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Primer or setting spray?

In the South, there’s nothing better than a good rivalry. We can hold our own in all sorts of heated discussions—whether it’s which SEC team is headed for glory next season to if we’re Team Blake or Team Miranda. Another topic we’re passionate about debating? Beauty products. Today’s makeup “face”-off is between two beat-the-heat essentials: Primer vs setting spray. We’re putting them head-to-head to breakdown their benefits, and to help you decide which one is your summer savior. Spoiler: It may be both.

These must-haves are unique in the sense that they both lock makeup in place and give skin a flawless finish: Two things that are crucial once the temperatures start to rise. But, that’s where the resemblance stops. “Primer is cream or gel based, and it’s used to prep skin before makeup application. It creates a smooth canvas by filling in fine lines and pores,” explains Florida makeup artist Jillian Caro. “Whereas setting spray is more of a top coat. It’s comparable to using hairspray after a nice blow-out since it keeps everything in place.”

Treat primer as the last step in your skincare routine, applying it after moisturizer and SPF. Choose an oil-free formula that also caters to your specific needs. For oily skin, go for a mattifier like Rimmel London’s Stay Matte Primer, or if your complexion needs a boost, use a brightening one like Nyx’s Born To Glow Illuminating Primer. Since primers ensure makeup adheres better and won’t fade, it’s no surprise that there are also targeted formulations for eyelids, lashes and lips (so if you’re fond of a Carrie Underwood-level smoky eye invest in a lid primer asap).

Setting sprays don’t make a difference when it comes to smoother makeup application, instead they’re all about smudge-proofing your look. A perfecting mist should be the last step before you’re out the door. Not to mention, a few spritzes instantly revives and refreshes makeup, giving skin a much-needed pick-me-up during a steamy day. 

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So does one take the crown when it comes to avoiding a makeup meltdown? According the experts, it’s hard to say. “I’d use both—it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Caro. Do y’all agree or is this a complexion contest we’ll just have to agree to disagree on?