What Is Micellar Water, and Should I Be Using It?

One dermatologist explains the gentlest (and possibly most confusing) skincare product you should be using: micellar water.


You’ve heard about it, maybe even used it, but do you know what micellar water actually is?

Micellar water–also called micellar cleansing water–seems to be that mystery skincare product that leaves many of us scratching our heads. It looks like water and even feels like water, but (as you’ll later find out) it’s far from that. I asked dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara why this stuff is so important for clean, healthy skin.

What Is Micellar Water and How Does It Work?

“Micellar water has little tiny micelles suspended in it. Micelles surround dirt particles and break them down—they can clean the skin without drying it out, so there’s no barrier-stripping soap needed.” says Gohara. Micelles, if you’re wondering, are tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules that attract dirt and oil naturally, so you’re not stripping the skin of the natural oils it needs to stay hydrated and healthy.

Why You Should Use Micellar Water

So, why do you need micellar cleansing water? Doesn’t cleanser do the same thing? Well… not exactly. “I like micellar water as part of a double cleanse,” explains Gohara. “It gets rid of the big stuff like makeup, oil, and dirt while the gentle non-soap cleanser takes care of the nitty-gritty grime hiding deep in the pores,” says Gohara.

Gohara explains it simply: “Irritating soaps strip the skin of natural oils and proteins; micellar water helps to keep the barrier in tact, translating into healthy skin.” Micellar water is like your best, heavy duty soap without the dry, dull skin afterwards. It’ll keep impurities off your face and leave you feeling refreshed and, most of all, clean.

Ready to Test Out Micellar Water? Try These Brands

Are you convinced yet? If you’re thinking about trying micellar water, Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water ($12; amazon.com) has been a staple of mine for two years and has yet to let me down. Gohara loves La Roche-Posay ($20; amazon.com), but you can also find micellar water at any drugstore near you– a drugstore favorite is the Garnier micellar water ($7; target.com). Since it’s growing in popularity, everyone has been jumping on the micellar water train, and believe me, you don’t want to miss out.

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