A makeup setting spray might seem like a go-to for special occasions and nights out on the town, but what about your everyday looks? There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving the house with perfect makeup, only to discover shortly thereafter that your eyeliner has practically disappeared and your foundation has transferred from your face to your outfit.
The right setting spray will put your worries at ease, but you don’t have to splurge on an expensive product to get the job done. A good setting spray prevents smudging and flaking of makeup by helping it stick to skin, and prolonging its wear. Ingredients to look for include plant-based humectants that can help makeup adhere to skin and freeze it in place like aloe vera, coconut oil, or sugars. Also consider looking for ingredients to help mattify skin like charcoal, because oily skin will cause makeup to slip off the surface of your complexion more easily. The good news is that these aren't expensive ingredients, so a drugstore setting spray can be highly effective and affordable.
We conducted hours of research on the best drugstore setting sprays, evaluating them on their type of finish from matte to dewy, scent, and what skin types they work best on. We also took into consideration formula ingredients, and what effect they have on complexion. After considering dozens of brands, we landed on the following best in show.
L'Oréal Paris Makeup Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Setting Spray
Creates a just-applied look
Not for sensitive skin
Get that just-applied look with this oil-free spray. It’s super lightweight and mists on evenly to keep bold lips pigmented and winged liners on point. It also gets kudos for being suitable for both dry and oily skin types. Users of all skin types rave that it survives 12-hour shifts and heatwaves alike.
Price at time of publish: $17
Size: 3.4 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
E.l.f Cosmetics Matte Magic Mist & Set
Easy to use
Too watery of a formula to some
This fine, easy-to-use mist keeps your makeup in place while controlling shine. We’ve long been fans of this brand because the products are so wallet-friendly, but the results with this spray really speak for themselves. The lightweight mist gives your makeup a perfect finish and a barely-there feeling that lasts.
Price at time of publish: $6
Size: 2.02 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
To intensify the effect of eyeshadow, liner, or blush, spray a little setting spray on a brush before dipping it into the color.
NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray Matte
Full of natural ingredients
Not suitable for oily skin
Waterproof? Check! Mask-proof? Absolutely. Sweat-proof? You’ve got it. This setting spray seriously does it all and provides long-lasting hold. It's a fan favorite amongst the YouTube beauty set—with its consistent mattifying effect for skin of all ages, we can totally see why. If you want all of the staying power but prefer a dewier look, try the NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray, Dewy Finish.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 2.02 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"It keeps your shine to a minimum while giving just the right amount of hydration for natural, beautifully matte skin." —Khera Alexandra, Product Tester
Best for Oily Skin
Rimmel London Stay Matte Fix & Go Primer & Spray
2-in-1 primer and setting spray
Good staying power
Mist comes out more like a stream
You might not expect much from a setting spray that rings up at less than five bucks, but this one gets a standing ovation for delivering a matte finish all day long. The oil-free formula dries quickly to use as a primer before your makeup, or a setting spray to finish off your look and keep it in place.
If you want to take the matte up a notch, try pairing it with the Rimmel Stay Matte Mattifying Primer cream.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 3.4 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Dry Skin
Milani Make it Dewy Hydrating Setting Spray
Great dewy look
Use under or over makeup or alone
Lasts up to 16 hours
Hard to apply
For those of us with dry skin (raises hand), there’s nothing we love more than a dewy finish. This setting spray will get the job done without sacrificing the endurance of your makeup. Use it to prime and set an illuminated look, or to refresh and hydrate throughout the day for a subtle glow. This hydrating spray boasts 16 hours without creasing, smudging, or fading, according to the brand, and users say the dewy finish rivals more expensive brands.
Price at time of publish: $11
Size: 2.03 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Dewy | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Avène Thermal Spring Water
Reduces dry skin
Minimizes skin sensitivity
Provides antioxidant protection
Spray nozzle needs better engineering
When your makeup has been on all day, your powder is starting to crease, or your face just feels dry, this soothing spray is the perfect pick-me-up. It’s optimal for a multitude of uses like sunburn relief or even diaper rash, but it’s also a great setting spray for dry skin.
Price at time of publish: $14
Size: 2.03 oz. | Scent: Fresh | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"Results vary depending on how you’re using it, but I find when I use Avène's Thermal Spring Water to sandwich my skincare products, my skin looks so juicy and hydrated. The mist itself is super fine, so I love the freshness it brings to a finished makeup look as well." — Emily Algar, Product Tester
Wet n Wild Photo Focus Matte Finish Setting Spray
Keeps makeup from flaking
Infused with aloe vera
Spray nozzle tends to get stuck
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant's inner gel mucilage (the part that's used in skin care products) is made up of 99.5% water.
For a matte finish that controls shine without leaving your skin dry or cakey, reach for this ultra-fine mist. It has aloe vera meant to keep your dry matte on the cute side (no flaking here) while freezing your makeup in place to withstand the summer heat. It’s especially great for use with oily skin that requires blotting throughout the day.
Price at time of publish: $7
Size: 1.52 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
To get the most out of your setting spray, hold it 8 to 10 inches away from your face and mist in a downward motion.
Best for Mature Skin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Makeup Spray
Formulated with antioxidants
Feels heavy to some
Who says that being a makeup lover means that you can’t prioritize skincare? This skin-enhancing mist delivers in both departments. The weightless spray locks makeup into place, leaving behind a radiant glow, and it is also infused with peptides and antioxidants.
Price at time of publish: $14
Size: 3.4 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Radiant | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Rude Cosmetics Radiant Lasting Makeup Mist
Results not drastic enough to some
You might love a good glow, but nobody wants an overdone greasy look. This long-lasting makeup mist allows you to get your glow on without ever looking oily. The illuminating formula will hydrate, refresh, and balance your face. It settles all powder products to blend more seamlessly with your skin and it provides just enough dew. Spray it on and have your makeup last all day.
Price at time of publish: $6
Size: 2.02 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Radiant | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Maybelline Lasting Fix Makeup Setting Spray
Results not drastic to some
This lightweight formula provides a breathable, comfortable hold that keeps your makeup in place until you take it off yourself. It controls shine for all skin types and does an amazing job of preventing transfer. You can rock your makeup on your skin instead of inside your mask or on your shirt.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 3.4 oz. | Scent: Unscented | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Shine Control
Milani Make It Last 3-in-1 Charcoal Setting Spray
Available in dewy finish
Acts as a spray and blotter
Absorbs new moisture as it forms
May cause breakouts for some
A shiny t-zone usually results in brows that slide and fade during the day, but this charcoal spray has the solution. It acts as a setting spray and blotting paper in one product, featuring micro-fine charcoal meant to literally absorb new moisture as it forms. It reduces the appearance of pores and mattifies skin for up to 16 hours, according to the brand.
Price at time of publish: $11
Size: 2.03 oz. | Scent: Perfume Fragrance | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Revlon PhotoReady Prep, Set, Refresh Mist
Primes, sets, and refreshes
Leaves skin smoother
Infused with botanical fruit complex
Not much staying power
This spray does everything you’d expect: prime, set, and refresh. Use it to prep your skin for foundation or afterward to blend and settle your makeup, but it really shines in the refreshing department. The light cucumber scent reawakens both tired skin and the senses to help you look alive for the rest of your day.
Price at time of publish: $13
Size: 1.9 oz. | Scent: Perfume Fragrance | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Pacifica Set & C Protect SPF 45 Matte Sheer Setting Mist
Contains SPF 45, making it easy to reapply sun protection
Contains vitamin C to help brighten complexion
Sunscreen ingredients used are chemical, which may be irritating for those with sensitive skin
In case you missed the memo, you’re theoretically supposed to reapply your sunscreen every two hours. That can feel like an admittedly lofty goal, but this multi-tasking formula makes it much easier to achieve. It delivers a dose of SPF 45 without disrupting your makeup; in fact, it does the opposite, helping to set it in place all while adding a touch of hydration and gorgeous-yet-natural luminosity to your skin. We also love that this formula contains vitamin C to help keep your complexion bright and healthy. Top tip: Just make sure to give it a good shake before spritzing.
Price at time of publish: $16
Size: 4 oz. | Scent: Citrus | Finish: Luminous | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Honest Beauty Save Face Shielding Setting Spray
Multi-tasking formula sets makeup and protects skin from environmental aggressors
Great for all skin types
Could be a bit more hydrating
This cruelty-free, clean formula (it even touts both PETA and EWG certifications, respectively) strikes the perfect balance, straddling the lines between skincare and makeup. On the skincare side, it contains a unique sugar-based blend that acts as an (invisible) second skin, blocking out things such as pollution. It also touts ectoin, an ingredient that can help combat skin damage from things such as UV and blue light. On the makeup side, it effectively prolongs the lifespan of your makeup, without ever feeling greasy or sticky. Not to mention that it’s a great choice for all skin types, sensitive included.
Price at time of publish: $20
Size: 3.1 oz. | Scent: Fragrance-Free | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What to Look For in Drugstore Setting Sprays
Consider your skin type when looking for a drugstore setting spray. Some setting sprays will offer additional moisturizing properties for dry skin, while others mattify those with oily skin.
Some sprays offer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial ingredients to help nourish skin while extending the wear of makeup. The Pacifica Set & C Protect SPF 45 Matte Sheer Setting Mist, for example, not only contains an SPF of 45, but vitamin C.
Setting spray is meant to help lock your makeup in place to create a longer-lasting, smudge-free look. Look for a setting spray known for its ability to stand the test of time during the day or night without creasing or melting. We love the Honest Beauty Save Face Shielding Setting Spray because it contains a sugar based blend that helps makeup stick to skin.
Setting sprays can create a specific finished look on your face. Look for a finish that appeals to your preferences, such as dewy, illuminating, matte, or natural. If you have dry skin, you likely want to look for a more natural or dewy finish as mattifying setting sprays might be too drying for you.
What does a setting spray do?
Setting spray helps to set and preserve your makeup so that it does not fade, smudge or melt due to masks, sweat, or daily activity. It can also create a specific finish to your makeup, such as a dewy or illuminated look.LEARN MORE: Does Setting Spray Really Work? Experts Weigh In
Is setting spray really necessary?
Setting spray is not necessary. However, setting spray is a wise choice if you want your look to last longer without fading or smudging. You can also use a primer to help keep your makeup in place or use both for a longer-lasting effect.
Do you put setting spray on before or after makeup?
You can use setting spray before and after makeup, but it is often applied afterward. Some setting sprays can be applied before makeup and act as a primer, but most are designed as a final step.
Which setting spray is best?
Our pick for the best setting spray you can find at the drugstore is the L'Oréal Paris Makeup Infallible Pro-Spray. It’s oil-free, lightweight, and mists on evenly to preserve your entire look. It is suitable for oily skin and can last 12 hours.
Does setting spray cause acne?
Setting spray could cause acne for some people. Look for a setting spray that is oil-free and lightweight without added fragrances to reduce the risk of breakouts. Most likely, other products will contribute to acne since they are closer to your skin and can block pores.
Guo X, Mei N. Aloe vera: a review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2016;34(2):77-96. doi:10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826