You’d be hard pressed to find a beauty editor who doesn’t have a facial spray at their desk. Consider it as essential as mascara or hand cream to your beauty bag. Although we adoringly spritz on our mist when in need of a little pick-me-up, we must admit, we’ve always wondered, “Do facial mists work?” Sure, they promise hydration or instant calming, but do they actually deliver? Or are they little more than fancy spray water bottles? The truth surprised us.
According to Dr. Hadley King, Board Certified Dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa in New York City, facial sprays are simply another method of delivering ingredients to the skin. And it’s those ingredients within the formula that can determine whether your favorite mist is worth the pump.
“If the spray’s ingredients include emollients, then yes, it can help to moisturize your skin,” Dr. King says of facial sprays. “However, if you are using a spray that is primarily water, then be careful about overusing it. When you mist your face, the water evaporates, which can dry your skin.” Similar to how your lips can become chapped if you lick them too frequently, skin can become dry and dehydrated if overdo it with the H2O.
To remedy this hydration issue—a pretty big one at that, if you ask us—Dr. King suggests finding a spray that contains a moisturizer like aloe or hyaluronic acid or even applying a moisturizer shortly before or after you use the spray.
And what about those calming sprays that claim to downplay redness or irritation? Well, they might work. “Many calming sprays are relying on the concepts of aromatherapy to support their claims,” says Dr. King. “Many alternative medicine practitioners say that certain scents can be effective against anxiety, insomnia, or exhaustion—although in some cases scientific evidence is inconclusive.” Dr. King adds, if you’ve selected a facial spray for its aromatherapy options, double check the ingredient list before you mist. “Some essential oils, such as cinnamon, can cause irritation or breakouts when applied to the skin!” she says. Scents that are fairly non-irritating and well, pleasant, are cucumber or rosemary, she says. Try Coola SPF 30 Organic Matte Makeup Setting Spray ($36, ulta.com), which combines both cucumber and aloe extracts, as well as hydration powerhouse, hyaluronic acid.
Lastly, sprays that boast SPF and sun protection are also popular among the beauty crowd. (Hey, if you can get your SPF while hydrating, why not?) Although these are actually great options for warding off rays, it’s important to note you have to be pretty heavy handed to actually achieve the advertised SPF number on the bottle. In this case, less is definitely not more! Dr. King recommends being sure to be generous when applying this type of spray, so you’re sure to get the proper amount of SPF. She likes Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 ($28, sephora.com) for its added UV-fighting ingredients. “This rosemary-infused spray increases your UV defense while setting makeup and minimizing unwanted shine with light-scattering silica particles,” she adds.
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