Finishing Sprays & Setting Sprays.. What’s the Difference?

A bride with a floral hair crown sits while her artist is using makeup spray.

Finishing Sprays and Setting Sprays.. You have probably heard those words tossed around before, but did you know that those are two completely different sprays? I will tell you about the difference and why I use BOTH on my beloved clients and why you should start using them too! Setting sprays and finishing sprays may contain alcohol (no, not the kind you drink!), but sometimes it’s not always a good thing. I want to touch on the types of alcohol and how you should try to avoid buying sprays with certain alcohols in it. 

Finishing Sprays

These types of sprays do not set the makeup and make it last all day. This type of spray essentially ‘finishes’ the makeup. After you put this on, your makeup will sit in your skin rather than on it. This type of spray also makes it look more like skin. It can also give you that glow that everyone loves and adores. I love finishing sprays because you really do see a huge difference. 

Product I personally love and use: MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ 

Setting Sprays

This spray does exactly what it says.. It ‘sets’ the makeup in place. This is the spray you use when you don’t want your makeup to smear off or transfer. Setting sprays make sure that the makeup doesn’t sweat off or come off over the course of the day. This is very important in my line of work. My clients need their makeup to last 14+ hours and the setting sprays I use REALLY WORKS. I sometimes even use two setting sprays. 

Products: Skindinavia Bridal Makeup Setting Spray and Ben Nye Final Seal

Alcohol (in sprays)

Okay let’s talk about alcohol since you see a lot of alcohol in these types of sprays. There are good types of alcohol and bad types. Alcohol can be very drying and over time it can age you faster. I do not recommend having the bad alcohols in your skincare, sprays, or perfumes that you put on your chest/neck. I will make a list of the good and bad alcohol so you know what to look for in your ingredients next time you are at the store. I would keep in mind that if a bad alcohol is near the end of the ingredient list, that is okay since it is only 1% or less. If it is near the top, I do not recommend buying it.

Bad Alcohol

Alcohol (yes just plain ‘ol alcohol)


ethanol alcohol


benzyl alcohol

isopropyl alcohol

SD alcohol

AD alcohol 40

Good Alcohol 



acetyl alcohol

stearyl alcohol

lauryl alcohol

cetearyl alcohol

myristyl alcohol

butylene glycol



There is a difference between what finishing sprays and setting sprays do for your makeup and skin. Finishing sprays help your makeup look more like actual skin because it’s not just resting on top of your face. On the other hand, setting sprays help your makeup to last all day through sweat, rain, and other elements. 

Many of these sprays contain alcohol, and that may or may not be a bad thing. There are good and bad alcohols. If your spray contains a bad alcohol, you shouldn’t use it unless it’s listed as one of the few last ingredients on the back of the bottle. Avoiding bad alcohols in your sprays can help prevent aging and drying your skin out.


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