Dermatologists share the benefits of face mists, plus 16 facial sprays to try now

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Long gone are the days of a tedious, 12-step skin care routine, but that doesn’t mean some of those steps are completely without merit. In fact, if you’re only using a pared-down routine like cleanser, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen, you may be missing out on one of the simplest — and often most affordable ways — to get glowing, hydrated skin: with a facial spray, also known as a face mist.

“Face mists are unique because they can be used as your first layer in your skin care routine, or they can be used as the last time or for retouches during the day,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s department of dermatology, who adds that “the benefit of a mist depends on the active ingredients of the formula, like a serum, a tonic or an essence.”

Heather Hickman, Dermalogica vice president of education, notes that the most common face mists are typically formulated with humectants like hyaluronic acid or ceramides for lasting hydration. “Still, face mists can also be formulated with active ingredients to combat acne breakouts, calm a sensitive skin or even shield the skin from free radical damage and prevent the signs of aging,” she adds.

The short answer is yes: “Anyone who’s prone to excessive sweating or cold weather dryness will benefit from a face mist,” says New York City-based, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ira Savetsky, who adds that the right face mist can even help the skin recover from trauma like surgery, when the skin is more prone to dryness. “It’s great as an on-demand adjunct to your skin care regimen to help boost your skin during these environmental changes, but also can be regularly incorporated into your skin care regimen. A moist environment has been shown to improve wound healing and decrease scar formation.”

Even those with reactive skin can benefit from a simple mist, as they can help keep the moisture barrier intact, says Hickman. Still, Zeichner says that while they’re not completely necessary, they’re “a great add-on for anyone looking for additional hydrating, toning, brightening, or anti-aging benefits beyond their current routine.”

Ideally, it is used after the face is properly cleansed and just prior to the use of a moisturizer, which will then trap essential hydrating ingredients. “If you have dry skin and need to apply moisturizer more than twice daily, a mist may be a great fit for that purpose,” says Dr. Nava Greenfield, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “I would carry it in my bag and apply throughout the day and it can even be used on top of makeup and sunscreen.”

Taylor Worden, celebrity esthetician and founder of Taylor Worden Skin, recommends keeping one in your fridge for an even more refreshing wake-up in the morning. Just hold it about a foot away from your face and spritz generously.

Makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci loves Caudalie’s Elixir Prep, Set, Glow Face Mist. “This mist tones with mint and lemon, boosts glow with rose and rosemary and hydrates with orange flower and grape extract,” she says. Ciucci notes that it does tingle a bit thanks to the mint, so it might not work for anyone that’s super-reactive. “I’m a big believer in not cleansing the skin in the morning (save those yummy overnight oils!) so a mist is how I start my AM skin care routine.”

“If your skin is reactive, try the simpler Grape Water Moisturizing Face Mist from Caudalie instead,” says Ciucci, who jokes that she loves face mists so much that she keeps them scattered around her apartment. “It’s antioxidant-rich and hydrates like crazy but is 100% grape water so it’s more gentle for sensitive-types.” This one’s also a favorite of Worden’s.

Zeichner recommends this one from Aveda, which has skin-balancing witch hazel for the oil-prone. “Since you don’t need to touch your face when applying a mist, it can be applied over makeup without messing it up,” he says.

Hickman recommends this peptide-rich “refreshing antioxidant toner that helps firm and hydrate while supplementing skin’s protective barrier by creating an active antioxidant shield to help fight free radical damage and help prevent the signs of aging.”

Made with 13 essential oils to boost hydration, this mist from Pixie is majorly hydrating. Use it right out of the shower (and all over your body for extra points).

“For brightening vitamin C is a key ingredient and sits well in a mist formula,” says Hickman. “It is also a great antioxidant and can assist in preventing signs of premature aging.” Zeichner agrees and adds that anything with glycolic acid can help with brightening, too.

Underscored beauty editor Sophie Shaw has been using this soothing face mist morning and night. With boldus leaf, cucumber, thyme and rosemary extracts, the botanical blend reduces redness and boosts hydration.

This mist is packed with hydrating ingredients like cucumber, licorice extract, and aloe for a glassy, hydrated glow

“This mist has algae extract, which I love for hydration, as well as a peptide blend and niacinamide, both calming ingredients for the skin,” says Greenfield.

“This mist contains hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil and squalene, which act to hydrate and moisturize the skin. Great for sensitive skin,” says Savetsky.

“This mist saturates skin with hydration and locks in moisture to help bounce back: long-lasting hydrating Hyaluronic Acid and ceramides helps to smooth fine lines and strengthen skin’s barrier,” says Hickman.

“Look for polypeptides or tripeptides that can aid in supporting skin collagen synthesis to slow down the signs of aging and help to firm and tone the skin,” says Hickman. This spray from Youth to the People features pentapeptides and ashwagandha to calm the skin.

One of the pricier face mists, this one from Tata Harper is packed with hyaluronic acid and ferulic acid to hydrate and protect against environmental stressors.

“Natural ingredients such as aloe, rosemary, turmeric and witch hazel act to hydrate and moisturize the skin, while decreasing inflammation,” says Savetsky

This aloe-packed fine mist delivers all-day hydration.

This hypochlorous acid-based face mist might sound like it’s from the future, but it’s ideal for acne-prone types. Hypochlorous acid is naturally antimicrobial and calms irritated, reactive skin without drying it out.