When you're walking down the skin care aisle, it can sometimes feel like you need a chemistry degree to understand what all the different lotions and potions actually do. Take face mist, for example. The beauty staple has been around for ages, but we're still not quite sure if we really need one.
If you feel our pain, you've come to the right place because we consulted several dermatologists to find out what facial mists do, which skin types can benefit from them and what products are worth your time money and counter space.
How does face mist work?
The good news? Face mist isn't a one-trick pony that serves a single purpose. The tricky news? There are so many formulas to choose from. Typically water-based, the light sprays are known for hydrating skin.
"Spritzing your face with a skin-nourishing mist can soothe, refresh and invigorate your skin in no time. You can spritz any time, whether you’re wearing makeup or not," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman tells us.
Here's a quick cheat sheet that outlines some of the most common benefits of face mists:
- They replenish skin: "Face mists are great for a boost of hydration after cleansing or at the end of your skin care regimen," cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank says.
- They can make your makeup look even better: "They also prime the skin for makeup, giving the face a healthy glow," Frank says. Or, you can use them to set your makeup.
- They have amazing hydrating powers: "When you spray them, your skin receives a lot of moisture that then restores the skin's natural moisture barrier and gives the cells on your skin instant hydration. Many facial mists contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid, so they help attract and retain water in your skin," Dr. Liia Ramachandra, a former pharma executive and skin care expert, says.
- They act like a building block of your skin care routine: "Face mists are designed to hydrate the skin while also delivering active ingredients. Applying serum and moisturizers to damp skin further enhances skin hydration and absorption of skin care actives. Therefore, facial mists can serve to prepare the skin for the application of moisturizers and serums," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Azadeh Shirazi says.
Which skin types should use and avoid face mists?
Not sure when to use face mist? Frank says it's really up to you.
The bigger question, of course, is whether or not your unique skin type is suitable for a face mist. Here, we break down some of the most common skin types and how they respond to face mists:
- Sensitive skin: "If you have sensitive skin, I suggest avoiding facial mists with active skin care ingredients as sometimes they can cause sensitivity reactions, particularly on thin skin areas like the eyes or neck. Using just thermal spring water as a mist is most suitable for sensitive or eczema-prone skin types," Shirazi says.
- Dry or normal skin: "Dry or normal skin types may benefit from using facial mists prior to their skin care routine to hydrate the skin," Shirazi says.
- Acne-prone skin: For those looking to treat acne, Frank recommends products that contain salicylic acid. "It is essential for those with acne-prone skin to avoid any facial mists that contain oil," Shirazi says, adding that he prefers mists containing antioxidants and avoids ones containing alcohol.
Best face mists, according to experts
Jaliman recommends this budget-friendly find that has a strong list of ingredients. "It contains hyaluronic acid, aloe vera and cucumber extracts which are all very good ingredients to rehydrate and help minimize the appearance of fine lines," she says.
Nearly 9,000 Amazon shoppers have given this bestseller a five-star rating and Ramachandra is also a fan. "I love it because it is clinically tested, clean, really hydrating and soothing," she tells us.
The popular thermal water spray tackles redness, dryness and sensitivity with a gentle touch. The brand recommends using it as a makeup setting spray, aftershave, sunburn treatment and everything in between.
Suitable for a range of skin types, this lightweight hydrating mist has won Ramachandra's seal of approval and it's easy to see why. "I love this wonderful soothing and affordable mist. It is non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan and feels really great on your skin!"
Formulated for dry and sensitive skin, this budget-friendly find is skilled at restoring ceramides and keeping skin hydrated. The fragrance-free formula can be used on both the face and body and it can also give your complexion a nice glow before you apply makeup. Boston-based dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch says it "offers a wonderful moisture boost that almost anyone can use."
Rose water is the star of the show in this hydrating facial mist that Jaliman adores. "Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce the redness of irritated skin and help with other skin conditions such as acne and eczema," she says.
The vegan and cruelty-free formula also contains glycerin, which helps lock in moisture, making it the perfect option for anyone who needs to hydrate and soothe skin.
Hirsch describes this affordable option as a "solid product at a good price." The toning and refreshing formula is chock-full of soothing thermal spring water that's perfect for normal and sensitive skin alike.
Ramachandra's next selection comes in a multipack that has four mini facial mists. "It gives you a fun variety of refreshing smells and yet it is hydrating and clean," she says.
Each of the four varieties — rose, green tea, lavender and orange blossom — is formulated with a mix of ingredients that hydrate, brighten, freshen and soothe skin, according to the brand. There are also 14,000+ Amazon shoppers who are equally obsessed with the set's prowess.
Two key ingredients work overtime to whip skin into shape in this affordable facial mist that can be used over or under makeup.
"This one contains peptides and niacinamide. Niacinamide helps even out skin tone and discoloration and helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Peptides are amino acids which stimulate new collagen production. They [also] improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," Jaliman explains.
"What I like about this product is that it acts as a skin refresher. With the rose and chamomile it contains, it can be hydrating as well as soothing," Dr. Angela J. Lamb, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, says.
The mist features several botanical actives including rose petal, bergamot and chamomile. Plus it's perfect to stash in your bag when you know you have a long day ahead of you.
Described as a "revitalizing and healing toner" by the brand, this mist is one of Lamb's favorites. "This product can act as a light moisturizer and draw water to skin's surface," she says.
Ideal for multiple skin types, the soothing vegan formula works to tone skin and even out skin tone. The brand recommends spritzing it on after cleansing skin and reapplying whenever skin needs an extra dose of hydration.
"This is a beautiful product that doubles as a fantastic setting spray with a luxe feel. It also includes essential oils for those who are sensitive," Hirsch says.
The vegan formula leaves behind a dewy finish and includes several powerhouse ingredients such as grape extract (an antioxidant), peppermint essential oil (a toner and refresher) and rosemary essential oil (hydrating and antibacterial). Other notable ingredients include essential oils such as lemon balm and rose.
Best facial mists, according to shoppers
Not sure if a face mist is right for you? You won't feel too bad shelling out $9 for this affordable find to try and find out. The brand says the vegan, oil-free formula offers up to eight hours of moisture with the help of powerhouse ingredients like vitamin C and rose water. The multitasking mist is suitable for numerous skin types and it also boasts brightening and soothing properties.
This bestselling facial mist has over 11,000 five-star ratings to its name and a gentle alcohol-free formula with several hydrating ingredients like vitamin E, aloe vera and glycerin. Witch hazel is known for toning skin and balancing pH levels.
Over 4,500 Amazon shoppers have given this bestseller the maximum five-star rating. Rose water, a known hydrator, is the main ingredient and the vegan formula is made with 99% naturally-derived ingredients. It's a multitasker that can be used for multiple purposes, according to the brand, including as a primer, makeup setter or skin refresher.
You glow girl! This cruelty-free, vegan tanning water has a gentle formula full of hydrating ingredients such as aloe vera and vitamin E. The tanning spray is streak-free, meaning it won't make a mess, and can be worn under or over makeup.
For a glowing complexion, try this mist from Repechage, which contains orange water, seaweed extract, vitamin C and aloe. It's perfect for everything from spritzing skin on the beach to freshening up midway through the work day.
This super-fine mist is designed to give skin a reset after activities like prolonged sun exposure or workouts. It's also perfect for your everyday skin care routine, as it's packed with moisturizing hyaluronic acid, soothing extracts and a calming eucalyptus-peppermint fragrance.
This hydrating mist is perfect for daily use, whether you plan to pack the bottle for poolside relaxation or spritz it on after a long day at the office.
Looking for an added dose of protection before heading outdoors? Spritz this sunscreen mist all over your face. It's formulated with SPF 40 and suitable for multiple skin types. The brand says the vegan, cruelty-free formula absorbs oil, fends off pollution, sets makeup and protects skin from the sun.
With antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this facial mist is designed to restore the skin's natural pH levels, leaving it hydrated and healthy.
Meet the experts
- Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. In her practice, she focuses on general and cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Jaliman is also an assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
- Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, author and founder of his namesake skin care brand.
- Dr. Liia Ramachandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D, is a former pharma executive and skin care expert based in Canoga Park, California. She is the CEO and founder of skin care brand Epilynx.
- Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist that specializes in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. She is based in La Jolla, California.
- Dr. Ranella Hirsch, MD, FAAD, is a Boston-based board-certified dermatologist. She frequently lectures to physicians in the fields of laser surgery and cosmetic dermatology.
- Dr. Angela Lamb, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Practice, as well as an associate professor of dermatology. Her areas of expertise include acne, eczema, hair loss and skin cancer screening.