Cooling spray-on mists are a summer godsend.
The French got us started drinking bottled water, then followed up with spray-on moisture mists for the face. (The Evian company does both.) While such products fall into the category of "do we really need this stuff" they're certainly appealing to pull from the fridge when the heat goes on.
In much the same way bottled water is often sold as more than just a dose of H2O, due to naturally occurring minerals from particular water sources, so it is with mists, which claim skincare benefits from added ingredients. Antioxidant-rich extracts are added with the aim of helping skin resist cell damage from exposure to the elements. It's easy to be sceptical about how much of this soaks in, but at this time of year, substituting a standard toner with something that can spray on to beat the heat isn't a bad option.
Or just try a simple spritz of water. Whether you're sweltering poolside or sitting in the office melting, anything that helps tone down a hot flush is welcome. If you're going DIY or buying a purpose-designed product, check out the spray mechanism carefully, nothing is worse than ending up dripping rather than gently coated in a cooling mist.
1. Antipodes Ananda Toner, 100ml, $39.80
This new toner is billed as anti-oxidant rich and gentle and so is suitable for normal and sensitive skins, whereas Antipodes' Resurrect toner is better suited to oily and combination skins. The Ananda toner contains Waiwera artesian water, raspberry and mamaku black fern extracts. It is scented with Bulgarian rose oil.
2. Dr Hauschka Facial Toner, 100ml, $58
Dr Hauschka advocates using toners for refreshment any time and says after evening cleansing that they be left to do their work without a layer of night cream. This is based on the German company's belief that skin should be left to regenerate in peace and seems to suit summer rather well. This toner is for all skin types and contains witch hazel and anthyllis.
3. Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist, 150ml, $86.50 (30ml, $19)
From Dermalogica's Age Smart range, this is said to provide an antioxidant shield from its mix of white tea, licorice and vitamin E and anti-ageing poly peptides. It certainly feels hydrating, with a pleasant natural fragrance. Sensitive types should check out the Ultra Calming Mist. An advantage of toners like these spray-ons are they can be used without cotton wool or pads, plus they have the benefit of being handy for skin refreshment as required.
4. Avene Thermal Spring Water, 150ml, $28
The southern French town of Avene has played host to a spa since the mid-1700s and its pure waters have been approved for Government-funded dermatological treatments. They are rich in silica, with a neutral pH and are sold bottled and now in sprays like this which are recommended for troubled and sensitive skins or to soothe and hydrate after sun, sport or when travelling. (Also in a 50ml travel size bottle for $14.80 and a 300ml bottle for $34.10). Vigorous spray so don't aim too close or you'll be doused.
5. Chantecaille Pure Rosewater, 100ml, $110
Luxury approach to toning with hand-picked Rose de Mai distillation from Grasse in France. With the aromatherapeutic benefits of rosewater which has long been used in skincare.
6. Oxygen pH Mandarin Balancing Mist, 100ml, $32.50
Replace toner with this balancing mist of plant extracts including aloe vera juice, spirulina extract and essential oil from mandarins for a warm citrusy smell. There's a crisp cucumber version also.
7. Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner, 125ml, $11.50
Well-priced Australian natural skincare with chamomile and rosewater comes in a convenient slim bottle. I found the spray a bit widely diffused so my ears got the benefits as well. Stand back and step in for the best effect.
* Tebe with olive extract is a New Zealand option that won't break the bank.
8. M.A.C Fix+, 100ml, $38
This skin refresher/finishing mist is widely used in the fashion industry to moisturise models' skins backstage and then as a spritz to help set makeup before they hit the runway. Why limit the benefits to the sample sized?
9. Bridget Black Normal/Oily Skin Spritzer, 100ml, $30.80
Travel-sized spray also comes in normal/dry formulation. This one offers cool comfort from toning witch hazel, aloe vera and cucumber oil, which it smells of.
10. Kiehl's Acai Damage Protecting Toning Mist, $180ml, $74
Good misting spray with lavender aroma and the "in" South American berry ingredient with antioxidant punch. The clarifying toner is part of an entire Acai-based anti-ageing skincare range.
11. Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock SPF70 $22.99
Kids love this stuff and even if half of it ends up in the ether, it's a boon if they're willing to put sunscreen on without a fight. As well as being high protection, lightweight, and waterproof this has a cunning cooling effect that's ideal at the beach, so it stands out from other spray-on sunscreens. The nozzle is especially good at providing coverage from all angles.
12. Le Tan Iced Green Tea After Sun Mist Spray, 250ml, $12.99
This body spray can be applied anytime as a refresher or after excess sun to help soothe skin. Best avoid the burn for safety's sake, but keep this in the fridge if you fancy a quick cool down. It contains antioxidant rich green tea extract, plus soothing aloe vera and witch hazel, plus a little lavender for fragrance which makes a nice change from the pervasive coconut smell of many sun products.
* Hawaiian Tropic makes a similar after sun Aloe Mist with a pronounced smell of vanilla.
Stockists: Selected pharmacies and department stores or as stated. Le Tan and Neutrogena from supermarkets also. Dr Hauschka also at health food stores and selected salons (see drhauschka.co.nz). Antipodes (antipodesnature.com) and Sukin (stockists ph 0800 118311) both at selected Farmers and health food stores. Avene pharmacy stockists at avene.co.nz. M.A.C from Chancery and St Lukes stores and Smith & Caughey's. Kiehls exclusive to Smith & Caughey's Queen St. Chantecaille from Mecca Cosmetica stores Ponsonby and Newmarket. Bridget Black see bridgetblack.co.nz. Oxygen skincare at oxygenskincare.co.nz
It's step two in the cleanse, tone, moisturise regime which most beauty experts list as the basic approach to good skincare, but toning gets a lot less attention than cleansing and moisturising. It's that quick rinse and refine step between the all-important removal and restoration.
A few skincare regimes skip toning entirely, saying it's unnecessary, but most insist it helps removal of residual cleansing fluids, restores balance and can improve texture. Oilier skins are generally treated with more astringent toners, but these should be approached with caution as they can be unduly harsh. Stripping skin of oils can actually stimulate the production of more oil, plus add flaky dry patches to your woes. Skin should feel freshened, but not painfully taut after toning.
Shiseido takes a different approach by marketing "softeners" rather than toners. The Japanese company says a softener is kinder and makes the skin more receptive to the application of moisturisers. Other companies are increasingly referring to their toners as mists or hydration boosters and energisers.
Whatever you choose make it gentle.By Janetta Mackay Email Janetta