Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. Every month, the Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market’s most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations. To put it simply, stick with us, and buyer’s remorse will be a thing of the past.
While the majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors’ honest, ultra-hot takes on wider product categories—or multiple products within a particular beauty brand—every so often we’ll sprinkle in a special, single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can’t shut the fuck up about. First up? SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Essence Mist ($67), the brand’s latest, completely obsession-worthy launch.
Let me preface my entire review by saying this: Historically speaking, I have thoroughly despised every single face mist (aside from my beloved makeup-setting spray) I’ve dabbled in. For years, I’ve spritzed my face with countless holy-grail favorites, and I’ve only ever been left feeling damp and disappointed. I also know I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never found the sensation of a face mist “refreshing” or enjoyable. (It kind of reminds me of getting sprayed in the face with a hose or a sprinkler as a kid—weird but true.) So even though I adore SkinCeuticals and the brand’s coveted collection of antioxidant serums like C E Ferulic and Silymarin CF, I was a tad disappointed when I found out its big, ultra-buzzy new launch was going to be a mist. Ugh, I thought to myself, I’m totally not going to love this.
The irony, of course, is that I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’ve officially dubbed the new Phyto Corrective Essence Mist as some kind of magical witch’s brew thanks to how fast and visually effective its redness-banishing and hydrating benefits are. This sucker tackles so many skin concerns in one go, which in my eyes makes the $67 price tag well worth the investment. (Astoundingly, just two weeks after receiving my bottle pre-launch, I had already gotten halfway through the bottle—that’s how addictive the results are!) There’s a lot to discuss—from the strategic ingredients to the actual results (photos included), so let’s dive in, shall we?
First, I wanted to chat with an expert in the skincare field who could weigh in on why this face mist is so revolutionary and so much more effective than any other formula I’ve tried. I reached out to Rachel Reyes-Bergano, DO, owner of Campo Aesthetics in Pasadena, California, for the scoop.
“The Phyto Corrective Essence Mist is SkinCeuticals’ first debut in the essence category and the latest addition to the brand’s Phyto portfolio of products, which currently includes the Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment, Phyto Corrective Gel, and Phyto Corrective Masque,” shares Reyes-Bergano. She also explains that a formula like this had been a longtime request from skincare professionals who were looking for an easy-to-use mist that could be used at home or in combination with/after clinical procedures in-office.
“This new product is easy to layer and incorporate into any type of skincare routine,” Reyes-Bergano continues. “It has a revolutionary ability to strengthen the skin barrier, increase hydration, and limit the appearance of redness, which is particularly key post-procedure. I’ve been using it with my patients following laser treatments, and they notice an immediate visible reduction in redness.” What’s more, thePhyto Corrective Essence Mist is great for all skin types, including dry, normal, oily, combination, and sensitive skin, and it’s especially helpful to anyone dealing with dehydrated, sensitized, acne-prone, or mature skin. I run dry, sensitive, and acne-prone, so I was the ultimate guinea pig.
I’ll talk about my experience and results below, but it’s important to highlight the mist’s strategic melding of ingredients, which uncannily transformed the look and feel of my dry, pink, and uneven skin right before my eyes. According to Reyes-Bergano, the essence’s 6.2% blend of hyaluronic acid and glycerin draws and retains water in the skin, which explains the instantaneous burst of bounce and glow you get.
“Hyaluronic acid is a powerful, natural humectant that provides long-lasting hydration to improve the look of skin texture,” she tells me. “Glycerin is known to draw and retain moisture in the skin, and the 5.75% Phyto Botanical Blend including cucumber, thyme, olive leaf and rosemary extracts ties it all together by calming, soothing, and reducing visible redness.
So how did a face mist–despising human like myself totally reform? Let me explain. First and foremost, I need to talk about the actual feel of the mist and how it weightlessly rains down into—not on top of—the complexion. To me, most mists feel more like a violent spritz, and I can quite literally feel the droplets of liquid just sitting on my face. Then, once everything does sink in, I don’t feel or see much difference. In other words, I’ve always categorized face mists as a complete waste of money, and I always discourage my friends from buying them. This one, however, does the opposite. The mist itself is ultra fine—think a luxurious steam minus the warmth—and the formula instantly cozies into your pores to start working its transformative magic.
For the most part, my skin has been on pretty good behavior recently, but the transition from summer to fall turned my complexion dry, dehydrated, and comparatively luster-less. Prior to trying the mist, my skin was looking and feeling rougher and less even smooth than normal. Easy to flush, I had been looking perpetually, not just occasionally, pink, and I had a small, albeit stubborn, bout of hormonal acne around my chin and jawline. Nothing crazy, but a little annoying all the same. I can count on one hand the number of beauty products that produce immediate, honest-to-god miracles, and this unassuming emerald-green bottle is one of them.
Just as Reyes-Bergano had warned, immediately post-spriz, my skin looked less ruddy (if not completely devoid of any and all pinkness), and my complexion did a 180 in the hydration department. Right before my eyes, my skin glistened, glowed, and looked so dewy, smooth, plump, and bouncy I had to do about three double takes. Obviously, as one does, I immediately spritzed my face about three more times and became more and more shocked at the drop-of-a-hat transformation. I mean, just LOOK at the before and after shots of my chin acne! Sorry for yelling, but if I hadn’t taken and submitted the photos myself, I would never believe those results didn’t come courtesy of filters or FaceTune. I swear on my life, zero retouching or light manipulation went into these photos—the results really are that immediate and that drastic. The fact that I’m already halfway through my first bottle proves just how compulsive I’ve become about my application. Honestly, I love it.
Because I do have sensitive, pimple-prone skin, I keep my product routine extremely streamlined. I’ve been using the Phyto Corrective Essence Mist throughout the day whenever my skin needs a little pick-me-up, but I also heed Reyes-Bergano’s official application advice by using it in the morning after an antioxidant serum. (For me, that’s Silymarin CF, shown above.) In fact, the formula is so hydrating that most days I don’t even need an actual moisturizer. (Just make sure you shake it well, close your eyes and mouth, and start spritzing about six inches away from your face.) Oh, and if you’re going to use it in the evening within your skincare routine, do so before any corrective serums.
If you’re into studies and statistics, SkinCeuticals also let me know that it performed a thorough dossier of clinical testing designed to demonstrate the efficacy of the mist, which you can peruse below.
This lightweight, ultra-calming gel serum is beloved by folks who deal with mild and severe redness. It’s safe for all skin types—whether you veer dry or oily—and it’s noncomedogenic so won’t clog pores if you happen to be acne-prone like me. The formula’s hero ingredients include mulberry to fade the look of discoloration in addition to cucumber and thyme to keep even the most inflammatory of complexions calm, cool, and collected. Not to mention, moisturizing hyaluronic acid swoops in for an extra dose of hydration so your dew and glow factor is never compromised. It’s a cult favorite formula in the industry for a reason.
How to use it: If you’re using it in the morning, apply a few drops to your face after an antioxidant serum but before sunscreen, and if you’re applying at night, do so before you go in with a retinol.
Any product with “brightening” in its name makes us giddy, but rarely do said products actually deliver on the dullness- and discoloration-banishing benefits they tout. This top-rated treatment, however, is one of the few exceptions. It’s an oil-free moisturizer that simultaneously smooths, brightens, and clarifies the skin while it delivers that essential dose of lightweight hydration. The stellar composition includes 3% azelaic acid, 2% alpha arbutin, and 5.75% phyto botanical blend to target redness, bumpy skin texture, excess oil, and even enlarged pores.
How to use it: Apply one to two pumps after you cleanse and before you tone both morning and night. In the morning, be sure to follow it up with an antioxidant serum and sunscreen.
If you love to mask and deal with issues such as redness and acne, this calming botanical mask will quickly become a nonnegotiable within your product arsenal. (It has over 100 reviews on the SkinCeuticals website and still manages to sustain a solid 4.7-star rating!) It boasts a potent blend of botanical extracts, a skin-soothing dipeptide, and hyaluronic acid for 10/10 moisture replenishment. It has an addictively yummy cooling factor the second it comes in contact with your skin and effortlessly reduces skin sensitivity, visual redness, uneven skin texture, and stubborn dullness.
How to use it: Apply a generous layer of the mask all over your face and neck (even your chest if you’d fancy!) and allow it to work its magic for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. For best results, use it a few times a week and feel free leave it on as a luxurious overnight treatment.