The French have gotten a lot of things right. Bordeaux, baguettes, brie, vacation days—everything seems so luxurious and effortless. Which is why, when your brutal fall work schedule arrives—and the accompanying face-freezing nor-easters—it’s time to check in and see what the French are up to. Meet micellar water: a skincare trick that’s over 100 years old. It’s designed to cut your morning routine in half, plus add extra moisture when you most need it.
The Water That Gently Cleans And Tones
Although effortlessly French, and most popular there, Dr. Debra Luftman of LuftmanMD in Beverly Hills explains that “the technology of [micellar water] is actually quite old, dating back from research at the University of Bristol in 1913.” The formula was designed to combat the negative effects of France’s hard water supply—it’s essentially water with tiny spheres of oil that trap and remove makeup, oil and impurities from the skin. The rinseless formula removes makeup, cleanses and tones skin all at once. With a simple swipe of a cleansing pad, the micelle particles in the formula draw out dirt and makeup from the skin. It’s no wonder the water is a makeup artist favorite and has earned cult beauty status, with Bioderma’s micellar water selling one bottle every 3 seconds (you read that right).
How Does It Work? (Is This For Real?)
Micelles are tiny fat molecules that float in water and hold onto the oil, dirt, and makeup on the face. Using a cotton pad is one of the reasons micellar water is so effective. Because cotton is hydrophilic (water-loving) the hydrophilic heads of the solution are attracted to the cotton, leaving the hydrophobic tails to stick up and attract the oil and dirt and makeup when swiped along skin, working almost like a magnet. For the lazy girl in all of us, this is the perfect solution to washing your face quickly, and effectively.
Can I Use Micellar Water Instead of Cleanser and Make-Up Wipes?
“It’s great for travel when you don’t have access to your full toiletry bag,” says Dr. Luftman. “Considering the fact that it requires absolutely no rinsing and is suited for all skin types—especially super dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin—the water is a serious game changer.” If you have oily skin, you may not feel that it cleanses your skin enough and it’s not the best at removing waterproof mascara. Problems aside, the cleansing water is easy to use and surprisingly effective in removing impurities, including makeup, while respecting skin’s balance. The cleansers are paraben-free, perfume-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic.
Directions + Our Favorites
Many use micellar water as both makeup remover and cleanser. Gently drag a cotton pad soaked in the cleansing water across your entire face. Repeat movement 2-3 times. Do not rinse. What about stubborn mascara or lots of makeup? You may need a second micellar water soaked pad, or make the second pass your favorite eye makeup remover.
- Bioderma Créaline TS H²O —$25 (500ml). An affordable option, this classic kicked off the trend. Bioderma offers several options, for extra-sensitive to very dry skin.
- Avène Micellar Lotion Cleanser and Makeup Remover —$20 (200ml). All natural (made with Avène spring water) and great for those who suffer from eczema. Includes hyaluronic acid and chamomile.
- La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution —$17 (200ml). One of the original French micellar waters, La Roche-Posay uses water from their very own thermal spa, which claims powerful antioxidant properties. The formula also includes poloxamer, a mild cleanser.
- Topicrem Essentials Cleansing Water, $20 (200ml) and Sanoflore Organic Ancient Floral Water, $17 (250ml)—These replace the water in conventional micellar water with floral waters. The result is identical, and your skin is purified, smoothed, and toned.
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