Does setting spray set eyeshadow?

Does setting spray set eyeshadow

Does setting spray set eyeshadow? That’s the question today! Maybe you’re here because you have absolutely no clue and want to make sure before buying a setting spray.

Maybe you’re here because you already know the answer, but aren’t sure which setting spray to buy!

And maybe you’re here because, like me, you’re just a huge fan of all things makeup and beauty and want to know all about it! As the people who come here often know, I am a true beauty addict and so the question of whether eyeshadow can be set with setting spray is not a strange one for me either.

It’s a fun question because, as always, there is something to tell about it! 

Of course, you can also be here because you already tried to set your eyeshadow with setting spray but you noticed that it didn’t go quite right. That is smudged and overall wasn’t working right.

I hope I can give you an answer to your question today!

So, without further ado…

Does setting spray set eyeshadow?

Yes, your setting spray should help in setting your eyeshadow. The right setting spray puts, a thin layer of film over your eyeshadow that causes your eyeshadow to “set”.

How does this work exactly?

A setting spray that helps you with your eyeshadow is a shielding setting spray that contains polymers dissolved in a solvent. Normally alcohol. The beauty of these polymers (these are long molecules like plastics) that forms a thin layer of film on your makeup so your makeup doesn’t go anywhere.

When you apply the setting spray to your face the solvent (in this case the alcohol) evaporates and only the polymers remain. These drops together form a thin film over your makeup.

This is also what happens when you spray setting spray on your eyeshadow.

Important to know is that there are also setting sprays that do not contain polymers (and/or alcohol) and are therefore not able (or much less able) to create a thin film over your makeup. These setting sprays are only meant to blend the different layers of your makeup together.

So how do you know which one to get?

The easiest way is to look at the ingredients list of the setting spray. Usually, the word polymers are in the first 4 ingredients. If it is not, this means it is a setting spray that only blends. If it does, you can assume that the setting spray can set your eye shadow.

To be sure, the most common polymers are PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone) and AMP-acrylates copolymers. If you see this on the bottle of your setting spray, you’re good to go.

So, now you know that a setting spray can help you set your eyeshadow and how it works!

What if my eyeshadow smudges and doesn’t set my eyeshadow?

If you are sure that your setting spray should work and it doesn’t, because it smudges for example, then there could be a number of possibilities for this.

One of the first things you should try is to let your eyeshadow dry better. This may sound too easy, but it’s still important. If you have just applied the eyeshadow and then immediately use a setting spray, there is a greater chance that it will smudge because it is not completely “dry” yet.

Wait a little longer than usual and then spray the setting spray onto your face.

If you still feel like your eyeshadow is smudging there are a few other things you can try:

Remove oil from your eyes

An oily skin type suffers from this more often than someone with dry skin, but it is still important to let them know. When your eyeshadow comes into contact with the excess oil on your face, there is an increased chance that your eyeshadow will smudge. This is quite easy to solve by using a facial cleanser. This way you can easily get rid of the excess oil around your eyes. This normally prevents the problem.

We always say yes, but in this case, we say no to moisturizer!

Moisturizer is normally a wonderful product to use, but in this situation, it can cause more problems than it solves. If excess oil on your skin is a problem, a moisturizer will only make it worse. So normally I always say yes to moisturizer, but in this case, it’s not a great idea to put it on your eyes. Especially since moisturizer, a lot of oil on your skin, and setting spray is not a good combination.

Do use a primer!

A primer, on the other hand, can work great for you if you suffer from eyeshadow smudges when applying your setting spray. 

A primer can make sure that oil doesn’t get on your skin so easily. Applying just a little bit to your eyes can make a big difference. Again, the advice is to let it dry thoroughly first.

Overall, the best tip is to let the eyeshadow dry first. This way you can be sure you can continue your routine and finally use your setting spray.

What’s the best tip?

Save the best for last they always say. The easiest and best tip (to be 100% sure). Is to hold one hand in front of your eyes while using your setting spray so that the setting spray does not reach them.

This way your eyeshadow won’t get wet again and that would make the chances of your eye shadow smudging almost none. 

(If your eye shadow still smudges, the above tips should be able to help you).

But, the easiest solution is to just hold a hand in front of your eyes. However, this also prevents a setting spray from working there.

I would say: see if you can fix the problem, if not, use the hand-to-eye tip.

Which setting spray to use when I want to set my eye shadow?

Anyway, so now you know that your setting spray should help with setting your eyeshadow, and what you should do if it doesn’t work.

But, which setting spray is the right one to use?

There are whole books written about this and I think the most important thing is that you pick a setting spray that suits your skin type. If you have oily skin, it’s not so smart to go for a setting spray that will make it worse. The same goes for any skin type, of course. 

Below I have made a list of some setting sprays that work well for certain skin types.

Dry skin

If you are looking for a setting spray for dry skin, you can look for terms like “moisturizing” “dewy” “healthy skin”. In addition to these terms, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for polymers (as you read earlier). Handy to know is that you should stay far away from matte formulas. These formulas dry out even normal skin slightly, let alone if you already have dry skin. Below are my favorite setting sprays for dry skin.

– Urban Decay Chill Cooling & Hydrating Makeup Setting Spray
– NYX Makeup Setting Spray – Dewy Finish
– Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix

Normal skin

If you have normal skin, you can get along with many setting sprays and few will really not work for you. Look carefully at what kind of finish you would like so you can be sure you are buying the right setting spray. Below are my favorites:

– Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist
– Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
– Quo Dewy Skin Mist

Combination skin

For a combination skin type, you need a little of one and a little of the other so you have good control of both the dry areas and the oily areas. My all-time favorite for people with combination skin is:

– PACIFICA BEAUTY Cherry Matte Setting Spray

Oily skin

Not every setting spray is made the same, you know that now. For people with oily skin, be especially careful to stay away from the setting sprays that specify “hydrating” or “moisturizing.” Also, “dewy” and “luminescent” are those terms that you know, if you have oily skin, are not going to help you. So what setting sprays do help you set your eyeshadow when you have oily skin?

– NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray Matte
– Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray
– Skindinavia The Makeup Oil Control Finishing Spray


I hope you have at least learned now that a setting spray should indeed set your eyeshadow. Apply your eyeshadow the normal way, let it dry, and then apply the appropriate setting spray to your face. That should be enough if you at least take into account your skin type!

Further reading material

Do you enjoy learning even more about setting sprays? Or are you simply in an I-want-to-know-everything-about-makeup mindset? Then the articles I’ve selected for you below will be a lot of fun! Click on any of the titles and continue reading!

Does setting spray set mascara?
How long does setting spray take to dry?
Does setting spray work when you sweat?


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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