This is not your typical DIY makeup setting spray recipe.
I’m not going to tell you to mix up some rosewater and glycerin and expect you to believe that it will set your makeup on a hot summer day. It won’t.
Don’t get me wrong — glycerin setting spray has its place. (I wrote a post about it, after all.) I love glycerin for its hydrating, dewy finish, and it works well when the temperature is cold or mild.
But using glycerin setting spray under extreme weather conditions is like using a “light hold” hair product on a humid day.
Whether it’s a night out or just a really hot day, sometimes your makeup needs extra staying power. I would know — I use a coconut oil-based foundation that needs a bit of help to stay put.
The vodka and water will quickly evaporate after your spritz your face, leaving behind a film of aloe vera polysaccharides that helps keep your makeup in place. And unlike my other setting spray recipe, this spray leaves a matte finish — which is especially helpful when you’re sweating before you’ve even left the house.
The problem with store bought setting sprays
Notice how many top-selling makeup setting sprays use alcohol as the main ingredient? There’s a reason for that. The alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving behind a film that prevents your makeup from budging. This film is usually comprised of a synthetic polymer or a natural polysaccharide.
The problem with conventional setting sprays is that they are often irritating and heavily fragranced. They can also contain silicones and other synthetic ingredients that can be problematic.
Most setting sprays use denatured alcohols as a base. These are alcohols that have been made unsuitable for drinking with the addition of another chemical — and it’s not always clear what this chemical is. According to CosmeticsInfo.org:
Denatonium Benzoate, t-Butyl Alcohol, Diethyl Phthalate, Methyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Salicylate, and Methyl Salicylate are examples of denaturants permitted for use by the TTB and concluded to be safe for use in cosmetics.
Salicylic acid is not an issue, but some of those other ingredients are alarming. Regardless of who determines phthalates such as Diethyl Phthalate to be “safe” in cosmetics, I’d much rather avoid them — both for health reasons and their capacity to irritate skin.
Alcohol already has the potential to be an irritating and drying ingredient, and a denaturing agent only increases the likelihood of irritation.
How do you avoid denaturants in your setting spray? By using the pure stuff, of course — vodka!
My DIY setting spray ingredients
Vodka: I used 50% vodka in this recipe. For reference, this is 100 proof in Canada but the classification may be different in your location.
For extra colour and fragrance, I also used a splash of rose petal-infused vodka (post on this coming soon). Since most of us likely don’t have batches of rose petal vodka infusing in the pantry, regular vodka will do just fine.
200x Aloe Powder: Instead of synthetic polymers, I used high concentrated 200x aloe vera juice powder. This powder has been carefully freeze-dried as to not damage the polysaccharides in the fresh aloe leaf. It’s also 200x the strength of regular aloe vera powder, so you don’t need much for it to be effective.
Neroli water: Also known as orange blossom water (or hydrosol), neroli water is known for its uplifting aroma, but it also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It makes this setting spray smell lovely without synthetic, phthalate-laden fragrances.
Essential oils: I opted not to use any essential oils in this recipe, but I think a drop or two of pure neroli essential oil would make a wonderful (albeit expensive) addition. I’ll try this eventually.
This natural DIY setting spray is vodka based, glycerin free, and uses aloe juice polysaccharides to lock makeup in place. Neroli water adds a natural scent.
- 1-2 drops essential oil, like neroli
Thoroughly sterilize and clean your spray bottle.
Combine your neroli water and vodka. If desired, use a splash of rose petal infused-vodka for extra fragrance and a hint of colour.
Slowly sprinkle the aloe vera powder into the bottle, a small pinch at a time. (If you add too much at once, it will clump.) Shake the bottle after each pinch until the aloe is dissolved. Repeat until all of the powder is combined.
Add your Leucidal Liquid SF or preservative of choice. Shake to combine.
The preservative is not optional. Unless you intend to keep this spray in the fridge, you must preserve it to prevent dangerous bacterial growth. If preserved, this spray can be kept at room temperature.
You’re finished! Spray liberally over your makeup and enjoy the matte finish and aloe vera-powered hold. This setting spray is great for all skin types, but it’s especially beneficial for oily skin.
Don’t be surprised if your face smells great, too. This spray has a lovely scent thanks to the neroli water (and rose petal vodka, if you used it). No synthetic, irritating fragrances required.
This can also be used throughout the day to mattify and refresh your skin while recharging your makeup’s staying power.
Can I substitute aloe vera juice?
I haven’t tested this recipe with aloe juice, so I can’t comment on its efficacy. I’m not sure it contains enough polysaccharides to be effective. The benefit of the 200x powder is that it’s highly concentrated.
Can I substitute regular aloe vera juice powder?
I wouldn’t recommend regular aloe powder because it’s not concentrated enough. 1 ounce of 200x aloe powder is equal to 200 ounces of regular aloe powder.
If you end up trying the recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you have any other DIY tricks for setting your makeup, I’d love to hear about those, too!
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