If you think washing your face is simple, you’d be mistaken. There’s a right and a wrong way way to do it for every skin type out there. And if you want to take it to the next level beyond washing your face with soap and water, then there’s cleansing with micellar water. While this product may sound like a fancy French monoprix find, it’s actually pretty simple.
According to board-certified dermatologist Hadley King of Skinney Medspa, micellar water is made up of micelles (tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules) suspended in soft water. “The idea is that micelles are attracted to dirt and oil, so they are able to draw out impurities without drying out the skin,” she said. Therefore, micellar water can be used as a facial wash, makeup remover and moisturizer all in one.
“It looks like water, it has the viscosity of water but when you put it on your finger and feel, it has a different texture than water,” said Tabasum Mir, a skincare physician in cosmetic dermatology and cosmetic laser surgery.
Beauty brands, including Garnier, Lancôme and Borghese, have caught on to the micellar water trend and introduced masses to its goodness. They’re marketed as the perfect beauty travel product because it comes in handy when vacationing, camping or visiting places where no running water is easily accessible.
However, Mir says this product has been around since the days when people weren’t dealing with traditional plumbing and the water in France was really harsh on the skin.
She adds, “Obviously with technology and fancy soaps, it fell to the wayside. But it has made a resurgence to become one of those on-set makeup artist, fashion show staples because it can remove an entire face of makeup without leaving oil behind like most makeup cleansers do.”
What micellar water won’t do, however, is remove heavy foundations or stubborn eye makeup like waterproof mascara. So you’ll need to use a separate makeup remover to get fresh-faced.
King recommends micellar water for people with dry and sensitive skin types because it is so gentle and hydrating. “A typical foamy wash can strip the skin and leave behind harsh chemicals, further drying out dry and sensitive skin,” she says. “And unlike many toners, micellar water does not contain alcohol and never stings.” It’s best to use a super absorbent item like a cotton ball or pad when applying micellar water so that the product can more easily soak up dirt.
If you have oilier skin, Mir says that you may find that this product doesn’t clean as well as you’d like. So she suggests those with oily skin, as well as individuals who are acne prone to supplement with a traditional facial cleanser.
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