Micellar Water: What the what?

When I first read about micellar water being used to remove by makeup by artists backstage at fashion shows, I couldn’t have cared less. Just another useless invention that everyone and their mother is flocking to because they have nothing better to do than waste their money on useless junk (bitter, much? I know). Why should I spend more money on this weird-sounding makeup remover? Mine works just fine and costs way less, thanks.

Well, now that more information is coming out about micellar water, and I have to admit, I might just be a convert.


Micellar water is a makeup remover, yes, but you can use it differently in your routine than you might think. While you can use it directly on your eyes and face to remove makeup, it’s actually is better to use after you’ve cleansed. Here’s why:

“Micellar” sounds like a pretty fancy word, but it’s actually just the adjectival form of the noun “micelle.” What on earth is a micelle, you ask?


You actually probably learned about it in biology class way back when. For all intents and purposes, a micelle is a spherical cell that is made of fats. Micellar water is a water-based solution that contains hundreds of thousands of these super tiny micelles floating around.

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Photo courtesy of loveisderma.com

Why don’t these fats all clump together in solution? Their surface is hydrophillic, also known as water-loving. So their outside “gets along well” with water, while their inside is lipophilic or fat-loving.

Look at that. Science lesson!

smart the office kelly
So why the heck are micelles great for makeup removal? Well, if you’ve read my article on double cleansing (Double Cleansing: Why Everyone Should Be Doing It!) you’d know that fat-based materials (aka oils) act like magnets for the bad oil and oil-based makeup on your face. It’s able to pull this debris off your face and you can wash it away.

Micelles function in the same way but in a different way…. #wut? Wait, hear me out.

So after you’ve fully cleansed, chances are, you still have microscopic bits of makeup and oil left on your face and in your pores. Toner is helpful for removing oil and depositing skin-benefiting ingredients but not so much at removing makeup. Micellar water is like toner, because it has ingredients that can improve skin quality (hydrating, anti-aging, brightening etc.). In addition to these skin-loving ingredients, it has the added benefit of pulling out any and all leftover traces of makeup from your skin.

So, after you’ve cleansed (or preferably double cleansed), dry your face. Then wet a flat cotton pad with micellar water, and wipe it all over your face (and neck and décolleté if you like). Do NOT rinse. The micellar water will eliminate any leftover traces of makeup and oil, while leaving behind a veil of nourishing ingredients

This doesn’t mean that you now have to throw out your toner, however. I recommend using micellar water before bed when you’re washing off the day’s makeup. Save toner for morning use, when your concern isn’t about removing makeup but, rather, clearing away oil and dead skin cells that built up while you slept. You can absolutely use micellar water in the morning. It won’t hurt anything. It’s just probably unnecessary.

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