Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Retailer
Amy Liu, founder and CEO of Tower 28 and longtime sensitive-skin haver, lovingly calls the brand’s SOS Spray “the Windex of skin care.” Named after a lifeguard tower in Santa Monica, Tower 28 embodies the cool, inclusive spirit of California. When Liu discovered hypochlorous acid — a.k.a. HOCI, the key ingredient in SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray — she found a chemist who had been working on stabilizing the formula for eight years.
Liu’s personal skin journey was proof enough of the ingredient’s potential. “After I started using our SOS Spray regularly, I completely stopped using medicated steroids, and my skin has never been more reliable,” she says. The influx of users’ before-and-afters also show the product is a cult favorite. According to Dr. Kelly Killeen, double-board-certified plastic surgeon at Cassileth Plastic Surgery, the spray is best applied “right after cleansing, prior to serums, moisturizer, and SPF.”
Since launching, the brand has formulated one of the Cut’s (and TikTok’s) favorite blushes and lip glosses and, most recently, a lightweight, water-based serum ideal for sensitive skin called SOS Intensive Rescue Serum.
Yes. This spray, which I discovered almost two years ago, transformed my relationship to mask wearing early in the pandemic. I wasn’t actively breaking out from the masks I washed religiously, but my skin wasn’t thrilled with the development. I experienced redness and the occasional breakout on my cheeks until I started using the SOS Spray.
I’ve since developed a habit of spraying the inside of my mask before slipping it on and heading out the door. In the summer, when things can get a little sweaty, I count on a spritz to keep wearing a mask on the subway more bearable. Unlike other face mists that promise elusive “hydration” or general refreshment, I can actually feel SOS Spray working. You’d better believe my skin feels calmer and wearing a mask is more comfortable, and when I don’t have time to wash my face immediately after a workout, I feel confident my skin won’t freak out.
That’s how I knew SOS Spray was more than a pandemic fad: Because I started incorporating it into my morning skin-care routine and beyond. I was packing for a trip and was curious if the spray could replace my toner for a week. It did not disappoint. The results were fantastic, and my makeup bag was one product lighter. The smell might be a lot at first, à la Biologique Recherche P50, but you’ll soon develop a Pavlovian response to its clean and salty scent.
My best advice is to stock up on the brand’s variety of sizes. I like to keep the four-ounce bottle ($28) near the door for spraying my masks. The 16-ounce refill ($68) has taken up permanent residence in my overflowing beauty closet, and, last but not least, a one-ounce ($12) bottle is almost always in my purse.
The AAPI-owned brand, which started in 2019, was made with sensitive skin in mind, thanks to Liu’s 15-plus years in the industry and her own struggle with eczema. She initially assumed Tower 28’s SOS Spray would strictly become a favorite of customers with eczema. “The product has the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association and has helped me tremendously,” Liu says. However, at the height of the pandemic, use cases started flowing in. With acne, sunburn, ear-piercing cleaning, diaper rash, and beyond, the SOS spray has managed to “create an environment in which your skin can heal itself,” Liu says.