What’s the Difference Between a Setting Spray and a Face Mist?

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There are a growing number of cosmetic and skincare sprays on the market, and unlike products like moisturizers or makeup removers, the purpose and necessity isn’t always as clear to the average consumer. Join us as we discuss the difference between setting sprays and face mists, the ways in which their purposes and results may or may not overlap, and the multiple functions each product can serve.

Setting Spray

Purpose: The same way a top coat can help keep nail polish from chipping right away, a setting spray can help provide protection from environmental and physical elements, such as rain, heat or sweat, that otherwise may leave your makeup running or melting. Another function of setting sprays is that they assist in creating a smoother, continuous look, helping to blend the various layers of products together.

Ingredients: As the purpose of a setting spray is to keep makeup from shifting or dissolving, the main ingredients are those that carry out this goal. However, there are a variety of ingredients, both synthetic and natural that can do this, so the ingredient list in a setting spray will vary depending on the product.

A very common ingredient are polymers (essentially long molecules that help form a film that doesn’t move) dissolved in alcohol. Upon spray, the alcohol disintegrates and the many droplets on your face attract to form a shield.

Other setting sprays leave out polymers and opt for ingredients that additionally provide skincare benefits. This allows for the sprays to be used more frequently, as polymers leave a film, as well as have the capacity to actually remove makeup if sprayed too heavily.

Alternatively, ingredients like glycerin can be used to set makeup as well. Glycerin is a natural hydrating agent that seals in moisture by forming a protective layer over the skin, providing a similar function as polymers, while also keeping skin hydrated.

In addition to these common two ingredients, other common additions are fruit and floral extracts which provide nice hydrating and moisturizing benefits while also working to minimize oil production.

Other uses: Depending on the ingredients (as certain compounds can cause irritation if used too often in a short period), other functions include acting as a primer by giving foundation something to latch onto, and spritzing a brush before dipping in product to enhance color payout. Setting sprays that market skincare functions can be utilized throughout the day for extra skin refreshing, and are especially nice on warmer days. Often, these sprays can also be very functional without makeup as well, as they will simply act to hydrate skin and minimize oiliness. Always read instructions and product listings as alternate uses and suggestions are almost always provided by brands.

Face Mist

Purpose: A type of skincare, face mists are filled with hydrating, pore-minimizing, calming, and oil-reducing ingredients. While these can sometimes help in maintaining makeup stay, face mists focus on providing benefits to the skin and treating concerns such as redness, inflammation and oiliness.

Ingredients: While this of course varies, common ingredients include rosewater, aloe, witch hazel, tea extract and hydrosols. The name or label will often highlight the ingredients being marketed and their accompanying functions to help you decide if it is something that pertains to your skincare goals.

Other uses: Similar to setting sprays, face mists can also be used as primers and color enhancers, with the added benefit of skincare, while also providing the option to use more generously without worrying about irritation or overuse. Some face mists feel just like water (which is often the first ingredient), while others can double as a toner, especially when ingredients like witch hazel and rosewater are present. Other facial mists are moisturizing and are ideally applied after skincare for extra hydration.

Can a product be both a setting spray and face mist?

Yes! For example, our very own Face Tea! As a general guide, if a product is marketed as both it will have something that sets the makeup, perhaps glycerin or butylene glycol, while also heavy on skincare ingredients like aloe and floral extracts. Any brand marketing a setting spray/face mist duo (and any product for that matter) should be able to list exactly how the main ingredients function in the product, their benefits, and suggested uses for the spray, including how often it can be used. As everyone is different, both in skin type and desires, it’s important to figure out exactly what you are looking for in a spray, and then from there decide if a setting spray, mist, or duo is right for you.

Happy Spraying!


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