Not everyone uses setting sprays but the ones that do often have very strong feelings about them. A setting spray can prolong the longevity of your makeup as well as increase the intensity of eye shadows. Some setting sprays can even help control oil production if you are oily, or alternatively for the dry skin types out there, some setting sprays can give you a more dewy look.
Setting sprays can truly elevate your makeup and even wake you up in the morning (is it just me?)! However, even though there are many options out there, in practise there are mainly two. When beauty gurus talk about setting sprays they are most often referring to either the Urban Decay All Nighter or the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+.
Interestingly, the Urban Decay All Nighter is ranked as the #1 setting spray on Influenster whereas the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ is ranked as the #1 face primer. So from that information alone, a few questions arise.
Can you use both as setting sprays or are they different? Is the Fix+ a good primer or a good setting spray? Which setting spray is best? Are they just the same thing? Are they both worth the hype and which one is actually worth your time and money?
These products are not new and this showdown has been long in the making so let’s get to it!
Here’s a summary, green background = positive, red = negative, grey = equal/neutral. For all the details keep reading or jump to the category you are interested in.
Colour and texture
Neither of the two products has a colour and they are both sprays.
However, the size of the droplets of the sprays is not the same. The Urban Decay spray is more even and the mist feels like it has smaller droplets than the MAC one, which often feels uneven giving you the feeling that there’s more spray in certain parts of the face than others. This is visually obvious by even spraying them both in the air.
Winner: The Urban Decay mist is more evenly distributed.
The Urban Decay All Nighter has a very subtle spray-like scent which is neither specifically pleasant or unpleasant. The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ on the other hand has a stronger (but still not too strong) scent which is a combination of a spray scent with a floral and lemon-like hint.
The MAC spray also comes in 3 scents: coconut, lavender and rose (plus the original). To keep the comparison direct, I’m using the original (not specially scented) one here.
Winner: The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ original smells slightly better and it also has more scent options.
The Urban Decay 118mL All Nighter bottle retails for £24 whereas the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ retails for £19 for 100mL.
This means that for 1mL of the All Nighter you’d pay £0.20 whereas for the Fix+ you’d pay £0.19. As a result, even though on first inspection the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ might appear cheaper, it is not!
However, the Urban Decay All Nighter will last you longer as the spray is more even (and there is more of it in the bottle). I find that I go through the MAC Fix+ much faster than the All Nighter which I think is mainly due to the uneven and sometimes “thick” and mostly wasted mist. An Urban Decay All Nighter 118mL spray would last you around 3 months+ of everyday use.
Winner: Equal. The MAC Fix+ is slightly cheaper but the Urban Decay All Nighter will last you longer (not just because it contains more).
This is more often a looks based category but there are actually some practically interesting differences here.
Both sprays come with an outer packaging. The Urban Decay All Nighter looks a bit nicer and well put together than the very plain MAC Prep and Prime Fix+. A similar story applies to the actual spray bottles too, with the Urban Decay one looking a little bit more beautiful, especially due to the black and purple colour combination (which has been a relatively recent packaging design change) than the very plain looking MAC Fix+. However, there is beauty in the MAC’s simplicity and although the outer packaging might be a little boring, the actual spray bottle looks nice.
Both spray bottles are made from plastic but the MAC one is a little thicker and more durable. They both come with a pump, however, the Urban Decay All Nighter comes with an outer and inner plastic pump cap, which protects from accidental spraying whereas the MAC Fix+ comes with a twistable lock which stops the spray button from being pressed. They are very different practical and visual packaging solutions but overall the MAC one can be considered a little safer, as it is easier for the All Nighter caps to be pushed off than it is for the MAC mechanism to be twisted open. This then makes the MAC spray a little safer for travelling (also more travel friendly due to less product contained – additionally note that both sprays come in travel sizes too).
One very interesting difference is the see-through MAC bottle vs the black Urban Decay. This means that you can easily see how much product you have left in the MAC Fix+ which can be a major advantage, whereas you’d have to judge by weight and “shaking sound” for the Urban Decay All Nighter.
Winner: The MAC Fix+ is slightly superior. The Urban Decay packaging and bottle is slightly prettier but the MAC one is more travel proof (and maybe a little more pet/baby proof?), arguably more elegant looking and you can see how much product you have left.
Practicality of use/user experience
Both sprays are very easy to use but as mentioned in the categories above, the Urban Decay is slightly easier to use, as all you need to do is remove the cap and spray. The mist is more even and lighter than the MAC one but the latter smells nice.
Winner: It’s a very close call and likely more down to personal preference, but just for the mist evenness the Urban Decay is easier to use and gives a better user experience.
The brands do not specify this so assume that both sprays are compatible with all skin types. There are also no skin type specific ingredients.
I have oily skin and both worked well for me but the Urban Decay contains an ingredient that could actually help absorb oils.
Winner: Equal. The Urban Decay All Nighter is superior if you have oily skin.
The Urban Decay All Nighter is good for 6M whereas the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ lasts for an amazing 24M. If you use these sprays as your everyday setting spray, you will easily use them both (and a couple more bottles) up before their expiration.
Both setting sprays enhance eye shadows well but the MAC Fix+ is slightly better. Shimmer shadows appear a little bit more metallic, although this might just simply be because more mist is applied to them (so essentially they are more wet) due to the fact that, as explained above, the MAC spray is “thicker” and less even. The Urban Decay All Nighter though already enhances eye shadows so if you use this as your setting spray you don’t need to buy the MAC Fix+ just for that.
Bear in mind though, that even if you wet an eyeshadow with just a spray of water, it will still be enhanced, so actually you don’t need to be wasting your setting spray if you can’t afford to. These two setting sprays though will still enhance eye shadows more than pure water, so for maximum effect use a setting spray. In order of enhancement effect, from lower to higher: plain eyeshadow, water spray, Urban Decay All Nighter, MAC Fix+.
Here’s what Urban Decay says about the All Nighter:
“Is a makeup meltdown ruining your midnight mojo? Mist on this weightless spray to give your makeup serious staying power. All Nighter Setting Spray keeps makeup looking gorgeous for up to 16 hours — without melting, fading or settling into fine lines.
Developed in an exclusive partnership with Skindinavia, our ground-breaking, tested formula is suitable for all skin types, free of oil and parabens, and features patented Temperature Control Technology. You got it — this baby lowers the temperature of your makeup to keep foundation, eyeshadow, blush and concealer in place — even in hot and humid, or cold and windy weather conditions. The result? Smoother-looking skin and long-lasting makeup that you can keep on all day or night.
Choose from three high-tech, light-as-air formulas:
• All Nighter keeps makeup looking gorgeously just-applied for up to 16 hours—without melting, fading or settling into fine lines.
• De-Slick makes makeup last as it controls oil, deflects surface shine and keeps skin looking beautifully matte. High-tech ingredients help keep makeup from smudging, sliding or fading—so you hardly ever need to touch up.
• Chill features time-release technology that actually cools the surface of your makeup to help it last for up to 12 hours without smudging or settling into fine lines.
In a 7-day study of All Nighter Setting Spray:*
• 78% of participants said All Nighter helped their makeup last for 16 hours.
• Over 80% said their makeup not only looked better, it stayed on better (even in the T-zone) without settling into fine lines.
• Whether they had combination, oily or dry skin, 88% or more said All Nighter was the best product to help their makeup last.
*Based on a 50-person study.
This breakthrough formula comes in a black soft-touch bottle with a purple sprayer and a frosted white cap. Unlike similar products on the market, the sprayer delivers a calibrated, microfine mist that goes on so lightly, you’ll hardly feel it. If you’ve tried another makeup fixing spray that feels sticky or tight on your skin, you’ll be amazed by how different this is. Beware of imitations!
Each one of these weightless formulas is free of oil and parabens.”
Here’s what MAC says about the Prep and Prime Fix+:
“A lightweight mist of water packed with vitamins and minerals, infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber to gently soothe and refresh the skin. Gives an instant boost of hydration while delivering a soft sheen to refresh and finish makeup.
Soothes and refreshes skin, hydrating, dermatologist tested, ophthalmologist tested, non-acnegenic.”
Winner: The MAC Fix+ lasts longer and enhances eyeshadows a little bit better.
These two sprays are both very good products.
The Urban Decay All Nighter prolonged makeup for longer and controlled/did not add oils but both enhanced eyeshadows, with the MAC Fix+ being slightly better.
I’m still suspicious that a big part for this might be the difference in the “size and evenness” of the mist. A more even mist would help to prolong makeup better whereas a more concentrated one would enhance and wet eyeshadows a little more. Perhaps you just need to spray a couple more times with the Urban Decay All Nighter to get the same payoff/wetness.
However, at least when it comes to the prolonging of makeup, the ingredients offer some explanation as to why the Urban Decay All Nighter prolongs makeup for longer. See ingredient section below.
Are they both the same type of product?
The ingredient section below is actually the most telling, even if these products are not exactly meant to be the skincare type. The ingredients show a clear picture, that these two products are not for the same use. The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original has superior ingredients but doesn’t really contain anything that would considerably prolong your makeup. The Urban Decay All Nighter on the other hand, contains three film forming ingredients which could potentially create a barrier as well as absorb any oil production, prolonging your makeup lifetime.
This might sound like a no brainer after reading the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ name, but the brand states that this product can also be used to finish makeup and many users out there use it as a setting spray, which it is not!
So is it a good primer then?
Well it contains a reasonable amount of ingredient goodies so I can’t really say no. However, there are other more skin nourishing and moisturising primers for around the same price tag which also last longer and create a nicer makeup base.
For my highest recommended primer click here to check out the This Works In Transit Camera, Mask, Moisturiser, Primer.
The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ though might be a really good option for some quick skin hydration after a warm workout or even to wake you up in the morning. Bear in mind that if you spray this over makeup, you are not necessarily giving your skin all the ingredient goodies it contains because we don’t know how far and if at all, those ingredients would penetrate the makeup to reach and be absorbed by the skin. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the skin nourishing ingredients it contains, use directly on clean skin.
The Urban Decay All Nighter contains 30 ingredients of which 13 are potential ingredient positives, 3 potential negatives and 9 potential irritants. The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original contains 15 ingredients of which 12 are potential positives, 2 negatives and 7 irritants. From those statistics alone it’s very easy to see that the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original has much better or higher skin nourishing factor ingredients, but it does not contain anything that will prolong your makeup considerably.
On the other hand, the Urban Decay All Nighter can protect your makeup but also contains some skin conditioners, even if they are not the best ones. It is definitely the best setting spray out of the two in this post and a more nourishing one than others out there.
To keep this article short, I am only listing the skin nourishing or skin positive/negative ingredients and ignoring the ones that only play formulation purposes. For the full list of these products ingredients scroll down to the “full list of ingredients” section.
Ingredient positives for the Urban Decay All Nighter:
- Aqua/Water – Water based formulation.
- PVP – A water soluble polymer which dries and forms thin coatings on the skin. This is what makes your makeup last longer.
- PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate – A skin conditioner and shine enhancing emollient.
- Isononyl Isononanoate – A skin conditioner that leaves a silky feeling on the skin.
- Ethylhexyl Isononanoate – A skin conditioner.
- Caprylyl Glycol – Skin conditioner and anti-microbial agent.
- Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate – There is speculation that this could provide a moisturising effect.
- Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer – Forms a film which can protect your makeup but also can absorb excess oils.
- Glycereth-5 lactate – A skin conditioner.
- Propanediol – Can hydrate the skin but is also used to increase the absorption of other ingredients.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder – Skin conditioner, locks moisture in (=humectant). Some consider it to have anti-flammatory properties and protects against UV-damage. This is not a sunscreen and you still need SPF. Some have reported it to stimulate collage production and therefore, reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Maltodextrin – A film former which can protect your makeup. Some studies suggest it might enhance the anti-ageing activity of weak acids.
- Tocopherol – Refers to a class of compounds with similar activities to vitamin E. A skin conditioner, anti-oxidant and fragrance agent. Check out: Vitamins C & E – Do they work in skin care?
Ingredient positives for the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original:
- Water/Aqua/Eau – Water based formulation.
- Glycerin – Found naturally in the skin so can be seen as a skin replenishing ingredient. A skin conditioner that helps improve and smooth the appearance of skin. A good moisturiser that is almost always present in moisturising products.
- Butylene Glycol – Skin conditioner that can also prevent moisture loss from the skin.
- Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract – Skin conditioner and anti-oxidant.
- Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract – An anti-oxidant and anti-flammatory.
- Camellia Sinesis Leaf Extract – Also known as green tea extract. This ingredient has multiple benefits including: anti-oxidant, fragrance, skin conditioner, UV light absorber, anti-microbial, astringent, skin protecting, tonic and possibly helping the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.
- Tocopheryl Acetate – A more stable form of vitamin E. A hero anti-oxidant molecule. A skin conditioner that also enhances the ability of sunscreens. Can help with inflammation. Check out: Vitamins C & E – Do they work in skin care?
- Caffeine – A potent anti-oxidant, skin conditioner, that can wake up the skin and improve the appearance of puffy eyes. It can sooth and penetrate the skin and reduce redness. It slows down the process of photo-ageing.
- Panthenol– Form of vitamin B5. A moisturiser and potential acne treatment.
- Arginine – A natural aminoacid that can act as a skin conditioner and anti-oxidant.
- PPG-26-Buteth-26 – A skin conditioner and fragrance ingredient. It has the ability to restore the appearance of dry, damaged skin by reducing flaking and improving suppleness.
- Disodium EDTA – Can enhance the penetration of other ingredients.
Ingredient negatives for the Urban Decay All Nighter:
- Alcohol Denat. – There is evidence suggesting that low molecular alcohols (denat. or not) damage and dry the skin. This can in turn enhance the penetration of other compounds into the skin, although sometimes this might not be a negative. Additionally, since this product is a spray that is used over makeup, not all or any of this ingredient might actually reach the skin.
- Parfum/Fragrance – This ingredient represents an undisclosed mixture of compounds that give the product scent. There’re more than 3000 molecules that fall under this category and I personally do not like that there are some ingredients that are undisclosed and hidden under this general name. Fragrance also does not offer any skin care benefit, in fact there is some evidence that it can damage the skin.
- Propanediol – Can hydrate the skin but is also used to increase the absorption of other ingredients.
Ingredient negatives for the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original:
- Fragrance (Parfum) – This ingredient represents an undisclosed mixture of compounds that give the product scent. There’re more than 3000 molecules that fall under this category and I personally do not like that there are some ingredients that are undisclosed and hidden under this general name. Fragrance also does not offer any skin care benefit, in fact there is some evidence that it can damage the skin.
- Disodium EDTA – Can enhance the penetration of other ingredients.
Ingredients that can cause irritation to some:
This is actually really case specific, as different people have different sensitivities and allergies. Just because a compound has been reported by some to cause sensitivity, it doesn’t mean you will have an issue. “Sensitizer” compounds being present is not a negative in my opinion, as this is the case with pretty much everything out there and funnily enough I’ve seen products that are targeted specifically for sensitive skin, containing some compounds that have been reported by some, or are known to be, sensitizers.
If you have sensitive skin or you are prone to skin sensitisation and unwanted reactions, try a little bit of this at the back of your hand first and consult a medical doctor if you are concerned.
The following compounds present in the Urban Decay All Nighter have been either proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum/Fragrance, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Citronellol, Limonene, Benzyl Alcohol.
The following compounds present in the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original have been either proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Butylene Glycol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol.
Full list of ingredients for the Urban Decay All Nighter:
Aqua/Water, Alcohol Denat., PVP, Dimethicone PEG-7 Phosphate, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Dipropylene Glycol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Glycereth-5 lactate, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenylpropanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Propanediol, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Poloxamer 407, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Maltodextrin, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Citronellol, Limonene, Benzyl Alcohol, Tocopherol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, BHT.
Full list of ingredients for the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Camellia Sinesis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caffeine, Panthenol, Arginine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Fragrance (Parfum), Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.
There is only one makeup setting/protecting spray here and that’s the Urban Decay All Nighter. The MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original has more skin nourishing ingredients but not much that will protect or hold your makeup together, meaning that it is not a traditional setting spray.
If you are looking for the best setting spray that is not particularly expensive, lasts for months and can also enhance eyeshadows then the Urban Decay All Nighter is the best choice. If on the other hand you are looking for the maximum eyeshadow enhancement and a nourishing mist, then the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Original is definitely a good option although, there are other primers and moisturisers out there that have a much higher skin nourishing value. However, the MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ might be a great option for on the go skin cooling and hydration, like for example after a hard workout or even in the morning to wake you up.
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!
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