For the entirety of the day, most days, I sit at my computer applying beauty products in between sentences. Usually, it's a facial spray with ingredients like rose, eucalyptus, and aloe to soothe and hydrate my skin as I work. I use one during yoga as well—it's the perfect product to mask sweat and add an element of luxury to my weekly workout.
That is, until I spoke to Reneé Rouleau, my go-to esthetician for all things skincare. She knows my skin backward and forward, recommending new products to help with any ailment I may encounter. According to Rouleau, face mists are actually sucking the moisture out of your skin. I know—I didn't believe it at first either.
But don't start tossing all your favorite mists just yet. "Hydration is essential to keep your skin youthful and glowing," Rouleau continues. "Your skin cells are like fish and need water to live, so using a hydrating facial mist the correct way can be very beneficial."
Keep reading to learn the best way to apply your water-based sprays.
Why does this happen?
Facial mists are essentially toners in a spray bottle. They're quite popular because they're refreshing and give your skin an instant dewiness—but only for a short period of time. "When you mist your skin with a water-based product and don't apply moisturizer on top (to seal in the hydrating ingredients), it will draw moisture out of your skin and quite literally vanish into the air. The drier the air, the more quickly the evaporation process will occur. Moisture acts like a magnet in that it is drawn to the driest areas," says Rouleau. So misting your skin will make the moisture within your skin evaporate out, leaving it tight, dry, and dehydrated."
How do I make the most of my mists?
"Use your water-based mists after cleansing your skin," recommends Rouleau. "Once you rinse off your cleanser and your skin is damp from tap water, you have a 60-second window before evaporation begins to occur, so it's important to move quickly. Ideally, you should spray the mist onto a cotton pad, and then wipe it over your face since it's the wiping action that is physically removing chlorine, salts, and minerals that can dehydrate the skin. If you just mist, you are diluting the tap water and not actually removing it."
She continues, "After wiping your skin, you can mist the face several times to get it nice and damp and then proceed to your serums and moisturizer. The key here is the last step should be a moisturizer with protective emollients or oils that act as a seal to keep moisture in your skin. Anything that is water-based simply cannot perform that function."
What ingredients should I look for?
"Especially for dry skin types, I recommend my clients use an essence—it has a thicker viscosity, so it creates a better protective coating over the skin for reparative benefits," says Rouleau. Try the Moisture Infusion Toner ($43), SK-II's Facial Treatment Essence ($99), or Whamisa's Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner ($42).
You can even pour them into a spray bottle and mist your skin if you love the sensation, or simply wipe it over your skin (leaving it damp before applying your next product). Ultimately, it's about saturating your skin with the product. Look for super-hydrating ingredients like black raspberry seed oil (which is rich in omegas and helps with barrier reinforcement) and vitamin B3 meant to improve your skin's ability to hold on to moisture.
Next up, find out the three products a Korean dermatologist thinks you should use every night.
Moore EM, Wagner C, Komarnytsky S. The enigma of bioactivity and toxicity of botanical oils for skin care. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:785. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.00785