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How To Fix Your Makeup After You've Already Put On Setting Spray

Need to fix your makeup? We can help. Even after setting spray, here's how to fix mistakes

You can still fix your makeup after setting spray — here's how

You've got the perfect look for that big night out: an outfit to die for, expertly applied primer and foundation, and a gorgeous shadow/liner combination straight out of a beauty vlogger's YouTube channel. You've applied your setting powder or spray to seal the deal—only to realize that your mascara has started to smudge.

So, what now? Did you just "lock in" that mascara smudge as a permanent part of tonight's look?

Setting spray is designed to hold makeup in place so that it lasts all night without touch-ups, but it's not made out of concrete. Luckily, there are a few ways to adjust your makeup even after you've put on setting spray—and you won't have to start with a totally clean face to make changes.

What is setting spray?

Let's start with the basics. Setting spray, setting powder, and finishing spray are designed as the last step in your makeup routine, a quick spritz of solution that holds your makeup in place like hairspray for the face. (Quick pro tip: Don't put hairspray on your face. Your pores will thank you. It was effective for your high school theater department, but there are finishing and setting sprays for that now.)

You apply setting or finishing spray by gently misting one to three pumps and letting it fall naturally against your face. You should hold the bottle about an arm's length away from your skin while you do this, so that it doesn't drip or clump. Just make sure you don't get any in your eyes!

Setting spray is designed for maximum hold. It makes your makeup last longer by making it budge-proof and smudge-proof.

Finishing spray follows the same basic idea, but it enhances your look's shelf life by adding back a bit of moisture that your skin always needs. These sprays are usually designed to moisturize, rather than prevent from moving at all.

You can think of the two as different steps in finishing pottery. Where finishing spray would be a quick, glossy coat of veneer, setting spray would be a trip to the kiln.

How can you touch up your makeup post-setting spray without starting over?

There are a few ways to do this. Makeup that's already been treated with setting spray can be annoying to touch up, but it's not impossible. Most importantly, you should not try to adjust your makeup while setting spray is still drying. The usual go-to advice is to "blend, blend, blend," but blending with still-wet setting spray can turn into a smudgy, clumpy mess.

Once your setting spray is dry, you can try a few different methods to touch up your makeup:

  • Revisit with finishing spray. If spray is your issue, it might seem counter-productive to add more. Unlike foundation, however, moisturizing spray can have a very beneficial effect if applied more than once. Once your setting spray has dried completely, spritz a light amount of moisturizing mist or finishing spray onto the area you need to touch up. Then, dab—don't blend—the area to remove any makeup smudges, and reapply the liner, shadow, or mascara you're looking to touch up.
  • Use a wet sponge to touch up foundation. Blending is tough after you've applied setting spray. To get around this, you can wet down an applicator sponge with a bit of setting spray or finishing spray before you put foundation on the sponge. This mixture will loosen up the foundation you've already applied, and give the new foundation more of a base to stick to as you touch it up. Dab carefully and blend lightly—a little bit of foundation touch-up goes a very long way.
  • Avoid heat. If you're going through multiple rounds of touch-ups, it might seem logical to shorten the drying process by using a hairdryer. However, this artificial heat can be very bad for your skin and pores. When it comes to air-drying, stick out the wait time. Your skin quality will be worth it, and air-dried touch-ups will always look more natural and elegant than those sped up with a hairdryer.
  • Add a layer of sun protection. A big issue we have with a full face of makeup is applying sunscreen to a perfect outdoor look. Sunscreen tends to be the Mother of All Smudgers when it comes to makeup, so it's a good idea to turn to alternative sources for your SPF needs. Luckily, many finishing sprays on the market today come with sun protection. You can use these sprays as part of your touch-up process to protect your skin and dab/blend effectively, without feeling like a summery swamp monster of doom. (I'm kidding, but we all know how unpleasant sweaty, sunburned skin can be with a full face of makeup.)

Resources— beautyheaven, Colorescience, L'Oreal

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