Micellar cleansers have been a cult staple amongst French beauty aficionados for years. Now more and more skincare brands are carrying their own versions, making smuggling dozens of bottles back from Paris on the Eurostar a thing of the past. Beloved by models, makeup artists and beauty editors, micellar waters are the ubiquitous backstage product at every shoot and show – full faces of makeup can be removed gently and thoroughly without drying or irritating the skin. Which begs the question we’ve all probably asked ourselves at some point – what exactly is micellar water?
At its simplest, a micelle is a microscopic cluster of oil molecules suspended in soft water – the clusters are hydrophobic and oil-loving, therefore grabbing and absorbing dirt and makeup without ever breaking or upsetting the skin’s natural lipid barrier like a foaming or rinsing cleanser would. Alcohol and soap free, they can be used as a gentle makeup remover, after-cleansing toner or as a non-rinse cleanser for sensitive skins – most formulations also contain soothing and softening ingredients like glycerin, cucumber and rose that contribute to the soft, clean feel they leave behind.
The classic standby is Bioderma’s Sensibio, and for good reason– its simple, unscented solution suits all skin types, and is cheap and plentiful in French pharmacies – but it can be difficult for those of us in the US and UK to obtain. Luckily most French brands now carry their own formulations, including Avène, La Roche-Posay and Lancôme. Two of the gentlest and loveliest to use are by Caudalie and Nuxe – Caudalie’s contains their famous grape water along with a blend of soothing herbs, while Nuxe’s uses a base of rose water and antioxidant-rich green tea. Even Boots is coming out with a highly anticipated and very affordable version for their No7 line this Spring.
Micellar waters are a wonderful choice for very sensitive or dry skins – cutting down on rinsing means less irritation and more balanced complexions. However they’re also a lifesaver for lazy girls and late nights – as long as you’re coherent enough to wipe a cotton pad of the holy water lightly over your face before passing out, you’ll wake up with clean, soft and hydrated skin with the most minimal of efforts. Chances are at least half of you listed “take makeup off before bed” amongst your New Year’s resolutions – as all of the other well-meant promises you made to yourself fall by the wayside as the year progresses, pick up a bottle of cleansing water and you can be sure to keep at least one of them.