The Charlotte Tilbury Setting Spray transformed my makeup routine—plus, three other setting sprays to try

Could this Charlotte Tilbury Setting Spray be the secret to long-lasting makeup and a natural, healthy glow?

Charlotte Tilbury setting spray
(Image credit: Future)

Charlotte Tilbury's Setting Spray is a truly iconic piece of makeup, loved by fans and makeup artists alike. 

For me, the holy grail of makeup essentials has always been my best mascara (though, admittedly, I’m slowly weaning myself off it in favor of eyelash tinting). But a relatively new addition to my repertoire is a setting spray—to be more specific, Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray—and it has transformed my makeup routine. I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly pristine—a bit of a drink spiller, sometimes an eye rubber, definitely a lipstick smudger. If my makeup application takes place at 7am, the likelihood of even the best foundation still all being on my face, come the evening, is slim to none.

But a setting spray that's spritzed on before as a primer and after application, helps keep me looking fresh. Not only that, but using this floral-scented spritz throughout the day is a really easy way to achieve that dewy, just-applied makeup look—without having to delve into your makeup bag. 

Why you need a setting spray

No wonder this Charlotte Tilbury setting spray is generating buzz. Setting sprays have long been an essential part of any makeup artist's kit, with more and more of us enjoying the benefits at home. From Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray to MAC’s all-time bestselling range is Prep + Prime, where the assortment of setting sprays to choose from gets into double digits, from rose and coconut scents to a shimmer effect.

And skincare guru of our—and author of Skincare—Caroline Hirons is a big advocate for keeping the skin hydrated with a mist throughout the day. The key to maintaining healthy skin is to “spritz, spritz and spritz again!"

Why you need the Charlotte Tilbury setting spray 

So, how does the Charlotte Tilbury setting spray compare? For me, it’s the lightness of the formula and instant hydration hit that keeps me coming back to this product. The claim is that it will lock in makeup for up to 16 hours, with no melting, fading, or creasing—something I've never experienced even after I had learned how to use face primer—and lives up to its promise. A part of the CT Airbrush family, the finished effect is smoother skin.

“When applied over the top of makeup, setting sprays are actually hydrating the makeup itself to stop it caking. The polymers in the spray set and hold the makeup in place also, to help it last all day,” makeup artist Joyce Connor told w&h. “To get the best result, hold the setting spray at arm’s length and spray a light mist, rather than saturating the face. Shake the product before use—this is to make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged, so you get a fine mist over the face.” 

It’s also handy for when I’m opting for a full smoky eye or wash of eyeshadow, as dabbing on the spray with a cotton pad before application ramps up intensity ten-fold. This is especially effective with a high-pigment eyeshadow if you fancy trialing a more-is-more effect for the festive season.

Makeup sprays aren’t the daintiest of items to lug around, but travel-sized options are far more handbag-friendly. The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray comes in a 34ml version, which is really handy for traveling.

Is setting spray good for dry skin?

Yes, setting sprays work well on all skin types. While its namesake would suggest it’s only fit for one purpose—setting your makeup—for me this product comes into its own as a makeup refresher throughout the day (check out our guide to how to apply foundation if you want some more insight into getting a flawless base). 

This is ideal for those with dry skin who need to keep cakey makeup at bay by hydrating regularly. Not only will your makeup stay put, but your skin will thank you for it, drinking up that extra hydration. Use with the best foundation for dry skin for the best results. 

Is setting spray good for oily skin?

Along with the best foundation for oily skin, setting spray is a great tool for oilier complexions, as it helps combat shine by mattifying. If your skin is a combination type, Joyce recommends applying setting spray before makeup in a more targeted way. “Spray setting spray onto a cotton pad and then pad on to oily areas of the face instead of primer. Apply makeup, then spritz to set again.”

In the summer months, Joyce suggests popping your setting spray in the fridge to cool the skin, in order to constrict pores while setting makeup.

The best makeup setting sprays 

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

1. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray

Best makeup setting spray overall

Reasons to buy

Dewy finish

My top choice, Charlotte Tilbury’s setting spray gets full marks for hydration and staying power, as well as having a super-fresh scent. The finished result is dewy and natural—unlike some more illuminating makeup so it's perfect for layering over makeup throughout the day to freshen up your look.

Charlotte Tilbury setting spray

(Image credit: Urban Decay)

2. Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

Best long-lasting makeup setting spray

Reasons to buy

Super long-lasting
Creates a matte finish
Even application

The people’s choice, this regular award winner has a cult following, thanks to its industrial-strength formula. If your main priority is making sure your makeup stays put, this will do the job. A favorite of makeup artists, this neutral-smelling setting spray is better for when you've got heavier makeup on, rather than for a natural look. 

Urban Decay setting spray

(Image credit: MAC)

3. MAC Prep + Prime Fix Goldlite Fix + Shimmer

Best illuminating setting spray

Reasons to buy

Lovely scent
Fine mist

A great illuminating option for the summer months, the pearlescent effect will set off—or fake—a healthy glow. I’m also a big fan of MAC’s coconut-scented version for glorious holiday skin. The result is dewy, glowy skin with a slight shimmer, so it's best not to apply this one too liberally if you want your makeup look to remain subtle. 

Elf setting spray

(Image credit: e.l.f)

4. e.l.f Matte Magic Mist & Set

Best budget setting spray

Reasons to buy

Subtle, mattifying effect

The smaller size of this mattifying mist is perfect for your handbag and comes in at a really affordable price point. This mist mattifies the skin, so it's a great option for oilier skins.