There are loads of micellar waters on the market now – but do you know what micellar water is and how you should be using it?

What is micellar water?

Micellar water is a liquid that mostly looks like water, but don’t be fooled – it’s a little more high tech than that. The solution is made up of micelles (microscopic balls of oily cleansing agents) and additional functional ingredients (originally hydrators, but more recently also soothing or astringent ingredients, according to the skin type the micellar water is indicated for) suspended in soft water.

Where does micellar water come from?

Even though micellar water has only been a common beauty product in the last decade or so, it’s been around in France for ages. Back in the day, plumbing in France wasn’t quite up to scratch and the water was exceptionally harsh, and French women needed a solution. Rumour has it many French women (and men) still won’t rinse their faces with tap water to this day.

How does micellar water work?

When micellar water is applied to the skin, dirt, oil and make-up are attached to the micelles and are removed from your skin in this way.

How should you use micellar water?

Apply micellar water to cotton wool and wipe it over your skin until it’s clean. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to rinse your skin afterwards.

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What are the benefits of using micellar water?

Let’s start with a very obvious one – micellar water is convenient to use. You don’t need water, a basin, a face cloth or a towel – you only need the product and some cotton wool.

While we’re on the topic of convenience – micellar water is much gentler on your skin than facial wipes. It contains gentler ingredients, and is more likely to be free from or contain lower concentrations of potential skin irritants like fragrance and alcohol.

Despite its name, micellar water is waterless. So if you’re trying to save water, it’s a great option.

Micellar water is a good option if a no-rinse method has been prescribed by your dermatologist. Water sounds very benign, but it can be drying if your skin barrier or acid mantle is impaired.

Micellar water can help to keep your skin’s pH balance healthy. Harsh cleansers (as well as the rinsing that go with them) can disrupt your skin’s pH level, which in turn compromises your skin’s protective barrier. This affects your skin in multiple ways, including dryness, redness and breakouts.

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Are all micellar waters the same?

To be honest, standard micellar waters are fairly similar. I once had bits and pieces leftover and filled a big bottle with four different versions and couldn’t notice a difference if my life depended on it.

There are, however, different variations for different skin types where you’ll definitely notice a difference, so if you have oily, dry or sensitive skin, look for one suited to your skin type.

Two great micellar waters

Garnier Micellar Oil Infused Water, R89,95 (Clicks, Dis-Chem), is a bi-phase liquid. I love it because it’s the best of both worlds – it has the power of an oil-based make-up remover, but it leaves your skin feeling fresh, clean, and free from residue. It’s also great for fragile skin or eyes as you need much less elbow grease to get the job done.

Avene Cleanance Micellar Water, R300 (Clicks, Dis-Chem), reduces excess oil and is also suitable for sensitive skin, which makes it great for inflamed acne skin.

Can micellar water replace traditional cleanser?

Many people have replaced all cleansing with micellar water and report great benefits from doing so. I’m not comfortable doing so as I’m just not convinced it cleans 100% as well as a cream- or oil-based cleanser. It’s definitely a safe and healthy option for your skin, so there’s no reason why you can’t at least try it and see if it works for you.

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