Versus: New Drugstore Setting Sprays (Wet n Wild, Essence, Hard Candy)

drugstore setting spray

If you’ve read my Versus post comparing Urban Decay All Nighter and Deslick, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Deslick. I’ve tried a lot of setting sprays over the years, but none have really stood up to Deslick. A place I really haven’t searched for setting sprays is the drugstore. The drugstore has been impressing me more and more lately, and I was sent three different setting sprays to test out! Let’s take these babies out for a spin!


I have three setting sprays to test out:

Essence Instant Matt Makeup Setting Spray

A setting spray to keep your makeup matte all day.

Hard Candy Long Wear Setting Spray

Set your holiday look with Hard Candy’s long wearing setting spray! A weightless spray that locks in makeup for all day wear. Spray over foundation, eyeshadow, blush, and concealcer to set your makeup look! Be party ready all day and night!
The Matte Finish Setting Spray is an ultra-hydrating setting spray that elevates any makeup look to next-level gorgeous by providing a stunning matte finish. This unique formula absorbs oil to provide a soft focus matte effect to the skin, while extending wear by preventing cracking, smudging, fading or creasing.
wet n wild matte setting spray


All three of these are in spray bottles in various shapes and sizes.
Essence is 1.69 fluid oz.
Hard Candy is 1 fluid oz.
Wet n Wild is 1.52 fluid oz.
It’s definitely clear that Hard Candy is the smallest, but for these three sprays I wouldn’t say it’s a huge and noticeable difference. I would say that all three also have pretty decent spray nozels which I was a bit surprised with. I would say Essence’s spray is a bit more forceful forward, but it still definitely coats your face. I’m a very aggressive sprayer so all of these did the job in coating my face.


I decided to have this as its own category just because this was one of the biggest differences in the setting sprays.
Essence I thought smelt the worst. I have no idea what it was, but it just smelled like chemicals to me. Almost like a fume which wasn’t pleasant at all.
Even though Wet n Wild is listed as being scent free, I still noticed it has an alcohol smell which wasn’t super pleasant. It went away soon after, but still not a great experience.
Hard Candy, even though scented, was the one that bothered me the least. It has a bit of a ‘aqua’ smell to it similar to faintly perfumed water. I didn’t mind the scent and I wasn’t able to detect it much after application.
hard candy long wear setting spray

Longevity and Wear

I honestly didn’t notice a huge difference with Essence. This could partially be due to the fact that the scent bothered me so much. I did notice that it didn’t really have much of a mattifying effect. I would say that this is just a regular setting spray versus it having any noticeable mattifying properties throughout the day.
Wet n Wild was an interesting experience. This is almost a makeup changer as it totally turned one of my more dewy foundations matte. It was definitely an experience I have never had before with a setting spray. The only downside to this extreme effect was that I noticed it ended up really accentuating my pores (even with a primer underneath). I can say my makeup didn’t crack or get too dry.
The Hard Candy one was surprisingly nice. I thought that it kept my face fresh throughout the day and did extend my makeup wear time by a bit. It was definitely not a game changer in comparison to Deslick, but definitely a decent addition to my setting sprays.
essence instant matt


As these are all drugstore setting sprays, they are close and reasonable in price (Essence and Wet n Wild are both $5.99 CAD). I do have to call out Hard Candy though. It retails for $1.47. You heard right. Not even $1.99. I get that the bottle is smaller than Essence and Wet n Wild, but you can’t get anything for close to a dollar any more! The price is just crazy on this!


All in all, I found this an interesting experiment. My overall thoughts are:
Essence: Works as a regular setting spray (not really mattifying) with a very bothersome scent.
Wet n Wild: A way to change up a dewy foundation completely, with some longer wear capabilities.
Hard Candy: A decent (and very cheap) setting spray that can somewhat increase the wear time of your foundation.
I can definitely say that none of the drugstore ones I tried can measure up to Deslick. I would definitely say that out of the three, I was the most happy and pleasantly surprised with the Hard Candy one! I’ll be continuing to reach for this as a setting spray in my collection!
Thanks so much for reading! Any drugstore setting sprays that you’ve tried that have worked for you?
*Sent for Review

  • I am looking for a setting spray to try but none of the drugstore ones seems to be great. I’ll give the Hard Candy one a try, seems like the best of the bunch. What are your thoughts on the NYX ones?

    Shireen⎜Reflection of Sanity

    • Yeah I’m curious to try more actually. I feel like every drugstore brand now has a setting spray of their own. I haven’t actually tried any of the NYX ones!

  • I’ve been curious about the Essence and the Wet n Wild ones… but now I think I should go for the Hard Candy one instead! It wasn’t even on my radar. Thanks for this helpful comparison! I like the Avon one although it’s not drugstore, but the price is similar.

    • You totally should! For literally under $2, what do you have to lose? Thanks so much Stashy! I haven’t tried the Avon one! Would definitely be interested in looking into that one too!

  • Great round up especially when there are so many budget brands and when it can be so easy to get overwhelmed by the many options available! I want to try the WnW but based on what you’re saying the HC must be worthwhile checking out!

    Stephanie |

    • Thanks Steph! It’s totally worth checking out! For under $2 too??? Really can’t go wrong even if you end up hating it!

  • I have the essence one…not remembering the exact name, but i’s in a clear bottle with a purple logo. Man I cant believe how quickly Im going through it! Granted, it’s a small bottle, but daaaang – I never finish these things!

    • Oh I want to try that one then! The matte one I cannot stand cause of the smell!!

  • I’ve never tried anything from Hard Candy before but I’ve been hearing about the brand ever since I was in high school! Nice to know you enjoyed theirs over the rest. I need to check them out!

    Nicole | The Glam Surge

    • It’s so funny, I haven’t tried anything really from them until recently! Some things are hit or miss, but I’ve found a couple of nice things so far!