Before you roll your eyes, close this tab, and spritz your skin with your elixir of choice in a defiant protest, hear me out. The general point of using a face mist is to give your skin a refreshing dose of moisture, anytime and anywhere. And that's really cool, especially considering how many of our faces are generally dehydrated (or bound to feel a little thirsty at some point in the day).
But it's not as simple as that. They're certainly not doing your skin any harm, but, as I've learned from dermatologists, depending on the ingredients, face mists can have the opposite effect when you overuse them (which is easy to do if you carry one everywhere) and dry your skin out. According to Julie Russak, MD, a dermatologist with Russak Dermatology, our skin's literally designed to not allow things to penetrate. "The biggest problem with a face mist is really the fact that our skin's designed to be a protective barrier," she says. "When you put ingredients in water, our cells really only allow hydrophobic and fat-soluble ingredients to penetrate. So spraying a little bit of water with molecules to your skin doesn't do much—it just sits on the surface of the skin."
"Spraying a little bit of water with molecules to your skin doesn't do much—it just sits on the surface of the skin." —Julie Russak, MD
Back to the not-so-ideal sitch of going spritz-happy with a face mist. "Putting facial mists on top of your skin-care regimen, especially serums, can dilute all the hard work you just put in applying the products," says Purvisha Patel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. "The actives get diluted. Over-misting results in the water evaporating and can cause drying instead of hydration."
Dermatologists themselves don't really rely on face mists (and I personally don't like to use what they don't use). "I can't remember the last time I recommended a facial mist to a patient," says Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist in New York. "I'd rather apply a light hyaluronic acid serum or something with ceramides that would be much more beneficial and last longer." And facialist guru and founder of Spa Radiance, Angelina Umansky joins the chorus: "I was never a fan of mists," she says, though, she adds that if you want to get refreshed and they make you feel better, use 'em—but "don't expect anything except for a cool feeling."
As for me? While I've never had a bad experience with one, I just firmly believe they're the most superfluous skin-care product out there. "What we're trying to do is deliver active ingredients into our skin," says Dr. Russak. "You don't want them on the surface—the top layer of your skin is dead skin cells, so it won't do any good if you spritz ingredients onto [the layer of dead cells]." So as a chorus of dermatologists and I sing another round of "drop the face mist," consider this the first step to go when you're looking for how to streamline your routine.
Speaking of streamlined beauty regimens, here are the "Big Four" most important skin-care products derms say you actually need. And this is how to choose a vitamin C serum, which is the little black dress of skin care.
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