Whatever's going on with your skin—whether it's dullness, dryness, sensitivity or an oily T-zone—there's a face mist out there for you.
Contrary to popular opinion, face mists aren't just water in fancy packaging. As I explained in this tutorial, they're lightweight liquids packed with skin-friendly ingredients that hydrate, soothe, control oil and even brighten.
That means face mists aren't just a great way to refresh your skin throughout a long day at work or after a sweaty gym session. You can also use them to pack in more moisture in between your other beauty products, take down redness, mattify your makeup and more.
Here's what to look for in a face mist, plus the best products I've found to date.
What to Look for in a Face Mist
Since face mist is a leave-on product that can be applied on bare skin as well as on top of skincare and makeup, it's important that it doesn't irritate, clog pores or increase photosensitivity.
I look for face mists that meet the following criteria:
- Low in fragrance: It's the number one cause of skin reactions. Keep in mind that essential oils can also be sensitizing (and citrus can increase photosensitivity).
- Low in alcohol: It's too drying, especially if you already have dry or sensitive skin.
- Low in witch hazel: Not everyone reacts to it, but it can cause irritation if you are sensitive.
- Low in silicones: Not only are they the worst ingredient for causing product pilling, but they can also trap other ingredients in your pores, leading to clogging and breakouts.
- Has humectants: These are ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera and hyaluronic acid, which draw moisture into the skin. (Just make sure to lock them in with emollients or occlusives like oils, waxes and butters, whether in your moisturizer or the mist itself.)
- Has stable oils: You don't have to use a mist that contains oils, but if you do, make sure they are stable. Saturated and monounsaturated oils are best; polyunsaturated oils oxidize (go rancid) quickly and generate free radicals.
- Has a preservative: All water-based products must have a preservative to prevent bacterial growth.
The Best Face Mists of 2021
Dermalogica Clear Start Micro-Pore Mist
- Details: Dermalogica Clear Start Micro-Pore Mist is a weightless, niacinamide-based spray for all skin types. Although it's from the brand's range for teenage skin, almost everyone can benefit from its pore-perfecting, oil-controlling and brightening properties. Since it doesn't contain any acids, you can easily use it day and night, with or without other active products.
- Key ingredients: Niacinamide, witch hazel extract, glycerin, probiotics, provitamin B5 (panthenol), green tea extract, hyaluronic acid.
- Benefits: Minimizes pores, reduces oil, brightens, fades dark marks, refreshes.
Caudalie Grape Water
- Details: Caudalie Grape Water is a mineral-rich mist for all skin, especially sensitive skin. It goes on like a fine thermal water spray, but is actually derived from organic grapes, which are high in naturally-occurring potassium, magnesium, copper and polysaccharides. They work to calm, hydrate and strengthen the skin barrier, with zero stickiness. This is a cult favourite for good reason!
- Key ingredients: Grape water, grape juice.
- Benefits: Soothes, hydrates, refreshes.
Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence
Packed with hyaluronic acid, Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence can be used both as a face mist and as a hydrating essence underneath your moisturizer. The all-natural formulation features neroli, lavender and rose hydrosols, plus glycerin, propanediol and botanical antioxidants. The green glass packaging makes it a pleasure to use.
BIOeffect OSA Water Mist
BIOeffect OSA Water Mist actually hydrates AND mattifies. It's named for orthosilicic acid (OSA), a type of silica the skin can absorb that helps increase moisture content and gives a semi-matte finish. It also contains glycerin, hyaluronic acid and pure Icelandic glacier water, and the tube is perfect to pop in your purse for spritzing throughout the day.
Pai Rice Plant & Rosemary BioAffinity Skin Tonic
Pai Rice Plant & Rosemary BioAffinity Skin Tonic is a non-drying natural mist for combination and blemish-prone skin. Rather than alcohol, it uses mineral-rich rosemary, rice and geranium waters to balance oil production while offering light hydration. This one really drenches your skin, and feels super refreshing.
Tower 28 SOS (Save.Our.Skin) Daily Rescue Facial Spray
Tower 28 SOS (Save.Our.Skin) Daily Rescue Facial Spray is the anecdote for stressed-out skin. Whether you're oily, dry or sensitive, its hero ingredient, hypocholorous acid, boosts your skin's immunity to stimulate healing. So you can use it whenever your skin feels irritated, dry, broken out or sun damaged.
Youth to the People Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist
Youth to the People Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist is like a spray-on serum for dry and sensitive skin. It nourishes with both humectants (like aloe and hyaluronic acid) and emollients (like propanediol and shea butter), so you don't need to worry about moisture escaping. Plus, the mushroom extract and peptides help to calm down redness.
Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist
There are 18 active ingredients in Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist—and my favourite is the sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C that's great for brightening dull skin and clearing breakouts. Others include hyaluronic acid and sodium PCA to bind moisture, and hesperidin (a flavonoid) to fight pigmentation. It also has an excellent price point!
Skinfix Barrier+ Nutrient Water Misting Tonic
Skinfix Barrier+ Nutrient Water Misting Tonic is a 99 percent natural mist to quench thirsty skin of all types. Among its hydrating and conditioning ingredients are coconut, rose and cucumber waters, hyaluronic acid and panthenol (provitamin B5), which leave your skin plump and dewy.
Marie Veronique Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist
Marie Veronique Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist is all about maintaining your skin's microbiome. The brand's proprietary microbiotic complex contains prebiotics plus 34 different probiotic strains to reduce irritation and inflammation. Coconut water, licorice extract, niacinamide and chamomile add to the calming and hydrating effects.
Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist
Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist gets its inspiration from the world's first perfume, formulated for the Queen of Hungary in the 14th century. Hungarian thermal water—prized for its high mineral content—is the base for rose, orange blossom and sage waters, glycerin and apple pectin. Not only does it smell divine, but it also dispenses a super-fine mist that won't mess up your makeup.
Odacité Mint + Green Tea Hydra-Purifying Treatment Mist
Odacité Mint + Green Tea Hydra-Purifying Treatment Mist is an all-natural mist that helps keep oily skin and breakouts in check. Peppermint and willow bark reduce and regulate sebum, while green tea extract neutralizes free radicals. They're infused into aloe vera, instead of water, for lightweight hydration.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Hydrating Face Mist
Dr. Barbara Sturm Hydrating Face Mist gives your skin an instant hydration boost with two of the doctor's favourite ingredients, hyaluronic acid and purslane (Portulaca oleracea). The super-fine mist is also packed with glycerin, panthenol, allantoin, aloe and prickly pear extract for maximum moisture.
OSEA Sea Minerals
Ideal for normal and combination skin, OSEA Sea Minerals has a formula you won't find anywhere else. Dead Sea salt; red and brown algae; and copper, manganese and zinc ferments are among its all-natural ingredients. They not only moisturize, but also reduce inflammation and protect skin from the elements.
COSRX Low pH PHA Barrier Mist
COSRX Low pH PHA Barrier Mist is a fragrance-free mist made with 98.1 percent coconut fruit extract and 0.5 percent gluconolactone (a polyhydroxy acid). Together, they keep skin at its optimal pH so it can stay hydrated and fight off bacteria.
Skin Inc Supplement Bar Pure Serum Mist
Skin Inc Supplement Bar Pure Serum Mist is a face mist that doubles as a serum, thanks to its blend of hyaluronic acid, glycerin and water from the Izumo Yumura hot springs in Japan. The latter has a high mineral content that also helps reduce redness and irritation, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Éminence Red Currant Mattifying Mist
Red currant, a natural astringent, is the star ingredient in Éminence Red Currant Mattifying Mist for normal to oily skin. Other botanicals in the mix are aloe juice, magnolia bark and elderflower to hydrate, soothe and clarify. It is both refreshing and oil-controlling, and the finish is semi-matte (not too dewy).
Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Skin Tonic
Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Skin Tonic is especially good if you're dealing with redness and dehydration—even eczema. Lotus root water, a source of vitamins and amino acids, helps soothe reactive skin. Glycerin moisturizes, and orange flower water helps tone and brighten.
Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist
Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist was recently reformulated, with hyaluronic acid and rose hydrosol being added to the mix of aloe vera, glycerin, coconut fruit and hibiscus extract. (And no more witch hazel!) This is a super-juicy mist that leaves your skin feeling soft and fresh.
Biossance Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist
A high concentration of squalane oil (the brand's hero ingredient) makes Biossance Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist one of the most moisturizing mists around. It also contains glycerin, panthenol, hyaluronic acid and algae, plus a mineral complex to combat stress and pollution.
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