May 2016 Birchbox Review #2: COOLA Makeup Setting Spray

Great in theory…

Every so often, cosmetic items will come out that make you think, “Wow, this is a really great concept.” Setting sprays with SPF is one such item. I’m a huge stickler for wearing SPF as a part of my daily routine. The best anti-aging secret out there is to protect your skin from sun damage.

While anything with SPF isn’t great for flash photography, it is great for protecting the skin on a day to day basis. This is why I was really intrigued by Coola’s Makeup Setting Spray (USD $36.00 for 1.7 oz). I really do like Coola’s SPF products. I find that they do a good job of protecting my skin while not causing it to clog or breakout. My preferred from them is their Unscented SPF 50 Sports Sunscreen. That bad boy got me through a week in Punta Cana completely sunburn free.

The price point puts it in the same range of Urban Decay’s All Nighter. However, I was not expecting it to perform quite the same. I only wear All Nighter when I need heavier makeup looks to last all night long. It’s not a daily wear setting spray. In fact, since I wear lighter makeup most days of the week I usually skip the setting spray all together.

I expected Coola’s setting spray to offer a lighter alternative: something that helps lighter, everyday makeup (BB creams, sheer/medium coverage products, etc.) last a little longer throughout the day while giving you a different option for applying sunscreen. I also thought the setting mist was genius because it allows you to reapply SPF throughout the day without messing up your makeup.

I was all set to love this product.

On the positive side this is an all natural, mostly organic product. But as I’ve said before, just because something is “all natural” does not mean it’s necessarily good for your skin. Looking at the ingredients, there are some winning ingredients to help soothe the skin: aloe, cucumber extract, sodium hyaluronate (though this is better in a moisturizer or serum), algae extract, etc.

The problem is that the first ingredient listed is Alcohol. Yes, it’s a naturally sourced alcohol, but it wasn’t very promising to see this as the very first ingredient. I generally avoid a heavy concentration of alcohol in any skincare I’m going to be wearing daily. I don’t mind it in small amounts, but as a top ingredient? Not so much. Granted, I know products like All Nighter include alcohol as a top listed ingredient. But those are products I won’t be using on a daily basis.

I was hoping that since it was naturally sourced I could still make this product work.

As a setting spray, it did meet my expectations when it came to extending the wear of my makeup. A light face with BB cream, a little concealer, and some blush did look fresher longer when I used the Coola Spray. Unfortunately, the alcohol in it did start to irritate my skin. From the first use, my skin would get a burning sensation when I misted my face. It got to the point that after a few days of use I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped using it.

I don’t have particularly sensitive skin, though I do tend to avoid skin irritants to avoid skin damage, so I don’t normally get burning sensations from products that contain great quantities of irritants. It was enough to make me take this as a warning sign and stop using it.

Bottom Line: Coola offers some of my favorite SPF products. This SPF setting spray was really great in theory. However, the high amount of alcohol irritated my skin. I can’t recommend this to people with sensitive skin, or really, anyone. If they go back and reformulate this with a lower alcohol concentration or a formula more ideal for sensitive skin, I would be so open to trying it. After all, an everyday setting spray that lets your reapply SPF everyday over your makeup is a genius idea.

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