Do you splash your face with water to help you wake up?
Perhaps you enjoy a cool summer rain on a hot and humid day. We’re also guessing you jumped through sprinklers as a kid.
We get it. That’s why we’re all about face mists, too.
What we didn’t know was how dramatically face mists would evolve. Today you can refresh your face during the day with more than just rosewater, or tone with ingredients gentler than witch hazel.
This variety can make it tough to find an ethical and effective face mist. But if you know what to look for in a top notch cruelty-free face mist, you could be well on your way to dewier, healthier looking skin.
What Is Face Mist and Why Use It?
Is it a toner? Is it an essence? Face mists are becoming more popular, but they aren’t new. So what are face mists, exactly?
A face mist or facial spray is a liquid concoction that you spritz onto your face. There’s no one way to describe face mists because they use a wide variety of ingredients to treat and enhance various skin types.
Face Mist Benefits
Aside from the enlivening feeling of a cool mist in the middle of a hot or stressful day, face mists serve many purposes. Depending on the ingredients, your face mist might perform one or several of these functions:
- Tone skin and shrink pores
- Restore the skin’s pH balance after cleansing
- Moisturize and hydrate
- Soothe sensitive or inflamed skin
- Provide additional nutrients and antioxidants
- Fight oily skin and acne
- Calm redness
- Inhibit signs of aging
- Add a subtle natural scent
As you can see, it’s not just about finding a high-quality, natural face mist that doesn’t test on animals. It’s about finding one with the right ingredients for your skin.
Face mists do have some ground rules, however. They tend to come in these basic forms:
- Thermal water collected from a spring where it’s been steeped in trace elements like calcium and selenium (an antioxidant).
- Distilled water, which feels nice but doesn’t add much on its own. Many face mists with a distilled water base contain additional botanical extracts and hydration boosters.
- Hydrosol, which is herbal or flower water made by distilling plants and flowers to extract their essence.
- Fruit-based water, which is literally water extracted from fruit. Fruit is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It’s also an effective moisturizer because it contains polysaccharides (sugars).
All these bases are great options, depending on what you hope to gain from your face mist. For example, distilled water and hydrosol could be the perfect mixture for botanical extracts and pure essential oils. At the same time, thermal water and fruit-based face mists add nutrients for a healthy glow.
Ingredients to Avoid
On the flipside, there are some ingredients to watch out for. While no brand intends to dry out your skin, they may be doing so by adding these elements.
Surprisingly, a face mist containing alcohol is not a total death sentence for the product. It’s true that alcohol can lead to dry skin, but many people now integrate their face mist into their morning or nightly beauty routine, between cleansing and using a moisturizer.
However, if you plan to use a face mist as a midday refresher, alcohol could cause your makeup to dissolve and your skin to dry out.
Alcohol is often added to moisturizers to help the moisturizer absorb. However, it does so by weakening your skin’s natural barrier. Additionally, alcohol evaporates quickly, taking moisture from your skin with it. Lastly, alcohol could alter the pH of your skin.
So, unless you’re using it specifically before moisturizing, avoid face mists containing alcohols.
For those of you who don’t have to worry about acne, “comedogenic” is a dermatological term that describes substances that clog pores. People with oily skin types know about these ingredients all too well.
Comedogenic ingredients you might find in face mists include all silicones, some alcohols, and several oils, such as coconut oil.
If you’re unsure if an ingredient in your face mist is comedogenic, here is a list of comedogenic ingredients commonly used in skincare products.
Artificial Dyes, Synthetic Fragrances, and Phthalates
You might recognize the first two, but what are phthalates? Phthalates are just one of many harmful ingredients used to create artificial dyes and fragrances. Side note: they’re also used to melt PVC pipe!
You won’t always see them listed as phthalates. Why? Because the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list the tens to hundreds of potentially harmful ingredients they use to create a dye or perfume. That’s why it’s best to avoid artificial dyes and fragrances all together.
Tea Tree Oil
Even though it’s an oil, tea tree oil is an astringent and can dry out your skin.
If you have oily skin, you might consider finding a face mist containing tea tree oil in small quantities. Be warned, however, that tea tree oil is toxic when ingested and could irritate your eyes and nose.
Like tea tree oil, citrus is not a bad ingredient in all cases. But it’s easy to forget that citrus, for all its skin brightening abilities and vitamin C, can make your skin more susceptible to sun exposure and UV damage.
Be very careful if you’re using a face mist with citrus. Avoid going in the sun without a sunscreen with SPF.
Our Top 5 Favorite Face Mists (and Why)
We evaluated a host of face mists to find you the top cruelty-free, vegan and earth-loving face mists that protect your skin as well as they protect the planet.
Most Hydrating Face Mist: Honest Beauty’s Elevated Hydration Mist
PETA Certified Cruelty-free, Vegan-friendly, Nontoxic, Eco-friendly
We picked Honest Beauty’s Elevated Hydration Mist as our favorite refreshing, moisturizing face mist. Yes, this is a simple water-based mist, but it contains both hyaluronic acid, which helps water bind to skin, and aloe vera leaf extract, which is known to moisturize, soothe, cool, and condition skin.
Honest Beauty doesn’t stop there. This floral mist contains fruit and flower extracts from nutritious apples, calming lavender oil and chamomile, as well as hydrating glycerin and brightening citric acid. Just be sure to wear an SPF if you plan to spend time in the sun!
This hydrating and nourishing combination of ingredients is great for all around hydration. Use this product for plumper, smoother skin.
Most Nutrient-Rich: True Botanicals’ Renew Nutrient Face Mist
Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty-free, Vegan-friendly, Nontoxic, Sustainably sourced ingredients
True Botanicals takes science and sourcing seriously. That’s why we love their Renew Nutrient Mist. With the tagline, “Like a daily multi-vitamin for your skin,” you can trust that this face mist will up the ante on what a simple spray can do.
The key ingredients in the True Botanicals formula are green and white tea leaf extract, algae extract, and — believe it or not — kombucha.
Green and white tea extracts have long been renowned for their anti-aging effects, thanks to their abundance of antioxidants. Anyone who has ever gotten a sheet of dried sushi wrapping can attest to aquatic plant life such as algae’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.
But did you know that kombucha’s microbes and probiotics that help protect your gut from bacteria could help your skin, too? Many skin problems are caused by a disruption in the skin’s acid mantle. Kombucha may help stabilize the acid mantle by helping your skin regulate its pH level.
This product is excellent for normal skin. Be warned, however, there is alcohol in this product. Be sure to moisturize immediately after using it.
Best for Sensitive Skin: EvenPrime’s Soothing Face Mist
Cruelty-free, Vegan, Eco-friendly, Nontoxic, Alcohol-free
Following the K-beauty trend, EvenPrime is a young company based out of Santa Monica, California. EvenPrime ensures all their products are safe for sensitive skin by avoiding using alcohols and fragrances in their products. If your face mist stings, consider EvenPrime’s Soothing Face Mist.
People with sensitive skin don’t have to miss out on the refreshment of a hydrating, nutrient-rich face mist. This product contains moisture-binding hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, also called panthenol.
Meanwhile, sea buckthorn fruit extract revitalizes your skin with omega-3, -6, -7, and -9. Kakadu plum fruit extract adds vitamin C, reducing redness and inflammation. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, helps control excess oil while toning and lifting skin.
Top it all off with “galactomyces ferment filtrate,” a pH-stabilizing byproduct of the saké distillation process, and you have a recipe for some seriously balanced, glowing skin.
This product does contain citrus and should be used with sunscreen in sunny areas.
Best for Oily Skin & Acne: Averr Aglow’s Clarifying Hydration Dew Face Mist
Cruelty-free, Gluten-free, Paraben-free
Averr Aglow specifically designs products for those of us who are at the end of our acne journey. This company has poised itself as the last house on the block for people with oily skin, so naturally their Clarifying Hydration Dew Face Mist is perfect for oily and acne-prone skin.
With a base of antioxidant-rich rosewater and a wealth of vitamin C and minerals from soothing cucumber extract, the key ingredient in this face mist is saw palmetto. This desert plant may help balance oiliness by reducing the production of sebum (your skin’s natural oil).
This product is gentle on sensitive skin and has a light, refreshing floral aroma.
Best for Aging Skin: Odacite’s Hydra-Repair Treatment Mist
PETA Certified Cruelty-free, Vegan-friendly, Non-GMO, Paraben-free
Made in California, Odacite’s Hydra-Repair Treatment Mist is an impressive face mist for dry, sensitive or aging skin.
Prevent wrinkles with hydrating aloe vera and hyaluronic acid while plumping your skin. Calm irritation and redness with chamomile.
And try what Vogue calls a “Miracle Ingredient”: Immortelle essential oil. What, you’ve never heard of the herb immortelle? That’s because it’s actually a proprietary blend of essential oils, mainly Helichrysum essential oil, known for their anti-aging properties.
How to Apply Face Mist
Yes, even when it comes to something as simple as face mist, there’s an art and science to application. It might sound like the instructions are in the name, but the rules change depending on the usage.
To add a face mist into your beauty routine, first use a facial cleanser to wash your face. Pat it dry with a towel. Then, use your hydrating face mist. We suggest testing the intensity of the nozzle out on your hand before trying it on your face. Lastly, apply moisturizer and makeup.
The idea here is to allow your face mist to deliver nutrients and moisture to your skin that may have been washed away by your cleanser.
Wet skin absorbs nutrients more readily than dry skin. However, the evaporation of water from your face after cleansing could pull moisture with it. That’s why you should always follow up with a moisturizer.
If you suffer from dry skin, use a moisturizing mist 2 to 3 times per day. Any more could actually worsen dry skin. A face mist like Honest Beauty’s Elevated Hydration Mist can be used over makeup.
People with oily skin may also want to use a face mist once or twice during the day to help control excess oil.
Face Mist Do’s and Don’ts
With that said, it may be more important to focus on how not to use face mist.
First, don’t over mist. Using your face mist hourly could have unintended consequences. Too much of this good thing could disrupt your skin’s natural protective barrier and alter its pH. These changes could result in inflammation, irritation, acne and dry, sensitive skin.
Because face mist evaporates, more face mist does not necessarily mean more hydration. The more frequently water evaporates from your skin, the dryer and weaker it gets. So, do use face mist in moderation.
Do follow your face mist with a moisturizer cream or serum. One reason to use a face mist is to help moisturizers absorb more easily. The two products work together.
Don’t eliminate your moisturizer cream. Face mist is not a substitute for a cream or lotion. It’s a refreshing complement to it.
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