Beauty IRL: Face Mists Are Fancy Bullshit And I Love Them Anyway

There is perhaps no beauty product more superfluous than face mist. Yeah, you kind of need moisturizer, and some would argue that lipstick or eyeliner is a requirement, but a bottle of water that contains mysterious “minerals” and is scented with various flowers that you spray on your face intermittently throughout the day is not necessary for anything, ever. But, as a recent convert to the cult of fancy face water, I’m here to say that there’s some truth to their mystique.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of face mists. They seemed the purview of a different kind of woman, someone with a predilection for indoor scarves, a perfectly messy topknot and a tendency to sit in half-lotus position in office chairs while sipping from a cup of Yerba Mate. It’s for the kind of woman who is effortlessly pulled together and has an innate understanding of international textiles. Face mists feel fussy, silly, like something that you’d buy impulsively on Amazon after midnight and then never use. They’re often featured in travel must-have magazine spreads, next to comically large cashmere throws and $40 sleep masks, all spilling out of a buttery leather tote that costs more than a first class plane ticket. “Mist this on your face before landing,” the accompanying text reads, “and you’ll look like you slept the whole flight.” The air might be different in first class, more rarefied and better scented, but what the fancy people say is true: face mist is the way to go.

The face mist I use is from the free table at my old job. After I took it home, I looked it up online, and was pleased to see it on an E! Editor’s Obsession list, next to a tacky rhinestone bracelet and a too-shiny pink blush. That assignation feels right. It’s an amazing product, I’m sorry to admit. It smells like yoga class and clean clothing and new age stores with crystals. It’s the kind of thing that would be tossed in a passenger-side seat of some almost-made-it smoothie enthusiast’s car, who spritzes it on her face because she wants to be Cameron Diaz but is actually just sitting in traffic.

It’s affordable luxury, like cramming a Chanel wallet into the same, faded public radio tote bag you use to haul groceries and yoga clothes. It’s an easy way to feel fancy, and the best part is that it doesn’t really promise to do much of anything, like so many other beauty products. Yes, I mean, it re-hydrates your face. Yes, it makes you feel a little fresher if you’ve been sitting under fluorescent lighting all day at work. But it’s not going to erase lines on your face or make the grey hairs that sprout like wiry little weeds recede back into your scalp. It won’t change the fact that you neglected to use sunscreen for the majority of your twenties because you convinced yourself that the smattering of freckles across your cheeks are actually cute and not sun damage. It won’t solve any “problems” that are happening on your face, but it’ll make you feel better for a little bit.

There are some practical uses. Summer’s heat and disgusting humidity is the obvious time to use this. I have one in my beach bag so I can keep cool while I’m sunbathing. I keep one in my refrigerator and often lay in bed in front of the air conditioner, spraying its rose-scented mist in my face while leafing through a magazine. But, in the winter? Surprisingly, the coldest season is when face mists really do their best work. Winter air is dry to the point of pain and makes everyone’s face look dull, tired and, frankly, kind of shitty. A quick spritz will make you actually look dewy and kind of refreshed. For a brief moment, you’ll forget that the earth we inhabit is slowly turning into an icy tundra.

These things don’t come cheap, but there are some options that I think are worth convincing yourself to splurge. This Mario Badescu face mist smells like roses and feels utilitarian and practical, which is ridiculous because it’s really just water that you’re spraying on your face. This Evian option is insane, yes, because why are you paying money for something that is literally just Evian water from your bodega — but it’s also very apres-ski, like something you should have tucked away in your Moncler ski jacket as you descend the slopes in Gstaad.

The face mist that I’ve been using is the ridiculously overpriced Kat Burki Beauty Elixir in Rose Peony. It costs $42. I would never pay $42 for it, but I got it for free, and so I am using it with reckless abandon. Applying it in public is embarrassing at first, but then you just own it. It helps craft the air of mystery that I long for.

Who is that woman in the coat, with nail polish on the sleeve, misting herself in the face? people are thinking, I assume, as they pass me on the street. What a glamorous and alluring creature.

Nope, that’s just me, dousing my face with flower water.