Setting Spray vs Finishing Spray

Setting Spray vs Finishing Spray Compared 2023

Last updated: Jan 21, 2024 at 02:38 pm

No matter how experienced you are, it’s natural to feel like you need a makeup dictionary. Today, makeup routines require layers of goop, which leads to a need for different sprays (and more confusion). 

Setting Spray vs Finishing Spray

To simplify your life, we’ll go over to compare the two types of spray:  setting sprays and finishing sprays. Doesn’t that sound like they’re pretty similar? They’re actually quite different from a technical standpoint. The term “finishing” does not mean the same thing as “setting”. 

By knowing the difference, your makeup routine will become much easier and you will enjoy a more polished result without second-guessing (and worrying lines). Let’s look at the difference between setting sprays and finishing sprays.

Credit: Wayne Goss

What is Setting Spray?

Setting spray can be compared to makeup glue. It helps your makeup blend into one layer for a more natural look.

It is true that setting sprays help your makeup last longer. Setting sprays are not designed to prolong your makeup, but finishing sprays are.

However, setting sprays are used to blend and smooth the makeup. They are an essential part of the makeup process.

Why does Setting Spray matter?

Patchy makeup is a problem we all know. You may leave the house smooth and polished, but by five you get that tired, makeup-hangover look with an awkward mixture of concealer and pigment. 

By using a setting spray, you can prevent this problem from occurring so that your pigments don’t become slick or spotty.  

No more slipping and sliding with your makeup

A setting spray prevents your makeup layers from spreading apart by fusing them together. You can use a setting spray if you sweat a lot throughout the day or use a variety of products in your beauty routine. 

Setting spray blends foundation, concealer, and powder into a layer of product. Even though setting spray won’t prolong your makeup, you should appreciate its blending power and value.

Makeup texture setting: A more natural look

There was a time when we could just apply makeup and go. Today, the standard texture is more natural, without any visible powder. With setting spray, you can remove dry, dusty appearances.

Due to its botanical oils, setting spray flattens puffy microspheres in the powder. Your face looks more natural instead of powdered. With fresh, skin-like makeup, you’ll feel more confident

How to Use Setting Spray on Face

  • Step #1: Shake the Bottle to Mix the Ingredients
  • Step #2: Spray in an X- and T-Formation
  • Step #3: Dry Naturally

How to Choose the Perfect Setting Spray

You should look for sprays that promise moisture or a dewy finish if you have dry skin. As well as keeping your makeup in place, this will prevent your skin from looking dull and flaky.

You can also use an oil control or matte finish setting spray if you have combination or oily skin.

It’s best to find a product that’s lightweight and non-sticky. Make sure you don’t use scented makeup if you are sensitive to them!

Some setting sprays have strong scents that people love, others don’t. Test the scent of a setting spray before purchasing it.

You can also check online reviews to see if the product has a bad smell.

What is Finishing Spray?

The finishing spray is much easier to apply since it is the last step. Makeup will last longer and stay longer with just a few squirts. As soon as you have completed your look, hold the bottle about 10 inches away from your face and apply it.

I would like to briefly summarize the difference between finish spray and setting spray. A finishing spray keeps makeup layers budge-proof, unlike a setting spray. Nonetheless, some brands market their sprays as “setting” products even when they’re actually finishing sprays. 

What’s the reason? Setting spray sounds like it is more effective for holding your makeup wear, but a finishing spray is more effective for that job.

Always read the ingredient label to avoid confusion. A finishing spray will usually contain alcohol early in the ingredient list, while a setting spray will not. 

Urban Decay’s All-Nighter Setting Spray, for example, is actually a finishing spray. When you know about mislabelling, you can focus on the formula instead of the label.

How to Use Finishing Spray?

The process is very simple. When your full make-up is applied, including your face powder and mascara, hold the bottle approximately eight inches apart from your face.

How to Choose the Right Finish Spray?

Skin types

Oily skin

Have you ever noticed that your skin gets shiny? Your skin will remain grease-free for hours when you use an oil-absorbing finishing spray. You should avoid mixing an oil-absorbing finishing spray with an oil-absorbing primer since the double action can be drying.

Dry skin

It is essential to use a moisturizing finishing spray if you have dry skin. With this type of finishing spray, your makeup will be locked down while your face will look dewier. I don’t think that’s a bad combination.

Water-based Vs. Silicone-based Finishing Spray

Finishing sprays come in two main formulas: water-based and silicone-based. The formula you choose should be suited to your skin type and foundation type. If not, your makeup will look muddy as well.

Water-based Finishing Spray

Choose a water-based spray if you want a hydrating, lightweight finish. In order to keep your makeup layers well-blended, you should apply it over a water-based foundation.

However, you can cheat a bit. As finishing spray is a light mist, it won’t cause as much chaos as setting spray, since it’s the final layer. 

Even if you’re wearing a silicone-based foundation, the water-based spray may not repel. Probably it will just create a hazy veil over your makeup. 

Each layering combo requires experimentation since every product formula is unique.

Silicon-based Finishing Spray

Silicone-based finishing sprays make makeup last longer by creating a thicker protective barrier. Unlike water-based products, silicone formulas provide a longer-lasting guard.

There is always a downside to every perk. Due to the heavy texture of silicone, acne-prone skin has little breathing space. Sweating can cause sebum and dead skin to get trapped beneath the silicon layer, resulting in an unpleasant party on your face.

Therefore, if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, save the silicone-based finishing spray for special occasions like weddings or birthdays.

For the best results, use both a finishing spray and a setting spray. Maintenance depends on your patience and budget, so feel free to be practical with your makeup. You may not have the time or the sanity to become an amateur artist.

Using facial sprays might seem like an arduous task at first. You won’t find the ideal formula until you’ve weighed all of your options and needs. There’s a reason why facial sprays are so popular and addictive for some.

My Favorite Setting Spray

Top Pick


Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray


  • Lightweight
  • Makeup looks fresh and last for long
  • Good longevity and Very comfortable.
  • Affordable


  • Other setting sprays smell better than it.

Bottom Line

Urban Decay’s All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray is a cult classic because it makes makeup long-lasting for hours.

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