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Charlotte Tilbury vs Urban Decay: Which make-up setting spray is best?

Can a new contender knock ‘all nighter’ from the top spot? We put both through their paces

Daniela Morosini
Thursday 10 September 2020 13:35 BST
Both setting sprays promise 16-hour make-up wear
Both setting sprays promise 16-hour make-up wear (The Independent/ iStock)

Whether you prefer make-up setting spray to powder (as many with dry or dehydrated skin often do), or you simply want every layer of insurance you can possibly get for your painstakingly crafted maquillage, make-up setting spray is an indispensable tool for many a beauty junkie.

After all, there’s little more frustration than watching your foundation melt away, your contour disappear and your complexion start to go blotchy, especially if you woke up early to apply it all in the first place.

For many years, Urban Decay’s all nighter has been the holy grail product, with glowing reviews across the board. As the UK’s number one best-selling premium setting spray, it’s achieved cult status for its staying power and long wear.

The classic formula is the firm favourite, but the brand also makes other versions, with mattifying and extra radiant finishes.

The challenger? Charlotte Tilbury’s airbrush flawless setting spray. From an equally-beloved brand, the new product claims to help keep make-up looking “just applied” and has a light, fresh scent. 

Unlike Urban Decay’s, it’s also designed to be used as a primer as well as a setting product, and aims to perfect your make-up without making it look cakey or dull, all while blurring pores for an airbrushed look.

Most make-up setting sprays, like these two, work by using a polymer dissolved in a solvent. When you spray it on your face, the solvent evaporates, leaving behind a polymer “film” that locks in make-up and provides some waterproofing.

The solvent can also diffuse your make-up slightly to make it look more blended. There are also setting sprays that don’t have polymers, but these are more of skin refreshing sprays which rehydrate the skin, like MAC’s fix+.

Both promise 16-hour make-up insurance, so there’s nothing left to do but put them in a head-to-head trial...

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

The verdict: Urban Decay vs Charlotte Tilbury setting spray

While both offer brilliant make-up fixing and setting and minimise transfer onto a mask, my personal favourite is the Urban Decay all nighter setting spray. Technically, neither of them are “good” for sensitive skin as they have added fragrance, but I found my skin can tolerate all nighter very easily, and it keeps my skin feeling soft and hydrated. That being said, it was an incredibly close call as they both perform very well, so if you’ve always used Urban Decay, you might want to try the new Charlotte Tilbury and see if the finer mist works for you. Happy spritzing!

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