A setting spray is probably one of those makeup products that aren’t a part of your daily routine. Rather, it’s an occasional add-on, something you reach for on special occasions when makeup meltdown is simply not an option. But for those whose complexion veers towards the perpetually slick side, setting sprays could, and should, be a standby staple. Simply put, a few spritzes can mean the difference between a day-long battle with unwanted sheen and an immaculate complexion. (And really, which would you rather?)
Since not all setting sprays are created equal, there are a few key points to remember when choosing one best suited for oily skin. Avoid anything touted as “hydrating” or “moisturizing” or where words such as “dewy” or “luminescent” are involved. Your mission is to mattify, so seek out oil-free spritzes that will tamp down shine and keep unwanted oil at bay. When using one, make it the final step in your makeup routine, the cherry on top of the sundae, as it were. Holding the bottle 6 to 8 inches away from your face (you want to ensure a fine mist hits your skin and not too much liquid), spray in an ‘X’ then ‘T’ shape. This will concentrate most of the product on the areas of your face that tend to get the oiliest.
Try any of the setting sprays for oily skin below and make makeup meltdown a thing of the past.
Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray Matte
You’ve likely seen this touted somewhere on the Internet; it repeatedly gets tons of online buzz from devoted fans. Lightweight and long-lasting, it leaves the best matte finish. Also nice: The formula is completely vegan and cruelty-free, too. The ultra-affordable price is the icing on the cake.
Size: 0.68 ounces, 2.03 ounces, 6.08 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“By mid-day, my forehead and nose are usually pretty oily, and I use blot tissue to minimize the shine, but I found that the spray did a good job of keeping my skin fairly matte that I didn’t need to blot my skin until the early evening. Needless to say, I was impressed.” — Khera Alexander, Product Tester
Best Budget: Wet n Wild Photo Focus Matte Finish Setting Spray
The bottle may be small and the price low, but that doesn’t mean that this bargain buy can’t pack a makeup setting, oil-absorbing punch. It helps to prevent cracking, creasing, and the like, and has a soft-focus matte finish, thanks to the addition of hydrating (but not greasy) aloe vera in the mix.
Size: 1.52 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: Maybelline Lasting Fix Makeup Setting Spray
Once upon a time, not so long ago, you may have been hard-pressed to find an effective setting spray at the drugstore. Happily, that’s not the case anymore. A few quick spritzes of this drugstore staple keep makeup in place and skin matte all day long, no big spending required.
Size: 3.4 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Cooling: Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray
Courtesy of Sephora
Setting sprays may come and go, but this one remains a perpetual fan favorite among Byrdie editors and pro makeup artists alike. Not only does it reduce shine and keep your skin matte (Fun fact: In a study, 85% of participants said it was the longest-lasting oil-control product they’ve ever used), but it also truly locks makeup in place. Credit temperature control technology, which cools it to ensure it doesn’t budge. Cool, indeed. Makeup artist and StyleSeat Pro Manuel Espinoza is a fan, pointing out that it also contains kaolin clay, a great ingredient for absorbing excess oil.
Size: 4 ounces, 1 ounce | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Lightweight: Skindinavia The Makeup Oil Control Finishing Spray
Working to effectively set both powders and liquids in place, this pick is a staple for many makeup artists who work on film and TV sets (because hot lights are a recipe for makeup meltdown). It works by essentially forming a lightweight film on top of the skin, which slowly evaporates and removes heat with it to keep products in place. We know, “film” sounds like a recipe for clogged pores, but don’t stress, the product is non-comedogenic
Size: 0.66 ounces, 4 ounces, 8 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Soothing: Volition Beauty Oil-Control Mattifying Mist
Courtesy of Sephora
For those dealing with the oh-so-fun combo of oily and sensitive skin, this is a major win. Infused with rose water to tamp down redness, it also has an amino acid complex that helps keep your skin’s pH balanced, a major component in the quest for a balanced complexion.1 But yes, it combats oil, too. A humectant powder does the seemingly oxymoronic job of both removing excess oil and simultaneously attracting just the right amount of moisture to the skin because matte is good but chalky and cracking is not.
Size: 1.7 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best With SPF: Coola Makeup Setting Spray SPF 30
In case you haven’t heard, you’re supposed to reapply sunscreen every two hours. It’s an admittedly tough goal, but one made notably easier thanks to this spray. The formula (which is 70% organic, we should add) offers all-important SPF 30 while also absorbing shine and minimizing the look of pores. While sprays aren’t the most effective formula for solely protecting your skin from damaging rays, they can help ward off rays, keep grease at bay, and makeup set.
Size: 1.5 ounces | Scent: Green tea aloe | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No, but is water-resistant up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Blurring: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray
Espinoza also likes this formula, lauding it for being hydrating yet oil-free (and alcohol-free, too). Per the name, it delivers a blurring effect making skin look poreless, and contains film-forming polymers that lock makeup in place, warding off not only smudges and smears but caking and creasing, too. Still, as Espinoza points out, it’s very lightweight.
Size: 3.3 ounces | Scent: Floral | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Long-Wear: Milani Make It Last 3-in-1 Setting Spray
Courtesy of Amazon
One of Byrdie editors’ favorite drugstore setting sprays, you can spray this onto skin before or after makeup application (or both). Either way, you get up to a whopping 16 hours of staying power with no creases, smudges, caking, or creasing in sight.
Size: 2.03 ounces | Finish: Natural | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Long-Wear, Runner-Up: JOAH Selfie Ready Setting Spray in Matte Me Down
Another choice pick for long days and late nights, this boasts 16 hours of wear time, too. Oil-free, it delivers a lovely matte finish but never feels (or looks) tacky or sticky. Top tip: It’s best used as a prep step pre-makeup and then again as a final finishing step.
Size: 2.02 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Waterproof: One/Size by Patrick Starr On ‘Till Dawn Mattifying Waterproof Setting Spray
Espinoza likes this because it not only keeps makeup in place for up to 16 hours, it also contains green tea extract and witch hazel which help absorb excess oils and make prominent pores appear smaller in the process, he says. (He also raves about how non-sticky it is.) Plus, it’s the only waterproof pick on the list, ideally for super hot, super sweaty days.
Size: 3.4 ounces, 1 ounce | Scent: Green tea, cucumber, citrus, melon | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Combination Skin: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Setting Spray
“This setting spray works great for oily skin and provides shine control for up to 16 hours,” says Espinoza of another one of his picks. That being said, if your skin skews more toward the combination skin side, or you only have certain spots that are slick, it’s still a great choice. “It also contains skin-soothing ingredients such as aloe vera extract, coconut water, and hyaluronic acid—all made to hydrate, revitalize, and plump skin,” he adds.
Size: 3.4 ounces, 1 ounce | Scent: Coconut | Finish: Dewy | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Oil-Absorbing: Milani Make It Last 3-in-1 Charcoal Setting Spray
Charcoal is a well-known oil-fighting ingredient, and it’s the star of the show in this spritz. The formula is extremely absorbent, think of it as a liquid version of blotting papers. A micro-fine charcoal powder and silica both work to sop up excess sheen and, like the other Milani formula on the list, it also keeps makeup put for up to 16 hours.
Size: 2.03 ounces | Finish: Matte | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
If you have oily skin, a mattifying makeup setting spray is pretty much a non-negotiable. The NYX Professional Setting Spray Matte gets our vote for overall best, super affordable, and effective. However, it’s also worth trying the Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray (view at Sephora), a fan-favorite that makeup artists love and has the added benefit of feeling cooling and refreshing. The Milani Make It Last Matte Charcoal Setting Spray (view at Ulta) is a great affordable buy you can nab at the drugstore, which contains oil-absorbing charcoal, while the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray (view at Sephora) is another makeup artist fave, delivering a blurring, soft-focus finish.
What to Look for in a Setting Spray for Oily Skin
The Word ‘Matte’
To be fair, any type of setting spray will help keep makeup from sliding off slick skin, but Espinoza underscores the fact that there are both hydrating and mattifying formulas out there. Make sure you’re using the latter since the former is meant to impart a dewy finish to the skin—probably not what you’re going for.
What are setting sprays for oily skin?
Setting sprays for oily skin ensure your makeup stays put all day and all night, says Espinoza. They work to lock in your makeup and add an extra layer of protection from outside factors, such as hot, humid weather.
How often should you use a setting spray for oily skin?
Make one of these sprays the final step in your makeup routine. A few spritzes will go a long way, and most are formulated to last throughout the day, so you likely won’t have to reapply (though you can if you want to). Read the directions of the particular product you choose, suggests Espinoza. Some work best if they’re applied onto skin both before and after makeup, he says.