Ben Nye Final Seal Matte Makeup Sealer

Ben Nye’s Final Seal is the fixing spray to end all fixing sprays. If you’re headed to an event that you know is going to elicit sweating or even a bit of drizzling rain, or you simply just don’t want your makeup to come off… like… ever… then this is the product for you.

A 2oz bottle will run you about $16, which seems expensive at first blush, but one or two sprays are really all it takes for the product to work, so it should last a long time. This comes in a plastic spray bottle. I wanted to note that, though the packaging itself is not unusual, the liquid inside of it can be very temperamental when you take it out of room temperature conditions. When it gets too cold, it “freezes” around the sprayer, making the sprayer difficult to push down on. The sprayer will also freeze in place if you don’t remove excess product that may have dripped down around it.

The sprayer is a little more powerful than just a “mist”, so one of two sprays — top and bottom — should catch the entire face. Make SURE you close your eyes while you spray this, since the very first ingredient of this is denatured alcohol. You may experience a bit of stinging after applying this, but that should diminish in under a minute. The spray leaves sort of a “net” sensation, like your skin is locked into place. This is also unnoticeable after the first few minutes.

In my personal experience, I’ve been able to wear this from 8 in the morning until 9pm at night. Around the end of the wear time, I did notice a bit of foundation cracking around my lips, but this may have been because I had applied Vitamin C in the morning, as usual — which, as an exfoliant, pushes the old skin up, thus cracking the makeup. But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be salvaged had I chose to keep it on longer. Both my eyeliner and mascara stayed put, as well.

The true test of a transfer-proof foundation or fixing spray are my winter coats. The zippers tend to end right at my chin, so the material of the jacket is directly under my chin/neck area, a prime area for makeup to rub off. No makeup residue on my jacket after using Final Seal!

This product, sadly, is not really good for the long haul for use on your skin. Alcohol denat is the first ingredient, which will inevitably dry out your skin, even if there is a layer of foundation between your skin and this spray. I will say I broke out substantially less after using Final Seal versus Skindinavia’s finishing spray, perhaps due to the comparatively short and simplistic ingredient listing, whereas Skindinavia had included far more preservatives. Still — Final Seal is not great for my skin.

So, acne-sufferers, use this product with caution. But this really is a phenomenal fixing spray and probably the first I’ve used where I felt 100% confident that my makeup would stay all day. I recommend for anyone seeking to lock their look in! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

ELF Makeup Mist and Set

This is a good case study of “you get what you pay for”. At $4, this is one of the cheapest setting sprays on the market, but doesn’t exactly do anything at all.

This clear, fragrance-free makeup setter comes in a black plastic bottle with a sprayer. The sprayer is inconsistent at best, and shoots out either too much or too little of the product at a time no matter how hard or soft you’re pushing down. Too much will soak your skin too much to apply makeup, too little will defeat the purpose of “holding” the makeup.

I usually apply this after all of my moisturizers are put on, and before applying makeup. I’ve also tried it after my makeup’s been put on, but due to the inconsistency of the sprayer, you run the risk of it spritzing the makeup off altogether.

For maybe the first four hours my foundation seemed to hold tight without any breakthroughs, but when I thought about it, it seemed like that was more likely the longevity of the foundation hold itself. Hour five begins the breakdown of makeup, and breakthrough of makeup. Makeup holds on a little bit better than if you hadn’t spritzed this on, maybe, but not by much.

The reason I picked this up in the first place was because it was alcohol-free, but I’m going to say that alcohol is probably the main driver in why certain setters do work so well, like Ben Nye and Catrice. On the plus side, no alcohol = no breakouts, for me! Still, this ELF product is really more akin to just spraying a water-based toner on your face, without any added benefit. I’d skip it. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Skindinavia Primer Spray – Oil Control

Skndinivia Oil Control

I’m sad to say that this product was a go-to of mine for a few years. Had I known about irritating alcohols back in the day, or even turned the product around to read the ingredients (actually, I still forget to do that… hmm), I would probably have seen the “alcohol denat” as the second ingredient, and never bought it in the first place. Compared to some of the other setting sprays I’ve used, this is not a stand out product to begin with.

As with any other primer spray, you spritz this on your face with the sprayer on the top after moisturizing, and before putting makeup on. There is a tad bit of fragrance in the product, nothing overpowering at all, it’s relatively pleasant (and somewhat non-descript, since I can’t think of another word to describe the scent). After it’s dried onto your face a bit, you can go ahead and apply your foundation without any issue.

This has a 16 hour holding time apparently, and as the product name suggests, is supposed to control oil. I feel like my foundation, irregardless of brand, consistently broke down after hour 5-6 even when this was on — and, a long with the breakdown came the oil, as well.

This is an extremely pricy buy at $22-24, although there is quite a bit of product that will last you awhile. But I just don’t think it’s really doing it’s thing for that price point — and with alcohol denat as the second ingredient, it’s probably better off just to stay away. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Catrice Prime and Fine Dewy Glow Fixing Spray

Catrice Dewy Glow Fixing

“If it tastes good, then it’s not good for you”. Same applies here, minus the taste part… so I guess that’s more like, “if it works well, it’s not good for you”?

This stuff is amazing. So amazing that it’s always sold out at Ulta, and resellers price-gouge on Amazon and Ebay, pushing the price up from the original $7 to $20!

You can go ahead and layer up with your usual moisturizers with this product, then go ahead and spritz some product of this on prior to putting on your foundation. It even SMELLS nice — a little alcohol-y, but somehow, still fresh and floral. With almost any foundation, this fixing spray will guarantee that the makeup won’t budge for at LEAST eight hours, probably more. It works better than any setting or finishing spray OR setting powders that I’ve ever used. In fact, while I was using this, I wouldn’t even bother to use any other setters or finishers!

But alas… one day I turned the packaging around and re-read the ingredients. There it was, that evil benzyl alcohol. As you readers may or may not know — actually, I’m mostly writing this for myself, since I always forget — the “evil” alcohols in skincare are ethanol, isopropyl, methanol, denat, and benzyl alcohol. They make products dry up quickly on your skin, but end up also drying out and irritating your skin.

Possibly but not necessarily due to the benzoyl alcohol, my super sensitive skin had a couple break outs while I was using the product. Initially, I blamed it on my period. But then it persisted well past that time of that month and I just happened to take a gander at the packaging… (should this blog be called “a girl tries makeup without checking the ingredients first”?) It’s very disappointing because this product is phenomenal, and truly makes your makeup last on your face for a very long time. Back to the fixing spray drawing board…

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: If there were no benzyl alcohol, 5/5!

Recommended for sensitive skin: No