How is makeup setting spray different than hairspray?

SuperGorgeous says…I’d love to see a comparison of makeup “setting” sprays like Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray and and plain ol’ hairspray.

The Beauty Brains respond:

Ask and Ye shall receive. There are (at least) three important differences between hairsprays and makeup setting sprays.

Aerosol versus nonaerosol

The best hairsprays are in aerosol form because they can be water free. (Water causes your curls to droop. Read this post to learn more about why water is bad for your hairstyle.) Fortunately water is good for your skin so non-aerosol make up setting sprays are perfectly fine. That’s good because you certainly wouldn’t want to blast your face with an aerosol spray from close range.

Spot welds versus facial film

Hairsprays are designed to do one thing very well: they deliver a fine spray of hair holding polymers. These tiny drops of polymers run down your hair until they get to the intersection where two hair shafts meet. At that spot they dry to form a tiny little weld point that holds the two hair shafts together. Your hair style is held in place by the effect of thousands of these tiny droplets on thousands of hair shafts.

Make up sprays, on the other hand, need to deliver a more uniform film across your entire face. They can’t be as “fluid” as hairspray droplets or it would drip off your face. Therefore they contain a much higher degree of solids then hairsprays.

Crunch versus non-crunch

The holding polymers used in hairsprays need to form a very rigid spot weld to hold your hairs in place. Makeup setting sprays need to form a less crunchy, light holding film. Therefore these formulas contain much more emollient type materials. That’s why the ingredient list below contains materials like Polyhydroxystearic Acid and Isononyl Isononanoate that are not contained in hairsprays.

All Nighter long-lasting makeup setting spray ingredients

Aqua (Water), SD-Alcohol 39-C, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Isononyl Isononanoate, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate PVP, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Dimethicone PEG-7 Phosphate, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Glycereth-5 Lactate, Methyl Methacrylate Cross Polymer, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Fragrance.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

In some cases companies will sell a similar formula across different product types. But make up setting sprays really do need to be different than hairsprays. We’re not saying that you necessarily need to spend $30 on Urban Decay’s 4 ounce product but don’t try and save a few dollars by using your typical hairspray to set your makeup.

What do YOU think? Do you know of any good low-cost make up setting sprays? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.