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Of all the skin care products out there, facial mist could be the most misunderstood. You might assume its role is limited to plain old hydration. But don’t sell this product short — it does a lot more than you’d think.
Turns out, the face mist actually pulls double duty. It plays the role of both beauty product and the kind of self-care ritual you can enjoy just about anywhere.
In a bid to find out what exactly makes a good facial mist so lovely — and if it’s really doing more than giving a quick boost of moisture — I quizzed skin care experts, scoured the internet, and tested dozens of options.
Read on for everything I learned, including my recommendations for the best facial mists to have on hand this summer and beyond.
As you might imagine, facial mists are products that are misted onto your skin. And they’ve been around for decades.
Carolina Prioglio, founder of Maison/Made, explains that “facial mists were generally used between the cleansing and moisturizing steps of a routine because people used to clean their faces with bar soap, which is very alkaline. Face mists would then provide a quick re-balance of the skin’s pH.”
She says the role of a facial mist in a skin care regimen has stayed constant, and Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board certified dermatopathologist, agrees.
But a good facial mist is more than just an “in-between” skin care step, and it’s not just a trendy alternative to toner.
The convenience factor alone can’t really be overstated — once you start, this is the product you’ll reach for at your desk, in the car, after a workout, and basically wherever and whenever you need an instant pick-me-up.
In addition to being refreshing, soothing, and cooling, a good facial mist imparts a number of other perks:
- Provides aromatherapy. Some facial mists contain plant extracts and essential oils to provide aromatherapy benefits.
- Enhances mood. A facial mist is its own kind of mini self-care ritual. There’s just something about that fragrant, cooling mist that feels so refreshing and even indulgent — especially when you’re spritzing on the go.
- Gives a boost of antioxidants. Some mists include antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, or ferulic acid.
- Blocks blue light. Benefits depend on the mist you choose, but some contain ingredients that are meant to block the effects of environmental stressors, like blue light.
- Sets makeup. A quick spritz after applying a face full of makeup can give you a dewy finish.
While the traditional delivery method is misting the face and neck, there’s another option.
“If desired, mists can also be applied [using] cotton rounds… which, depending on the ingredients, aids in removing unwanted debris, oil, and dirt,” Frieling says.
These days, there are facial mists promising to deliver all kinds of results. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the sprays aren’t a cure-all.
“In general, facial mists are formulated for hydration, as the purpose of a mist is to stay relatively superficial on the skin’s surface,” Frieling explains. “Ingredients that work at deeper layers of the skin wouldn’t work appropriately as a mist.”
But that doesn’t mean water is the only appropriate ingredient.
“Depending on the formulation, facial mists can provide a wide array of water-soluble components that you can’t get from an oil-based product,” Prioglio notes.
She says many Maison/Made mists use hydrosols, which are made by distilling botanicals in water, because “most plants already have a plethora of phytonutrients.”
According to Prioglio, though, some ingredients are better for your skin than others. Here are her suggestions by skin type:
- Most skin types: regenerative botanicals, like lemon balm, German chamomile, geranium, lavender, and rosemary
- Oily skin: astringent botanicals, like bay laurel, cedarwood, and eucalyptus
- Sensitive skin: soothing botanicals, like calendula, German chamomile, lavender, and linden blossom
Frieling adds that aloe barbadensis, or aloe leaf, is a gentle ingredient that helps increase moisture retention and hydration. Hyaluronic acid and niacinamide are also both great additions for hydration.
As for what to avoid, it’s pretty easy. Frieling recommends avoiding drying alcohols, like:
- simple alcohol
- SD alcohol
- ethyl alcohol
If you’re prone to topical allergies, make sure to scan the ingredient list before spritzing.
- Price: $$
I’m a sucker for true rose scents, and this artisan-distilled, single-plant hydrosol absolutely delivers.
Honestly, I’d use it for the scent alone, but I’ve found it’s a great product for that critical “in-between” step — after oil cleansing and before a serum or moisturizer.
This is also one I reach for during the day when I need to mentally reset. Truly, this mist is its own little moment of Zen.
- Price: $
I bought Bathing Culture’s Golden Hour Hydrosol on a whim a few years ago. It was my first facial mist, and it hooked me for life.
This is the one I keep in my bag for a quick spritz of “me time” when I’m at the lake, on the beach, or on the sidelines of the soccer pitch watching my kids play.
It smells incredible, thanks to the blend of Moroccan neroli and Bulgarian, Moroccan, and Turkish rose oils. And it delivers the perfect amount of product in a lightly hydrating mist.
- Price: $
This is a rosewater mist that’s actually sold as a toner. The scent is on point, and the light, airy mist dries to a hydrating finish.
Plus, the brand’s commitment to sustainability is a big plus. This mist comes in a glass bottle from a U.S. manufacturer to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
- Price: $$
Five ingredients, including aloe and rose-infused witch hazel, are blended into this hydrating face mist, which calms irritated skin and reduces redness.
This mist is particularly soothing and cooling after a hot day, and it can also be used on a cotton round to remove makeup and mineral sunscreen.
- Price: $
This is billed as a mist, but it’s the thickest, frothiest product on this list. All the better to deliver powerhouse ingredients, like sodium pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) and sodium hyaluronate, the salt of hyaluronic acid, for serious hydration.
The nutrient mist also includes vitamin C, green tea, white pine bark, and pomegranate seed extract.
I love this one when I’m just out of the shower and my skin is still damp. It’s an ideal base for serums, moisturizers, and SPF.
- Price: $$$
This floral face mist from Vertly is a shining example of the brand’s garden-to-bottle approach to skin care.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the ingredients, along with slow-extracted calendula, rose, jasmine, geranium, and aloe. It’s a potent combination that makes for an ultra-soothing, fragranced botanical boost.
The fine, consistent mist leaves my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated. This one is particularly soothing after time in the sun.
- Price: $$
This is a multitasking mist designed to hydrate, set makeup, and help protect skin from blue light and pollution.
As a writer who spends a lot of time on my laptop, it’s the protection from blue light that really appeals to me. And, while I can’t say for sure if it’s really doing the trick, I can tell you that I love the ultra-fine mist, delicate lavender scent, and non-sticky texture of this facial mist.
- Price: $$
A refreshing spritz of this soothing tonic means a delicate wash of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids courtesy of the living waters from the lotus flower. Pai describes living waters as the water that circulates in plants, which helps them absorb mineral and antioxidants.
The water is mixed with orange blossom for brightening properties. It makes for a light, beautifully scented mist that dries almost instantly to a soft finish.
- Price: $$$
This is another aloe-based toner that doubles as a facial mist.
The mist has a delicate white tea fragrance and some impressive ingredients for hydrating and cleansing, including DMAE, agave, sand verbena, and Joshua tree root extracts.
- Price: $$
This pH balanced spray is made with hypochlorous acid (HOCI) for gentle, effective
Soothing, purifying and clinically proven, the spray also has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, so it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin types. I like a cooling spritz after sweaty workouts.
- Price: $
A tropical holiday in a bottle — that sums up this hydrating face mist perfectly.
Chamomile, aloe vera, and coconut water, along with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, make for a soothing, hydrating mist that’s formulated for use in the sun.
Keep this one stashed in your beach tote for sure. (Just remember to pack the SPF, too.)
- Price: $
This aromatic essence is both a face and body mist, and it’s less for hydration than it is for an instant mood, immunity, and energy boost.
I’m Outside is descrbied as “forest bathing in a bottle,” a surprising alternative to spending time in nature when you just can’t get away.
If your jungle is more urban than anything else, get a good dose of tree oil phytoncides (antimicrobial compounds derived from trees, which
I was skeptical at first, but this mist instantly takes me to my happy place — the redwood forests of northern California — even when I’m stuck inside on my laptop.
A good facial mist is as much a mini self-care ritual as it is a beauty product, so don’t overlook this option in the world of skin care.
Try one to prep your skin before serums and moisturizers, or use it during the day as a simple way to refresh and reset. Just remember to shake the bottle before spritzing.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.