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Some people assume that waterproof makeup is only necessary when heading to the pool or the beach. Those people have never walked four blocks to work in L.A.'s sweltering summer heat with a rising humidity index. I have. In fact, I do so often, which is exactly how I know that waterproof makeup has a role in everyday life. Without it, I'd be crawling into the office with a red, shiny face devoid of makeup because my concealer and mascara would melt off somewhere about two blocks back. That's why, in order to look halfway presentable in heat and humidity, I stock up on all the waterproof basics—including but not limited to mascara, concealer, and lipstick.
But one of the most important products behind a crease-free, smudge-free, and non-melted makeup look has to be setting spray. It keeps the makeup right where it was applied, not smudging down the cheeks or collecting in a dark and streaky mess underneath the eyes. Water-resistant setting sprays work even better (yes, those exist!). Because they're immune to sweat and humidity, they're perfect for people who are prone to melty makeup (like me).
We tapped makeup artist Tony Tulve and rounded up the top options that offer amazing makeup hold no matter what.
Check out the best waterproof setting sprays, below.
Best Overall: Tarte Shape Tape Stay Spray Vegan Setting Spray
Won't settle into fine lines
Made with soothing ingredients
Prevents makeup from smudging
Scent may not be for some
When you really need your makeup to stay put, look no further than this weightless setting spray from Tarte. Its micro-fine mist locks down makeup for an impressive 16 hours, making it waterproof, sweat-proof, and transfer-proof. The spray is great at refreshing and soothing the skin, and its formula includes cucumber and aloe extracts. Not to mention, it’s also cruelty-free and vegan. What’s not to love?
Size: 4 fl. oz. | Scent: Cucumber aloe | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
Makeup looks fresh and doesn't move for hours
Feels comfortable on the skin
Can feel sticky upon the first spray
When it comes to waterproof setting sprays that won’t budge, this is one of the very best out there according to Tulve. “This spray has never let me down,” he says. “Across the board, it’s worked for all of my clients when I can’t travel to their events with them and need to make sure [their makeup] can last all night. The spray melts into the skin so wonderfully that if you need to add a little powder or pop of blush or highlight, you can without worry of it picking up the sealed makeup underneath.”
Size: .25 fl. oz. | Scent: Original | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"Not surprisingly, All Nighter blew past my expectations and I had makeup that didn’t budge for the entire day." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester
Best Budget: Covergirl Look Lock Up Setting Spray
Feels cooling on the skin
Ever since Covergirl went through a huge rebrand, we've been loving the chic black-and-white packaging, like that of this setting spray. It's not necessarily fully waterproof, but it's resistant to sweat, humidity, and heat, meaning it'll still last you throughout the day. We love that it's also infused with cucumber and chamomile and has a cooling feeling.
Size: 3.4 fl. oz. | Scent: Cucumber | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Chamomile is rich in flavonoids, which act as antioxidants to help protect skin from environmental damage.
Best Budget: Skindinavia The Makeup Oil Control Finishing Spray
Resists heat and humidity
Leaves skin looking refreshed
Light, barely-there scent
A waterproof setting spray that's readily available on Amazon is this product from Skindinavia. In addition to waterproofing your beauty look to outlast the most extreme conditions, it’s resistant to heat and will last up to 16 hours. Reviewers love that the oil-free formula isn’t overly drying and also helps to keep oil and shine at bay throughout the day.
Size: 0.7 fl. oz. | Scent: Mild | Finish: Radiant | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Liquid: Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Magic Set & Seal
Works well with glitter
Feels light on the skin
Keeps makeup in place
Okay, so this isn't technically a setting spray, but it works to waterproof your makeup all the same. As the name suggests, it's truly magic: “More of a mixing medium, this product is great for turning any loose pigment, glitter, or shadow into a bulletproof liquid formula,” says Tulve. “It makes it easy to create a liquid liner, bold painterly eyes, or a long-wear glitter lip!”
Size: 0.2 / 0.4 fl. oz. | Scent: None | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Matte Finish: Huda Beauty Resting Boss Face Waterproof Setting Spray
Keeps makeup in place
Helps reduce excess oil
This extra-hold mattifying setting spray from Huda Beauty is inspired by a makeup hack used by drag queens—one that involves using hairspray to up the wear of their makeup. Fear not, this formula doesn’t at all feel sticky like hairspray, instead providing a comfortable, non-drying finish that truly lasts. Plus, unlike most hairsprays, it’s packaged in a non-aerosol bottle.
Size: 3.4 fl. oz. | Scent: Original | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Natural Finish: Tarte Maracuja Miracle Mist Setting Spray
Makeup looks smoother
Leave skin looking dewy
Not ideal for very oily skin
Another great pick from Tarte is this refreshing option that lends the skin a natural finish. Its weightless formula keeps makeup in check for up to 12 hours, and it helps firm and smooth the skin’s appearance. It’s also chock full of soothing, pH-balancing ingredients that prevent it from appearing too matte or feeling too dry.
Size: 2.9 fl. oz. | Scent: Original | Finish: Dewy | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Eye Makeup: Trish McEvoy Finish Line Shadow Transformer
Prevents smudging and transferring
Easy to blend
If it's just your eye makeup that gives you trouble, look no further than this transparent waterproofing product from Trish McEvoy. Add a drop or two into your favorite eyeshadow, and it becomes a budge-proof and water-resistant eyeliner. That means you can turn almost any eyeshadow into a long-wearing eyeliner. Just think about all the possibilities (and money saved from no longer purchasing multiple liners).
Size: 0.3 fl. oz. | Scent: None | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Lips: Mehron LipStix Lipstick Sealer
Prevents bleeding and feathering
Can be difficult to remove
Sure, there are plenty of waterproof liquid lipsticks on the market, but sometimes you just need a certain shade of a cream lipstick to withstand the elements—or multiple glasses of wine and a bowl of oily pasta. That’s where Mehron’s Lipstix comes in, which creates a clear, non-sticky barrier over your lip color, preventing it from fading, smudging, and bleeding.
Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Scent: Mint | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Workouts: Fitish Don’t Sweat It CBD Makeup Setting Spray
Skin feels refreshed
Keeps makeup in place
When your schedule includes a post-work workout before post-work drinks, you can rely on this setting mist to keep your makeup on lock no matter how much you sweat. The refreshing formula helps hydrate, refresh, and nourish the skin. It is infused with CBD, green tea, eucalyptus, and allantoin.
Size: 4 fl. oz. | Scent: Herbal | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
When it comes to setting sprays that will outlast a HIIT class or even a monsoon, we’re looking to the Tarte Shape Tape Stay Spray Vegan Setting Spray (view at Ulta). Its weightless, comfortable formula keeps makeup on lock for an impressive 16 hours and is enriched with cucumber and aloe extracts. When we need to keep oily skin under control, the Huda Beauty Resting Boss Face Waterproof Setting Spray (view at Sephora) is a must for creating a comfortable matte finish that’s never sticky or drying. And finally, our list of top picks wouldn’t be complete without the Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, a classic that melts into the skin for an amazing (and secure) finish.
What to Look for in a Waterproof Setting Spray
One of the first things Tulve recommends looking into when shopping for a setting spray is how the formula dries down—keeping in mind both the overall finish and whether or not it leaves behind a residue. Depending on your skin type or desired finished look, you’ll want to choose between products that provide a matte finish to fight shine or something more natural to avoid looking too flat. And, of course, regardless of finish, you’ll want a formula that dries down comfortably sans sticky residue, especially if you’ll be wearing it for the long haul. As Tulve points out, some waterproof sprays are built for stage makeup and may be too heavy for everyday wear.
Low Alcohol Content
Tulve also suggests reading into how much alcohol is in a formula before you purchase, as too much alcohol can irritate or dry out the skin over time. While oilier types can get away with a higher alcohol content, he recommends dryer types stick to formulas that are as low in alcohol as possible. “Otherwise it can irritate dry and rough patches on the skin,” he says.
Low (or No) Fragrance
Another factor Tulve takes into account is whether or not a product has any fragrance, and if it does, how long it lingers after it dries down. Many setting sprays do have added fragrance, so those with sensitive skin will want to opt for fragrance-free formulas, whereas one with a strong, lasting scent may be a dealbreaker depending on your personal preference.
Does waterproof setting spray work better than powder?
It depends. Powder and waterproof setting sprays both have different roles when it comes to makeup application. If you have oily or combination skin, a powder is great for absorbing excess oil and mitigating shine throughout the day. However, there are waterproof setting sprays that are formulated to help control oil, as well. Setting sprays are lightweight and can provide an extra boost of hydration, so they are great for drier skin types and those who don't desire a heavy makeup application.
Do waterproof setting sprays clog pores?
It depends on the formula. It's best to look for a non-comedogenic setting spray (this means it is specifically formulated to not clog your pores). However, you can also check the ingredients and make sure there isn't anything that can exacerbate your acne. You should avoid drying alcohols or heavy oils.
When should you apply a waterproof setting spray?
Generally, a waterproof setting spray is the very last step of your makeup routine. Hold the spray at least 14 inches from your face, then mist the spray on the center of your face and forehead in a "T" formation. Then you can spray the sides of your face, chin, and neck in an "X" formation. Finally, wait for it to dry completely. You can even use a fan to help speed up the drying process.
Meet the Expert
Tony Tulve is a NYC-based makeup artist who takes a genderless, gleam-and-grunge approach to beauty, drawing inspiration from trailblazing icons such as David Bowie, Grace Jones, and The New York Dolls. You can find him painting faces backstage at New York Fashion Week and see his work in countless advertisements, films, and publications.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough waterproof setting sprays from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Parham S, Kharazi AZ, Bakhsheshi-Rad HR, et al. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Herbal Materials. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(12):1309. doi:10.3390/antiox9121309
Separating Good And Bad Alcohol In Skincare Products. National Rosacea Society. https://www.rosacea.org/blog/2019/march/separating-good-bad-alcohol-rosacea-skincare.