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Micellar Water: Is it For You?

What is micellar water? You’ve probably heard it floating around the skincare community, but how does it differ from cleansing oils or a cleanser. Is it worth the hype and is it right for you? Well, let us help explain with our Picky Experts!

What is it?

Micellar water, contradictory to the name, is not just water. It’s a water-based product formulated with surfactants. Creating these micelles, hence the name micellar water, which act as tiny magnets to help draw out the dirt and impurities.

Okay, time to break it down with even more science! A surfactant molecule has two heads, one being hydrophillic (attracted to water and repels oil) and the other is hydrophobic (attracts oil and repels water).

If you’re lost at the word surfactant, check out our other All About Cleanser post where we dive into more detail about this crucial cleaning element!

How it works

Usually, oil repels water and tends to ‘float’ when mixed with it. Which explains the reason why it doesn’t do much when we just rinse with water. With micellar water, the surfactant molecules can bring the oil and water together to work equally.

Surfactants are essential for cleaning and the most important ingredient in soaps, shampoo and detergents. And before you think it, no they will not harm your skin! Micellar water tend to not use traditional, high foaming surfactants. Instead, they use a combination of non-ionic surfactants which are much gentler on the skin.

Is it really rinse-free?

Micellar water products are milder than many other cleanser options. And many of them are described as ‘rinse-free,’ but just between us we still recommend rinsing your skin after using. Or at least going your skin again with a water-soaked cotton pad. Leaving surfactants on the skin could disrupt the skin’s lipid layer, leading to irritation and potentially damaging the skin barrier.

Why use micellar water?

As we mentioned, oil and water do not like to mingle, but once you put some micellar water on a cotton pad those oil loving molecule heads eagerly wait to grab onto the oil and dirt on your skin. Washing your face with a cleanser effectively does the same thing, but this is a much milder version and does it all without drying the skin out.

Not to mention, micellar water is incredibly convenient! And also a great option for those who find regular foaming cleansers a bit too drying or irritating. But if you’re more on the oily side, micellar water might not clean everything so it’s best to use it as a first step cleanser in your double cleansing routine.

If you’re not sure what double cleansing is or need some further explanation, check out our Picky Expert Panel on Double Cleansing and All About Double Cleansing.

Benefits of micellar water

Now we know the science behind this product, but what are some benefits it provides?

Removes heavy makeup

Micellar water helps get rid of that stubborn mascara, sunscreen and other heavy makeup without too much effort. One swipe and your stubborn eye makeup is gone. But definitely follow up with another cleanser!

Deep cleans your skin

It’s a great addition to your double cleansing routine. This extra step helps remove oil, dirt and makeup from a long day and preps your face before the second cleanser.

No skin type bias

These water-based soapy products have no bias when it comes to which skin type they best suit. Micellar water is suitable for all skin types with no real side effects. But, of course, you should always do a patch test before rubbing it on your face.


Micellar water is an easy go-to for removing makeup, oil and dirt after a long day without too much effort needed.

Tips for using

  1. Pour a good amount of micellar water on a cotton pad
  2. Gently wipe to clean the face. Focus on areas with heavy makeup, but be careful around your eyes and mouth! It could sting!
  3. This product doesn’t tend to dry skin out, so if you need another round of gentle wiping, go for it!
  4. Follow up with your second cleaner to deeply clean or just rinse it off with water if you weren’t wearing heavy makeup or feel oily.

Find it on Picky

We have a whole sub-category to find more on the Picky app. Just click on ‘Micellar Water’ under ‘Cleansers’ and see all the options! If you want some more input from the skincare community, browse through Discuss to see if anyone has recommendations. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and check out our blog for more skincare science related content.

4 Responses

  1. Great information! I do like to use micellar water. It gives you that extra clean feeling and it is gentle for my skin.

  2. I have lots of micellar water samples but really don’t know the benefits of it, even when to apply it. Thanks for this helpful info.

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