Every morning, after cleansing her skin, before applying her serum and while making her coffee, Alyssa Bonanno spritzes her face with a rosewater and aloe mist she discovered on TikTok.
“I let it soak in,” said Ms. Bonanno, 27, an owner of a marketing studio in Los Angeles. “It helps my skin look a little more awake.”
The mist, which is made by Glossier, has become a favorite part of Ms. Bonanno’s beauty routine. “I have no idea if it legitimately does anything,” Ms. Bonanno said. “It seems to help my makeup go on smoother, and it just feels good.”
Part beauty product, part self-care rite, skin mists have blasted on to the skin care scene in recent years. For a generation that has eschewed the use of toners — that erstwhile cotton-ball-enabled step between cleansing and moisturizing — face sprays offer a hipper way to prep skin while also delivering a moment of Zen and maybe more.
And, in the pandemic era, with hygiene concerns and mask-related breakouts running high, mists are a hands-free and non-pore-clogging way to refresh the skin throughout the day.
“There is the convenience factor — it’s easy to pull it out of your bag, mist your face and you are good to go,” said Brandon Ford, the chief accelerator director at Lubrizol Life Science, a company in Ohio, that develops and manufactures products for the beauty industry and other businesses. Mr. Ford noted that the mist trend started about two years ago with sprays that claimed to help with skin hydration but not much else.
“What we are seeing now is an evolution of those mists, moving from simple jobs to more complex jobs, whether that’s antipollution or anti-aging,” Mr. Ford said.
Jillian Wright, an aesthetician and co-founder of the Indie Beauty Media Group, a company in New York that works with skin care and cosmetic brands, said she has clocked mists that are said to protect the skin from blue light and other environmental stressors and mists that come infused with crystal energy.
To be sure, there seems to be a mist for everything. There are mists with probiotics (Tula Refreshing & Brightening Face Mist, $34) and CBD oil (WLDKAT Coconut Water + Noni Fruit Electrolyte Spray, $27), and there’s even a mist, aptly named Forest Bathing in a Bottle ($28), that claims to mimic the benefits of “shinrin-yoku,” or the Japanese art of forest bathing, with the help of an esoteric mix of tree oil phytoncides, vitamin D3, fulvic acid and micro algae.
The luxe beauty brand La Mer offers the Mist ($85), which uses marine botanical extracts to hydrate skin; Pause Well-Aging Hot Flash Cooling Mist ($39) relies on plant extracts and a form of menthol to cool skin. The French beauty brand Payot formulates its MY Payot Baume Éclat with hyaluronic acid and an antipollution compound to boost plumpness and protect skin.
“People are looking into light texture and easy things,” said Marie-Laure Simonin Braun, the chief executive of Payot.
But can a spray really deliver results? Dr. Marina Peredo, a dermatologist in New York, said they can, depending on the formulation.
Dr. Peredo is a fan of mists containing hyaluronic acid, a molecule that helps the skin retain moisture; vitamin E, an antioxidant that enhances the skin’s barrier function; or glutathione, a tripeptide that may combat inflammation and is the star ingredient in PrimaSkin, a mist Dr. Peredo uses on patients in her Upper East Side office.
“Initially I used it because it was very cooling for after lasers, but then I noticed over time it brightened the skin,” said Dr. Peredo, who is on the advisory board of PrimaSkin.
Ms. Wright uses mists in her treatment room, especially after extractions, but doesn’t consider them a necessity. “Just like a sheet mask, it’s a nice to-have, not a have-to-have,” said Ms. Wright, who is nonetheless working on formulating a mist that can help protect against blue light.
Mists have actually been around for decades. In France, women have long used mineral water sprays made from Evian and Vichy mineral water as part of their skin care regimen. Makeup artists have also used these water mists after applying heavy makeup for photo shoots or stage performances as a way “to make powder disappear and give back the texture of the skin,” said Matin Maulawizada, a celebrity makeup artist.
Mr. Maulawizada traces the current popularity of mists as part of a makeup routine to beauty influencers on social media. “They always show it as a last step,” he said.
For instance, Camila Coelho, a beauty and fashion entrepreneur and influencer with 8.8 million followers on Instagram, said she was adamant about including a mist in Elaluz, the line of beauty products she introduced this past summer.
“I use it in the morning to tone my skin — it helps to tighten the pores before I apply my skin care, and then I use it on top of makeup,” Ms. Coelho said of her All Day Beauty Water ($49), which is enriched with guarana and papaya extracts.
“You know when you put makeup on and you look kind of dry? It’s the perfect refresh.”