What is Micellar Water?

Micellar water is the makeup remover of choice for so many worldwide - and for good reason. It seems almost impossible that something that literally looks like water could be an effective makeup remover, but it’s true! If you’ve ever wondered how micellar water works (and if it’s right for you) this post is for you.

What is Micellar Water?

Micellar water originally comes from France - it’s been around since the 90s, and it’s still a cult classic French skincare product today. Originally, it was created so French women had a way to remove their makeup and cleanse their faces without using the hard city water. 

As its name suggests, it is mainly water - but it’s definitely more than just water in a fancy bottle. Micellar waters are also formulated with skin-conditioning ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to benefit your skin and remove makeup at the same time. 

What makes micellar water special are the ‘micelles’ suspended in it - but how does it actually work, anyway?

Dr Irena Eris Cleaning Micellar solution image

Dr Irena Eris Cleanology Micellar Solution | $59
Effectively removes makeup but hydrates skin at the same time for fresher, cleaner skin.

How Does Micellar Water Work?

Micellar water works by containing very small amounts of surfactants. Surfactants are the skincare ingredients that create rich, thick foam - they’re in your shampoo, face wash, body wash, and even toothpaste. Their main ability is to literally lift any grime away from the skin or hair, and make it able to be rinsed away with water. 

Low levels of surfactants are what give micellar water it’s super effective, yet incredibly gentle cleansing ability. Surfactants actually have two ends - one end attracts water (hydrophilic), and one end that attracts oil (oleophilic). These surfactants arrange themselves in structures called micelles - hence the name, micellar water. 

Illustration of micelle

The micelle itself is shaped into a ball, with all the oleophilic ends on the inside and the hydrophilic ends on the outside. There zillions of these in your micellar water, just waiting for you to use it and take your makeup off! 

However, once you pour your micellar water on a cotton pad, the micelles split up and attach themselves to whatever they’re attracted to first, ultimately lifting anything they grab off of the skin and onto the cotton round - thoroughly cleansing your skin. 

Declare Micelle Gentle Cleanser Image
Declaré Micelle Cleansing Water | $40
Formulated especially for sensitive skin, this cleansing water gently yet thoroughly removes makeup. 

How to Use Micellar Water

One of the best ways to use micellar water is as the first step of a double cleanse. While double cleansing is mainly for those who wear makeup, it’s still a good idea to double cleanse even if you’re not a makeup wearer. It really helps to ensure that your skin is perfectly clean of any sunscreen, pollution or other grime from the day before you go ahead with the rest of your skincare routine. 

Using your favourite cotton pads, soak one or two in micellar water before (gently) swiping it around your face. My tip - work from the neck upwards. It’s so easy to a) forget that there’s makeup on your neck and b) forget about your neck, full stop. 

You should always bring your skincare down to your neck. Repeat as needed until your cotton rounds come up clean - now, you’re ready for the rest of your skin care routine. 

L'Occitane 3-in-1 Micellar cleanser image

L’Occitane 3-in-1 Micellar Water | $34
Formulated with nourishing Thyme Extract, this micellar water removes makeup, cleanses, and tones skin all in one.

Who Is Micellar Water Best For? 

Micellar water is great for all skin types, but for different reasons. 

Because micellar waters involve super low levels of foaming agents, they work really well for dry skin, sensitive skin, and skin that’s easily dehydrated. They’re mostly water, plus they’re reinforced with skin hydrating ingredients to prevent water loss in the skin. 

If your skin is on the oily to combination side of things, micellar water might be right for you too. Micellar water is a great oil-free makeup remover if you’re avoiding oil-based skincare.

Pro tip - it’s a great option to use if you have lash extensions. Anything oil-based will dissolve the glue that holds the extensions on, so stick to micellar water! 

GA-DE Micellar Cleansing Water image

GA-DE Cleansing Micellar Water | $29
Containing gentle cleansing ingredients, this micellar water from GA-DE leaves skin perfectly clean, soft and refreshed.

Micellar water is a cult classic skincare product, and for good reason. It’s great for all skin types - if you’re still not sure which skin type you have or which skincare products would suit your skin give our skin care quiz a go!


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