A setting spray has always been the one makeup product I consistently use — even if I’m not entirely sure how it works. Over the years, I’ve mainly stayed loyal to two setting sprays: MAC’s Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray and Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. But when I saw that Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray sold out within 24 hours in early July, I just had to try it to see what the hype was all about.
The fine mist is formulated with hydrating ingredients (namely, aloe vera and Japanese green tea), aromatic resin (which the brand claims can help blur pores), and film formers — the key to all setting sprays’ power to make your makeup last longer.
A film former is “basically a chemical that is put into cosmetics to give long wear,” cosmetic chemist Victoria Vohland shared in Allure‘s Beauty Detectives series. Vohland says that setting sprays are like a diluted version of hair gel; similar to how hair gels keep your strands in place, film formers do the same, but for makeup.
To put the spray to a test, I did my normal full-beat routine, starting with a buildable, medium-coverage foundation and ending with a volumizing mascara. I tend to spritz setting spray about two or three times when doing my makeup: after I finish sculpting my face and warming it with bronzer, right before I complete the look with mascara, and once more before leaving my house or settling into my couch.
For most of the pandemic, I have been makeup-free, minus a few times when I’ve decided to indulge myself. But when I tried Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, it was different because I had to run a few errands, and it was my first time wearing makeup underneath a mask.
Because I had seen enough photos on the internet to know that makeup rubs off very easily on masks, I didn’t expect this spray to do the impossible — but imagine my shock when I pulled off my face mask to see barely any makeup on it. Despite my profuse sweating due to New York City’s humidity, my makeup still looked flawless under my mask.
Another thing to note about the setting spray: its texture. Because the mist is so fine, it doesn’t feel harsh on the face, which I love because I can use it for a quick refresher if I’m feeling too hot — in and out of my apartment.