Can Setting Spray Cause Acne Breakouts?

Can setting spray cause breakouts

There are times in your life when you suffer from acne and I’m taking a guess here but I think that you don’t find that attractive on yourself at all. I’m doing this guess because I was that person a couple of years ago. I had some acne breakouts that made me feel anxious to go outside. Luckily makeup saved the day for me (although it’s maybe better to face yourself and your fears and accept yourself as you are) and I could hide these acne breakouts.

But, even though makeup saved me most of the time, sometimes I experimented with something and it gave me even more acne! To prevent that from happening to you, I wrote the article below titled “Can setting spray cause breakouts?”

I hope you’ll find the information helpful. At the end of the article, I also listed a couple of setting sprays that you can use when you have acne-prone skin!

I hope there’s something in here for you…

Does setting spray cause acne?

When it comes to makeup you never want to purchase a product that will irritate your skin. Often you start off using cosmetics to hide slight blemishes and end up with raw and inflamed skin. That can include side effects like acne, dryness, spots, and any number of other harmful. 

So what about setting sprays? Do they cause more harm than good? And can setting spray cause breakouts?

While the specifics may vary from brand to brand, most setting sprays use alcohol as a primary ingredient. The use of alcohol can irritate the skin if you overdo setting spray use or if you have sensitive, dry skin, leading to breakouts.

Does makeup setting spray clog pores?

If you are someone who struggles with chronic acne or has skin that is susceptible to breakouts, you’ll want to avoid comedogenic formulas. These are products that clog your pores. And most setting sprays fall under this category. Unconvinced? All you need to do is take a look at the ingredient list.

Even high-end ends generally come with a huge serving of coconut oil which is highly comedogenic. Studies show that oils, especially thicker ones like coconut block pores are pore-clogging and can result in an excess production of sebum which leads to breakouts. 

But not all sprays are created equal. Most of the time your makeup decisions are based on the end result you like. Matte or glossy, nude or metallic. And while the decision definitely depends on the type of finish the wearer wants, you shouldn’t ignore how different product types impact your skin.

For example, mattifying formulas are better than dewy looks because they prevent oil from collecting on your skin, which is a good thing. Oil buildup is largely responsible for clogging pores, leading to not just acne, but also closed and open comedones, white and blackheads. 

Why does setting spray cause breakouts?

To understand how setting sprays cause breakouts we have to first discuss why acne occurs in the first place. The reason you get breakouts is that your skin has hair follicles that can become clogged with sebum or dead skin. And several factors can worsen this condition.

These include excess oil production, bacteria, or inflammation. Once this occurs three things can happen. If the follicle wall remains intact it will simply bulge outwards forming a whitehead. If the surface breaks the bacteria and sebum comes in contact with the air and darkens, leading to a blackhead. And finally, when a blocked follicle develops a bacterial infection you get acne. 

In short, you want to control oil production and prevent your pores from getting clogged. A huge part of your skin’s condition depends on hormonal changes, diet, exercise, and stress factors. But what you put on top of it, namely skincare and makeup can also play a role.

Alcohol in setting sprays

So when you use products like primers or alcohol-based setting sprays you are effectively clogging your pores. Now you may be wondering why cosmetic companies add alcohol to their sprays and why people continue to use them?

Alcohol does have its benefits when it comes to long-lasting makeup. It will keep all your various layers in place on those hot and sweaty days, which is why companies continue to put it in their products. And customers buy them simply because they don’t know any better.

But now that you know the harms it can cause, rest assured you do have options. Most cosmetic products are available in alcohol-free versions. And there are specific ingredients you can look for in setting sprays to get that flawless look without compromising your skin’s health.

Best setting spray for acne-prone skin

When it comes to acne-prone skin there are a few ingredients you should look for. First of all, anti-inflammatory formulas like those with rosewater can help prevent irritated skin. Secondly, you need to avoid products with silicones, essential oils, and above all fragrance. Many companies have fragrance-free formulations for their products so keep an eye out for those.

Also, as we mentioned earlier matte sprays are better at preventing excess oil collection, and hence are less likely to encourage breakouts. Here are three top options for makeup lovers looking to maintain their perfect look without hurting their skin.

NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray

The NYX Professional Setting Spray is a personal favorite and it comes in both matte and dewy options. A lightweight mist that keeps your makeup in place all day is not noticeable at all. It is formulated for all skin types and locks in your products from foundation and contour to blush and bronzer. Not to mention, NYX is a cruelty-free, PETA-approved brand which is an added benefit. Overall, a great option for anyone wanting a setting spray that won’t trigger acne.

Teddie Organics Rosewater Spray

The Teddie Organics Rosewater Spray is the best option for people with acne-prone and sensitive skin. This tonic is suited for all skin types and comes with rosewater which is an anti-inflammatory. So it will soothe your skin and any already irritated spots. 

Additionally, not only is it alcohol-free, but it also does not contain fragrance, preservatives, color additives, or parabens. In short, there is nothing that could potentially irritate your skin or cause breakouts. The lightweight toner will help regulate your skin’s pH levels and absorb excess sebum, leaving your skin fresh and rejuvenated.

Skindiva Makeup Primer Spray

The Skindiva Makeup Primer Spray is a hydrating and minimal formula, designed to help control the oversecretion of sebum on your skin. It is recommended for people with sensitive skin but geared towards oily and combination skin types. 

Additionally, it is a two-in-one primer and setting spray combo, making it perfect for everything from weddings to pool parties. It is waterproof, paraben-free, and vegan so you can wear it out on any occasion. This setting spray will elongate the life of your makeup application, and remove the need for touchups.


Now you know that some setting sprays can cause breakouts, and you know why acne is there in the first place! Luckily you also read that you can do something about it and that you’re not doomed to having acne all your life because of the setting spray you use! Now, I know from other people around me and myself that the products listed above work. 

But, if you ordered one and found out that it worked for you too, please let me know! I love reading about other people having success because of what is written here. It is one of the many things that make me happy on a daily basis!

Further reading material

I hope there was some information in this article that resonated with you. If so, great to hear! Now I can only imagine that you want to read and learn more about makeup. You’re in luck cause I have made a selection of articles below for you with articles that you might find interesting. Just click on one of the links and start reading again!

What can be used as a substitute for setting spray?
Does setting spray set eyeshadow?
Does setting spray set mascara?


Hi, my name is Joy-Lee and I'm the owner of As you might've noticed, I'm a true beauty lover, and made it my passion, my work and my hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on a variety of beauty aspects and want to thank you for reading!

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