Ingredients in Micellar Water

Ingredients in Micellar Water featured photo

I have sensitive skin so I never just put anything on my face in fear of sensitivities and reactions to certain ingredients. I always make it a point to research and study the ingredients in my skincare products. Like many, I wonder what the ingredients are in micellar water.

Micellar water generally has four common ingredients: water, surfactants, humectants, and preservatives.

Of course, exact micellar water ingredients would vary according to the brand and manufacturer of your choice. No two brands ever really have the same exact list of ingredients.

In this article, I will be diving deep on micellar water, what it is, and the ingredients that make up its formula. I’ll also lightly touch on a few concerns on some of its common ingredients.

What is Micellar Water?

Micellar water is a skincare product that’s slowly gaining traction in the skincare world. It’s considered a cleansing product and can be used as the first step to the double-cleansing method.

As a cleansing skincare product, it helps break down makeup, other skin products, oil, dirt, sweat, and impurities and effectively removes them.

Micellar water is mostly made of purified water and oil. Together, these two ingredients help lift off dirt and makeup from the surface of the face and make them easier to wash off.

How does micellar water work?

Micellar water gets its name from the micelles, which are little and round clusters of molecules, in its formula. These molecules are attracted to and trap oil. This makes it easier to lift off makeup, oil, and dirt and to wash them off with much ease than without.

When micellar water comes in contact with the skin’s surface, it binds to and traps all traces of makeup and oil. It then works to pull all that away from your skin as you wash everything off with water.

To use micellar water, all you need is a cotton pad or a few cotton pads. Soak it with micellar cleansing water and wipe it across the face, without harsh rubbing of course.

Micellar water benefits

Micellar water has been gaining popularity all over the world, but why, exactly?

For one, micellar water is a very effective cleansing skincare product across all skin types. Due to its composition, it effectively breaks down makeup, skin products, dirt, oil, sweat, and impurities, and easily washes them off with water. Micellar water is a great step-one in double-cleansing, especially if you’re removing makeup.

Micellar water is mostly made up of water and oil plus a few other ingredients in small amounts. The simplicity of its ingredients makes it a perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. A short ingredients list also means there is very little room for the skin to react badly due to certain irritants.

Micellar water often has moisturizing ingredients, making it an ideal product for dry skin as well. The best ones in the market clean and lift off makeup and dirt without the stripping feeling most cleansers leave the skin with.

Micellar water drawbacks

Even though a fan favorite in many people’s skincare routine, it does come with a few drawbacks to keep in mind.

Though credited for being an effective cleanser for makeup and other skin products on the face, micellar water might not fare too well when it’s time to remove waterproof makeup like waterproof mascara.

Micellar water isn’t a substitute to the good ‘ol water and cleanser. And even if it is able to remove makeup and oil, some might find it doesn’t remove everything so following up with your regular cleanser is recommended.

Micellar water has oil molecules so it goes without saying that using it can leave the skin feeling oily and greasy. Those with an oily skin type might find this heavy and unpleasant. If you’re someone with a history of reacting badly to oil due to congestion, you might want to proceed with caution.

Read more if you’re curious about the difference between micellar water and toner.

What are the Ingredients in Micellar Water?

As mentioned above, micellar water has a very simple and minimal ingredients list. Of course, it would vary according to brand and manufacturer, but generally, micellar water has the following ingredients:


Micellar water has a very water-consistency and that’s because one of its main ingredients is water – also hence, the name.

The ingredient may appear in different names: water, aqua, or purified water.

Water in micellar water acts as a solvent to dissolve all the other substances and ingredients we’ll be talking about later.

There’s not much to say about water as an ingredient but in micellar water, it definitely is a must.


Probably the most important ingredient in micellar water as a cleanser are surfactants.

Surfactants are a common ingredient among many facial cleansers and soaps in the market. What they do is cleanse, foam, thicken, and emulsify when used for cosmetics purposes.

Surfactant molecules are compatible with both oil and water. These molecules have a head that’s attracted to water but hates oil and a tail that’s attracted to oil but hates water.

Where surfactants become important is when they bring oil and water – which don’t normally mix – together.

In micellar water, this is known as micelles.


Micelles are responsible for binding and trapping makeup, oil, dirt, and sweat. This binding process makes it easier to lift off all the products and dirt on the skin’s surface.

For safe use, micellar water only uses gentle and mild surfactants.


Humectants are another common ingredient used in cosmetics and skincare.

A humectant is a moisturizing ingredient that imparts moisture and hydration. It can be found in lotions, moisturizers, creams, and other skin and even hair products.

Humectants are water-loving so they attract and bind water and draw water from the skin’s inner layers to the outer layers. They’re known to retain moisture and prevent drying out.

In my research in micellar water ingredients, some of the most common humectants used include glycerin, aloe vera, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and salicylic acid.


Preservatives are an essential ingredient in cosmetic products. These ensure a long shelf life so you can enjoy a product for much longer.

Preservatives also prevent any mold or bacteria growth that can tamper with the product’s overall quality. Such growth can also be very harmful to the skin.

One common preservative ingredient in micellar waters is potassium sorbate.

Micellar Water Ingredients Concerns

A majority of the common ingredients used in micellar water formulas are generally safe. But as with any personal care product, there have been concerns raised regarding some ingredients.

It’s been thought that some other common micellar water ingredients like Poloxamer 184, PHMB, and BHT are either carcinogenic or cause skin redness and inflammation.

Poloxamer 184

This is a common surfactant and cleansing agent in cosmetics. It was once thought it’s associated with moderate toxicity and can trigger inflammation and redness on skin. But there is very little data to support this.


There have been concerns about PHMB being carcinogenic. There has been a study on how it affects the formation of liver tumors on rodents. Results were not definitive since the experiment was done on animals and cannot be directly related to humans. In the end, researchers noted that cancer-causing risks from PHMB is unlikely.


BHT is a common preservative used in food and personal care items. It’s long been a concern that it causes cancer but with the low amounts used in most cosmetic products, BHT poses no risk. The low amounts used don’t penetrate deep into the skin enough to reach the bloodstream.

Is Micellar Water Safe?

Though concerns have been raised, there is, however, very little research and study to support the claims.

The bottomline is, micellar water is safe and has generally safe and gentle ingredients.

Micellar water for sensitive skin

A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology further reiterates that micellar water is safe and compatible even for sensitive skin.

Makeup remover as alternative for concerns and waterproof makeup

Of course, if you find that micellar water isn’t for you, you can always go for the good ‘ol makeup remover you trust. The traditional makeup remover might also fare better for stubborn waterproof makeup so consider that as well.


Micellar water is a skincare cleansing product slowly finding popularity in the skincare and cosmetics world. This is an excellent first step in a double-cleansing method at the end of the day.

It goes without saying that micellar water ingredients vary according to the brand and manufacturer. There are, however, general ingredients commonly found in most options in the market: water, surfactants, humectants, and preservatives.

And that has been my guide on the ingredients in micellar water! I hope this was more than helpful but if you have any more questions, hit me up right below!