How to Set Makeup without Setting Spray – and Why You Might Not Need Setting Sprays

What to do if you have no setting spray

Everyone knows the feeling, you’re standing in front of a mirror for an hour and you make sure you look fantastic before you go out. 

You’ve almost finished your masterpiece and now want to set the makeup, only to find out that your setting spray bottle is empty (yeah, we’ve all been there).

So now what? You look online for things to use as a substitute for setting spray of course and here you are! Don’t worry I’m going to help you so scroll down to find everything you need.

What are setting sprays?

A setting spray is a liquid mist that contains water and alcohol as its main ingredients. You can use it to spray it on your face to increase the lifespan of your makeup. With a setting spray, you can prevent your makeup from fading and smudging.

how to set makeup without setting spray mist

If you want to set your makeup without a setting spray, you have a couple of options to choose from. Even though the options below are sometimes less effective than using a setting spray, they can still help you through the day very well!

The things you can try to set makeup without setting spray are:

1 – setting powder. A setting powder can work as well as a setting spray in keeping your makeup in place. Apply the setting powder to your face with a brush and focus on the areas of your face that tend to become oily and where creasing occurs. That way you can be sure that your makeup stays put in the same spot all day long.

Note that there are different kinds of setting powders with different kinds of finishes. You have setting sprays with a natural finish and with a matte finish. I think that the matte ones can help you set your makeup and they are heaven for people with oily faces as well!

2 – Primer. To set your makeup you can also make use of a primer. As you might know, primers help you create a smooth canvas on your face to apply your makeup on. Now, make sure that you apply the primer before you put on the makeup. When you’ve applied the primer and then put on the makeup, the primer can help prevent fading and smudging.

3 – Translucent powder. It can be that most of the time you use a translucent powder as a finishing powder. But did you know it can also act as a setting powder? The sheer, colorless, facial powder can be perfectly used to set makeup and not cover or add color. A great way alternative to a setting spray.

4 – DIY setting spray. The next best thing to a setting spray is making it yourself. In later sections of this article, I will tell you exactly how to make a setting spray!

5 – Use a rose water spray. It may sound crazy, but this works! Normally you would use rose water (like this particular one) after a long day and when your skin needs some softening and relaxing, but it also works very well as a setting spray. 

6 – Just add water.  Many people think of makeup as the main ingredient for removing makeup from your face, but if you want to keep your make-up looking good for a long time and you don’t have a setting spray, you can use water. 

When you apply a light mist of water after your foundation and powder, it can give your makeup a natural look and fill. Besides that, it will also help with any harsh lines. 

When you want to use water, simply mist your face and let it dry completely before you move on to the next things in your makeup routine.

Other tips to apply makeup to last all day

As you can imagine, there are more things you can do to let your makeup last all day than applying the setting spray, or a setting powder. This is even more important when you don’t have a setting spray ;). So, below are a couple of tips to make your makeup last all day.

1 – Avoid using too many layers of makeup. Layering on too much makeup can cause your makeup to come off during the day. Applying a thick, cakey foundation for full coverage will not do you any good. Thick layers of foundation won’t stick to your skin and glide off your face after a couple of hours.

You’re better off applying thin layers of makeup and using your fingers or a makeup sponge to apply the tin layer. You can also go for long-wear makeup (like mascara, eyeliner, lip liner, etc, that will stay put all day long.

2 – Don’t use expired products. Using expired products will not adhere to your skin as well as fresh products would. Therefore it is advised to only use “fresh” products.

3 – Exfoliate your skin. Makeup will adhere better to exfoliated skin. So, if your skin is dry, or patchy your makeup won’t adhere as well as it should. So, I would advise you to remove the dead skin cells on your skin so that your makeup will apply better.

It’s best to exfoliate two to three times per week.

4 – Use blotting paper. As said earlier, the excess oil buildup on your skin is one of the main reasons that your makeup won’t stay on your face for a whole day. You can use blotting papers to dab away any oil buildup so that you won’t smear your makeup.

5 – Use products for your skin type. Now I know this sounds like stating the obvious but it’s true nonetheless. When you use products that are designed for your skin type, your makeup will better adhere to your skin. So, if you have oily skin, don’t use products made for dry skin and vice versa. Make use of products made for your skin type and see that your makeup will last a lot longer!

What not to do instead of using a setting spray

Have you ever heard that some people swear by the fact that you should use hairspray as a setting spray? I am not kidding. This phenomenon started in the drag queen and pageant community. 

You see, by using hairspray you ensure that your makeup is budget-proof. But is it good for you? No, it is not. 

Hairspray contains several chemicals and toxins that are not safe to use on your skin. For example, hairspray can cause rashes, irritation, and clogged pores. Now that we can buy setting sprays everywhere (or at least use alternatives as you read above this section), it is much safer to go for them.

But what do you need to do when you not only have no setting spray but also don’t have any of the products mentioned above?

Make your own cheap DIY setting spray!

The easiest thing is of course if, as discussed above, you can put something other than a setting spray on your face that still makes your makeup last longer. But what if you don’t have those products at home, or it just doesn’t work for you and you need something else? Then making your own setting spray is the perfect thing to do.

Can you make a setting spray at home?

Sure you can! But the question is if it will work like a regular setting spray. Now, I have to say that if you’re looking for a solution to let your makeup sit for 12 hours or more, you’re better going to get a setting spray. If you look for a quick alternative that lasts a couple of hours, making your setting spray is very doable.

why should you make your own setting spray?

– The first reason is that it is relatively cheap to make your setting spray and you can do so from regular household items.

– Another reason is that in this way you can control what you put on your face. Sure, companies that make setting spray put the ingredients on their labels, but making it at home is perfect for people with sensitive skin or people who know to be allergic to certain chemicals.

– The last reason is that it can be a lifesaver when you just ran out of setting spray and you have somewhere to go. When you can make setting spray at home you know that you can always count on it.

How do you make your own setting spray?

Making your own setting spray if you don’t have a setting spray at home is very easy. Below I will show you how to make a setting spray with only 3 ingredients. All you need are the following things:

1. A spray bottle. A spray bottle is very handy so you can use your homemade setting spray on your face. You can use a bottle that you have at home and can reuse it, or you can buy a new one like this one.

2. A funnel so that you can pour the setting spray into the bottle. If you don’t have one you can always roll up paper like a funnel, or use something like a coffee filter bag.

3. A teaspoon and some napkins. Not that a teaspoon is indispensable (cause you can eyeball it), but it is still handy to have around.

What ingredients do you need for your setting spray?

1. Water. You need bottling or filtered water. I would not use tap water for this. This product goes directly on your skin and tap water can be a bit harder, which makes it not good for your skin.

Try using distilled water or purified bottled water.

2. Rosewater. You have already read this above (in the alternatives). Rosewater is a good alternative if you don’t have a setting spray at home. It is also handy for this recipe. But I have to admit that it is not necessary. Rosewater is hydrating and works great for your skin. 

3. Vegetable glycerin. The last product you need is vegetable glycerin. You will need this product when making your setting spray. Luckily, it is not expensive and you can use it for a long time! You have probably used this product many times before (more times than you know). Vegetable glycerin is found in many primers. 

This particular product makes your makeup stick. It is also very good for your skin because it moisturizes and gives you a beautiful finish.

Don’t use too much of it though, because glycerin can also make your skin look greasy.

How do I make my DIY setting spray at home?

Now that you have all the stuff, it’s time to make the setting spray! Luckily it is not difficult at all if you follow the steps below. I often give this advice, but take your time! I get a lot of messages from people who are working on a particular recipe or on a step-by-step plan for coloring their hair, for example, and don’t get the results they want because they are in too much of a hurry. Read carefully and take your time. That way you will get the best results.

Step 1
Take your bottle and fill it half to two-thirds full with the water we talked about earlier.

Step 2
Take the bottle with the pink water and take your teaspoon with it. Take 3 teaspoons from the pink water bottle and put them in the bottle you just filled with water. If you’re fond of rose water and want to use it more, you can. But beware: overdo it.

Step 3
Now it is time to use your vegetable glycerin! Take the bottle and your teaspoon. Again, it’s best to start with just a little (just like with the pink water). Take 2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin out of the bottle and put them in the bottle with the water and the rose water.

don’t use too much. It’s a bit of trial and error, but if you add too much glycerin, your spray may become a bit greasy and heavy on the skin. Especially if you want a matte finish, my advice is to go for a little less glycerin. Start with 2 teaspoons and add more when you think you need to.

That is all! Simple right? 

Now close the bottle with all the ingredients and start shaking. Once everything is mixed, you can start spraying right away to see how well yours turned out!

It’s handy to shake and mix every time before using. That way you can be sure that your spray is ready to use and that your ingredients are well combined.


As you’ve read, it’s pretty easy to find an alternative if you don’t have a setting spray at home. To be honest, using a setting spray is still the best option. For example, a setting spray is designed to give you the ultimate result. But still, if you don’t have it, find it too expensive, want to experiment with making it yourself, or just forgot to buy it, these are great alternatives above!

Do you want to learn more about setting sprays? Then simply click on the links below and start reading and learning more!

Why is my setting spray not working?
My setting spray is going white when I spray it.

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