The 411 on micellar water
Touted by skin experts as a beauty essential, the rinse-free scientific potion works like a magnet. A certain concentration of surfactants (commonly used cleansing agents) gather in spheres to form micelles, which have water-loving and oil-loving components, says Olivier Martias, medical director for Bioderma North America, the brand behind the 1995 discovery.
“When micellar water is poured onto a cotton pad, micelles open up: the hydrophilic head of the surfactants is fixed to the cotton, while the lipophilic chain is directed outwards,” he says. When that cotton pad is applied on the skin, the lipophilic chain catches lipids — think makeup, excess sebum and pollution residue. Then, thanks to the surfactants, the impurities cling to the cotton pad, not your skin, he explains.
A multitasking star — it can also be used after cleansing to remove excess dirt, he says — micellar water wins big because of what it won’t do: irritate skin. Formulated to protect skin’s barrier and deliver anti-inflammatory benefits, a micellar cleanser combines efficacy with tolerance, even for the most sensitive skin types. With a hefty fan base behind the iconic original — one bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H20 is sold globally every two seconds — concoctions that address specific objectives such as controlling oil or increasing hydration have made a splash, too.
And if you’re looking for other skincare products that we’ve fallen for, check out our list of top skincare picks.