Have you ever wandered down the make-up aisles in your local pharmacy or department store and wondered what some of the endless items actually were? If you have, I'm betting that you've wondered what on earth a setting spray is? Time to demystify this product.
A setting spray is a mist that's applied at the end of our make-up routine to help "bind" and set it, so that it doesn't slide or melt off the visage within hours. Setting sprays are commercially and widely available now, but they actually take their inspiration from the classic hairspray hack that drag queens swear by. Drag performers would spray hairspray on their faces to keep their intricate make-up in place while they were under the hot spotlights.
But we've come a long way since those early setting-spray hacks. Now there are options available with much more gentle ingredients that use micron-size mattifying powders to help keep make-up in place, but also give our faces hydration and even a glow - like my personal favourite pick from MAC. These days, thankfully, there are also options that do not use alcohol (this ingredient can dry out skin), like the lovely one I have chosen from Irish make-up maestro Aimee Connolly.
So how do we actual use setting sprays? Make-up artists recommend spraying it over skin post-make-up application - keeping your mouth and eyes closed. Wait for it to fully sink in and you should be sorted for the rest of the day - no make-up slipping down our faces. They really are a handy helper during summer months.
Best mattifying without moisture loss
This is a great pick for all skin types, but especially good for anyone looking for a super long-lasting finish to their foundations (make-up won't budge for up to 16 hours). How? This uses fine, micron-size mattifying powders to transparently coat our skin and set make-up. Don't worry, though, it won't leave your face feeling tight - it also uses hyaluronic acid, coconut water and aloe vera extract to hydrate our skin. This can be used on bare skin (to prep oily faces) or post-make-up application to set your foundation. To use, just shake well and hold bottle 8-10 inches away from your face. Close eyes and mouth, and mist onto skin four times. Don't inhale. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+, €27 from Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Boots nationwide and lookfantastic.com
Best for mature skin
If you're on the lookout for a make-up setting spray that will keep your foundation from sliding off your face but without sucking every last bit of moisture and glow from your skin, check out this beaut from Irish make-up maven Aimee Connolly. It is alcohol-free and jam-packed with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and centella asiatica (an ingredient that helps to strengthen the skin's barrier and protect against aging). It also has lemon extract so gives a zingy little jolt of refreshment to tired skin. This is an excellent option for those with more mature skin. Sculpted by Aimee Connolly Hydrate & Hold Make-up Setting Spray, €20 from pharmacies and Boots nationwide, sculptedbyaimmee.com and cloud10beauty.com
Best long lasting
This is for all the beauty buffs that absolutely love their make-up. This gives a layer of ultra-fine mist coming in a super strong, extra-hold formula - so you can be sure your make-up will stay put all day (and night). Huda was inspired to make this by the classic hairspray hack that drag queens swear by to hold their make-up firmly in place, so you know this is a no-budge formula! Huda recommends a different application of the spray to the other brands here; she recommends spraying this product directly onto a beauty sponge, then pressing the sponge into face to seal in make-up. Huda Resting Boss Face, €31 from Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Boots, selfridges.com and cultbeauty.co.uk
If you want a setting spray that will give the added bonus of a shot of instant golden goddess glow - check out my favourite option on this list and a staple in my summer make-up bag. It is infused with minuscule pearlescent particles (this option is golden, there's also a Pinklite option for a more muted rose glow to the face) that shimmer very subtly on the face. This option works for up to 12 hours to set make-up. You really have to vigorously shake the bottle before use and hold about 10 inches from the face. Start off with a little bit and see how you go. A lovely product. MAC Prep+Prime Fix+Goldlite, €22 from Brown Thomas, Arnotts nationwide, The Loop and recently launched in Boots.
NYX have a great line of setting sprays with different finishes - and at a great price. They have sprays with a matte, shine-free finish, fresh glow and dewy finish. All are super lightweight and feel comfortable on the skin and last well all day. Use after you've fully applied your make-up, shake the bottle, hold it 8-10 inches from your face, and spray it on in an 'X' and 'T' motion (in order to fully cover the face). Avoid the eyes and do not inhale. NYX Pro Make Setting Spray (Dewy and Matte Finish), €10 from pharmacies and Boots nationwide, and Arnotts.
This setting spray punches well above its beauty weight, and gives a lovely finish that belies its price point. This gem is a transparent mist that refreshes and hydrates skin and leave faces with a radiant, healthy glow - minus any greasy residue. This can be used as a make-up setter and also as a skin refresher throughout the day. Maybelline Dream Satin Setting Spray, €10.50 from pharmacies nationwide.
This cult classic is the benchmark for all other setting sprays. It uses a patented temperature-control technology that actually lowers the temperature of our make-up to keep foundation, eyeshadow, blush and concealer in place - even in hot and humid conditions. If your make-up tends to melt down your face in hotter weather, this could be a very handy helper for you. Urban Decay All Nighter Ultra Glow Setting Spray, €31, from August 3 at Arnotts Beauty Hall and arnotts.ie