Micellar Cleansing Waters: How do they work?

Hello everyone!

So, if you ask a beauty junkie what their favorite makeup remover is at the moment, chances are they will mention the Bioderma Micellar Cleansing Water or some of the popular drugstore versions that have come out recently. Micellar waters have become so popular due to their ease of use and efficiency. In case, you have ever wondered how this ‘magic’ water works, in this post I’ll try to explain!

If you take a look at the ingredient list of any of the Micellar waters in the market the very first ingredient is… surprise! Water! This is usually followed by a surfactant /detergent and skin conditioning ingredients. A surfactant molecule comprises of 2 parts; a hydrophillic (water loving)  head and a hydrophobic (oil loving but water hating) tail. When a sufficient number of these detergent molecules are placed in water, they come together to form what is known as a micelle.

Essentially, a micelle is a spherical structure with all the water loving head regions of the detergent molecules being in contact with the water around them, and the the oil loving tail regions on the inside where they don’t come in contact with the water.

Micelle structure in water (Image source: wikimedia commons)

These micelles are not visible to the naked eye, which is why a bottle of Bioderma looks like water and you don’t see globs floating around! Also, at this point if your freaking out at the term detergent/surfactant being used ..do not fear! The detergents used in micellar water are very gentle ones which do not irritate the skin ( its not the same type of detergent that is used in your dish washing liquid or bar soap!).

So how does this bottle of water with microscopic blobs work you ask?

Micellar waters are meant to be used with cotton pads. When you soak a cotton pad with micellar water, the cotton absorbs the water and the micelles which are no longer in water break up at the surface of the cotton pad. Since the cotton pad has absorbed the water, the detergent molecules get attached to the cotton pad with the water loving head region attached to the cotton and the water hating/oil loving tails pointed away from the cotton pad.

When you take this soaked cotton and wipe your face, the oil loving tails of the detergent molecules grab on to the oil, grease and makeup on the skin surface. Pretty simple right! As you may have guessed, if wearing heavy makeup you might have to go in for a second round since the tails might not be able to grab onto everything in the first round.

Hope you found this explanation helpful! Do let me know your questions in the comments!

Have a great week!

Until next time…ciao!

9 thoughts on “Micellar Cleansing Waters: How do they work?

  1. Awesome post! I’ve been really loving using Bioderma and quite recently the Simple micellar water. I did a post on the Bioderma and will very soon do one on the Simple. Great information, very well-explained!

  2. I love anything that is science based. It’s the nerd it me lol! Great pictorial explanation. I’ve always wanted to try this stuff!

  3. I love it how you combine science and make up, it’s so interesting! I would have had much better grades if you were my science teacher at school haha xx

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