Beauty hacks are part of life, and we’ve seen the good (you can do so much with a piece of tape!), the bad and the somewhat dangerous. Some hacks have stood the test of time — business cards are still one of the best ways to get an ultra-sharp wing — while others have been retired in favor of new product innovations. One hack that is questionable, but said to be effective, is using your hairspray as setting spray — an old trick employed by drag queens and professional cheerleaders alike. This hack has also received numerous endorsements from trusted beauty YouTubers – Tati included (to her credit, the video is from 2015, but still) — as a way to truly lock your makeup in place. But is it safe for your skin? We tapped celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene to find out.
According to Gene, using hairspray as setting spray started in the drag queen and pageant community as a way to make makeup budge-proof at a time when setting sprays were scarce, but these days, you’re better off going with a setting spray designed specifically for your face. “Hairspray has a ton of chemicals and toxins that are not safe to use on skin,” says Gene, adding that experimentation with these substances can cause rashes, irritation or clogged pores. Instead, Gene recommends reaching for a setting spray and primer to ensure long-lasting makeup. Many women are still skipping makeup primer, says Gene, which he says is an essential step for ensuring makeup adheres to the skin.
It’s important to pick the right setting spray for your skin, whether you want a spray that’ll mattify or leave you with a dewy dumpling complexion. Gene’s personal favorite is Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, which locks makeup in place for up to 16 hours, so it looks freshly applied all day long. So next time you feel tempted to spritz your face with your hairspray don’t, and reach for a primer like Lancôme La Base Oil Free Primer to do the trick.