If you’re a member the TikTok beauty community, you’re probably already well-versed in its latest trends — one of them being spray-on skin care. And a casual scroll through Instagram will also show you how skin-care staples typically housed in jars and tubes are being re-imagined in mist form — hydrating toners, peptide lotions, plumping serums, and more are all getting into this newest “it” product design. (A few that have caught our eye lately: Droplette, Kosas Plump + Juicy Vegan Collagen Spray-On serum, and Pacifica Vegan Collagen Body Milk lotion.)
The claims behind spray-on skin care: a formula delivered through a non-aerosol spray or atomizer can save time while getting ready, and make reapplication a breeze due to their mist form. And while some spray-on formulas have been in the news lately for recalls, including sunscreens (and, on the hair front, dry shampoos and leave-in conditioners) those are all aerosol sprays. Most of the formulas we’re talking about here use vaporizer, or non-aerosol, sprays.
The idea of spraying away our skin issues certainly sounds idyllic. But before we trade our traditional jars and bottles for their spray-on counterparts, we asked experts what exactly we should expect from this trend, and if we’re doing our complexions a disservice by spraying — instead of rubbing on — products.
Meet the Experts:
- Jessie Cheung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
- Krupa Koestline, a cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants based in Florida.
- Emmy Ketcham, co-founder and CPO of Experiment based in North Carolina.
- Defne Arikan, founder of Bryhel Cosmetics Lab based in Florida.
- Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami and the founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare.
- Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
- Lisa M. Erdle, PhD, director of science and innovation at The 5 Gyres Institute.
Why are spray-on products so popular now?
One likely reason: spray-on skin care is just plain easy to use. It can be quickly sprayed “over large surface areas [as] body products,” says Krupa Koestline, a cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants, or layered under or over makeup for a dewy look. And because “they’re higher in water content than jarred and bottled formulas, they also give a refreshing feeling,” says Koestline. Superlight formulas can work especially well in sprays, adds Emmy Ketcham, co-founder and CPO of Experiment skin care and former senior chemist of formula development at Benefit Cosmetics. noting they’re especially well suited “for particularly fluid formulations that are too runny to work well in a pump.”
So, can spray-on skin-care be more effective?
While spray formulas’ fun and easy-to-use packaging have made them popular, they also have their own benefits — and limitations. To work, the formula’s ingredients and texture must be lightweight: “Mostly, serums, essences, and toners make for a satisfying user experience when delivered in a spray,” explains Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami and the founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare. “And smaller molecular weight actives [include] peptides, antioxidants like vitamin C, and retinoids — these actives can be evenly distributed in a spray.”
That said, don’t ditch that jar of heavy-duty body cream just yet if you’re seeking more intense or long-lasting moisturization. “Spray formulas can’t provide that, and are better for quick bursts of hydration and plumping if rubbed in properly, which ensures even coverage,” notes Jessie Cheung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and amino acids are among some of the most popular ingredients in these new formulas, which are largely geared towards fast-acting — but not necessarily intense — hydration, the kind that makes you dewy quickly but maybe doesn’t do much to hydrate long-term. Oil-based products can give skin a quick radiance boost when they’re sprayed on, adds Dr. Ciraldo.