Micellar water, pronounced “my-cell-er,” first came to market in Paris over a hundred years ago in response to the city’s famously hard water. Women welcomed the water-like solution (ironically, used without rinsing with water), as an easy, gentle way to cleanse their skin.
The watery solution is made up of tiny balls of oil molecules “micelles” suspended in purified water. These molecules attract impurities and dirt, dissolving them as you wipe your skin. Impurities are removed without stripping the skin of hydration and some formulations even add moisture back into the skin.
Micellar water first started gaining popularity in the states in makeup artists’ kits backstage at fashion shows and on movie sets, since they were perfect for fast water-less cleansing. Maile Pacheco, former Artist Relations at MAC Cosmetics and now founder of beauty app, beGlammed, says micellar water is one of her faves. “It was only available in France for a long time. So I had to get makeup artist friends to buy me some when they would do Paris Fashion Week. But now, they finally sell it in the states. It breaks down every kind of makeup, though not the best for eye makeup, it’s really made for face. It’s gentle, there’s no fragrance and it doesn’t dry out the skin. All of my makeup artist friend all use it in their kits.”
How to use
Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently wipe your face. Can be used to remove makeup or refresh bare skin. We like using it as a second cleansing step after using an oil cleanser at night, or as our only cleansing step in the morning. It’s also great for a quick clean before reapplying sunscreen throughout the day.
Some brands tout micellar water can be used as a cleanser-toner in one for the girl on the go, but we recommend against this, especially if your skin is prone to blackheads or acne. Deep cleansing is so important to remove all the impurities and toner acts as a second cleansing step to remove any soap residue or catch makeup particles you may have missed the first time around. Read more about toner here.
Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water – This Korean brand comes out with some of our favorite products and this one definitely tops the list. Made with 85% active hydrogen mineral water instead of refined water, like other brands, this cleanser provides superior moisture for dehydrated skin. Free of artificial perfume or color, parabens, alcohol, and other harsh chemicals that can cause irritation. This product is great for sensitive, acne prone or dehydrated skin.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O – French brand Bioderma basically created micellar water so you know it’s good. This gentle cleanser includes cucumber extract to soothe irritated skin while washing away impurities. And is perfect for sensitive and dry skin, working to rebuild the skin’s hydrolipidic film to lock in moisture.
-by Amy Chang
Photographed by author