Setting vs Finishing Spray & Why You Need Both

When I first started wearing face makeup frequently, if I touched my face, there was a 100% guarantee that I’d get it on my hands. I knew this because every time I touched a white piece of paper, or the sun visor in my car, there would be makeup on it. I searched high and low for things that would help my makeup last a bit longer as well as stop any transferring, and I finally got my routine down by adding two products…a setting spray and a finishing spray. If you don’t want your makeup to rub off on anything or someone when you hug them, or if you simply just want your makeup to last at least twice as long, grab these two products ASAP!

But first, lets go over the difference because they are not the same nor do they work the same.


Setting Spray

Setting Spray meshes every product you’ve used down to one layer. It basically settles and refreshes your makeup to help get rid of the matte/powdery finish. All setting sprays contain water and some type of botanical extract. The reason for this is because together, those two ingredients bursts the microspheres in powders, causing everything to look a lot more natural and less heavy. Pretty simple. If you’re reading the ingredients to try to figure out what type of spray you’re looking at, look for water and botanical extracts (any mention of some type of flower, plant, seed, fruit, or vegetable).





MAC Fix+ 

Key ingredients that indicate this is a setting spray:
Water, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Hydrogenated Castor Oil



Morphe Continuous Setting Mist

Key ingredients that indicate this is a setting spray:
Papaya Fruit Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Water, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Rosa Cenifolia Flower Extract, Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract



Too Faced Hangover 3-In-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray

Key ingredients that indicate this is a setting spray:
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water/Cocos Nucifera Water, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice/Cocos Nucifera Fruit Juice, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, 



Finishing Spray

Similarly, finishing sprays (also known as fixing sprays) may have a little botanical oil near the end of the ingredient list, BUT….they will always contain alcohol towards the very beginning. It should literally be the first or second ingredient, which makes it super easy to tell the difference between the two products.

The purpose of a finishing spray is very different from our friend that only works to ‘set’ and flatten everything into one layer. A finishing spray forms a barrier and completely locks your makeup in so it lasts for as long as possible. It delays smudging, creasing, or fading. Here’s the tricky part, it only works on the top layer…or the only layer if you’ve already applied a setting spray ; ) This is why it’s beneficial to use both.





Smashbox Photo Finish Longwear Makeup Setting Spray Weightless

Key ingredients that indicate this is a finishing spray:
Water, Alcohol Denat., Polyester-5, Glycerin, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Vigna Radiata Seed Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil.



NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray

Key ingredients that indicate this is a finishing spray:
Water, Alcohol, VP/VA Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Niacinamide, Sodium Salicylate, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Mahonia Aquifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract.



Ben Nye Final Seal

Key ingredients that indicate this is a finishing spray:
Alcohol Denat. (Alcohol), Aqua (Water), Acrylates/ Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Triethanolamine, Propylene Glycol, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, CI No. 42090 (Blue 1)



When it comes to buying these items, things can get a bit confusing because everything is labeled a setting spray when they really aren’t. For decades, no one has been able to get a clear answer as to why brands do this, but if you want the real deal, just look at the ingredient list.

My favorite setting spray is Mac Fix+ and my favorite finishing spray is Ben Nye Final Seal, although I do use NYX Matte Spray often as well. I incorporate the Final Seal spray in my routine when I’m going out, on hot days or when I need my makeup to be super perfect for long periods of time. On days where I don’t really care or I’m not wearing much, I just use the MAC Fix+.


If you have any questions or comments, leave them below in the comment section. If you’ve tried a spray that you want to share with everyone, drop that in the comment section as well!


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