What Exactly Is Micellar Water & What’s All the Buzz Behind It?

Photo: Stocksy/Lyuba Burakova
When many American women fly to Paris, they often come back with two suitcases: one for clothes and another for their French pharmacy beauty haul. And if there's one item that flies off the shelves and into their luggage more than any other, it's micellar water.

"While it looks and feels like regular water, it's actually very different," says Kathryn Dickinson, founder of clean beauty shop Aillea. "It contains microscopic oil molecules—called micelles—suspended in water, which work to remove dirt and hydrate your skin."

You can wash these off if that's your jam, but one of the best perks is that micellar waters don't have to be rinsed. "Think of micelles as little warriors that surround a dirt particle to break it down," says Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. "It's nice as a second cleanser when the weather gets cold because sometimes washing two times a day is a bit much."

Essentially, it's a multitasker that cleanses and moisturizes with one wipe.

Dickinson says that because micellar water is so gentle, all skin types can use it, but she still recommends washing with something like an oil cleanser to totally remove makeup. Dr. Gohara agrees: "I'd stick with more traditional cleansers when it comes to heavy-duty makeup and grime removal." But micellar water's great for your post-exercise face wash because essentially, it's a multitasker that cleanses and moisturizes with one wipe.

"It's fantastic for that on-the-go cleanse," says Dickinson. "Often we don't immediately wash our faces after working out, so this is a great way to keep your skin refreshed and hydrated in the meantime." Something that helps your complexion in a flash? Oui, s'il vous plait.

Keep scrolling to get one for your own cleansing routine.

Originally published October 6, 2017; updated July 15, 2018.

For more Parisian inspo, this is how to style your workout clothes like a French woman. And these are the 3 French-girl eating habits you should adopt right now

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