Micellar Water, Was The Hype Justified?

I can still remember the hype about micellar water. Years ago I sat on a terrace with a friend, who I now realize I haven’t spoken to in years…

‘Do you already use micellar water?’, she asked.
‘No, I haven’t used that’, I replied.
‘Well, it’s amazing’, she continued, ‘It’s a facial cleanser that you apply to a cotton ball and it attracts dirt like a magnet.’

She told me how dirty her cotton ball was every night and that this was the best facial cleanser she had. Shortly after, we went to the drugstore and I bought my first micellar water.

I actually used it every day for months, maybe years and felt really good about it. I was convinced that I couldn’t clean my face better than with this product. I also used the micellar water as a makeup brush cleaner. That works very well! I really believed I did a good job.

Until I went to the beautician and she told me my skin wasn’t really clean. ‘But I use micellar water every day’, I replied shocked.
Her face clouded. ‘Well micellar water isn’t that good’, she said.

Since then I no longer use micellar water, but foam cleansers. But sometimes I wonder: was the beautician right? Is micellar water really not that good? Was the hype justified? I recently went to investigate…

What is micellar water?

Photo: Michael Nesterov via Getty Images

I think micellar water sounds very chemical. And it’s a bit like that. Micellar comes from the word micelles. Micelles have a hydrophilic head. That means the head attracts water and repels fat. The tail of the micelles do the opposite. It attracts fat and repels water.

This feature is great when you want to cleanse your face. Water and fat (sebum) normally repel each other. You can therefore not remove excess sebum from your skin with just water. But it’s possible to do that with micellar water.

Micellar water is used on a cotton ball, like a toner, but a toner doesn’t cleanse your face. The heads point to the cotton ball and the tails points upwards. This is how you catch grease and dirt off your face and wipe it off.

But does micellar water cleanse your skin well?

Photo: Veni vidi…shoot via Getty Images

Actually micellar water clean your skin excellently, but there is still a problem. It’s a leave-on formula and therefore stays on your skin. In other words, dirt stays on your skin.

Aggressive substances in the micellar water, such as SLS, remain also on your skin and can cause a reaction. Especially people with dry of sensitive skin will suffer from this.

The dirt and substances that remain on your skin also block the next step of your skin care routine. Serums and moisturizers will be less effective and even cause blemishes. Yikes

In addition, a micellar water doesn’t deeply cleanse your skin. It only cleans your skin on the surface.

Is it better not to use micellar water at all?

You don’t have to throw away your micellar water right away. You just have to use it differently. Use it as the first step of your double cleansing routine in the evening.

Use the micellar water as the first cleansing to remove dirt, sweat, makeup and exhaust fumes. For the second cleansing, use a foaming cleanser that you rinse with water.

All in all, I don’t think micellar water was worth the hype. It didn’t cleanse our face as it made us believe. It does work if you use it in a different way way. To be honest I prefer foam cleansers now. Micellar water… It was too good to be true!

Front photo: Prostock-Studio via Getty Images


  1. Алина

    T he scientists I spoke with emphasized that people should still wash their hands, avoid touching their face when they’ve recently been in public areas, and even use gloves in certain high-contact jobs. They also said deep cleans were perfectly justified in hospitals. But they pointed out that the excesses of hygiene theater have negative consequences.


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