What is Micellar Water & is it Really an Effective Way to Cleanse?

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If you’ve been looking for a no-rinse cleanser that can effectively remove makeup, wash your face, and moisturize your skin at the same time, then it’s no surprise that you’ve stumbled upon micellar water. It’s been around since the early 1900s (it’s really nothing new in French beauty routines), but has only recently taken off in the beauty world elsewhere. What exactly is it and is micellar water actually good for your skin? We decided to delve deeper into this cleansing trend to find out.


What is Micellar Water?

Asian brunette woman using facial cleanser

Micellar water consists of soft water (as opposed to hard tap water, which isn’t good for your skin) with micelles suspended in it. These micelles are tiny spheres made from oil molecules – oils that are naturally attracted to any debris or impurities on the skin.

How Does Micellar Water Work?

When you apply a micellar water to your skin, the micelles are attracted to both dirt and oil, just like a magnet. They draw these impurities out from your skin, after which they dissolve them to remove them. This is why you don’t need to rinse your face after using a micelle solution.

Unlike a regular facial cleanser, which penetrates into the pores, micellar waters remain on the skin’s surface. This means that they’re not as harsh as regular cleansers, making them suitable for a wider range of skin types.

The Skin Benefits of Using a Micellar Water

The main benefit of micellar water is that it’s gentle. It doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils or throw its pH level out of balance [1]. In fact, micellar water cleansers are actually incredibly hydrating, making them a game-changer for dry and sensitive skin.

In addition to micelles, micellar waters usually also contain ingredients that are able to calm the skin and reduce inflammation. Alcohol is never used in a micellar water blend, so you don’t need to worry about harsh ingredients either.

Finally, just about everyone in the beauty world would agree that it’s always convenient to have a no-rinse cleanser formula to hand. This is especially the case for those who travel and find themselves without access to clean running water.

Who is Micellar Water Best Suited For?

Different skin types from different races

A micellar cleansing water is best suited to those with normal, dry, or sensitive skin.

When it comes to acne-prone skin, micellar water can still be beneficial, but, since it doesn’t penetrate into the pores, it won’t give your oily skin a deep enough cleanse. However, it can still be used when double cleansing, or in place of a facial toner. Keep in mind that even though a micellar water doesn’t leave any harsh chemicals behind, they do still leave a slight residue, which could end up clogging pores on oily skin.

While micellar water is more than capable of doubling up as a makeup remover, this does depend on how much makeup you wear. If you’re wearing strong eye makeup, such as a waterproof mascara, or you have heavy foundation layers on your face, then a micellar water just won’t cut it – you’ll need a dedicated makeup remover too. However, if your makeup is light, go ahead and use micellar water instead of your usual makeup wipes.

How to Choose a Micellar Water Formula

So, how do you pick the best micellar water formula for your skin?

It all depends on your skin concerns. If your skin says it’s dry, then look for a formula that contains plenty of humectants, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Those with sensitivities may want to look for a plant-based formula, while those with skin aging concerns should seek a product that contains plenty of antioxidants.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

Garnier micellar water cleanser

One of the most popular micellar waters on the market, this Garnier product is effective and affordable. It’s great for boosting hydration and will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

La Roche-Posay Micellar Water

A popular French brand, this paraben-free formula is especially good if you need to remove makeup. Just like the others, this soft water product is incredibly hydrating, making it a great one for improving the health of your skin.

How to Use Micellar Water

Since cleansing is the first step of any skincare routine, micellar water should be used before you apply anything else to your face.

You’ll need to apply the micellar water to something absorbent, such as a cotton ball or a cotton pad – the micelles adhere well to cotton. Then, gently wipe the pad over your skin to remove any dirt, oil, and makeup. You’ll notice that your skin instantly feels fresh and hydrated. Remember – you don’t need to wash your face afterward.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, follow up with a facial cleanser containing salicylic acid.

Then, apply an alcohol-free toner before continuing on with the rest of your skincare routine.


Young woman cleansing skin face with a cotton pad

Why is micellar water bad?

Those who are prone to breakouts may find that micellar water exacerbates acne due to the slight residue it leaves behind. This can be rectified by double cleansing, with the micellar water being used first.

Is micellar water just soapy water?

No, micellar water doesn’t contain soap. Instead, its cleansing properties come from oil molecules that have been suspended in soft water.

Do I need to wash my face after using micellar water?

No, you don’t need to wash or cleanse your face after using micellar water.

Can micellar water be used on sensitive skin?

Yes, micellar water is gentle enough to be safely used on sensitive skin, as well as all other skin types.

Is Micellar Water Worth Using?

When it comes down to it, if your skin is dry or sensitive, then a micellar water is a gentle and effective way to remove dirt and other impurities from your face. If you’ve not yet tried one, you’re missing out.

Those who are acne-prone may struggle with a micellar water on its own, but it can be combined with other cleanser formulas to ensure that any excess oil has been cleared away. What makes micellar water especially attractive is the fact that it doesn’t need to be rinsed off –  it’s such a convenient way to cleanse at the end of a long day, making it no surprise that the beauty world has really embraced this product.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14728695

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.