Skincare Trends: Facial Mists & Setting Sprays

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Is it just me, or are facial mists the next big thing? Whether you want to spend almost $20 on glorified water to hydrate your skin, or seek a magical potion to set down your makeup, there seem to be a countless number of pretty bottles with equally pretty promises appearing in beauty aisles everywhere. Many of us in the beauty community know and will easily admit that facial sprays are the epitome of the princess product – totally unnecessary, and yet 100% enjoyable to use. There’s just something so strangely luxurious and spa-like about misting one of them over your face that it’s hard to not get sucked into the trend.

Now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been incredibly curious about a lot of these products and have (as you can obviously see) picked up quite a few to try out. They range from incredibly expensive, to incredibly affordable, and all tout some seriously impressive claims. From brightening skin and tightening pores, to giving you a flawless base for your makeup, these lovely skincare concoctions seem almost too good to be true. Which, I suppose, leads us to the big question hanging in the air. Do they actually work? Is the hype actually merited? Or are facial sprays just a bit of high maintenance fluff that we are wasting our money on?

So let’s take a step back for a moment and chat a little bit about what exactly goes into facial sprays, and what they’re designed to do. You’ve probably noticed that things generally fall into two categories, although in my actual real world experience there’s a lot of overlap. First are sprays that are generally considered part of your skincare routine. They’re often infused with vitamins, minerals, and other skin loving ingredients, and are used to tone, hydrate, soothe, or otherwise generally prep the skin after cleansing to absorb your serums or moisturizers. You can spray them directly onto the face from the bottle, or spray the product onto a cotton pad and wipe it onto your skin. Most of these sprays are also marketed as being useful for giving your skin a boost of hydration throughout the day. You can throw them in your purse, and if your face is feeling a little parched, a quick mist will set you straight.

Other sprays, however, are marketed towards makeup wearers, used either to prime or set everything in place. While the general focus of these sprays is geared towards improving the look and wear of your makeup, the benefits and claims are essentially the same. Soothing, smoothing, and hydrating are the main goals of makeup setting and priming mists, giving your face a more natural, flawless finish that lasts all day.

Now, the sprays I’m chatting about today claim to both prime AND set, which I think is an important distinction. A true makeup setting spray is designed to go over your makeup and lock it into place – a la hairspray for your face. They aren’t about hydrating or soothing. If anything they’re geared towards controlling oil and shine. My current favorite is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Spray & Set. It’s seriously awesome, and if true makeup setting is what you want, I’d recommend you go check it out.

These sprays, however, are for those who are after that dewy, luminous skin look. And at the end of the day, whether your spray is being made by a skincare brand, or a makeup brand, they’re most likely designed to do the same thing – to refresh and provide hydration. As for whether or not they actually work, let’s take a look at each one of these five individually.

I want to get what I’ve decided is perhaps the silliest of the facial mists I own out of the way first. I picked up this Peter Thomas Roth Aloe Tonic Mist ($38) from Sephora when it was on sale for $16.
I would have never considered purchasing this at the full price, but for almost 60% off, it sounded appealing enough to be worth a try. This is a fragrance-free, alcohol-free, dye-free toner infused with aloe, and Vitamins A, C, E, and Pro-Vitamin B5. While all of this sounds pretty lovely, it mostly just water. Water that costs $4.50 an ounce.

That being said, I’m definitely not letting this product go to waste. PTR claims that this spray is perfect to use after a facial or exfoliating treatment to balance the pH of your skin and help other products applied on top of it to absorb more effectively. I do appreciate that it’s gentle and alcohol free, and find that it does a decent job of removing any traces of makeup or cleanser after I wash my face. To use, I’ll spray onto a cotton pad and sweep over my face and neck to get everything extra clean and smooth.

Is this product absolutely revolutionary? No. Does it totally suck? I wouldn’t say that either. I’ve never been a huge fan of toners, because a lot of them can be incredibly drying, so I appreciate that this product gives me the same benefits without stripping my skin. And yes, this bottle is huge and you get a lot of product for your money, but I still don’t think its worth shelling out almost $40.

A while back Target had a deal through their Cartwheel app for 40% off Pixi products. While it was very tempting to pick up the cult favorite Glow Tonic, I decided to branch out and try something I hadn’t heard everyone and their mom talking about. This Pixi Makeup Fixing Mist ($15) is designed to prolong the wear time of your makeup, provide hydration, and balance your skin. You can use it under makeup to prime, over makeup to set, or anytime throughout the day to refresh. I’m not going to lie, the words “rose” and “green tea” definitely grabbed my attention, as well as the pretty mint-green-on-pink color scheme. How could I resist?

Overall, though, my feelings on this product are mixed. First, I find that the nozzle on this spray bottle releases A LOT of product. You have to hold the bottle a good arms length away from your face or you’ll feel absolutely drenched. For that reason, I greatly prefer applying this product under my makeup opposed to on top of it. As a setting spray I found this to be way too heavy, and actually started to break down the product instead of helping to melt it into my skin. Under makeup, however, I do think this helps to smooth and soothe the skin, allowing your foundation to go on a bit more evenly.

The other thing that sort of disappointed me about this product was that it smelled neither like roses or green tea. It doesn’t have an offensive smell by any means, but it doesn’t have a particularly addictive fragrance, either. I suppose if you have a sensitive nose, this would probably be a good thing to you, but I personally enjoy the experience of wafting a delicious scent.

It looks like Pixi also offers a Glow Mist and Hydrating Milky Mist that offer similar benefits with slightly different formulas. I’d be curious to know if any of you have tried either of these sprays and have enjoyed them! As for the Makeup Fixing Mist, I think that it’s a nice alternative to expensive priming sprays (like the Smashbox one we’ll be getting to shortly), but it’s not without its flaws. I should also note that while the overall price tag is smaller, the price per ounce of this product is $5.55.

My first foray into the world of facial mists was with the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater ($7), quickly becoming personal beauty staple. This spray is by far the best value of any that I’ve seen. It costs $1.75 an ounce and is just as effective as products that are triple the cost. It also smells as lovely as you’d expect – like fresh rose petals, but without being too harsh or overly floral. Yes, it does contain added fragrance and a small amount of artificial coloring, but they are in small enough amounts that the likelihood they will cause irritation is pretty slim.

Overall, what I really like about this spray is its versatility. It doesn’t really classify itself as a skincare product or a makeup product. It’s a do-all purse essential that does everything from eliminating cake-face to taming flyaways. It hydrates and soothes your face and hair without leaving any greasy residue or shine behind. The full-sized bottle is definitely travel-friendly as-is, but there is also a smaller 2.0 oz one available if you’d like something a little more slim.

Basically, if you’re curious about facial sprays, this is the one I’d recommend starting out with. It covers all the basic grounds that you’d be looking for with a facial mist, and it smells lovely. Plus, it’s affordable. If you don’t end up liking or using it as much as you thought, you aren’t wasting a ton of money.

Easily the most hyped facial spray of this bunch is the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water ($32)*. I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to pick this up separately, but it came in a Sephora Favorites kit I bought around the holidays. Smashbox is known for their silicone-based Photo Finish Primer, which gives your skin a super flawless base for makeup. However, knowing that many people don’t want or need something this heavy on a day to day basis, they created a priming water spray. This “spa-in-a-bottle” is free of silicone, alcohol, and oils. Which leaves me wondering, what IS in this spray? A peek at the ingredients list reveals (shocker) mostly water, but also caffeine, electrolytes, diamond powder (huh…), fragrance, and some preservatives.

So let’s consider a few facts about makeup application. If your skin is totally parched and dry, your makeup is almost certainly going to go on less smoothly. There’s a reason its recommended you dampen your beauty blender before you use it. Having that bit of moisture makes everything blend into your skin more seamlessly. So yes, if you sit down to do your makeup, and your face is incredibly dry, spritzing on a bit of this spray will most definitely improve the way your makeup applies. However, if you’ve just done your skincare routine and your face is feeling well hydrated, it’s probably a totally unnecessary step.

I’ve tried using this spray under and over my makeup, and while I think that it perhaps makes the application process a little smoother and can help to keep things from looking too cakey or powdery, it doesn’t do anything to increase the longevity of things. I’ve mostly been using it recently to dampen my eye brushes when I want to apply a shadow wet, which seems to be working nicely.

But again, for the price, this is kind of a silly product. This one ounce travel bottle costs $16! And even the full-size 3.9 oz bottle calculates out to being $8.20 per ounce. Does it feel nice on the skin? Sure. Is it worth spending $32 on? Heck no.

I love the whole Yes to Carrots line, so when I spotted this new Yes to Grapefruit Correct & Repair Pore Perfection Toning Mist ($10.99) I knew I had to try it. Here’s a quick breakdown of the ingredients list: water, glycerin, aloe, grapefruit extract, papaya extract, lentil seed extract, Kakudo plum extract, Vitamin C, preservatives, and lastly, fragrance. One of the things I love most about the whole Yes To range is that they utilize a lot of fresh, natural ingredients, but also don’t cost an arm and a leg. The Yes to Grapefruit line is specifically designed to boost radiance and even the complexion, being infused with a lot of brightening fruit extracts and Vitamin C. Sounds pretty great, am I right?

It look me a bit of experimentation to figure out how I best liked to use this product. It claims that it works great to set makeup, or can be used to refresh and hydrate thoughout the day. Personally, I think this makes my face too tacky if I apply it on top of my makeup, especially if I’m going full glam for the day. The nozzle does do a good job of making the mist particles pretty fine, but it also sprays out a fair amount of product. It’s really easy to go overboard, so if you want to try and use this as a setting spray, hold the can a good arms length away and spray gently.

Instead, I’ve added this spray to my skincare routine. It also makes sense to me that if I want to get the greatest benefit of the fruit extracts and Vitamin C, they should be closer to my skin (instead of on top of layers of makeup and powder). When I step out of the shower in the morning, the first thing I’ll do is spray this liberally all over my face and neck and gently massage it in a little bit. I’ll give it a minute or two to absorb, and then move on with the rest of my skincare routine. I love the smell of grapefruits, so I find the experience to be really lovely and refreshing, and it also seems to make my serums and moisturizers absorb better. At $2.11 per ounce, it’s an entirely budget-friendly addition to my bathroom cabinet.

Long story short, do you absolutely need a facial spray in your life? No, probably not. But they certainly feel good to use and aren’t without benefits. Avoid the hype and premium prices, especially when there are great, budget-friendly options out there. It’s mostly just water, after all.


Have you fallen in love with a facial spray? Which ones have you tried?