Can micellar water replace your facial cleanser? A derm reveals the truth


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Whenever I come home late from a (quite rare) night on the town, I always stick with a tipsy-and-tired-friendly pre-bed beauty regimen: Swipe on the micellar water, and then hit up my silk pillowcase.

It’s so good and easy that—despite being a firm believer in double cleansing—I’m sometimes tempted to use the micellar water on, well, regular nights, too. The magical, makeup-removing water has so many perks: Time saving! Gentle! Gets rid of all makeup! So it’s enticing to incorporate on the reg and leave the rest of your cleansers to gather dust on your beauty shelf. But it begs the question: Can micellar water really replace your cleanser? To perhaps change everyone’s lives, I sought out a derm for advice.

“Micellar water is a super gentle method of cleansing skin. It gets its name because it contains micelles which are oil-in-water suspensions that attract dirt, bacteria, and makeup, but gently—without stripping moisturize from your skin,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with New York’s Schweiger Dermatology. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t wear makeup or isn’t applying more skin-care products after cleansing, then you’re good. “In this scenario, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using only micellar water as your cleanser,” she says.

The thing with micellar water is that it can kind of stay on your skin after you use it. “I find that the residual micelles block other products from absorbing into the skin effectively, so I usually recommend my patients rinse afterwards with water,” says Dr. Nazarian. Sad news, though—she does recommend using something else in addition to your beloved micellar water. “Typically, I’d have my patients use another gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to rinse off any residue afterwards, such as the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($7),” she says. Womp womp. But even though it may add an extra 45 seconds to your routine, double cleansing is particularly helpful when it comes to getting rid of all of the gunk hiding out beneath the surface.

So you can continue to use that micellar water on lazy nights or no-makeup days or even just sporadically—but to totally prevent clogged pores, you should at least rinse your face afterwards.

Whatever you do, though, don’t wash your face in the shower. And this is how often you should actually wash your face—however you decide to do it.

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