Beauty In A Tik

Sparkling Water Is The Best Setting Spray Alternative — Here’s Proof

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Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
Considering that the weather is warming up, it's no wonder TikTok's beauty lovers are getting creative when it comes to keeping their makeup in place. Sweat, humidity and sunscreen reapplication (super important if you're spending time in direct sunlight) can make your perfectly applied products slip and slide. It's why TikTokers have been swirling their foundation into glasses of water (apparently making it waterproof), setting concealer with wet paper towels and using food colouring in place of lipstick.
One thing all of those makeup hacks have in common, though? They're a lot of faff. The consensus among makeup artists is that you can't go wrong with a good setting spray — a spritz which, like hairspray, locks liquid, cream and powder makeup in place for longer. While there's a bunch of affordable versions out there, most top rated setting sprays will certainly set you back a few pounds. So if your beauty budget is a little smaller lately, you might be intrigued by TikTok's thrifty alternative.
Not long ago, TikToker and makeup pro Sean Anthony went viral for encouraging their followers to start using sparkling water in place of setting spray. Sean claimed that the water makes for a brilliant makeup mist, giving foundation a smooth appearance and controlling oil in the process. "Apparently the carbonation in the water helps reduce and prevent oil," said Sean in a second viral video, "and overall, it's great for your skin." Sean's skin felt tighter but "in a good way". Sean signed off: "Uhh, my skin looks so good! What the hell is in this shit?"
As Sean's video racked up numbers, it wasn't long before TikTok's beauty community flocked to their nearest corner shop for a bottle of sparkling. TikToker Ayse Acun approves of the hack, while Huda Kattan (founder of Huda Beauty) was equally blown away. "Some of the hacks that you find on TikTok are incredible — and this is one of those," said Huda, having enlisted a small spray bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water. "This refreshed my skin so beautifully. I don't know if it's the mix of carbon dioxide or whatever gas is inside sparkling water but my skin feels so incredible. I loved this so much."
@hudabeauty Tested out sparkling water as a setting spray? IB: @Sean Anthony #hudabeauty #foryou #xyzbca #makeuphacks #viralvideo @hudabeauty ♬ original sound - Huda Beauty
Even if you aren't a big makeup wearer, the relentless hot weather means it's been difficult to keep even a slick of concealer or mascara in place. I had to give this a go, even if it felt refreshing more than anything else. But before I did, I wanted to know if it was safe. I asked Claire Williams, skincare expert and founder of WOW Facial. "It is safe to spray your skin with sparkling water," confirmed Claire, "and it shouldn't irritate the skin in any way," she confirmed. Actually, I remember a beauty editor washed her face with sparkling water (rather than tap water) a couple of years ago. She reported that her skin looked brighter and more radiant, that the pores around her nose appeared smaller and her blackheads were reduced.
So are there any benefits? "Sparkling water has a slightly acidic pH of around 5.5, similar to our normal skin," said Claire, adding that this protects the skin's barrier better. Claire claims that carbonation (infusing the water with carbon dioxide bubbles to create the fizz) can potentially break down dirt and oil, making skin appear more matte, but any evidence that it keeps makeup looking good is anecdotal so far. "In addition, the bubbles will invigorate the skin." Using sparkling water in place of makeup setting spray also means using fewer ingredients on the skin, explains Claire. This is a plus if your skin is sensitive or dries out thanks to the addition of things like alcohol in traditional setting sprays.
Claire says that specially formulated sprays which are designed to hold makeup in place for longer may be better for most people but that sparkling water could be a good alternative. "I love this skincare hack," admitted Claire, "and might even use it myself," — even if just for a cooling fix throughout the day.
With my makeup pretty much slipping down my neck every day this summer, I had to see whether this trick lived up to the hype. I usually set everything with an YSL setting powder, so San Pellegrino sparkling water is a snip of the price of $3.85. I poured a glug into a clean spray bottle and got spritzing.
I expected to feel the cold bubbles popping on my skin and for it to be a lot more invigorating than my usual setting spray. But it felt exactly the same. Perhaps the bubbles had popped by the time they travelled up the spray mechanism and landed on my face. Sure, it felt nice and cooling, and my makeup did look beautifully dewy once the droplets had dried down. But the real proof would be at the end of a long day.
I couldn't find any convincing scientific evidence to prove that sparkling water reduces oil production and my T-zone was just as shiny as normal. But on closer inspection, my pores weren't as prominent as usual through my makeup. Like Sean, my skin did feel a little tighter, too. At the end of the day, which involved a very sweaty, humid walk, some holiday packing and trying to get my cat to the vet (no mean feat, by the way), my makeup was perfectly intact.
At the end of the day
Somewhat doubtful about the whole thing, I conducted an experiment the next day to see how a properly formulated, high-end setting spray would perform in comparison. The only real difference was that the actual setting spray settled in my lashes, brows and eye creases, leaving behind a slight white residue — something sparkling water didn't do.
I couldn't tell you why or how sparkling water works over makeup. Maybe the extra hit of hydration is what my thirsty skin needed that day. Possibly all the powders and setting sprays I use on top of makeup just add another layer to slip off in the heat.
The question is, would I continue? The spray bottle is compact enough to fit inside my bag so I'll have it on hand as a cooling, makeup-refreshing face mist for sure. But when it comes to keeping makeup on, I'd recommend getting your skincare right underneath. If your makeup melts in the heat, try a lightweight gel textured moisturiser, like Trinny London Energise Me Niacinamide Moisturiser, $79 or Skin Proud Sorbet Skin Everyday Jelly Moisturiser, $25.99.
Lastly, in my opinion, a great primer goes a much longer way than setting spray. I love Milk Makeup Hydrogrip Primer, $100, as it's like Velcro under makeup. You might also love e.l.f. Poreless Putty, $17, which is TikTok-famous for a reason.
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