Does your skincare routine really need a face mist?

Image via Mecca

Words by Hannah Cole

Is it just fancy water in a can?

I have a large aerosol of fancy thermal spring water sitting on my bathroom shelf; another scented spray perches on my desk, safely within reach of my right hand. Both were purchased after scrolling through countless beauty cabinet reveals.

These towering cans hold prime real estate in beauty cabinet close-ups and bathroom panoramas, while smaller iterations are chucked in tiny bags for a midday spritz.

Looking for more skincare recommendations? Head over to our Beauty section.

It would seem a skincare regime is not complete without a mist, particularly one of the French variety. Still, do I know what they are for? Absolutely not! So obviously I need to know if I’ve been conned and whether they’re really worth it.

What are face mists and do they actually work?

Simply put, face mists, or thermal spring water sprays, are canned mineral water designed to produce a fine spritz. As Hannah English tells me, this water “comes from very pure, mineral-rich hot springs”. The premise seems simple enough – and natural to boot – but whether they actually do anything is the subject of contentious debate.

Hannah notes that the specific blend of minerals in each can claim to “help relieve skin ailments – from eczema and psoriasis to sensitivity and dermatitis, and even the skin-related side effects of chemotherapy”. As to whether they work, she notes that thermal water on its own won’t necessarily cure skin conditions, but it can help with associated symptoms when included in your skincare routine.

Skinfluencer Roj Torabi is a little more sceptical. “These companies claim these spray contraptions have various healing properties, soothe the skin, take away redness, can iron your clothes etc.” (Note the sarcasm). As she points out, there are few independent studies to back up these claims, so it’s best to approach the bottle with a grain of salt.

“What they CAN do is highly dependent on the ingredients,” Roj continues. A simple spray can assist in hydrating the skin before embarking on your regular skin routine, enabling the skin to better absorb any products applied thereafter.

They are also an excellent instant hydrator throughout the day, say if you are dry and uncomfortable due to constant air conditioning and heating. Although, “this is ultimately just a satisfying element, not something it scientifically is designed to do”.

In saying that, Roj admits she is a big fan of the mist, even though it may simply “be a placebo effect when your skin is as dry as a prune from the aircon”. At the very least it will instantly boost those hydration levels. In a nutshell, the thermal spray is an easy hydrating tool. And, as we all know, hydration, hydration, hydration: it’s the key to youthful, supple-looking skin.

How should I use a face mist?

Obviously, there is some merit to the product, even if it is limited. If you do choose to integrate a mist into your routine, the best advice is to give your face a spritz before applying any skincare. As Hannah notes, “moisturisers work better when applied to damp skin”.

She recommends a little misting prior to moisturising while the face is still damp. “Tap water could also do the job, but there’s something quite special about a fine, French mister.” Alternatively, add your spray to that all-important phone-wallet-keys combo as a means to soak up instant hydrating whenever the need calls.

In saying that, be wary of spritzing too liberally – many dermatologists warn of over-use. Just like over-cleansing, constant and liberal spritzing can reduce the skin’s natural moisturising processes and prompt the opposite to occur: dry and scaly skin. View the spritz as a temporary hydration tool to complement your skincare regime or provide short-lived relief. Apply your sunscreen every two hours, not your mist.

Give these face mists a go

If the spritzes and sprays have lured you in, the traditional options are both affordable and refreshing. Look for the classic Avene Eau Thermale Spring Water or La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water Mist (both derived from French springs with the added benefits of calcium, silica and more).

For those with sensitive, acne-prone skin, Hannah recommends La Roche Posay’s Serozinc mist which also includes zinc sulphate to reduce shine. For something a little extra, Roj highlights the La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra 8 and Jurlique’s Rosewater Balancing Mist, which both contain glycerin, a natural moisturiser. A mist can also benefit skin recently exposed to the sun. For a post-UV option, consider Mecca Cosmetica’s To Save Skin After Sun Mist that features both aloe vera leaf and chamomile extract to calm and refresh skin.

“Be wise and remember that water can only achieve so much,” concludes Roj. Honestly, whether the effect is placebo or not, my face mists still hold pride of place on my desk and in the bathroom. Small moments of joy help the day pass more blissfully – particularly in these persistent lockdowns – so I’ll take my refreshment where I can get it.

You can keep up with Roj here and Hannah here.

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