Micellar Water vs Toner

Micellar Water vs Toner featured photo

When I first started getting into skincare, there were many products that confused me. As more people are starting on their skincare journey, many ask how micellar water and toner are different.

Micellar water is a cleansing skincare product that helps break down makeup, oil, dirt, sweat, impurities, and other products on skin. Toner is a skincare product whose main function is to balance out the skin’s pH after cleansing, along with addressing multiple skin concerns.

Micellar water and toner are very different products so comparing them will not yield a single, straightforward answer. The answer to which is better of the two would depend on personal preference and what your skin needs.

Below, we will explain and compare (the best I can) micellar water and toner. You will also learn both products’ benefits and drawbacks, and whether or not they can be used interchangeably.

Micellar Water vs. Toner: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been in the skincare game for quite some time, you’re very much familiar with toners and micellar waters. Both are fan-favorites and are still accumulating countless fans from all over the world.

If you’re one of those people who get confused or have very little knowledge on their differences, I’ve got all the basics on both micellar water and toner right below:

What is Micellar Water?

Micellar water is a mixture of oil and water that can be used as a step-one cleanser. It’s a cleansing solution that can effectively remove makeup, skincare products, and any accumulation of impurities, oil, dirt, and sweat.

Micellar water is made up of micelles, which are tiny oil droplets or molecules suspended in water. These tiny oil droplets attract dirt, oil, impurities, and makeup.

Micellar water has been credited for being an effective face cleanser without the stripping feeling one would expect from traditional face cleansers.

Micellar water formulas are gentle and don’t contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals. This alone makes them ideal for those with sensitive skin. Learn more about the ingredients in micellar water.

Micellar water benefits

Micellar water is a great first step when cleansing at the end of the day. It’s especially useful for those who regularly wear makeup. Even those who don’t will find it beneficial.

Micellar water helps break down makeup, sunscreen, and skincare products that may have found a way to lodge and hold onto your pores. It also helps remove and wash away anything from dirt to sweat to the skin’s excess natural oils.

Its concentration of mostly oily and water makes it ideal for those with dry skin. The simplicity in ingredients and lightweight concentration also means it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin as chances of the skin reacting badly is greatly minimized and you get to keep your skin healthy.

Though most beneficial for dry or sensitive skin types, almost any skin type can use it as brands are coming out with specially-formulated micellar waters designed for specific skin types.

There are also options packed with moisturizing ingredients that hydrates and nurtures skin.

And lastly, it is an excellent cleanser choice if you’re away from home or when you’re camping and you have limited cleansing products available.

Micellar water drawbacks

Though it’s proven itself to remove light makeup and other products, micellar water doesn’t fare too well in removing very heavy, waterproof, and stubborn makeup.

Micellar water also contains oil. Those with oily skin might find this a bit too heavy for them. Those with acne-prone skin may also want  to proceed with caution, especially if their skin has a history of reacting badly to oils. The oil content may cause clogged pores on some.

If you find your skin doesn’t fare well with micellar water, a good ‘ol makeup remover shall do the trick.

How to use micellar water

Micellar water is used with a cotton ball or pad.

Simply pour a generous amount on a cotton and swipe that across your face, removing makeup, products, and any residue.

As part of your double-cleansing method, follow up with your regular gentle cleanser.

You can use this twice a day if you see fit, but if you find it a bit drying, try using only once, at the end of the day.

Is micellar water necessary?

Micellar water isn’t necessary but if you find it beneficial for your skin and your routine, it wouldn’t hurt to add this extra cleansing step.

What is Toner?

A toner is a water-like skincare product. This comes after your facial cleanser and before the rest of your skincare routine.

When you wash and cleanse your face, your face’s pH is off as most cleansers in the market are more alkaline. As a result, the skin compensates by producing more oil than usual, more than what the skin actually needs. What a toner does is restore your skin’s pH balance.

Toner has also long been a fan favorite due to its many skin benefits. Unlike toners before which were mostly astringent, drying, and stripping, today’s toners offer an array of benefits across many skin types.

Depending on your skin type and the concerns you want addressed, you are sure to find a toner fitting for you.

Toner benefits

The number one thing a toner does is balance your skin’s pH level.

Toners are packed with ingredients that do wonders for your skin. The right toner can hydrate, moisturize, balance, control oil, calm, heal, brighten, or even exfoliate.

These are extremely lightweight yet can address a variety of concerns like acne or aging.

Toners can also work to get your skin ready for the rest of your skincare routine. They can help improve product absorption.

For more information on what toners can do, check out our detailed article here.

Toner drawbacks

Toners of the past have a bad reputation. Before, toners were formulated with alcohol and astringents that mostly help with overproduction of oil and dries up acne. Today’s toners are miles away from those previous formulas and are instead formulated safe and gentle.

The one drawback to toners is they’re not meant to be an additional cleansing step like micellar water is. Though some may remove any leftover dirt and product on skin, it’s not what they’re meant to do.

How to use toner

There are two ways to use a toner:

First, you can use cotton pads or balls. Just pour some toner onto the cotton and wipe it across your face.

Second, you can ditch the cotton for an application with far less waste. Simply pour some amount onto the palm of your hands and apply the product on your face.

Again, toner comes after cleansing and before the rest of your skincare routine.

Is toner necessary?

Much like micellar water, toners aren’t a necessary skincare step! Depending on what your skin needs, you can add this step or skip it completely.

Can Micellar Water and Toner Be Used Interchangeably?

Micellar water and toner are not interchangeable as they’re very different products with very different functions.

Micellar water works to remove makeup, product, dirt, oil, and impurities your face has accumulated the entire day but toner doesn’t do this.

Many also ask ‘does micellar water tone skin?’

Toners tone and balance the skin’s pH level and can address many skin concerns but micellar water does not.

Micellar water isn’t toner and toner isn’t micellar water.

Can I use both in the same skincare routine?

You can, of course, use both, either one, or none at all! Which one you use or whether you use them at all or not would depend on your skin and what you deem necessary according to what your skin needs.

Micellar Water vs. Toner: Which is Better?

The comparison between micellar water and toner and which is better between the two is, truth be told, an unfair competition because they’re just very different products. But if you only want a comparison of which the two would do your skin better, I try my best to compare them below:

Micellar water vs. toner: skin type – dry skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, acne-prone skin

Micellar water: Though almost all skin types can benefit, micellar water is especially ideal for dry skin due to its oil and water concentration. And because it mostly has minimal ingredients, those with sensitive skin can also benefit from it.

Toner: The skincare market offers a toner for every skin type – dry, oily, combination, sensitive, acne-prone, and more.

Micellar water vs. toner: skin concerns and skin benefits

Micellar water: This is a great step-one in the double-cleansing method. It removes makeup, product, oil, dirt, sweat, and impurities.

Toner: Toner works to balance the skin’s pH level after cleansing and can address an array of skin concerns.

Micellar water vs. toner: how and when to use

Micellar water: Micellar water can be the initial cleansing step before your regular cleanser. This is used with a cotton pad or ball and then wiped across your face.

Toner: Toners are used after cleansing and before the rest of your skincare routine. You can use cotton balls and pads or apply it with just the palm of your hands.


Both micellar water and toner are fast becoming a favorite among skincare enthusiasts. Many are still getting confused on what both do, how they’re similar, and how they’re different.

Micellar water is a cleansing skincare product that breaks down makeup, dirt, oil, sweat, and impurities. Toners, on the other hand, are a balancing skincare product that helps keep the skin’s pH in check.

And that has been my guide on micellar water vs. toner. For any questions, just hit me up from below!