What the Hell is Micellar Water?

Determining whether or not new beauty trends and products are worth the hype is getting harder and harder as marketing gets more efficient. I heard about micellar water through a group of beauty gurus I happened upon on Facebook, but is it worth paying for? We’ll see.

In case you’ve missed the commotion, micellar water is touted as “the lazy girl’s face wash.” It earned this title of high regard because it doesn’t require a sink – at all. Just shake a little onto a cotton ball and simply wipe your makeup off. Then… you’re done. Then you aren’t wearing makeup anymore. No rinsing or scrubbing required.

Micellar Water: Lofty Claims

Micellar water reports that it:

Removes makeup
Cleans skin
Doesn’t require washing off or rinsing
Leaves skin moisturized
Removes “””impurities””” (whatever that means)

These claims were perpetuated by the notion that French girls do this. Yep, ring the alarms: there’s a beauty product that might turn you into a coquettish, demure French girl. Time to dump out your purse onto the beauty shop counter, right?

NOPE, for sure not. Rearranging your cultural heritage is a bit beyond the scope of micellar water’s capabilities. So, if that’s what drew you in, you can go now! It won’t do it and also nothing else will! Sorry!

Francophile letdown aside, micellar water still sounds like a dream come true… There’s no alcohol, no oil, and nothing that could agitate sensitive skin. There’s no washing it off, no using a wipe, no pre-wash makeup remover… just micellar water, a cotton ball, and you: a love story.

Micellar Water Brands

…Or is it? In my old age, I’m getting tired of being tricked into thinking that quick fixes will actually work. Looking at the science behind micellar water’s claims is as easy as Googling your questions as they come to you. I mean, that’s what I did, and I found four excellent explanations of why micellar water does what it does:

So, Does Micellar Water Work?

The good news is: they all say the same thing! Yay consensus! The bad news is: I’m going to try to synthesize their eloquent explanations into a quick’n’dirty paragraph or two. There’s no good reason to be doing this! But I’m definitely doing it anyway!

First of all, let’s get the word “micellar” off of our IDK List by defining it. Micelles are actually microscopic molecules made up of water and surfectants which are molecules that you see frequently in soaps, shampoos, and detergents. They’re the molecules that do all the work in making things clean again! Pretty normal for a face wash-related use, I’d say.

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Surfectants are cool because on one end of the molecule (which one of the above posts suggests picturing as a tadpole) is a water loving “head.” (This is where I start to dislike the tadpole symbolism.) On the tail end, they suck up oil like nobody’s business, so they’re amazing for makeup remover which, as we know, is their major claim.

Micellar Water Micelles Diagram

(I may write my own explanation but I will shamelessly steal diagrams from The Superficial Sciences.)

When these surfectant molecules meet water, they bond together with their oil-loving ends facing outwards forming a little skydiver circle of scrubby power. As they collect oil and grease from your disgusting face, they trap it in the middle of their skydiver circle and leave your face oil-free and clean.

Some, if not all micellar waters are made with soft water – meaning lesser quantities of magnesium, calcium, iron, blah blah blah… Soft water is way more compatible with soap, so this puts it to good use.

All of this fancy science aside, micellar water is pretty much super-diluted soapy water. It doesn’t leave enough soap on your face to dry up your skin, but the functions are the same as soap. Some people

It turns out that you can actually DIY up some of your very own micellar water (my-cellar water, maybe? No? Alright.) with only a few ingredients that sound like they’re from the set of Breaking Bad. Just kidding, they’re entirely harmless and mostly recognizable.

I’m halfway through my first-ever bottle of micellar water (Simple Micellar Water – cheapest at Pharmapacks!). I’ll be sure to review it soon! Could this be a skincare game changer!?

What is your experience with micellar water? Love it or hate it, I wanna hear it!

Lindsay Ginn

Livin' in your basement, eatin' your canned foods.

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  • The Beautiful Things

    just did a post like this actually…i really disliked it! http://www.the-beautiful-things.com/2016/03/31/garnier-micellar-water/

    • Thank you for sharing!! Really interesting that the Garnier micellar water didn’t remove your foundation! I am kind of shocked… I’ve been using the Simple micellar water to take off what makeup wipes leave behind. I wonder if they could really be that different. (PS your nails in that post are bangin’ !!!)

  • gloria

    Love them! feels refreshing and its so easy. Some of my friends thought it sounded stupid to buy ‘water’ but i’ve got them hooked