Is Micellar Water As Good As They Say?

Micelle Question and AnswerQuestion:  What do you think of the Micellar cleansers?  I have rosacea and I am always looking for a non-irritating way of  washing my face.

Answer: I hear you.  I’ve got sensitive skin too  and I am always looking for effective cleansers that don’t trigger problems.   I am intrigued by the narrative about Micellar cleansers and your question pushed me to do  both  book and practical reseach.

Micellar Cleansers 101

Micellaire waters are clear, usually colorless and often fragrance free.  They are applied with a cotton ball, applied to the face to remove dirt and oil. Unlike other cleansers they  remain on the skin and are  not rinsed off with water.  Micellar cleansers  are very proud  of the fact that they  are soap and detergent free, but that claim is somewhat misleading.  Micellaire waters  have chemicals with a different action from detergents but they are still a form of surfactant.

Here’s how they  work.  The micellar molecules act kind of like little a pac man  that gobles up the dirt and oil.  By contrast soaps and  detergents act like wetting agents to help water  dissolve the bonds  between oil and dirt.

Sounds  good, but how well does  micellar water work?  Some brands say they work with  make-up including eye make-up,  Other advise   avoiding eyes and or that  they  do not remove oil based  make-up.  In other words, the action and activity of  micelle water vary from brand to brand.

Micellaire Field Research

The first brand I tried was Sephora Eau Micellaire demaquillante.  I poured a bit on a cotton ball  and started  to  rub it gently on my face. Almost immediately, my eyes   started to burn a bit even though it was nowhere  near my eyes.   Although  it was recommended  for eye make-up removal, I did  not feel comfortable using  to take off  my liner and mascara.

I could see from the cotton ball that at least some of my blush and  BB cream  had been removed.  But my skin  did not  feel clean, so I added a bit of   Neutrogena  facial cleanser to another  wet cotton ball and  rubbed it  on my face.  This second  cotton ball showed  that a good bit of make-up had remained after the Micellar cleanser. Then I used  my favorite oil free eyemake-up remover  for a final step.  As it turned out using  a Micellar cleanser took three separate steps and products– not exactly a time or money saver.

Other Brands, Same Story

I tried two  other brands of Micellar cleansers (  Lancome Eau Friache  Douche and Caudalie  Eau Micellaire Demaquillante) )  with pretty much the same results.  Some were not as irritating, but still did not do a through job  of cleaning.  I was also disappointed that the most  expensive  cleanserfrom Lancome had alcohol as the second ingredient.  For skin that is sensitive or suffers from eczema  or rosacea,  alcohol  is a poor choice.   Bottom  line, compared to  Micellar  water, real water is  free and  does not contain preservatives, fragrance, preservatives and alcohol.   Its an easy choice.

7 thoughts on “Is Micellar Water As Good As They Say?

  1. I’ve used the Bioderma micellar waters (both the “Crealine” and “ABC” meant for cleaning babies) for a couple of years now and have never had any issues with irritation. I’ve found them to be very effective as makeup removers, but I also wash my face with a cleansing milk (and my Clarisnic, three times per week) afterward.

    • Yes, the other products I used did not irritate my skin, but did not really clean my skin. I too had to use an additional cleanser and if someone has either rosacea or eczema this would mean they had to cleanse their face twice– not a good idea for sensitive skins. I have a photo of three cotton balls that I used to wash cleanse my skin. The first showed that some make up was removed but the second cotton ball with Cetaphil, also showed how much makeup had remained after the micellar water. I thought the cotton balls were a bit gross so I did not post them, but maybe I should have.

  2. I have the Bioderma water and I use it occasionally in the morning if there is still a slick of mascara under my eye. It works for that but I don’t like the feeling of it on my face for full makeup removal. I swear by sweet almond oil and a couple of baby wipes (fragrance and alcohol free, aldi, I use). In the morning I use a konjac sponge and my skin has never been better. The konjac sponge is safe for babies and sensitive skin and will change the way you cleanse your face.

    • I agree! I love to use baby wipes at night when I am really tired. I actually keep a package next to my bed. And almond oil is absolutely lovely. I will be doing a post about its special benefits. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Yet another example of pseudo-science being use to sell products. “Micellar water” doesn’t exist – a micelle is formed when a surfactant is added to water. At it’s core is a hydrophobic region that absorbs oils, hence the reason why detergents remove oily stains – they don’t break bonds or anything else – all they do is provide an environment that the oil is soluble in so rather than staying in the water they move into the core of the micelle. The main component of these products is simply a very mild surfactant –

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