I'll be honest, it literally took me a hot, very melty second to officially board the setting-spray bandwagon, but after hearing the advice of more beauty editors and makeup artists than I could possibly ignore, I handed over my ticket of skepticism, hopped aboard, and have been an honorary rider ever since. That said, although being a diligent spritzer over the years has done wonders for my makeup application in terms of both finish and stamina, it's completely depleted my bank account. Not many budgets can withstand that kind of consistent $30 or $40 financial carnage, and instead, I was left scouting the aisles of the drugstores for the best, less bruise-inducing setting spray formulas. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
There are plenty of cult-loved, iconic setting sprays out there which I'll never tell you not to buy (they're fantastic, after all), but as my product sleuthing below will support, there are just as many affordable alternatives with lots of the same ingredients and formulaic perks. Luscious botanicals! Alcohol-free! Twelve-hour wear! I found eight dupe-worthy all-stars that I support just as much as their pricier counterparts. Keep scrolling—you need not crack your face or budget.
Sure, Urban Decay's setting spray is iconic, but if you're looking to save without sacrificing the stamina of your makeup application, we recommend I Heart Revolution's highly rated formula. Just like Urban Decay's, it contains essential hydrating ingredients like aloe, and it actually has a shorter, less complicated ingredient list.
We love a great multitasking setting spray, but Too Faced's cult-favorite isn't the only outstanding, do-it-all formula. This drugstore find from Catrice is also paraben-free, infused with hydration-prolonging castor oil, and can be used to prime, set, or refresh anytime, anywhere. And it's one-fourth the investment.
This top-selling setting spray from Make Up for Ever is one of the few alcohol-free setting sprays on the market, let alone one of the few that actually work. Satisfyingly less expensive (by $20!), E.l.f. Cosmetics' drugstore version follows the same alcohol-free premise and is also vegan, void of silicone, and cruelty-free. Plus, it's AMAZINGLY hydrating—saturated with purified water, antioxidants, cucumber, plus a skin-enhancing kick of vitamin B and E.
We won't deny this signature mist from MAC is a makeup artist staple and unbelievably amazing when it comes to prepping and priming our face. We love how lightweight it is, appreciate the pretty melding of vitamins, minerals, green tea, chamomile, and cucumber, and—best yet—thank the heavens it doesn't clog our pores despite how well it keeps our makeup in place. Alas, this beloved formula from Mario Badescu is spiked with much of the same botanical fare (e.g., cucumber, green tea) and is roughly half the price.
Since it's full of unique ingredients such as diamond powder and caffeine, you'd think Smashbox's fan-favorite setting spray would be in a league of its own as far as its signature luminizing effect and makeup-enduring perks. (It's kind of like spritzing your favorite IG filter across your complexion.) And yet, we've found a very satisfying dupe in the above pick from Nyx. Like all products from the brand, this drugstore setting spray is PETA-certified, cruelty-free, and dusted with a radiant mix of ultra-fine micro-pearls for a makeup application that plays harder for longer while remaining glowy and healthy-looking.
It's true—Cover FX makes some of the best, favorably rated setting sprays in all the land. And it's this dew-dripping spray that's the line's best seller at Sephora. In addition to being alcohol-free, promising 12-hour makeup wear, and brimming with other nice things like shea butter and prickly pear, it's not hard to understand why shoppers love it so. However, we actually have a drugstore formula we love just as much (or dare we say more?) that clocks in at a third of the price. Like Cover FX's formula, this quartz- and superfood-studded setting spray from Pacifica is alcohol-free, vegan, and cruelty-free; keeps makeup in A+ condition; and has loads of amazing ingredients like the aforementioned quartz powder, coconut water, vitamin E, grapefruit seed extract, and Goji berry extract.
If you haven't tried out Lilah B.'s sparkling lineup of luxurious, clean makeup and skincare products, you're missing out on a very special treat. That said, $48 dollars for a setting spray (no matter how much we love it!) is a painful stab to our bank accounts this time of year. Infused with lavender, fig extract, brown algae, and mineral-enriched water, the formula is in a league of its own, but if we had to downsize as far as our spending limit, we'd opt for this best-selling drugstore setting spray from Physicians Formula, which is laden with collagen, 24-karat gold, hydrating glycerin, and a unique protecting and firming polymer.
Name a more iconic face mist—we'll wait. Tatcha's Dewy formula has gone gangbusters in terms of customer demand and devotedness, but the formula is, indeed, expensive. (Half of $100 is a lot to spend for something we spray on our face 24 times a day, and we go through our pretty bottles fast.) Of course, you probably won't find a drugstore setting spray with as lovely ingredients as Tatcha's Okinawa "Kucha" Clay, Japanese wild rose and seagrass, or Hadasei-3 Complex (the brand's proprietary threesome of anti-aging superfoods), but Milani's mattifying setting spray has the same goal: a mattifying, oil-absorbing, and long-lasting makeup application. However, the brand uses strategic ingredients like honey, micro-fine charcoal powder, silica, and grapefruit seed extract as formulaic magic.