Thanks to the formulas made possible by some of the best makeup setting sprays at in-store beauty counters and online (thank you Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty), the stress of will my makeup last all day? is under wraps and taken care of by careful setting sprays.
Much like your favorite makeup primer, a setting spray is intended to be the final touch to your careful artistry — the nightcap to your cocktail night, the powdered sugar on the brownie (you get the idea).
“A setting spray should help make the makeup last the majority of the day,” Natalie Dresher, a special event makeup artist, told The Post. “I would say from application to the end of the ‘typical’ workday.”
Not to mention, Dresher, who has done bridal makeup for more than eight years, definitely knows the importance of making makeup last all day, especially when working on clients for the biggest day of their lives.
What makes a setting spray “good”?
“I know if a setting spray is good if my makeup doesn’t transfer as much onto clothing (like a mask, or the collar of my shirt),” Dresher adds. “Trial and error are key when picking out makeup products because they really are so personal.”
That said, I spritzed and sprayed for days to create a list of the best makeup setting sprays. Using the same exact makeup products (a full face of liquids, powders and highlights), I checked in each hour to take notes when my face became oily or a bit streaky.
How to apply setting spray
“I apply in a snowflake formation so I hit the top, bottom and sides of my face without drowning and potentially ruining my makeup, about four spritzes,” Dresher recommends.
Best setting sprays we tested in 2022
Editor’s note: Prices reflect the full-sized item, unless it’s sold out; then, the miniature size is featured. Most of these products come in mini sizes, too.
I’m a big believer that if a certain product is widely talked about, there’s a good reason for it — and Urban Decay’s All-Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is a prime example that deserves all the praise.
Not only is it vegan, waterproof and a community favorite but it’s the setting spray if you want your makeup to lock into place seamlessly and without a minute’s worry throughout the day. It also lasted me from 9 a.m. to midnight — not budging or making my face shiny throughout a bus ride, a restaurant dinner and a concert.
If you prefer a long-lasting matte finish, Urban Decay’s riveting All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray comes in a formulated matte spritzer just for you. It also lasted me just as long (15 hours!) and I’ll turn to this if I want a more natural-looking makeup look, particularly on days when I’m not brushing and blending into full-glam mode.
If you’re anything like me, you goo-goo and ga-ga over all things Anastasia Beverly Hills (we reviewed nearly all the brand’s products). Pretty gold sparkles aside, this setting spray works. It lasted for pretty much an entire workday, reapplying in the late afternoon for a midday pick-me-up.
What’s more, it has a fresh scent and, much like its packaging, leaves the most subtle glimmery glow that is a more refreshing and take on the “wet” finish some sprays leave.
All hail Queen Charlotte. Seriously, I would bow down to this makeup setting spray if I could.
Everything about this finisher is full-on couture, from its luxe packaging to its fresh, floral scent. It makes my makeup the most glowy and Hollywood-esque (which makes sense, given the brand has a Hollywood Flawless Filter ($44) that’s so popular, it’s nearly sold out.
The Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray is one of my go-to’s and I recommend spraying it a bit further from the face than usual, as it sprays wetter than most. The dewy, rejuvenating spray also has that it-factor that some of the other options I tested.
I’ve been a fan of Hourglass for years, from its regal-looking powder blushes ($43) to its array of easy-to-apply face products. Its Veil Setting Spray is quite the long-lasting gem in the bunch, giving you a natural finish that’s slightly dewy.
Though I resort to its matching Mineral Primer ($56) more frequently, I enjoy using this spray on days when I need my makeup to last long but am not looking for an intense glam beauty look.
After testing It Cosmetics’ It’s Your Skin But Better Setting Spray, I was impressed with how long it lasted. It’s also infused with hyaluronic acid, coconut water and aloe vera extract, an ingredient trifecta that made my skill feel livened up.
This makeup setting spray was effective on my dry and sensitive skin, though my face became super oily after eight hours, more than others. But, a quick spray again will help diminish some shine.
Hours lasted: 4 hours without reapplying; another 4 hours after that
Lancome’s Fix It Forget It Setting Spray is a treasure among others, despite it not lasting as long as competing formulas. Perhaps it was the fresh scent and the way it clung to my makeup, but I immediately thought, “This is what the pros use.”
It applied best when you go in an around-the-world motion instead of the traditional four sprays. It gave my skin one of the most noticeable soft glam finishes (which is why I still turn to it) and made me realize that a quality setting spray makes a large difference.
For $20, Lawless’ Glam Guard Long-Wear Setting Spray is the ideal product to use if you want an effective formula that, in full-size form, is the perfect size to stash in your work bag or purse. It has the scent and finish of a setting spray a professional MUA would use, too.
Above all, I loved how it was hydrating and offered the prime balance of lightness and effectiveness. My mascara smudged just a bit (not a dealbreaker), so I would recommend spraying further away from your face than usual.
MAC’s Fix+ brings me back to my middle school days when everyone and their mother were talking about (1) MAC Cosmetics as a whole and (2) this miracle product that doubles as a midday refresher and pre-makeup hydrant.
I wore this for a family bridal shower and it lasted throughout the party (before and even after, too). It looked natural and fresh in photos, too. It’s also one of those products you have to “wave dry” with your hands in the air, as it has a wetter finish than others.
Make Up For Ever truly impressed me with its no-frills formula that, quite literally, locks your makeup and that’s it. The spray is powerful and the most like Urban Decay’s All-Nighter, though it didn’t last quite as long.
It gives an all-over matte finish that doesn’t look dull. And, by an all-over matte finish, I mean the spray is so powerful that it covers your entire face and neck with just four traditional spritzes. Plus, it’s perfect to pair with the brand’s new HD Skin Undetectable Longwear Foundation ($43).
NYX — the impressive makeup brand that’s affordable and, without the label, you’d think is high-end. If you’re in a pinch and simply want your makeup to stay put, this product is for you.
If I had to compare it with another finisher from this list, it would be Make Up For Ever’s because it’s an ultra-powerful spray. However, it is rather wet, a subtle con, but does the job if you don’t want to break the bank.
Too Faced does it yet again with its Hangover Rx 3-in-1 Replenishing Setting Spray because it’s also a primer (and yes, it’s just as effective). This glorious double-mist is an essential in your makeup collection if you want to save money without compromising that stay-in-place result.
It’s incredibly airy too and, because it left my face with a natural soft glam finish, it’s the best value in this list.
Catering more to the budget spenders, Ulta’s Wannabe Fresh Dewy Makeup Setting Spray surprised me by lasting for most of the work day. This may sound odd, but it sprays almost like Windex because its flushed formula sprays outward and hits every part of your face.
Though there was slight smudging of my mascara at first sprtiz, it’s still a quality product that works best when it’s sprayed further from the face. For $12, it’s a steal.