21 Mar 2012

Refresher Spray, Setting Spray, Finishing Spray

"There shall in that time be rumours of things going astray, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia-work base, that has an attachment.  At that time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock".*

There can be great confusion amongst us (and I included myself in that category, prior to going off about a year ago and researching this stuff) as to whether or not to use makeup sprays.  And what they're good for anyway.  And if they're actually any use, or just a great big waste of time.  And effort.  And money.  And another way for makeup companies to con us into spending our hard earned cash in those stores with the great big windows, that see us coming for miles...

Well, read on if you want to know what setting sprays and finishing sprays are and do... and if you can just use water... or... emmm... not.

Refresher Spray
Some Refresher Sprays
A Refresher Spray is generally just a water-based spray.  It can be no more than just a spray bottle of water, or it may be aerosolised;  it may or may not contain an infusion of added extras (vitamins or minerals);  it may or may not be ionised.  Generally, it's good for refreshing the skin and adding a little hydration, prior to makeup application.  Some examples are Evian and MAC Charged Water (EDIT: now discontinued I believe, and replaced with MAC Mineralize Charged Water), but as I mentioned, any basic water spray or mist falls into this category.  Avène, Vichy, etc also all carry "refresher sprays".  I am working my way through a stash of aerosolised mineral water that I purchased in France last year (why is it that these things are so much cheaper in France?!)

What to use it for?

Spritz it on the skin first, before applying your makeup, to help with hydration and cooling.  This won't set makeup; most makeup these days is mineralised, or contains silicone - and these ingredients and water just don't mix.  You'll see this if you apply some product to your hand and then spritz it with a refresher spray - the water just beads on top of the makeup, showing you that a refresher spray can't therefore be used to set makeup.

Refresher sprays are also good to use if you don't have access to water (or "trustable" water) for damping down a sponge prior to use for foundation, blusher, whatever takes your fancy;  for wetting theatre or cake-type makeup prior to use, and for cooling down the face in a hot location, prior to makeup application.

Do you need it?

Honestly, probably not.  I only keep them for when I don't have access to water.

Setting Spray
MAC Fix+;
a Setting Spray
There are a lot of Setting Sprays in the market - MAC Fix+ is a good example and the one that I use.  In general, setting sprays contain some form of purified water plus botanical extracts (e.g. cucumber for refreshing the skin) and oils (like vitamin E oil etc).  They may or may not contain caffeine (used to "wake up" the skin).  As they are an oil+water emulsion, they can be used to set makeup, as the oils will "burst" the microspheres in mineral makeup.  Try it.  Put some makeup on the back of your hand.  Spritz it with a setting spray.  You will see that the setting spray will settle over the makeup, with no beading.

The term "setting spray" is a slight misnomer.  These sprays can help "set" makeup from the point of view of "homogenising" it, but it doesn't "fix" it in place.  So while a setting spray can help your makeup to blend and marry together that bit better, it doesn't particularly prolong its life.

Note that setting sprays won't (generally) give you a dewy look, that's not what they're for, but they will help powder products to "emulsify" with your base products (primer, foundation, etc).

So, what to use it for?

I use this for setting makeup when I've used a lot of powder or mineralised powder products; powder, plus powder blusher, followed by powder highlighter, powder contour (etc), especially when applied over a very matte foundation base, can leave your skin looking dry and powdery - like the makeup is just sitting on your face.  This can be the case no matter how well you blend your products.  A final spritz with a setting spray helps it all mesh together a bit better and to stop it looking like it's just sitting on top of your skin.  It's not a particularly necessary step, but if you're going for a matte look, or using mineral/mineralised products, or a lot of powder products, it does help to give a final polish.

A setting spray can be used as a refresher spray later on, in a hot location, whereas a standard refresher spray will only bead and sit on your face.

Some tips for setting sprays
  • I don't advise using Fix+ (or any setting spray) before you apply foundation, as it can start setting the product before it's all blended properly and this can lead to patching or caking (that said, I know some people who spray it on their face/brush before applying MAC Studio Fix Fluid to help blend it out.  I personally don't).
  • If you're using a liquid foundation, it's best to set with a powder first, then a setting spray.
  • Add a frosty or shimmery pigment to some Fix+ in a small bottle.  Shake well, then spray on the body to give a great sparkle for summers or when you want a bit of shine.
  • Mineralised powder formulations work really well if you finish off with a setting spray after application.

Do you need it?

This is a really handy thing to have if you use a lot of powder products, or mineralised products, or very matte finish foundations.  It definitely gives your makeup a bit more polish.  I personally love to use it after Chanel Perfection Lumière.  But it's not strictly necessary.

Finishing/Fixing spray

The Finishing Spray I use
A Finishing Spray is the last thing you apply to your face to seal everything in place.  The one is use is Kryolan Derma Blend Fixing Spray, but there are many many others.  As you can imagine, it's not something you're going to need to use very often.  Rarely, in fact. These are available either in spray or aerosol form, and their key ingredients are usually alcohols.  They are very often highly scented (probably to disguise the alcohol smell) and very often can really sting, especially on more sensitive skin.

So why use it?  And for what?

It helps makeup last and last and last... and stops it slipping off the skin, which is great for hot and humid locations.   Some fixing sprays can help makeup waterproof, or at least splashproof.

Tips for how to use it...
  • Let your makeup set, and only when you feel it's totally dry, seal it all with a fixing spray.
  • It's better to use a setting spray before a finishing spray, as a finishing spray won't do anything for harmonising/emulsifying your makeup.

Do you need it?

Yes, if you're a makeup artist.  Or if you're going to get married in a really hot country and you want your makeup to last perspiration, heat, and a possible toss into a swimming pool.  No, otherwise.

Acid Test

If you're not sure what you've got, you can determine if a spray is a Refreshing Spray or a Setting Spray or a Finishing/Fixing Spray quite easily, as follows: on the back of your hand, apply and blend out some makeup.  Once it has dried, spritz it with the spray in question.
  1. If the spray beads on top of the makeup, it's probably a Refresher Spray (in essence, just water).
  2. If the spray settles and dries into the makeup, then you need to figure out if it's a Setting Spray or a Fixing Spray.  Easy-peasy: once it has dried, rub the makeup.  If it budges or smudges easily, then you have a Setting Spray.
  3. If it doesn't move at all, or at least not much, you've got yourself a Fixing Spray.  Chances are, you'll know the Fixing Spray anyhow - it's usually the one that stings!

Hope this helped!

* Monty Python's The Life of Brian.


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