Remember when you were kid and the thing you wanted most to do on hot summer days was run through the first sprinkler you could find? The grown-up version is a facial mist, for spritzing your overheated skin without getting chased off a stranger's lawn. You just need to know which one to use -- and how to use it correctly. Yup, there's a correctly.
"Facial mists are today's toners," notes Solen Marie, product development manager at VitalScience Corp, which makes Dermaglow. Especially convenient in spray form, toners restore skin's pH balance after cleansing, and increase hydration levels when followed by moisturizer on still-damp skin. But before you stock up, here's a primer on what's available and how to use them to your best advantage.
Sourced from springs deep underground, thermal water is steeped in good-for-skin trace elements and minerals. Specifics vary depending on the spring the water comes from. Naturally rich in the mineral calcium and trace element selenium (an antioxidant), La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water ($14, well.ca) has been proven as an anti-irritation treatment for very sensitive skin. Avène is another brand with a popular, soothing thermal water spray for sensitive skin.
Distilled water itself is fine for basic hydration, but look instead for one infused with nourishing botanical extracts, essential oils and hydration boosters. Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner ($43, dermalogica.com) calms skin and spirit with aloe and lavender; Dermaglow Energizing Beauty Mist ($40, dermaglow.ca) has a oil-balancing mineral complex plus hyaluronic acid; all-natural Pangea Organics French Rosemary with Sweet Orange Facial Toner for dry and mature skin ($28, pangeaorganicscanada.com) has moisturizing glycerin and sweet orange, rosemary and frankincense oils.
Impress friends with your insider knowledge: call herbal or floral water by its fancy name, hydrosol. Made by steam-distilling plants or flowers to extract their "essence," they're a more potent brew than infusions. Rose water, distilled from rose petals, is the skin-softening base of Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Tonic ($35, murale.ca) and a key component of wonderfully fragrant, all-natural Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence ($65, geebeauty.com). Both of these mists also make skin glow with additional botanical extracts, essential oils and hyaluronic acid. (I used the Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence in a cab once, and ended up talking at length about it with the driver -- he loved the fresh natural scent.)
Fruit-based face mists are more complex than a jug of water infused by orange and apple slices. For instance, all-natural Éminence Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist ($58, eminenceorganics.com) for mature skin is a moisturizing blend of coconut milk and coconut water, plus essential oils and anti-aging Swiss-apple stem cells. Caudalie Grape Water Soothing Moisturizing Spray ($18, sephora.com), made of water extracted from organic grapes via osmosis, feeds skin with potassium and vitamin C, and helps it hoard moisture with polysaccharides.
yes, there's a WRONG way to use face mists
In hot weather, a moisturizing face spray with botanical extracts and essential oils can soothe and refresh heat-stressed skin of all types, including oily. Mist your face liberally as needed.
In the winter, a spray can help skin absorb serum or moisturizing ingredients better. Mist cleansed skin, and while skin is still damp, apply serum, then moisturizer.
If you use a spray without essential oils, saccharides or hyaluronic acid, all of which help skin retain moisture, "don't let it dry on your face," advises Amanda Matcham, Skin Therapist at International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica Canada. That's the wrong way to use your spray because, "as water dries on the skin, it evaporates and draws some of the skin's existing moisture out with it." Unless you're applying moisturizer immediately afterward, spritz your face, wait a few seconds, then pat off the excess.
Straight-up water sprays are particularly good for spritzing after you put on your face. "It sets the makeup and helps it stay on and look fresh longer," says L'Oréal Paris official makeup artist Eddie Malter, who uses La Roche-Posay's spray on clients.
Do you use a facial spray already? Would you?
A version of this story appeared in the August 9th print issue of The Kit.