What's The Point Of Face Mist?

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En route to a camping trip one summer I had with me–given the circumstances–only the most necessary products: Avène Tolerance Extreme Cream, deodorant, Bioré “watery essence” SPF, a brow brush, Lancome Définicils, a pack of Sephora face wipes, and a giant bottle of Evian Facial Spray; all tucked neatly into a fresh pink pouch (except the Evian; it wouldn’t fit). My friends, watching me spray myself in the face with this mist every hour, were speechless knowing I’d spent anything more than $1.00 on a spray bottle of “literally just water,” and I, despite my defense, found myself wondering it, too: Why does this count as a beauty product?

After all, water is just water, and according to simple science, should be followed by a moisturizer. Without it, there’s no point to the water–or the moisturizer. If you check the directions on a can of Avène Eau Thermale, you’ll see it tells you to follow by patting the skin dry–but even if this is how you use the product (I don’t always), then couldn’t you simply buy a spray bottle for $0.50 at your local Rite Aid and fill it with the same water you’d drink? Sure–yet you continue to purchase watery mists in various forms: rosewaters, fruit waters, Organic Grape Water, Floral Spray Mist, Dewy Skin Face Mist, Hydra Beauty Essence Mist Hydration Protection Radiance Energizing Mist, Cactus Flower and Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist... You take them. You pack them in your bag. You set them on your desk. You spray them on your face and you love them. You and me both.

Are we simply drinking the [overpriced, floral] Kool-Aid? Not absolutely: Plain thermal waters–like many of the French Pharmacy versions–are truly just water, and will, in fact, dry out your face if you don’t either A) towel-dry after you mist; B) follow with an emollient to seal the water in. However, the more specialized mists and sprays, which tend to be more expensive and claim to do a lot, have a legitimate reason for being marketed the way they are. Surprise: They aren't just water.

Pai's Tonic, for one, is made with lotus and neroli, and the combination works to reduce redness–I can attest to this. And glycerin is listed as its third active ingredient, because glycerin is a humectant, as is hyaluronic acid, both of which help hydrate by pulling moisture from the deeper layer of skin. Your go-to Glossier rosewater spray is good on its own too–it’s made with natural rosewater, aloe, and glycerin. And if you haven’t tried Caudalie’s grape water, you might want to: it’s derived solely from Bordeaux grapes, and the natural polysaccharides in the fruit help your skin moisturize and retain water. And the more recent Lumion has a version that's just three things: Electrolyzed oxygenated water, sodium chloride, and hypochlorous acid, and...it’s incredible.

And all things considered, I’m still a fan of spraying plain old water on my face if I happen to feel like it. That seems like enough of a point—right?

––Anna Stevenett

Photo via ITG.

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