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How to Use Micellar Water in Your Skincare Routine

How to Use Micellar Water in Your Skincare Routine

How to Use Micellar Water in Your Skincare Routine

Micellar water has been around for a while and it’s definitely here to stay. It’s very simple to understand why: it’s incredibly practical to use and may help you condense up to two cleansing steps in one, as it may not only replace your makeup remover, but also your facial cleanser. Want to learn more about how to use micellar water to simplify your skincare routine? Then keep reading!

On this post:

What is micellar water & how does it work?

Micellar water is a type of skin cleanser, in liquid form, that helps you remove makeup and impurities from your skin. In terms of composition, micellar water is basically a cocktail composed of molecules called “micelles” suspended in a liquid base. “These micelles are spherical arrangements of surfactant molecules,” explains Dr. Michelle Wong, and surfactants are, essentially, the cleansing agents that allow you to “lift” oil-based impurities from your skin and remove them.

According to Dr. Wong, it is due to the properties of these molecules that micellar water can be such an effective cleanser, “since make-up, sebum, grease and dirt are all oily.” When you apply micellar water to your skin using a cotton pad, the surfactants get to work capturing oil-based impurities, allowing you to wipe them away without having to add water.

Is micellar water a toner?

Micellar water looks similar to a toner–they’re both liquid skincare products you apply with a cotton pad–, but they are not the same.

The main difference between them comes down to function: a micellar water is a cleanser in and of itself, while toner is a care product you apply after cleansing. For this reason, micellar water contains cleansing agents–surfactants arranged in micelles–, while a toner doesn’t. Conversely, a toner may include ingredients that wouldn’t normally be present in a micellar water, such as astringents or exfoliating acids.

Your skincare routine may have room for both, because they are definitely not the same type of product.

How to use micellar water

One of the main selling points of this type of micellar water is that it’s simple to use:

  1. Dispense the product onto a cotton pad;
  2. Start with the eyes. If you’re wearing eye makeup, place the soaked cotton pad over your eyes and allow a few seconds before wiping it downwards;
  3. Move on to your face, swiping your cotton pad across the skin with gentle movements;
  4. Repeat with a second or third cotton pad until they come out clean.

However, things can get complicated when you try to figure out when, exactly, to use micellar water in your skincare routine. Should you use it before or after your cleanser? Should you rinse it our after use? We’ll get to some of these common questions below:

When should you use micellar water in your skincare routine?

As we have already seen, micellar water is a cleanser, so it should be used early in your skincare routine. All other skincare products–such as toners, serums, or moisturizers–should ideally come after. We’re going to guide you through a couple of options below:

Option 1: Use micellar water as your first cleanser in a double cleansing routine

As you know, double cleansing is a skin cleansing protocol that consists of using two cleansers: first an oil-based one (like an oil or balm), and then a water-based one (usually a face wash). The idea is that the oil-based cleanser will capture impurities, and the water-based cleanser will help wash them away and, at the same time, remove the remains of the first cleanser.

If you practice double cleansing (as we do, here at Care to Beauty), micellar water can be a good oil-based cleanser to use in the first part of this routine.

Option 2: Use micellar water as your one and only cleanser

If you don’t wear a lot of makeup (or no makeup at all), micellar water might just be enough to provide you with a thorough cleanse. Apply it to a cotton pad, swipe gently across your face, and you’ll be good to go. Depending on your preference, you may want to rinse out your face with water, but that’s optional.

Should you wash off or rinse out micellar water?

The debate over whether or not you should rinse out your face after using micellar water is a long-standing one. Generally, brands that sell this type of product will tell you that there is no need to rinse out after use–micellar water contains only mild surfactants, they say, so there’s no harm in leaving it on. It might actually be beneficial, some brands will argue, as their waters contain hydrating or nourishing ingredients meant to leave your skin feeling comfortable and plump after use.

That’s one approach. The alternative approach claims that you should rinse out micellar water, yes, becasue you want to avoid leaving any kind of surfactant–remember, that’s a cleansing agent–on your skin. This is particularly relevant advice for anyone who has dry or sensitive skin, as a small amount of residue can be enough to sensitize or irritate the skin.

In the end, the choice is yours: if you’ve been using your micellar water without rinsing and your skin feels fine, it’s hard to argue that you’ve been doing it wrong. If your experience is the opposite, however, and you find that this type of product tends to dry out your skin, try rinsing it out with water–it might just help!

Can you use micellar water without cotton pads?

The most common way to use micellar water is with cotton pads, but there are certainly alternatives.

If you want to avoid the waste of using single-use cotton pads, you can use reusable pads, like the GLOV Moon Pads Reusable Makeup Remover Pads or the LastRound Reusable Makeup Remover Pads. You can also use reusable cotton cloths, like the Pestle & Mortar Double Sided Face Cloths

If you really want to avoid using any type of accessory, reusable or not, you can always apply micellar water with your hands:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly;
  2. Dispense a small amount of micellar water onto your palm;
  3. Apply it to your face using gentle, circular motions;
  4. Rinse out. If you’re not using a cotton pad, you may need a little help removing the impurities from your skin, so we recommed giving your face a gentle wash in the end.

Pros and cons of micellar water

Pros Cons
Quick and easy to use May need cotton pads for optimal application
Removes makeup and other impurities May not be able to remove waterproof makeup
Replaces both makeup removers and general cleansers (or face washes) May still need to be rinsed out
Contains mild surfactants which are often suitable for sensitive skin

Which micellar water is the best?

It’s impossible to find a micellar water that’s truly the best for everyone. Each person has different skin needs, so the best micellar water for some may not be suitable for others. Below, we leave you with a selection of three products we love, and which can be useful for different needs:

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Micelle Solution

Best for sensitive skin

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Micelle Solution is more than a bestseller, it’s a superstar cleanser! Well known for being just as effective in removing makeup as it is gentle on sensitive skin, the formula doesn’t contain fragrance or alcohol.

Thanks to Micellar Technology, this formula captures all the residues without disrupting the skin’s natural protective layer. The only difficulty you’ll have is picking the right size and format for your needs!

Garnier Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Water

Best for waterproof makeup

There’s no waterproof makeup that would outlive Garnier Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Water. This formula is particularly suitable for normal to dry skin types, as it features an oil phase that not only allows for waterproof makeup cleansing but also leaves the skin feeling comfortable and soft. This oil-infused cleanser makes makeup removal easier than ever!

Want to take learn more? Then make sure to read up our explainer on the best Garnier micellar waters for every skin type.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Filler [HA] Replumping Micellar Water

Best for an anti-aging skincare routine

To complement your anti-aging skincare routine, L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Filler [HA] Replumping Micellar Water is the perfect cleanser. As it removes all traces of makeup, it also hydrates and softens the skin thanks to hyaluronic acid.

Suitable for all skin types, you may use it every day to help boost the anti-aging benefits of your routine.

Now that you know the basics of how to use micellar water, you’re ready to decide whether this type of cleanser is a good fit for your skincare routine. Still unsure? Then make sure to browse our full selection of cleansers in the shop–from cleansing oils to micellar waters, we’ve got the cleanser for you.

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