Emotional reactivity and the time taken to recover, particularly from negative, stressful, events, are inextricably linked, and both are crucial for maintaining well-being. It is unclear, however, to what extent emotional reactivity during stimulus onset predicts the time course of recovery after stimulus offset. To address this question, 25 participants viewed arousing (negative and positive) and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) followed by task-relevant face targets, which were to be gender categorized. Faces were presented early (400–1500 ms) or late (2400–3500 ms) after picture offset to capture the time course of recovery from emotional stimuli. Measures of reaction time (RT), as well as face-locked N170 and P3 components were taken as indicators of the impact of lingering emotion on attentional facilitation or interference. Electrophysiological effects revealed negative and positive images to facilitate face-target processing on the P3 component, regardless of temporal interval. At the individual level, increased reactivity to: (1) negative pictures, quantified as the IAPS picture-locked Late Positive Potential (LPP), predicted larger attentional interference on the face-locked P3 component to faces presented in the late time window after picture offset. (2) Positive pictures, denoted by the LPP, predicted larger facilitation on the face-locked P3 component to faces presented in the earlier time window after picture offset. These results suggest that subsequent processing is still impacted up to 3500 ms after the offset of negative pictures and 1500 ms after the offset of positive pictures for individuals reacting more strongly to these pictures, respectively. Such findings emphasize the importance of individual differences in reactivity when predicting the temporality of emotional recovery. The current experimental model provides a novel basis for future research aiming to identify profiles of adaptive and maladaptive recovery.