Micellar water before and after

“If you wait even a few minutes, the surface cells dehydrate and are actually harder to moisturize,” Ellen Marmur, M.D., dermatologist in New York City, tells SELF. Of course, that might be a little bit difficult if you have a few other steps in between cleansing and moisturizing. But if you can swing it, you’ll give your skin an extra boost of hydration.

And, remember that you should always be wearing a daily sunscreen with broad spectrum protection and at least SPF 30. If your daytime moisturizer doesn’t have that, apply a sunscreen on top. “The SPF will help protect all the hard work you’ve been putting into your skin care,” Dr. Garden says.


8. Try not to scrub or lather too aggressively.

It’s tempting to feel like cleansing for a longer amount of time or with more ferocity will wash your face more thoroughly. But not quite. In reality, the length of time you spend lathering does not correlate to how well you cleansed your face.

Instead, try to aim for at least 20 to 30 seconds, or until the product lathers up on your face. But doing more than that could be too much for your skin. Washing too aggressively or for too long—especially if your cleanser contains any exfoliating ingredients—can quickly lead to red, irritated, angry skin.

To properly wash your face, Dr. Garden recommends wetting your face with lukewarm—again, not hot—water and using your fingertips to apply cleanser in a circular motion. “Make sure to wash the T-zone and U-zone (around the jawline), as these are areas people tend to ignore,” he adds. Once you’ve built up a nice lather, rinse, and carefully pat dry with a soft, clean towel.

9. Have a separate product just for exfoliating.

It may seem like using a scrubby exfoliant is an easy way to knock out two skin-care steps in one. But the truth is that, unless you’re trying to manage acne with something like a salicylic acid-containing cleanser, you probably don’t want to be using an exfoliant every day—and there are almost certainly better cleansers out there that will be kinder to your skin.

Both chemical exfoliants (like salicylic acid and glycolic acid) and physical exfoliants (like scrubs and motorized brushes) can be very effective at removing dead skin cells, dirt, and other gunk that can clog pores. “Exfoliating can help remove dead cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin to improve skin radiance,” Dr. Zeichner explains.

But when overused, they can actually disrupt the delicate skin barrier that keeps your face hydrated and protected, causing irritated, flaky, dry skin. So, as SELF explained previously, most of us should not exfoliate more than a few times per week. And those with sensitive or dry skin may only want to exfoliate once or twice a month.

10. You may need a makeup remover in addition to your cleanser.

You probably know the perils of falling asleep with a full face of makeup (acne and dullness, for instance). But your gentle cleanser may not be up to the task of removing all that makeup, especially if your products contain mineral SPF ingredients or oil.

“Many makeup brands are smudge-proof or waterproof, so basic cleansers will not remove them thoroughly,” Dr. Nazarian says. For this reason, it’s important to use a gentle makeup removing wipe, micellar water, or oil-based makeup remover before you wash—especially when removing long-wear makeup.

This is also the thinking behind the concept of double-cleansing, in which you use an oil-based cleanser or balm to remove makeup, followed by a water-based cleanser to remove any remaining dirt. But today’s cleansers are surprisingly effective, SELF explained previously, so whether or not you want to use two separate products to wash your face every night is up to your skin type, your budget, and your general preferences.

11. But don’t consider that makeup wipe your whole cleansing routine.

Makeup wipes are super convenient and, yes, great at removing makeup. But, sadly, that’s not quite good enough to be your go-to cleanser.

‘Taking at least a minute to do a water-based cleanse will ensure you gain all the benefits from your cleanser and its ingredients,’ she says. ‘On average, most people only spend about twenty seconds on cleansing, which isn’t enough time to massage the cleanser in properly.’ And just like brushing our teeth, Rabbia even suggests upping washing time to two minutes if you can.

The temperature of the water matters, too. Too hot and you could risk irritating the skin, according to cosmetic surgeon and skin expert Dr. Jonquille Chantrey, especially if you suffer from acne or skin conditions such as rosacea, so it’s best to rinse with water that is lukewarm.

Nicky J. SimsGetty Images

What are the benefits of double cleansing?

A quick wash and go might seem like the only option at the end of a long day, but according to Kate and Rabbia, if you wear a full face of heavy make-up, double cleansing is the best way to ensure your skin is free from every single scrap.

A quick go with a face wipe will do nothing to properly dislodge foundation and pollution particles, and if all of that is left on your skin overnight, you aren’t giving your skin cells the best chance at regenerating which means no plump, youthful complexion for you.

‘Double cleansing each evening will also brighten any dullness, ultimately lifting the complexion,’ says Rabbia, who is an advocate of incorporating a second, deeper, exfoliating cleanse into any regime to slough away the dead skin cells that are sitting on the surface.

This evening cleanse will allow serums, moisturisers and clever night-time leave-on products like retinols to penetrate and work their magic much more efficiently – something Dr. Jonquille seconds.

Getty Images

Double cleansing is especially important if you’re a city dweller being exposed to high pollution levels daily, explain Kate and Dr. Anjali. ‘Whilst there are no rigorous scientific trials that show the anti-ageing benefits of double cleansing, there is plenty of evidence that suggests pollution and environmental toxins can accelerate the ageing process,’ Dr. Anjali says.

‘Your need to double cleanse really does depend on your lifestyle.’

There are also so many benefits for those with acne-prone skin – as long as they’re using the right cleanser – but more on that later.

‘By cleansing twice, you’re ensuring that both the first layer of sebum, make-up, sunscreen and deeper layers of pore bacteria, which can all aggravate acne, are removed,’ explains Dr. Anjali.


Is it possible to over-wash your skin?

While your skin needs to be cleansed twice a day – morning and evening – a double cleanse isn’t always necessary – especially when you wake up in the morning.

What a single water-based cleanse will do, though, is prepare your skin to absorb day creams and moisturisers better, so that you get a lot more out of them. Save the micellar water for the P.M, people. That said…

‘We need to be sensible about cleansing,’ says Anjali, ‘as over-washing can lead to dryness, sensitivity and irritation. The ideal cleanser should be sulphate-free to avoid stripping the skin of it’s natural oils, and it’s important not to rub the skin too harshly.’


But if you think you might be over-washing your skin, it could be a good idea to change your cleanser before giving up completely. ‘You need to select formulas that re-balance the skin,’ says Kate.

‘Irritation occurs when things like bars of soap are used and they can upset the barrier function of the skin, disrupting the acid mantle. Because of this repetitive cleansing twice a day, the skin doesn’t have the time to repair itself to these adverse reactions.’

The solution?

According to Dr. Jonquille, it’s so important to use the right cleanser for your skin type, regardless of if you are double cleansing or not, because when the surface barrier is repaired, the sensitivity is resolved.

The Best Cleansing Duos For Your Skin Type:

Oily and Acne Prone Skin:

– Bioderma Sebium H2O Micellar Water – £10.80 BUY

A favourite backstage at Fashion Week, this cuts through heavy make-up in seconds and regulates sebum to leave skin perfectly matte and free from spots.

Follow with…

– La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel – £18 BUY

On contact with water, this transforms into a light whip that leaves skin feeling squeaky clean minus the tight and uncomfortable feel.

Dry Skin:

– Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm – £23 BUY

Once massaged into the skin, Clinique’s balm-come-oil works super hard to dislodge make-up, daily grime, pollution and stubborn sunscreen.

– Zo Skin Health Hydrating Cleanser – £32 BUY

The moisturising and hydrating benefits of Zo’s satisfyingly silky cleanser are more or less unrivalled. Skin feels softer and looks smoother almost instantly.

Sensitive Skin:

– Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser – £32 BUY

Perfect for those who whose skin is easily irritated, this derm-approved cleanser soothes just as well as it dissolves dirt, make-up and face grease.

– Sönd Gentle Daily Cleanser – £22 BUY

This calming, lavender-scented cleanser may not lather up but it works wonders to remove the traces of make-up your initial cleanse may have missed. We saw a huge reduction in redness and breakouts while using it.

Normal/Combination Skin:

– ARK Pre-Cleanse & Make-up Remover – £30 BUY

Not even waterproof mascara will win against ARK’s clever Pre-Cleanse. Omega 3,6 and 9 melt make-up without stripping the skin, while grape seed and avocado oil lend and intense hit of nourishment.

– Dr. Levy Switzerland 3 Deep Cell Renewal Micro-Resurfacing Cleanser – £39 BUY

This provides an impressive deep cleanse thanks to the added AHAs, which gently exfoliate dull skin on the surface and work to speed up cell renewal at a deeper level. It also doubles up as an amazing face mask – hello glow!

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The Pros and Cons of Micellar Water

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Despite the fact that micellar water has been available in the US for several years now, I still get a lot of questions about the product. The most common: “Am I being scammed by purchasing something called ‘water,’ a thing I can put on my face for free in my bathroom?” After trying many brands over the years and incorporating micellar water into my daily routine, I am here to tell you it’s not a scam. But there are definitely caveats.

First though, what is it? Micellar water, also frequently called cleansing water, is a cleanser for removing gunk from your face. Unlike a typical cleanser, you don’t have to rinse it off. Micellar water has been used in France for decades, and you can buy it in any pharmacy there. A French beauty publicist once told me it’s because the tap water is terrible, so no one wants to rinse their faces with it.

The way micellar water works is that a mild surfactant, the chemical that actually gets rid of dirt and makeup, clusters up into tiny balls called micelles. Once you pour it onto a cotton round, the micelles rearrange themselves for optimal cleansing. (If you are interested in the more in-depth science on this, please go read The Lab Muffin’s explanation, which is the best thing I’ve read about micellar water.) But micellar water isn’t great for all situations. I’ll start with the cons first:


• You have to use it with cotton pads, which adds some extra expense and makes it less convenient. You can’t just splash it on your face and go. (And don’t be wooed by so-called micellar makeup wipes that say they contain micellar water. I’ve spent time reading labels, and the ingredients are different; I’ve also heard anecdotal tales of those wipes being more irritating than the micellar water out of a bottle.)

• It won’t remove a full face of makeup thoroughly, so don’t expect it to take off your waterproof eyeliner and full-coverage foundation.


• Despite that last con, it does still clean really darn well. I use it every single morning when I wake up. I’m a proponent of double cleansing (oil cleanser followed by a foamy one) at night before my skincare routine, but in the morning my face isn’t that dirty, and cleansers dry me out too much. Micellar water leaves me feeling clean enough to put my morning skincare right over it on days that I don’t shower first thing in the morning. I have also stopped using makeup wipes after a workout and instead bring a travel-sized bottle of micellar water and cottons in my gym bag.

• If you do not want to commit to a full double cleanse, swiping micellar water first and following with your regular cleanser is better than just cleanser alone.

• It’s great for when you mess up your makeup. You can put a little bit on a Q-tip and fix an eyeliner or lipstick mistake. I also use it on a damp pad to gently pat under my eyes when I get the inevitable eyeshadow powder fallout.

• Finally, it’s great for when you want to re-touch your face makeup but not your eyes. You can swipe it all over your face and then re-apply foundation without worrying about washing off your eye makeup like if you were washing in a sink.

• It’s pretty gentle. Obviously read the ingredients first, because they vary widely from product to product, but I find most to be non-irritating and non-drying. A good one will leave your skin feeling soft and clean without an obvious residue. Here are six that meet these criteria:

Simple Micellar Water ($8.99); Garnier Micellar Water ($6.79)


Simple Micellar Water ($8.99): My favorite of all the drugstore brands, and a great starter formula if you’re new to using micellar water.

Garnier Micellar Water ($6.79): A good dupe for the original French export, Bioderma.

La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Water ($14.99); Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($14.90)


La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Water, $14.99: This bottle lasted me forever, and I like the very faint fragrance. (Many micellar waters have no scent.)

Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($14.90): The OG, and worth trying if you don’t mind spending a bit more.

Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Water ($13); Son and Park Beauty Water ($30)


Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Water ($13): A good workhorse, and the bottle design — with a dispenser at the top that you press down on to get the product out — is so easy.

Son and Park Beauty Water, $30: I know the price on this one is slightly alarming, but this is hands-down the best cleansing water I’ve tried. It has a ton of extracts in it, and it also acts like a toner. It’s fantastic.

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Should You Be Using Micellar Water in Your Skin-Care Routine?

You’re great at remembering to cleanse your skin each night, and yet after dabbing your face dry, you notice makeup stains on your towel. Enter: micellar water.

Micellar (pronounced “MY-sell-er”) water is a combination of purified water and hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, along with low concentrations of extremely mild surfactants or soaps called micelles, says Gretchen Frieling, MD, a Boston-based dermatopathologist. These micelles attract and capture dirt and oil, so when you rub the micellar water off your skin, impurities are lifted out and the hydrating elements keep skin moisturized.

This combination was the brainchild of Parisians, Dr. Frieling says, because the city’s water is notoriously harsh on the skin, to the point of causing breakouts. Because micellar water doesn’t need to be rinsed off, it became an effective way to clean skin — and especially to remove makeup — without using tap water.

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How Micellar Water Works, Especially in a Double-Cleanse Regimen

After becoming a go-to product for makeup artists and celebrities in France, micellar water went global a few years ago, showing up in products from L’Oréal, Kiehl’s, and Olay, among many others, Frieling says. The product also got a boost by becoming a popular option for the Korean double cleansing method, which involves first using an oil-based cleanser or micellar water to remove makeup, oil, and dirt, and then using a second, water-based cleansing step.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this gentle-cleansing process can be effective for preventing breakouts and treating acne. That’s because micellar water, followed by another cleanser — even soap and water — not only removes the bad stuff, but it also releases the good stuff — namely, sebum, which the skin produces as a natural moisturizer.

When dead skin cells, as well as dirt and oil, build up at the pore’s opening, the sebum will not be able to leave the pore, says Frieling. “It then builds up in the sebaceous gland, which leads to the development of a whitehead or blackhead,” she says. “When this becomes inflamed, it turns into a pimple. Because micellar water helps clear your pores, it can lessen the chances of this happening. And it doesn’t leave oily residue behind.

RELATED: 10 Things Your Skin Is Trying to Tell You — and How to Respond

Micellar Water Can Be Gentle on the Skin — Depending on the Ingredients

One of the most notable aspects of micellar water is how gentle it is on the skin, compared with other cleansers, according to Tien Nguyen, MD, a dermatologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.

“It’s simply a great product, especially for those with sensitive skin or who have had issues with other cleansers,” he says. “If you’re seeing any negative reaction, it’s most likely because of some added ingredient that’s causing a problem. But basic, simple micellar water is suitable for all skin types.”

The biggest culprits for irritation are alcohol, parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, and dyes, he says. Fortunately, there are numerous options with simple formulations that don’t include these type of ingredients, Dr. Nguyen adds.

According to a study on cleanser formulations, micellar water is compatible with the skin because it removes surface dirt, oil, and makeup without compromising the skin barrier, unlike more aggressive cleansers, the researchers suggest, which put the integrity of the skin’s structure at risk.

Maintaining the skin barrier is particularly important for those with sensitive skin, according to another study, published in June 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Researchers singled out micellar water for providing cleansing and moisturizing effects — which in this study lasted about two hours — and a low risk of irritation.

“Because of its gentleness, micellar water can be used on skin with rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, but if you have these skin conditions, it’s still best to check with your doctor before using it,” says Frieling.

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How to Use Micellar Water in Your Skin-Care Routine

Pump the micellar water onto a cotton ball or cotton pad and lightly swipe or dab dirt and makeup away. There should be no oily residue, and no need to rinse with water — unless you’re doing a double cleanse.

Nguyen recommends keeping a small bottle handy in your bag, since it’s perfect for reapplying makeup during the day, and also makes a great post-workout facial cleanser.

He adds that the same goes for cleansing your face between sunscreen applications, which is helpful for making sure multiple sunscreen layers aren’t clogging your pores while they block the sunlight. Also, Nguyen says, this kind of quick cleaning may make your sunscreen more effective, because you won’t be putting it on over a sweaty face at the beach — sweat accumulation can “wash off” sunscreen faster, he says.

The way that it works on skin also comes in handy for cleaning makeup brushes, adds Frieling. She says, “This is the easiest, cheapest, and most fuss-free way to get your brushes clean. Just soak them in a bowl of micellar water for a few minutes, then dry with a paper towel or soft cloth.”

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5 Micellar Water Brands Dermatologists Recommend

Although formulations of micellar water are similar, says Nguyen, there are a few that stand out, according to our dermatology experts:

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Soothing Micellar Cleansing Water and Makeup Removing Solution for Sensitive Skin — Face and Eyes This product used to be available only in Parisian pharmacies and was a secret of runway models. Ideal for sensitive and irritated skin, it’s formulated with cucumber extract to soothe while it cleanses your skin and removes eye and face makeup in one step.

Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Water This is a budget-friendly choice, Frieling says. It includes vitamin B3, vitamin C, and triple-purified water. This micellar water is free of potential irritants, like perfumes, dyes, and strong chemicals. It’s also been ophthalmologist tested for use around the eyes.

Garnier-SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying This is a good choice for those with oily skin, says Frieling, because “mattifying” means it removes excess sebum, reducing the amount of oil sitting on your skin. It also removes impurities and makeup without repeated rubbing or need to rinse off.

L’Oréal 3-in-1 Micellar Water This product is designed to remove face, lip, and eye makeup thoroughly. It’s also fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and oil-free, with a no-rinse formula that doesn’t cause breakouts.

Christian Dior Hydra Life Micellar Water This option has the added advantage of toning your skin while removing makeup, thanks to the inclusion of echinacea flower extracts, according to Frieling. Although it’s higher priced than many other options, she says a little product goes a long way.

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A Final Word on Micellar Water: Should You Add It to Your Skin-Care Routine?

The versatility and effectiveness — not to mention the affordability — of micellar water is what’s quickly making this product into a must-have skin-care pick, especially because it can be a one-step cleanser on the go. Getting a green light from dermatologists is another plus, especially for those who’ve struggled with breakouts or sensitivity to other cleansers and skin-care products.

“Micellar water more than lives up to the hype,” says Frieling. “Once you have it in your skin-care routine, you’ll wonder what you ever did without it.”

Whenever I come home late from a (quite rare) night on the town, I always stick with a tipsy-and-tired-friendly pre-bed beauty regimen: Swipe on the micellar water, and then hit up my silk pillowcase.

It’s so good and easy that—despite being a firm believer in double cleansing—I’m sometimes tempted to use the micellar water on, well, regular nights, too. The magical, makeup-removing water has so many perks: Time saving! Gentle! Gets rid of all makeup! So it’s enticing to incorporate on the reg and leave the rest of your cleansers to gather dust on your beauty shelf. But it begs the question: Can micellar water really replace your cleanser? To perhaps change everyone’s lives, I sought out a derm for advice.

“Micellar water is a super gentle method of cleansing skin. It gets its name because it contains micelles which are oil-in-water suspensions that attract dirt, bacteria, and makeup, but gently—without stripping moisturize from your skin,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with New York’s Schweiger Dermatology. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t wear makeup or isn’t applying more skin-care products after cleansing, then you’re good. “In this scenario, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using only micellar water as your cleanser,” she says.

The thing with micellar water is that it can kind of stay on your skin after you use it. “I find that the residual micelles block other products from absorbing into the skin effectively, so I usually recommend my patients rinse afterwards with water,” says Dr. Nazarian. Sad news, though—she does recommend using something else in addition to your beloved micellar water. “Typically, I’d have my patients use another gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to rinse off any residue afterwards, such as the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($7),” she says. Womp womp. But even though it may add an extra 45 seconds to your routine, double cleansing is particularly helpful when it comes to getting rid of all of the gunk hiding out beneath the surface.

So you can continue to use that micellar water on lazy nights or no-makeup days or even just sporadically—but to totally prevent clogged pores, you should at least rinse your face afterwards.

Whatever you do, though, don’t wash your face in the shower. And this is how often you should actually wash your face—however you decide to do it.

Over the last few months I have been asked a lot about double cleansing. I think it peaked this month because I am quoted in the March edition of American Elle magazine discussing this very topic.

It’s out now if you fancy picking up a copy…

Anyway, I figured a few clearer details wouldn’t hurt so without further ado…

Cleansing is by far the most important step of your routine. I don’t care what anyone says, if you are consistently ‘cleansing’ (aka moving the dirt around your face) with wipes and then applying a really expensive serum/moisturiser on top, you are wasting your money. And your time.

‘Double Cleansing’ is something that you may be doing already, this is just what I call it.

Essentially, if you are using more than one product to remove your makeup in the evenings, you are already double cleansing.

For example, if you remove your eye makeup with a micellar water or eye makeup remover before you cleanse, that is your first cleanse. You follow with a proper cleanser to remove everything else. That was your second cleanse. Note: a micellar water is not your second cleanse. Stop that nonsense.

Let’s be clear on this one first – there is no double cleansing in the mornings. Wake up, cleanse, you’re good to go. You have no makeup or SPF to remove. Crack on.

Types of cleansers:


Non-foaming gels



Balm cleansers


Clay-based cleansers

Basically anything except:


Micellar water

The morning cleanse is dependent on how your skin feels when you wake up and what you are doing with the rest of your day. For example, if I have a long day ahead of wearing makeup I will probably use an oil to cleanse. My skin feels soft and holds moisture for longer afterwards which has a knock-on effect on the rest of my routine and stops my makeup going patchy by the afternoon.

If I’m home-based for the day I’ll use something slightly more ‘active’, follow with a strong acid toner and use some treatment serums and heavier moisturisers.

If you know you are going to be based at home for the day and not wearing makeup treat your skin as if it’s a spa day. Cleanse, exfoliate, treat, repeat. (repeat the treat, not the entire routine!) 🙂

This is why my skin looks great if I’ve had a few consecutive days working from home and looks merely ‘ok’ (by my standards – and I am my own harshest critic) if I’ve had appointments in town every day of the week. And don’t get me started on travelling… that’s a whole other cheat sheet. *makes note*

Wipes and micellar water are not suitable for mornings because you use them in an emergency or when removing makeup, and you won’t be wearing makeup to bed will you? WILL YOU?


There is a fallacy doing the rounds that double cleansing means using oil followed by foam. No.

Do what you need to do to remove what you’ve done to your face. You know your face/routine better than any beauty counter. Or me.

Wearing a ton of eye makeup? Remove it first.

Slathered in SPF? Take care of that first.

Both? Go in with grease. When in doubt, go in with grease. Think of all the old Hollywood movie stars and the footage of them removing their face with grease. It works.

First cleanse:

Eye makeup removers

Micellar waters

Greasy balms – not necessarily expensive ones, just ones that do a great job of removing makeup – such as Clinique TTDO and The Body Shop Camomile Butter

Cleansing creams – preferably thicker ones – a perfect example would be Clarins Extra Comfort Cleansing Cream – the one they discontinued – how rude.

Oils – oils are great for removing makeup, but you don’t have to pick a really expensive one for the first cleanse.

Second cleanse:

This is where you use your most expensive cleansing product. This one is your skin cleanser more than your makeup remover. Its job is to make sure your skin is clean, balanced and comfortable and ready for everything else that you are applying afterwards. It’s time to use your good stuff.

You can obviously use one cleanser for both cleanses if you have budget concerns. Just buy the best that you can afford when you can afford it. We’ve all been there. Well, I certainly have.

If you are using one product, apply a small amount for the first cleanse mainly to loosen eye makeup and cheek areas (where we tend to apply the most SPF). Remove with a flannel and go in again with another round.

The second cleanse is the massage stage, not the first.

The best products for second cleanses are:

Cleansing balms – good ones. Gorgeous, plant-based, greasy ones. Greasy in the best way.

Cleansing milks

Cleansing gels – non-foaming

Cleansing creams

Cleansing clays

Cleansing oils – oils and balms are easily my favourite choice for skin cleansing. They are brilliant for ensuring that everything is off and don’t disturb the acid mantle in an aggressive manner.

That is really all there is to it. The important part is to remember to do it every single day without fail.

What is micellar water?

What Is Micellar Water?

Micellar Water is a facial cleanser that helps remove excess sebum and impurities from your skin and leaves it feeling soft and looking beautiful.

  • Micellar Water is made from micelles, or the oil-based particles.
  • Micelles work to attract dirt and impurities and lift them from the surface of your skin.
  • Micellar Water is extremely thorough and can remove a variety of makeup products including everything from foundation to eye makeup and mascara. It also removes sweat and excess oil. Often, skin care and makeup removal require two separate products. The best part about Micellar Water? It incorporates both tasks into one easy to use product.

Where Does Micellar Water Come From?

Micellar Water has been popular for decades in France. Micellar Water was introduced in Paris because Parisian city water was considered harsh, and skin care experts noted that it had a negative effect on skin. The harshness of the water contributed to dry skin and even potential skin blemishes. As a response, skin care experts desperately looked for an alternative to Parisian city water for cleansing needs. After developing Micellar Water, it quickly became a substitute to the harsh water as was beloved for its ability to remove makeup, sweat, oil and dirt without the need to rinse. Micellar Water has finally made its way into the mainstream beauty market in the United States.

What Are the Ingredients in Micellar Water?

Micellar Water is made with micelles, tiny lipid cleansing molecules suspended in water.

    The dirt on micelles:

  • Micelles have both hydrophilic and hydrophobic qualities. That means they have the ability to lift away dirt, impurities, and makeup from your face.
  • The formula is clear, like water, but when it touches your skin you’ll realize there is a lot more complexity to this product.
  • The micelles in Micellar Water have multiple functions, from helping to remove makeup to facial cleansing and moisturizing your skin. Like a magnet, micelles capture and lift away dirt, oil and makeup from the surface of your skin without harsh rubbing, leaving skin clean, hydrated and refreshed without over-drying.
  • Micelles are so thorough they can even help remove long-lasting make up such as waterproof mascara.

What Makes Micellar Water Different?

Micellar Water was developed as a brand new type of facial cleanser. But how does it stand out from the old school cleansers you may have used in the past?

  • Unlike foam cleansers or cleansing lotions, it looks just like water and doesn’t require rinsing to work.
  • Micellar Water also has an accessory: Instead of applying it directly to the face, you’ll pour it onto cotton pads and swipe across your face.
  • You’ll be able to see the dirt and makeup Micellar Water has lifted off the surface of your skin directly onto the cotton pad.
  • Micellar Water is also formulated to be a gentle facial cleanser. While other cleansers may strip your skin of moisture, Micellar Water can actually leave your skin looking hydrated and supple. Since Micellar Water was originally developed to replace Parisian city water, it has a different texture (and effectiveness!) than you may be used to. Ask any big name makeup artist about what beauty products they use backstage and you’ll likely hear “Micellar Water”. Some of the biggest names in beauty have been swearing by Micellar Water for years!
  • Micellar Water even makes packing for a trip much easier. Since you’ll only need one product to clean your face every night, you’ll save room in your toiletry bag. Even better, since it has the consistency of water and is easy to transport in a travel-friendly bottle. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water Travel-Size comes in both waterproof, for removing waterproof mascara, and all-in-1, for removing makeup and cleansing your face. Stock your travel kit with these perfectly sized 3.4 oz bottles. You’ll never want to travel with anything else again for your facial cleansing needs.

What Skin Types Can Use Micellar Water?

Not many skin care products suit all skin types. However, Micellar Water is one of the few that can work regardless of whether you have normal, sensitive, combination or oily skin.

  • For all skin types: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-One is formulated to effectively cleanse, remove makeup, and refresh skin. It’s designed to work on all skin types, even sensitive skin.
  • For oily skin types: Try Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-One Mattifying, formulated to help purify pores and reduce face shine.
  • For sensitive skin types: Micellar Water is known for the gentle cleansing action and moisturizing properties that make it a popular skin care product worldwide. Not only is Micellar Water gentle enough for sensitive skin, but it doesn’t require the harsh rubbing that can damage sensitive skin areas such as under eyes. Best of all, Micellar Water is suitable for everyone, even people with sensitive skin. Even if you don’t think you have particularly sensitive skin, the gentle cleanser formula helps to hydrate and nourish skin.
  • For makeup lovers: If you’re a beauty junkie and wear heavy makeup, opt for Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water Waterproof, which can remove waterproof mascara. It’s powerful enough to remove long-lasting makeup, but still gentle for sensitive skin.

When shopping for a Micellar Water, look at the label on the bottle. The labels should confirm if a Micellar Water is formulated for a specific skin type. Make sure you choose the product that corresponds to your skin’s specific needs!

How to Use Micellar Water

Micellar cleansing water will work with any cotton pad or cotton ball. For best results, look for the large cotton pads that are available at most drugstores. They are typically sold in tubes of multiple cotton pads.

Micellar Water (as with all facial cleansers) should be the first step in your skin care routine. To use:

  • Simply saturate a cotton pad with the cleanser. Swipe across your face until you see no residual dirt or makeup on the pad. To remove eye makeup, first be sure to fully saturate the pad.
  • Then, use what we call the “Press and Hold” method. Simply press the pad gently to your eyelid and hold it in place for a few seconds, before softly wiping away. The “Press and Hold” method helps the micelles act like a magnet to lift away makeup, dirt, and impurities from your skin.

Aside from working as your daily facial cleanser, Micellar Water is versatile enough to make its way into other aspects of your beauty routine. Now that we know how to use Micellar Water, let’s look at when to use Micellar Water:

  • Did you mess up on your contouring? Slip with your mascara? Rather than having to wash your whole face again, Micellar Water can help take care of your makeup mishap. You only need to dip a Q-Tip into the makeup removing solution, and it’ll erase the makeup mistake before you continue beautifying your face.
  • Even on days when you aren’t wearing makeup, Micellar Water can be used as a mist to freshen the look of your skin. Keep it with you on-the-go while you are hiking or exercising outdoors to freshen your appearance and to lift away any dirt or pollution from your skin’s surface. Micellar Water can help you look fresh even if you are partaking in a heavy-duty nature activity. Look for Micellar Water in cleansing towelette form to make cleansing on-the-go easy and portable. We like Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes to cleanse and remove makeup with one ultra-gentle wipe.
  • Micellar towelettes are perfect for after the gym, on sweaty days, or those moments when your skin needs an extra boost. To remove waterproof makeup at night or before the gym, try Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes Waterproof.

If you’re new to the world of Micellar Water, welcome to your to tally upgraded facial cleansing routine. Between the way your skin will look, feel, and the no-rinse ease of use, we have a feeling you won’t be reaching for another facial cleanser anytime soon. Happy cleansing!

What is micellar water?

Micellar water a multi-use cleansing product made of purified water and micelles. Dr. Katie Beleznay, a dermatologist at Carruthers & Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology and clinical instructor at the Department of Dermatology at the University of British Columbia, explains that micelles are molecules which group together and attract dirt and oil. “When you wipe a cotton ball soaked with micellar water along your face, the micelles adhere to the cotton while pulling makeup, sebum, and other impurities off the skin,” she says. Notably, micellar solutions won’t dry out your skin like traditional foaming cleansers, and it doesn’t include any harsh ingredients, so there’s no need to rinse off.

How do you pronounce micellar water?

My. Sell. Er. My-sell-er. Micellar. That’s all there is to it!

Why is micellar water so popular?

This product is lauded as a one-step solution that removes makeup, cleanses and tones the skin—without the need to add water. The product was traditionally popular with French women, who began using it in the 1900s before tap water was easily accessible. “Micellar formulas are gentle so there’s no need to rinse them off, allowing the moisturizing ingredients to stay behind and be absorbed by the skin,” says Beleznay. As a result, makeup artists everywhere came to love it for its simplicity and efficiency. Consumers love it because it’s gentle and has the consistency of water. “Oftentimes, people who like dislike the feeling of residue on their skin or are afraid of being oily,” explains makeup artist Christine Jairamsingh.

How is micellar water different from makeup remover?

Until recently, heavy-duty makeup removers were known to be oily, but the arrival of micellar solutions to North America really shook things up. Most variations are also gentle enough to be used as eye makeup remover and won’t sting your peepers. Still, Jairamsingh warns against the catch-all product mentality. “It’s not necessarily going to get it all off for waterproof products or for foundations that are really full coverage, thicker, or high in silicone content,” she says. “In that case, use micellar water initially to chip away at it, then go in with an oil cleanser that you love.”

Can I use micellar water as a facial cleanser?

Micellar solutions can be used in place of cleansers and toners (which rebalance your skin’s pH levels, clean off residual dirt and oil, and tighten the appearance of pores)—Beleznay points out that micellar water actually has benefits over toner, because it doesn’t contain alcohol, which can sting or dry out your skin. “Depending on the person and whether they wear makeup or not, some people may get away with just micellar water; however, others use it as a makeup remover and use a cleanser after for further benefit,” she says. Both Beleznay and Jairamsingh warn that not removing your makeup properly can lead to breakouts, so consider that before replacing an elaborate skincare routine with just micellar water.

Are there natural alternatives to micellar water?

Jairamsingh advocates for natural plant-based alternatives (such as Wildcraft’s Calm and Cleanse Makeup Remover), which functions in the same way—without the added preservatives. Beleznay emphasizes that regardless of what you do, “it is always a good idea to apply moisturizer .”

Below, some of our favourite picks.


Best Micellar Waters (2019 Update)


MicellAIR Expert Micellar Water Waterproof, $9, shoppersdrugmart.ca.

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