Although we’re in the midst of a pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a full face beat every now and then. Whether it’s for a virtual happy hour with friends or an important meeting over Zoom, it’s important to make sure that beat doesn’t budge — especially after sitting under the glow of the computer screen for hours on end. Luckily, the easiest way to ensure your flawlessly applied foundation, blinding highlighter, and sharp-winged liner doesn’t melt off mid-Zoom, is by incorporating a setting spray — aka hairspray for your face — into your routine.
According to Los Angeles-based cosmetic chemist Victoria Vohland, setting spray is made up of three components: water, alcohol, and a film former that create a barrier to prevent makeup from slipping. It’s the same chemical formula used in hair gel, just made safer and gentle enough to use on the face.
To use, simply give your whole face a mist, or in cues. New York City-based makeup artist Tommy applies setting spray in a zig-zag motion on his clients, starting on the forehead and moving down to the chin. “I spritz it on the skin in distance to help rehydrate the face after applying makeup,” he says.
Another tip, courtesy of makeup artist Kate Lee, who works with celebrities such as Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Roberts, dampens a Beautyblender with the magic liquid before pressing it on the skin to smooth out dry patches or creased makeup.
With these tips in mind, here are the best setting sprays on the market right now to ensure your makeup lasts all day (with a mask or just on its own), according to Allure editors and makeup artists.
Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
Another 2020 Best of Beauty winner, the Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is a longtime favorite of Allure editors and makeup artists alike. The microfine mist lets you dance the night away (on Zoom, of course) without worrying about your foundation melting off or your shadow creasing. You’ll seriously be set for 16 hours straight.
When assistant beauty editor Angela Trakoshis first tried Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, she didn’t have high hopes because setting sprays never really work for her. Luckily, it proved to be the exception. “My makeup lasted all day — even under a mask — and that, my friends, is impressive,” she says.
The way Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray is part makeup lock, part skin moisturizer, all with lots of staying power. The Allure Best of Beauty 2020 Award winner creates an invisible shield over skin to give it a forgiving finish if you have any blemishes while keeping your makeup in place for the day.
It was the very specific scent of INN Beauty’s Power Up Dual-Phase Face Mist that made staff writer Nicola Dall’Asen fall in love with the setting spray. According to her, it smells just like a Muji store, which is extremely soothing to her organizational Virgo side. Scent aside, it’s also a damn good finisher, she says. “I’ve gone through the whole bottle so quickly because as it turns out, it’s really good at melting all my makeup together and keeping in place for the day,” says Dall’Asen.
Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set
The Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set doubles as both as a primer and a finisher, which makes it that more of a favorite to assistant beauty editor Kat Suico. “I love that I’ve found a drugstore option that works well for me,” she says. “This spray comes out in a fine mist that covers my face in about two to three pumps. I’m convinced it grips and helps makeup last all day.”
L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist
I love a good multi-tasking product, which is why the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist earned a 2020 Best of Beauty Award. Use it as a skin freshener when you need a pick-me-up. The coconut water and vitamin C will prime and give dull skin a boost. And then spritz again after applying makeup to set it.
If you’d spend $5 to have your makeup last all day — look no further. E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist & Set Spray was one of the staples in editorial assistant Gabi Thorne’s makeup bag when the drugstore aisle was the primary source of her collection. “It keeps my foundation lasting all day long for a very low price and leaves a nice mist of product on the face without feeling like you’ve been attacked by the spritzer,” says Thorne.
Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray
The Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray is a very gentle formula made with saltwater and hypochlorous acid, which calms irritated skin and soothes inflammation. Los Angeles-based makeup artist Robin Black like to spritz it on a clean face before applying skin care and makeup. “It’s also great midday as a quick makeup refresh and at night before bed,” she says.
Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist
The Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist is described as a ‘micro-mist,’ this milky spray is so fine you’ll need to bring the bottle just four inches from your face to feel the full effect. Once you do let the mist hit, it’s ah-mazing. Post-spritz, your skin will look slightly dewier and happier.
Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes loves the Pixi by Petra Makeup Fixing Mist because it does exactly what it says it does: fixes makeup. Use this mist throughout the day when you feel like your base may be moving, it’ll freshen it up with just one or two spritzes.
“I’ve never really been a fan of setting sprays, but I recently discovered the Supergoop Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50,” says makeup artist Molly R. Stern. This setting spray is great for someone who wants a matte finish or works outside. You can ‘reapply’ your sunscreen midday, which is a necessity, without messing up your makeup.
“This lightweight mist is always in my kit,” says makeup artist Elisa Flowers. According to Flowers, the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ helps prep the skin for makeup, refreshes it during the day when products tend to separate on the skin, and makes for a great mixer if you add it to powder products.
If glass skin is what you’re after, then Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Dewy Set Setting Spray was made for you. The 2019 Best of Beauty winner gives skin a gorgeous radiance with zero shimmer or sparkle to be found — and it locks makeup in place for hours. Just call it liquid gold.
At a time when mask-wearing is de rigueur, it’s no surprise that, where makeup is concerned, our attention has turned to enhancing the eyes. The distracting, spirit-lifting power of exploring new looks should not be underestimated, and from lashes to lids, and even temples, options abound.
Val Garland, makeup artist and Vogue contributing beauty editor, agrees. “Now the eye area has become our focus, it’s all about liner, lashes and brows,” she says, before singling out the graphic look of the 1960s. “Get your flick on, but switch the black and brown for navy or rich forest-green. Perfect your brows and flutter your lashes with mega volume – the strong nature of this makeup is what makes it so appealing.”
The Vogue archive holds a wealth of inspiration for looks to emulate, so here, for your delectation, is an illustrated retrospective highlighting creative expression through makeup. Look to those graphic ’60s looks, the abandon of the 1970s, the freewheeling freedom of the 1980s or the makeup magic of the modern day. This is your ultimate moodboard – and it’s a place where imagination knows no limits.
One of the earlier illustrative examples of eye makeup in Vogue, this now iconic image serves as a reminder to never forget the drama of a single sweep of colour.
Legendary makeup artist Barbara Daly created this heavenly look, applying frosted blue “halos” around the eyes to ethereal effect.
Influenced by the makeup of the 1970s, Pat McGrath, Vogue’s beauty editor-at-large, created this shimmering aquatic moment on model Adwoa Aboah for Edward Enninful’s inaugural edition as editor-in-chief.
Grace Coddington, now a British Vogue contributing fashion editor, stars as the muse for this portrait, which sees maxi lashes and exaggerated winged liner take centre stage (with hair by Christopher at Vidal Sassoon).
Get the look: layer up an excess ofGucci Mascara L’Obscur, £40, on both top and bottom lashes, tracing in extra lashes on the lower line for added drama.
Why not look to sequins and pearls to accessorise the lower lash line, like model Marika Green? Appliqué accents instantly prettify any makeup.
Looking at the makeup on the models walking the autumn/winter runways, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were seeing a show from the wrong season. Pops of blue, flashes of orange and pink, dustings of yellow, green and lilac… the painterly palettes chosen by makeup artists backstage at shows such as Dries Van Noten, Gucci, Maison Margiela and Missoni were decidedly springlike. And so, too, was their application, which was as important as the spectrum of colour itself. Sheer watercolour washes gave the look a very accessible appeal.
“Transparency automatically makes colour more beautifying on the face,” explains Terry Barber, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. “It takes away the fear of looking garish or retro, and it’s those fresh, plump washes of colour that allow you to be more playful.” Be it a halo around the eye, a new or unusual experimentation in lip colour, or a gentle tonal clash on both eyes and lips, using products in this way gives an end result that is much softer – and this is, according to Barber, the easiest and most flattering in-road to exploring technicolour choices. “Veils of colour that bring out the features rather than enclose them are the unsung heroes of makeup,” he says.
So what to make of this more romantic approach? “It’s a good time to break the seasonal rules and not resort to the classic earthiness of autumnal beauty,” says Barber. “Instead celebrate the colours of optimism and freshness. Can we say spring/summer is the new autumn/winter?” It’s a resounding yes.
Just as Harris Reed’s clothing offers an important voice in the conversation around the way we define masculinity and gender identity in fashion, a limited-edition collaboration with MAC Cosmetics created by the 24-year-old British-American designer is set to redefine the way we approach makeup.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #37 series on my blog.
“Beauty is fluid, beauty is for everyone and I can’t wait to see how people are going to use this collection to show their version of self-expression and fluidity,” Harris toldVogue, practically shrieking down the phone with excitement. “That’s what I’m super excited about.”
“My first experiences with makeup were with my friends at a MAC store getting ready for prom and it was the brand that I first saw putting make-up on ‘boys’’, they explain, citing MAC as the perfect partner. “For it to even trust me, and take on my strong-ass message of fighting for fluidity, I have to say, has just felt like the most beautiful partnership.”
One of Harris’s personal highlights to come from the collaboration is that it will enable their hundreds of thousands of followers the opportunity to own their own part of the Harris Reed brand and feel included in its wider message. “It’s such an emotional thing for me. I’ve been so incredibly lucky that millions of people have seen the things I’ve worked on and have been a part of, but have maybe until now they’ve not been able to buy into it. This is now something that anyone can get their hands on and be a part of. It doesn’t feel real, it feels crazy.”
The millennial-pink packaged collection is made up of four products, each of which offers a plethora of possibilities to play around with. A smudge of one shade into your hairline could work mixed with another swept over your eyelids for a trip to the shop – just as Harris did when creating the palettes. Though MAC has a history of being used by professionals, this collection has a level of tactility to it that the least acquainted with makeup can become quickly familiar with. The fact that there are no application brushes is deliberate – Harris prefers the human touch.
“It is very much about a playfulness and the joy of makeup,” Harris continues. “As someone who makes clothes that take a couple of weeks to produce, if I want to make a statement with makeup, it literally takes me seconds with a good lipstick or eyeshadow. As I have pushed this idea of a more fluid space in a more fluid world, I’ve really loved that makeup can always be that gorgeous icing on top. It doesn’t only complete the look but, it also completes the message, acting as that extra ounce of light to help radiate what I stand for.”
Much like their clothing, the inspiration behind the colours and products is a major meeting of eras and aesthetics, resulting in an overall “glam-luxe romanticism gone non-binary,” they say. “It is a mix between Studio 54 and rococo, but also think a full renaissance party. You can start with this very beautiful, very whimsical approach and then by the end you can end up with this Studio-54-inspired gold eyeshadow all over your face, even pushing up to the hairline.” Their hero product? A trio of lipsticks called ‘From Harris, With Love’ that reminds them of their first forays into makeup and looking at lipsticks with their mum as a child. “I know those are the ones that I will keep on me at a party, applying, applying and applying.”
Harris’s own approach to beauty and using makeup for themselves has shifted as their sense of self has grown — most notably after they started at Central Saint Martins, emerged in London’s creative scene. Yet they weren’t always so comfortable and forthcoming with using products for themselves. “Being around fabulously flamboyant people really pushed me in the way that I wanted to express myself in terms of my gender identity and being creative across so many areas,” they said.
“[Wearing makeup] has made me have a much more honest approach to my identity. Like anything, it can be scary if you’re not familiar with it. The minute I thought of makeup as a tool to use to send a message and spark a story, was when I started having a way more playful approach. It gave me a space to feel that everything was okay. It definitely was a journey and now I realise that you write your own rulebook.”
The four-piece collection is a small but mighty push for us all to rethink how we use and approach makeup. Harris doesn’t see using cosmetics any differently to employing a fabulous fashion accessory when putting an outfit together. “I think if I, and this collection, can be of any influence to make people look at makeup as a tool to be who you want to be, then that’s job done,” they said.
“Try and not think of makeup as something that makes you look ‘pretty’ and try and not look at it as something that you use to make yourself better, but to explore and enhance something within you. Use makeup as a tool to be your most authentic self.”