Setting vs Fixing Sprays

If you follow any makeup gurus, whether in blog form or video form, you’ve probably heard them rave about one setting spray or another. But what is a setting spray? Also, what the heck is a fixing spray? Is there a difference? Let’s take a look at the science behind these very different makeup items!

SETTING SPRAYS

Setting spray seems to have become the catch-all term for the spray you use as the finishing touch on your makeup, but often times people mischaracterize what setting sprays actually are. The most common mistake I hear is that setting sprays help with the longevity of your makeup look. It doesn’t! This is such a widely held belief that at this point you’re probably asking, “Alex, if setting sprays don’t hold my makeup together, then what the heck do they do?!”

What setting sprays actually do is melt your makeup into one even layer. That might sound a little weird, but hear me out. If you’re anything like me, there’s a lot of powder in your routine. For me personally, here’s all the places I use powder when I do a full face: loose powder under the eyes to set concealer, powder to set full face, contour/bronzer, blush, and highlight. That’s a lot of powder! Sometimes, this can make my skin look dry immediately after I apply all of this. A great solution to this problem is setting spray!

Setting spray is usually a mix of water, glycerine, and oils. Essentially the water and oils mix with the powder on top of your face and create a quick-drying liquid, melting it all into one layer. The glycerin helps trap moisture and keep your face looking moisturized all day. I find it greatly reduces my powderiness and keeps it from coming back throughout the day.

My personal favorite setting spray is MAC Fix+. It’s pricey, but I’ve had mine for over a year and still have 1/4-1/3 of a bottle left, so I can’t complain! My favorite thing about the Fix+ is the sprayer. It creates such a fine mist and evenly coats my face. 3-4 sprays of this after I finish my makeup and I look flawless!

FIXING SPRAY

So what in the name of Samuel L Jackson is a fixing spray? Thankfully, the answer to this is much simpler than my setting spray explanation. Simply put: fixing spray literally “fixes” your makeup, keeping it in place all day. This is what most people are thinking of when they think setting spray. Fixing sprays usually have at least some alcohol to help them dry down faster. If you’re sensitive to alcohols or have dry skin, this might irritate or dry out your skin, so be warned!

BONUS: REFRESHING MISTS

Refreshing mists are often used before makeup to give your face a refreshing spritz and add a tiny bit of extra moisture before makeup. Some people also use refreshing mists throughout the day to add moisture and refresh their makeup.

RECOMMENDED BRANDS

Setting Spray:

Fixing Spray:

Refreshing Mist:

ORDER OF APPLICATION

  1. Apply refreshing mist before makeup
  2. Apply setting spray after makeup is finished
  3. Apply fixing spray once setting spray is dry
  4. Apply refreshing mist as needed throughout the day

Note: I rarely use all of these products at once! I like to keep a small bottle of Mario Badescu in my car or purse for days when my makeup starts caking up and needs some refreshing. I’ll pretty regularly use both fixing and setting spray, but some days I opt for just setting spray if I’m not planning on being out too long.


That’s it! I hope this post was helpful to you and maybe helped you understand setting/fixing sprays a little better! Is there a science topic you’d like to see my talk about? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, check out some of my other sciency posts:

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