Micellar water is a simple combination of micelles (tiny, power-packed cleansing molecules) and the soft water they’re suspended in. Micelles are attracted to dirt and oils and can extract them without stripping your skin. Because of this, micellar water can be used as a face wash, makeup remover, and moisturiser all in one. This has caused some to beg the question: is there such a thing as a better skincare product than micellar water?

In order to understand what this wonder-product can really do (and why it can do it) we’re diving deep, giving you all the answers you need to know: Where does micellar water come from?
- What actually is micellar water?
- How does micellar water work?
- How can you build it into a daily routine?
- Are there any skin types that should steer clear of micellar water?
- Which micellar water is right for you?

The secrets to this super skincare addition are right here at your fingertips.

Where did micellar water come from?

Before we dive into the science of micellar water, here’s a little bit of backstory. Micellar water, it turns out, has been a staple of the French beauty regime for over a hundred years. That is to say, a while before today’s mainstream spike in popularity. The technology itself originates at the University of Bristol in the UK, where micellar water was officially conceived in 1913. Following its invention, it was swiftly introduced to the Paris marketplace to help Parisians deal with the harsh water supplied to the city at the time – thus making it a key player in the Parisian women’s reputation of having an effortless beauty routine. Even up until fairly recently, makeup artists, photographers, models, and the fashion industry have all been keeping the multitude of benefits of micellar water under wraps.

What actually is micellar water?

The science behind micellar water is the key to its enduring success as a beauty product. It’s all about the chemistry. Washing-up liquid, shampoos, bubble baths, and hand soaps are all types of detergents. In every type of detergent, the key ingredient that allows them to pick up dirt is a small compound molecule called a surfactant. Surfactants are particularly special types of molecules: they look a little bit like tadpoles, each with a head and a tail. The head of the surfactant loves water and gravitates towards it. It is what’s known as a “hydrophilic” molecule. The tail of the molecule, on the other hand, is known as “hydrophobic” which means it hates water. When these tadpole-like surfactants are introduced into a water-based liquid, the water-hating tails gravitate towards one another, with the heads exposed, forming little orbs that have a water-loving exterior, and water-hating interior anatomy. These are called micelles and they are the stars of micellar water – as you can likely guess from the name.

How does micellar water work?

The reason micellar water is so effective is that when micelles are suspended in water – the way they are in all micellar cleansing projects – these small molecules become attracted to dirt, grime, smoke, makeup, and any other environmental pollutants that could be resting right there on the surface of your skin at the end of a long day. These impurities are much more attractive to the hydrophobic (tail) side of micelles than the water they’re stuck in that as soon as they come in contact, the dirt and debris they find is carried up and inside the microscopic orbs that makeup the micelles. At the same time, the outer heads of the very same micelles have no interest in lifting any hydration from your skin because they are hydrophilic and are already very satisfied with the soft water they’re in. A micellar cleanser doesn’t foam the way a traditional cleanser will.

The reason micellar cleansers are great for sensitive skin is because they are more gentle on the skin, leaving it feeling soothed and soft. Other traditional cleansers, on the other hand, are often formulated to provide a more intense cleanse of the skin and can help slough off dead cells – like an exfoliant – or to remove potential build-up in pores that could lead to acne. As technological advancements are made in the formulation of micellar products, we’re seeing new ways to work with the original micellar water compound that allow for a much wider micellar offering. More on that later...

How can you build micellar water into a daily routine?

The basic principle of adding micellar water into your daily skincare routine remains the same regardless of how or when you apply it – it’s all about a simple application on a cotton pad. But building micellar water into your routine can happen in one of a few different ways depending on your lifestyle. Consider some important factors like your skin type, how often and at what time of day you like to cleanse, how much makeup you typically wear, etc. These are always good starting points when considering any new skincare product.

For a night time routine…

By far the most popular time during the day to whip out your micellar water for cleansing is the evening, when you’re preparing for bed after a long day facing the outside elements. No matter what environment you find yourself in during the day – whether you’ve been out in the city or inside the office – you’re likely to find residue on your cotton pad after an application of micellar cleansing water. That’s it’s job, to lift all that debris away, even the stuff you can’t see.

To use a standard micellar cleansing formula, all you’ll need is a cotton pad and your chosen bottle of micellar water. Soak your cotton pad in micellar water and work the product over the nose, then up and around the cheekbones, across the forehead then down over the chin. If you’re not wearing eye or lip makeup at this point, add your eye, brow, and lip areas into this single swipe maneuver. If you are wearing heavy eye or lip makeup, you may want to use a second or third cotton pad and press down gently to remove tougher makeup products.
Micellar waters are a trifecta of night time bliss for your skin – they work for you as makeup removers, as your standard face wash, and they leave your skin’s natural hydration system intact. They’re suitable for daily use, and adding them into your routine at this point in the day not only cuts down on your evening skincare ritual, but also gives you the opportunity for a little extra pampering. For example, you can soak two cotton pads at once, take one in each hand, and give your face a cleansing massage by adding a little pressure as you swipe.

There’s no need to rinse your face after a micellar cleansing water application, so you can massage your face for as long or as little time as you like to aid relaxation and help you prepare for sleep.

For anyone travelling who wants to feel at home…

Typically, micellar water comes in a bottle that looks just like water – exactly the same way it has been packaged for decades in France. It’s usually a pretty big bottle and it’s certainly not very carry-on friendly. If you’re a regular traveller, you can thankfully get pre-soaked wipes as a convenient option. At Garnier, these come with 25 wipes in a resealable pack, meaning they’ll last as long as you can stretch them out for. They’re completely soaked in micellar water goodness, and the pads are made from fine silk threads formed into luxurious cotton towelettes for maximum care and convenience. It couldn’t be easier to give your skin a treat.

Simply open your pack of to-go wipes and remove one soaked cotton towelette. These will be bigger than the cotton pads you have on hand at home, so you’ll only need one to cleanse your whole face – whether you’re wearing heavy makeup or not. Simply wipe as you would with cotton pads – from across the nose area, up over the cheeks to the forehead and down across the chin and lips. If you’re wearing eye makeup, focus on this last, as it will likely pick up the most residue and you don’t want to spread that all over your skin.

For those who want to keep their usual cleansing routine...

If you prefer a more traditional approach to your skincare routine, it’s possible to use micellar water in a way that foams like a traditional cleanser. It offers the same benefits as a standard micellar water formula, but delivers the payoff of a foaming cleanser that might feel more familiar to you when you think about cleansing your skin.
To use a micellar foaming cleanser formula, simply give your face a splash of water – it doesn’t matter whether this is warm or cold, so long as your face is damp. Then apply a few pumps of micellar cleanser to the palm of your hand, rub your hands together to form a lather, and work into your skin with your fingertips in a circular motion until your face is suitably foamy. This is good point in your routine to give yourself a massage along your jawbone and eyebrow areas. Not only does this help you release any tension before bed, it also gives you a few minutes of dedicated ‘me time’ in your evening. When your face feels thoroughly lathered and cleansed, rinse off with warm water and pat dry gently with a towel. Micellar foaming formulas still won’t strip your skin of its natural hydration, so you don’t necessarily need to use a moisturiser afterwards.
The best thing about micellar water-based products is that they’re so gentle on the skin, they’re suitable for everyday use and can be used whenever you like. Micellar water is a wonderful pick-me-up whenever your skin is feeling a little dull or dirty, like after a workout or a long commute. Just grab a cotton pad, and give the area in need of cleansing a gentle swipe over.

Are there any skin types that should steer clear of micellar water?

Traditionally speaking, micellar water has always been a perfect product for normal, combination, and sensitive skin. As micellar waters increase in popularity, technology is growing in step with it. At Garnier, for example, research and technological advancements have allowed for a full range of micellar water and cleanser options to be produced – specifically with the aim of helping those with combination, oily or acne prone skin get in on the micellar action.

Which micellar water is right for you?

We know that all this information might feel overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up our Garnier micellar water-based products to help give you an overview of which products are the best ones to add into your daily or nightly routine.

Micellar Cleansing Water

The is the original micellar water product from Garnier. It’s an effective and efficient product that cleanses your skin as it removes your makeup, all in one step. It is an essential if you’re looking to hydrate as you cleanse – or if you’re not a fan of the second rinse step! It acts like a magnet to whisk away dirt and debris from the skin and doesn’t require any harsh pressure or rubbing to get the job done. Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is formulated for all skin types, including sensitive ones, and comes in a generous 400ml format, which lasts for up to 200* uses.
*With a regular cotton pad

Micellar Cleansing Water for Combination Skin

If you consider yourself to have combination skin, consider Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for Combination Skin to be your perfect cleanser and makeup remover. It’s suitable for use on your face, eye area and lips to help tackle all of your makeup products (including lipstick!) and various skin types in just a few smooth, gentle swipes.

Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water

The first of its kind from Garnier, this Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water blends micellar technology with gentle oils to create a product that not only attracts impurities like a magnet, but simultaneously lifts dirt away from the skin and instantly dissolves even the toughest of makeup. It’s formulated specifically for those with dry or sensitive skin, or anyone who wears waterproof makeup which needs a bit more of a nudge to remove. Like its counterpart micellar waters, this product works wonders without rubbing or rinsing after use and comes in a large, 400ml format for plenty of product at the ready.

Garnier Pure Active Micellar Cleansing Water

Alongside Garnier’s other micellar cleansing waters, Garnier Pure Active Micellar Cleansing Water is a one-step makeup remover and cleanser. Designed for an active lifestyle and oily complexions, this formula effortless and effectively removes dirt, debris, waterproof makeup, excess sweat and excess sebum – the natural oils that your skin and hair produce. It is enriched with purifying agents and helps fight off the appearance of impurities for fully refreshed face, eye and lip areas in a few smooth, quick swipes of a cotton pad.

Micellar Extra-Gentle Cleansing Wipes

Take your micellar cleansing water to go with Garnier Micellar Water Extra-Gentle Cleansing Wipes. This handy grab and go product contains 25 luxuriously soft face wipes, each made of thin silk fibres, that are soaked in Garnier’s original micellar cleansing water formula. They’re specifically designed with sensitive skin in mind, packed full of cleansing agents that remove dirt and impurities and lift them away with ease. Like the bottles for at-home use, these pre-soaked wipes efficiently dissolve makeup while they cleanse and hydrate your skin, so there’s no rubbing or rinsing needed.

Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Wipes

Keeping your skin clean and clear is made a whole lot easier with Garnier Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Wipes. Soaked in Garnier’s original micellar cleansing water and oil formula, these soft, thick wipes are easy on the skin and work to break down even the toughest of waterproof makeup products while also ridding the skin of daily dirt and debris. They are great for your whole face – eyes, lips and cheeks – and they’re formulated with dry and sensitive skin types in mind, so following use your skin should feel makeup-free, cleansed, and totally hydrated and soothed.

Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash

The newest product to the Garnier micellar cleansing range is Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash. For those that prefer a more traditional cleansing routine, this product offers the dual benefits of micellar cleansing water and a foaming gel cleanser. Like other Garnier micellar cleansing products, it offers an all-in-one solution that rids your face of the day’s makeup while also cleansing and soothing your skin. Perfume-free and created with grape extract, this formula is suitable for all skin types – including sensitive skin – and rinses off easily with warm water after use. It’s an addition that builds seamlessly into your indulgent evening ritual.

Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash for Combination Skin

If you’re someone with combination skin that loves their night time rituals, Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash for Combination Skin is the perfect product for you. It is developed with combination and sensitive skin in mind and delivers micellar cleansing water technology in a new, rinse-off gel formula. Using gentle circular motions, this foaming gel formula targets makeup, dirt, debris and excess sebum to cleanse your face like no other wash. Simply rinse off with warm, soothing water when you’re done and follow with your routine as normal for ultra-hydrated and cleansed combination skin.

Micellar Skin Active Beautify Gift Set

Treat yourself with the Garnier Micellar Skin Active Beautify Gift Set – a perfect combination of two skincare essentials. For daytime, the kit includes Garnier BB Cream that’s designed to moisturise, hydrate and protect while simultaneously offering a lightweight, breathable coverage of colour to help beautify and smooth the appearance your skin. For night time, Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water removes dirt, impurities, and your day’s makeup with ease in a few quick strokes of a cotton pad. The overall effect of the duo? You’ll say goodbye and good riddance to the appearance of fatigue, dullness, lines, and imperfections and hello to a radiant, lit-from-within glow. If you want a simple but effective beauty routine to add into your day, you’re looking at it. To summarise all of this information, the top five things you need to know about micellar water are:
  1. Micellar water is a tried and tested product that’s been around for more than 100 years and, until recently, has a been laying low on fashion sets, in makeup artists’ kits, and, of course, alongside the beauty-conscious Parisian set. All of whom seemingly can’t live without it.
  2. Micellar water is made up of microscopic micelles that are suspended in a soft water solution and are magnetised to dirt and debris, lifting it up and away from your skin in a smooth gentle motion without stripping your skin of its natural hydration.
  3. With today’s advancements in technology, building a micellar water into your cleansing, makeup removal, and skin hydration routine has never been easier. Simply choose the product you love the most, grab a cotton pad and transform your regime!
  4. One of the many benefits of micellar water-based products is that they don’t require rinsing with water following use, which means they can take the place of a full evening cleansing routine in just a few swipes.
  5. Garnier has developed a full range of micellar-based formulas with all different skin types in mind, so choosing the right product for your skin type will help ensure that your product delivers maximum effectiveness.

The Micellar Range