The Best Setting Sprays to Lock in Makeup for 12 Hours

Your foundation isn't going anywhere.

two women with red lipstick and foundation
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After finishing a makeup look, the last thing you want to do is smear your eyeliner or sweat off your foundation. That's where a spritz of one of the best setting sprays can work some magic. A setting spray sets your makeup helping the makeup stay put throughout the day.

It sounds like a trick, but it's really just science. Setting sprays work by forming a protective layer over your makeup, locking it in place with a flexible, breathable barrier made of film-forming polymers. Besides extending longevity, the best setting sprays can help with oil control, keep your skin hydrated (therefore stopping your makeup from getting dry and cakey), and refresh your overall look.

"If you need your makeup to stay in place over six hours then using a setting spray is a must," notes makeup artist Jonet Williamson. Ahead, experts clue us in on their favorite setting sprays. Plus, how to use them.

What to Look For in a Setting Spray

  • Benefits

Aimee Carr, a medical aesthetician and founder of Voodoo Makeup, notes that a setting spray can have a few benefits—depending, of course, on your chosen formula. "Formulations can vary and also give you purposes like smudge-proof, waterproof, and sweat-proof, or desired finishing looks like matte or dewy."

Nearly every setting spray helps your makeup last all day. "It's important to match a setting spray with your intended goal," adds Carr. "This can be based on what activities you are doing that day, how long you anticipate wearing makeup, what final look you are hoping to achieve, etc."

  • Ingredients

The primary ingredients in setting sprays are film-forming polymers, which settle into a protective film over your makeup. You can also find setting sprays with hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which attract moisture and keep your makeup from getting cakey.

The Best Setting Sprays

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How to Pick a Setting Spray for Your Skin Type

Williamson notes that some setting sprays may work better than others, depending on your skin type. "I'd suggest a hydrating setting spray like Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray or Milk Hydro Grip Setting Spray for dry to normal skin and a matte finish setting spray like One Size On Til Dawn for combo oily skin," she shares. If your skin is on the dryer side, look for ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, whereas if your skin is oily, look for oil-absorbing ingredients like witch hazel.

Salma Hayek wears a sparkling silver dress and stares off to the side at the 2024 Oscar awards.

Salma Hayek wore Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray at the 2024 Oscars.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When to Use a Setting Spray

Loiz has a secret trick for applying setting spray, and it includes two products. First, you'll use a hydrating setting spray, applying it after your foundation, concealer, and/or setting powder. Then, after completing the rest of your blush, bronzer, and eye makeup, apply a long-wearing spray to ensure your makeup stays in place.

"Applying both these techniques guarantees that makeup will stay put," she shares. "Setting the foundation and concealer initially secures them in place during the rest of the makeup application. Then, a final spritz with a long-wear spray locks in the entire look, ensuring it stays flawless all day without budging!"

How to Use a Setting Spray

As for the actual application, you'll want to close your eyes and hold the bottle eight to 10 inches away from your face. Then, spray in an X-marks-the-spot shape to make sure you get full coverage before allowing the product to dry down.

Meet the Experts

Aimee Carr Headshot
Aimee Carr

Aimee Carr is an expert medical esthetician, celebrity makeup artist and founder of VooDoo Makeup.

Jonet Williamson
Jonet Williamson

Makeup artist Jonet Williamson discovered her love for art at a very early age. In 2005, Jonet began her journey in beauty working as a makeup artist for M.A.C. Cosmetics. Since then, her work has been featured in commercial campaigns (Dolce & Gabanna, Levis, Shea Moisture), editorials (Essence, L'Officiel), and TV & film productions (CBS, MTV, TNT). Jonet Williamson also works closely with major beauty brands on content creation and product development.

Renee Loiz Headshot
Renée Loiz

Renée Loiz is a top celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert with over 20 years in the industry. Renée is best known for her work with celebrities including Quinta Brunson, Cynthia Erivo, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sherry Cola, Adele, Chelsea Peretti, Uzo Aduba, Danai Gurira, Thuso Mbedu, and Jaylon Barron.

When she’s not creating press-worthy red carpet and editorial looks for famous faces, Renee can be found working with renowned international brands such as NARS, Beauty Blender, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Sephora, J.Crew, Disney, Target, BuzzFeed, Adidas, and Warner Brothers.

Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a freelance beauty writer at Marie Claire, where she writes about the latest and greatest skincare launches, hair colors, and Cardi B manicures. Her work can also be found at Byrdie, Bravo, and Us Weekly. You can find her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.