For years, I’ve struggled with blemishes and less-than-perfect skin. It’s not made better by the fact that I live in a city with polluted air that seems to constantly clog my pores and dull my skin.
In answer to my woes, my dermatologist recommended that I replace my daily toner with micellar water — and the results have been impressive.
My complexion has gradually evened out and becomes less oily, and I now only deal with the occasional and easy-to-manage blemish.
For that reason, micellar water has become my go-to skincare product, and I’m quick to suggest it to friends, coworkers, and family members who complain about problem skin. If you’re struggling or simply want to change up your skincare routine, here’s everything you need to know about this beauty product made popular in France.
Toner, used to remove excess dirt and oil from your skin, can, unfortunately, have a drying effect — especially toners with alcohol. While toner intends to keep blemishes at bay, it can actually cause irritation. If you do want to include a toner in your morning routine, my dermatologist-approved the popular alcohol-free rose toner from Thayers.
But it’s best to replace that toner, especially during your nighttime skincare routine, with micellar water.
Micellar water is a more effective approach due to its gentler, non-alcoholic formula. It actually has a rather simple ingredients list: purified water, glycerin, and mild surfactants. When it comes to skincare, less is more, and in the case of micellar water, this means fewer harsh ingredients.
Micellar water removes impurities like dead skin cells or dirt (and in my case, metropolitan pollutants). The surfactants form minuscule spheres, called micelles, that pull debris and makeup out of pores without any drying effect.
With dirt nowhere to be found on your face, pores remain clog-free and blemishes fade away. Skin feels refreshed, moist, and able to breathe.
Micellar water for every budget
Another attractive feature of micellar water is its affordability. Take a look at some of these formulas from leading brands to see which one fits your budget.
Those with acne-prone skin are often fans of the budget-friendly Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Micellar Water. As one of the gentlest formulas on the market, you’re able to cleanse your face more than once a day without worrying about excessive drying, irritation, or overspending.
This rose water-infused micellar water from Garnier is well-liked for its balance of hydration and cleansing. It’s formulated with sensitive skin in mind, as it’s free of parabens, fragrances, and sulfates. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned Thayers rose toner, consider this as an alternative.
If you’re a daily makeup wearer with contact lenses, pick up Vichy’s Pureté Thermale Mineral Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin. This micellar water won’t sting eyes or stick to lenses. Its fortified formula includes Pro-Vitamin B5 for moisturizing and healing, which is especially important to keep redness at bay.
As for those who wear high-pigment or waterproof makeup, this option from La Roche-Posay is ideal. It’s formulated with the brand’s antioxidant-rich Thermal Spring Water to soothe skin during makeup removal, and it also serves as a gentle yet effective antioxidant.
For a total soothing experience for dry or sun-damaged skin, pick up Dior’s micellar water-based cleanser. This well-balanced formula features echinacea flower extract for skin calming and redness control. Consumers swear by the overnight difference with its first use.
If you’re willing to spend big on the purest micellar water out there, take a look at luxury skincare brand La Mer. Their micellar water is totally free of harsh and comedogenic ingredients including formaldehyde-releasing agents, triclosan, and coal tar — just to name a few. The formula is even vegan and cruelty-free, and it comes in recyclable packaging.
Working micellar water into your skincare routine
To maximize your micellar results, work it into a well-developed skincare routine. Choosing the right products and tools, like those below, make for a winning combination to keep skin looking its best.
Face wash: While micellar water cleanses skin and removes makeup, you’ll still need a deeper cleaning with traditional face wash from time to time. I use Kiehl’s Since 1851 Calendula Deep Clean Foaming Face Wash before applying micellar water, moisturizer, and sunscreen/makeup. It’s a great option for its lightweight gel consistency and nurturing formula.
Moisturizer: Gentle moisturizing is also key when it comes to managing acne-prone skin, as dry skin over-produces oil (which isn’t what you want). Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator is allergy-tested and oil-free, so it’s a winner among those with ultra-sensitive skin.
How to use micellar water
If you’re sold on the benefits of micellar water, here’s another one: It has more than one use. It can be applied either as a preparatory product before moisturizers and makeup or used to remove a face full of product and build-up at the end of the day. There’s no need to rinse off micellar formula either, so it’s considered an ultra low-maintenance product.
Application is simple; squirt a modest amount of micellar water on a cotton round gently rub it in a circular motion around your face. Product and dirt transfer onto the round, and you have a fresh face ready for the next step of your beauty routine.