Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Setting Sprays- Chemistry, Review, and Comparison

Today I have a Review/Comparison of 2 different Makeup Setting Sprays.  But before I get into the review, I think its important you understand just what a setting spray is, how it works, and why one would use it.  All too often I see people using these facial sprays incorrectly, then they wonder why they don't get the result they were looking for.  The answer?  SCIENCE!!

Koren of EnKore Makeup has a set of extremely informative videos explaining the differences between Refresher Sprays, Settings Sprays, and Finishing Sprays.  He even does a couple of demonstrations so you can fully understand the science behind their intended purposes.  

Facial Sprays 101: Part 1

Facial Sprays 101: Part 2

If you don’t have time to watch them now, I suggest you make time soon.  As a courtesy I have a re-cap of his information is below:

Refresher Sprays- water, sometimes ionized water, maybe some minerals. 
Common Examples: Evian Mineral Water Spray, MAC Charged Water
Refresher sprays are good to apply to the bare skin, BEFORE makeup, because your skin will absorb the water and be ‘refreshed’ and ready to go before you start in on your makeup.

The color in makeup products comes from mineral pigments.  These pigments are generally hydrophobic, meaning they don’t like water.  So when you’re done applying your makeup and you spray a refresher spray over top, the spray just beads up on top and evaporates, accomplishing absolutely nothing but wasting product, money, and time.  So don’t do it.

Setting Sprays- has botanical extracts, oils, caffeine, etc.
Common examples: Mac Fix+, ELF Makeup Mist & Set
Skin absorbs oil.  Minerals absorb oil.  The setting spray bridges the gap & allows the pigment to become one with your skin.  This is why spraying Fix+ over mineral foundation will get rid of that ‘powdery’ look- its literally melting the pigments into your skin, evening out the texture.

Do NOT use setting spray to prep the skin.  Your makeup won't blend because it’s setting on contact.  It will become patchy, cakey, and ugly.  Do makeup first, AND THEN set.

Finishing Sprays- has denatured alcohol
Common examples: Urban Decay All Nighter/De-Slick/Chill, Model in a Bottle
IMPORTANT:  In order for the finishing spray to do its job, the makeup MUST be set with a setting spray first.  There is no way around this.  The pigments must be melted into the skin first, and then the alcohol in the finishing spray can do its job to lock those melted pigments into place.

Not all alcohols are created equal.  Do not think you can cheat and just spray rubbing alcohol all over your face.  The alcohol in these Finishing sprays is specifically designed for your skin.  Don’t try to be clever or stingy, get the right tool for the job.

You can have perfectly beautiful makeup without these sprays.  None of them are necessary for everyone but if you have some of the following problems you may want to look into them.

If your skin is particularly parched, either re-evaluate your skin care routine or amp it up with a Refresher spray prior to applying any makeup.

If you’ve tried everything but still get a powdery look when you’re done applying your makeup, applying a Setting Spray over your makeup will melt the pigments into your skin, eliminating the powdery look.

If you’re having trouble getting your makeup to stay all day long, use a Setting Spray followed by a Finishing Spray to lock it all in place.

OK, now that our science lesson is over I can get to the review!
ELF Makeup Mist & Set, Real Techniques Stippling Brush, MAC Fix+
Set it and forget it!

I use Everyday Minerals Semi-Matte Base Foundation and absolutely love it.  I’ve used MAC Fix+ as a setting spray for a few years now (since watching Koren’s videos actually) and have been very pleased with the results. 

I know the old adage ‘if it ain't broke don’t fix it’ but I do like to save some money.  While cruising Target one day I came across the ELF Makeup Mist & Set.  I read through the ingredients and was immediately reminded of some of the things in MAC Fix+, but instead of $21/bottle ($6.17/oz) this was $3/bottle ($1.48/oz).  This is not a dupe by any means; the ingredients are similar but different:

Water, AMP-Acrylates/Allyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Aloe Leaf Juice, Green Tea Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocophryl Acetate, Retinyl Acytate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben.

Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, cucumber fruit extract, chamomilla, camellia leaf extract, tocophryl acetate, caffeine, panthenol, hydrogenated castor oil, fragrance

If you have a thing against any and all parabens you’ll want to skip the ELF Makeup Mist & Set.  I keep an eye on the ingredients lists and limit the number of products I use that contain parabens, but I don’t outright ban them from my home either.  It’s a personal choice.  Moderation in all things, right?

Anyway, the Makeup Mist & Set was cheap enough and the ingredients were similar enough that I decided to give it a try.  I’ll be honest- I don’t notice a difference in the actual performance on the face.  The finish is the same, the dry-time is the same, and the wear is the same (I top both of these off with Urban Decay De-Slick Finishing Spray).

One big difference about these (besides price) is the spray nozzle.   When I spray Fix+, it comes out in a concentrated, compact spray pattern.  This makes it difficult to get a fine, even mist over the face without wasting the product or getting too much in one area.  To manage this, I spray Fix+ on my Real Techniques Stippling Brush then stipple it all over my face.  I actually like this method because not only do I get an even application of the setting spray this way, but the brush also picks up any excess makeup that didn't need to be there.  Win-Win!
ELF/MAC Spray Pattern Comparison
2 sprays of ELF on the left, 1 spray of MAC on the right. Both held 6" away from the paper.

ELF’s spray nozzle, on the other hand, sprays out a finer, more even mist of product.  This is nice because I don’t have to take the extra time to stipple a brush all over my face if I’m in a hurry.  I still like to use the brush to be sure I don’t have any extra makeup on my face though.  Some folks may not like the stippling brush method so I thought I would mention it anyway.

So what’s the verdict?  With the actual performance being exactly the same, application differences being somewhat of a moot point (for me anyway), and at a price difference of $4.69/oz, I’d have to say ELF wins in my book.

Don’t you love it when you can find a drugstore alternative to a great, high-end product?  What drugstore alternatives have you found recently?  Share them in the comments below!

Do you like reading reviews? Check out my other reviews!

My Contour/Highlighting Palette
My Makeup Brush Collection

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