Surprise: Your Face Mist Might Be Making Your Skin Way, Way Worse

Everything we know is a lie.

Once upon a time, at a previous magazine where I was surrounded by beauty editors, we would engage in hourly face-misting breaks, during which one editor would spritz her face with a mist and promptly trigger a reaction of editors misting their faces in a row, like a chain of vain, skin-obsessed sneezes.


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(Image credit: Marie Claire)

But despite the fact that my incredibly dry skin was constantly getting covered in a layer of water, my skin never felt drier and more irritated. And, as I later learned, it wasn’t because I was living in a constant state of stress (I mean, I was, but whatever), but because of my face mist. Yes, my glorious group of mists were actually drying out my skin, and it was all because of some very basic chemistry principles I promptly forgot after 10th grade: that water molecules attract water molecules, like sticky little magnets.

So when you, say, spritz a water-based mist over your face and that water then evaporates, it takes with it some of the water on the surface of your skin, “which can actually lead to dryness,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. It’s kind of like how your body feels insanely dry and tight if you forget to moisturize after showering (though, of course, it’s also because you just doused your skin in hot water for 15 minutes).

“Studies have shown that moisturizing immediately after washing gives your skin better hydration than if you delay moisturizing or don’t moisturize at all,” says Zeichner. The reason? Your moisturizer locks in all of those sticky water molecules, trapping them in your pores so they’re forced to hardcore hydrate and plump your skin. Without that barrier, though, your water just runs free, evaporating willy-nilly and leaving your skin feeling like an old cracker. Plus, most face mists are formulated with alcohol to help them evaporate from your skin faster, meaning you’re getting a double-whammy for drying ingredients, all in one bottle. Huzzah!

Of course, that’s not to say that all face mists are the devil’s juice, because some really are formulated to help re-hydrate your skin, and, of course, not every single skin type will turn to dust at the slightest spritz of water. But if I’ve now terrified you into questioning your entire skincare routine, then rest assured that you can easily mitigate the drying effects of face mists by either tapping on a serum, moisturizer, or face oil right after you mist (which, if you wear makeup, probably isn’t gonna happen), OR, you can try one of these oil-spiked mists that have a bit of an occlusive, water-trapping property to them already:

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Brands)

1. Wander Beauty Glow Getter Mist, $28. We would like to sing a love song for this oil-loaded mist, which uses olive oil, argan oil, evening primrose oil, avocado oil, and jojoba oil to seal water into your skin, while leaving you with a glowy dew.


2. Too Cool for School Aqua Gel Mist, $20. A hefty dose of castor oil and rosemary leaf water keep this gel-like mist from leaving your skin as soon as you spritz it on.


3. Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist, $20. This fatty acid and antioxidant-filled mist is formulated with the best of the best humectants, which pull water from the atmosphere and funnel it into your skin for extra hydration.


4. Ariul 7 Days Vitamin Mist, $13. Totally natural and unscented, this face mist is packed with pretty much every hydrating mineral and antioxidant you’d want on your skin, with absolutely zero alcohol to mess the whole thing up.


Chloe Metzger
Beauty Editor

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She brings nearly a decade of writing and editing expertise, and her work has appeared in AllureHealthFitnessMarie ClaireStyleCaster, and Parents. She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.