill was definitely milder, and it had a cooling menthol effect. The grease control was similar, but the formula felt lighter and more moisturizing, as it has extra aloe. Thirty dollars isn't cheap, but the bottles are four ounces each, which really stretches out for months of use.

NYX is an easily accessible brand with some epic lipsticks. I tried both of their setting sprays--Dewy Finish and Matte Finish. The former was not all I'd hoped for. Even though it has the same copolymer compound as others I've tried, it made my skin look overly shiny.

The Matte Finish, however, was excellent, though not quite as good as UD's All Nighter in the grease control department. But for $7 per two-ounce bottle, this is a great and effective setting spray.

No setting spray in the world is going to 100 percent seal in everything and keep your face pristine, but a good one will come close.

Do you use a setting spray (or hairspray) to set your makeup? What brands do you swear by?

Photos by Darnell Scott