The face washes that get you a thousand skin compliments share one ingredient


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Photo: Stocksy/Mihajlo Ckovric

Micellar water is one of my most dependable skin-care products. It always does the job of gently removing my makeup without any drama, like irritating my skin, not to mention it makes me feel very Parisian (since it’s a French-girl beauty staple).

While perusing the skin-care aisles one day though, I stumbled across a micellar-spiked gel cleanser—that had the stuff nestled into its sudsing formula. Apparently, dermatologists love these types of cleansers because they work double-duty. For a refresher: “Micellar water is essentially purified water that contains hydrating ingredients and mild cleansers,” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, of Mudgil Dermatology. “The soap components make microscopic spheres which attach to dirt, makeup, and debris.”

So when you see micelles—the cleansing agents of micellar water—inside of a regular cleanser, the all-star ingredient in the formula will give you multi-tasking benefits. It basically double cleanses for you, attaching to makeup and debris to whisk it away, while the other cleansing agents help to cleanse skin on a deeper level. “Micellar cleansers provide a double whammy of cleansing in the least irritating way,” says Dr. Mudgil, who likes Isdin Micellar Facial Cleanser ($33). Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, adds that micellar cleansers are super gentle and can be used on all skin types. “Micellar technology is now being incorporated into traditional cleansing vehicles and even bars,” he says, noting that he really likes Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Beauty Bar ($7). Mon petit micelles, you’ve won my heart again. Keep scrolling for five more micellar cleanser options to stock up on—and good news, most of ’em you can snag at the drugstore.

Photo: Garnier

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash, $9

“This gel-based cleanser lathers on the skin similar to traditional washes, but uses micellar technology for a more effective cleanse,” says Dr. Zeichner. Plus gel cleansers are just so fun.

Photo: Glossier

Glossier Milky Oil, $12

This creamy oil-milky cleanser concoction is spiked with micelles to gently and effectively remove all that makeup and gunk, too.

Photo: Neogen

Neogen Real Cica Micellar Cleansing Foam, $15

A K-beauty fan fave, this lathering micellar foam wash also has cica in it, which is key for soothing redness and angry skin.

Photo: Aveeno

Aveeno MaxGlow Micellar Gel Cleanser, $8

Another gel option is this cleanser from (another drugstore brand!) Aveeno, which Dr. Zeichner likes because it has a “brightening soy complex with hydrating kiwi extract.”

Photo: La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay Micellar Foaming Face Wash, $18

While some foaming cleansers can be drying, Dr. Zeichner says this one won’t leave your skin squeaky-clean and tight. “This micellar cleanser uses gentle ingredients and is rich in thermal spring water to help restore the skin’s microbiome,” he says.

After you’ve got your double cleansing down pat, here’s the deal on toners and whether you really need one. And this is what to look for in a moisturizer for true, lasting hydration, according to derms. 

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