Micellar cleansing water was invented more than 100 years ago, and has been a skincare essential in France ever since. For decades it was the secret of dermatologists and beauty experts, but lower-cost alternatives have recently swept the world. What’s so special about micellar water? 

Just a few short years ago, cosmetics were regarded as pigmented products meant to conceal or enhance one’s features. Today, the cosmetics industry is serious about skin care, creating new intersections between medicine, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, to build beauty from within. Micellar water is a product that is perfect for today’s busy lifestyles, Europe’s aging infrastructure, and the demands of (wo)men who want exceptional skin care. 

What are Micelles? 

A micelle is a molecular structure formed by surfactants dispersed in a liquid. A micelle has a larger, hydrophilic “head”, and a smaller, hydrophobic “tail”. When these structures are suspended in a liquid, they form into a ball, with the hydrophilic heads facing outward, and the hydrophilic tails tucked inward. The surfactants in a micellar solution allow for normally insoluble compounds to be suspended in a liquid. 

In other words, in the case of micellar water as a cleaning agent, the structure of micelles allow tiny particles of oil to be suspended in a solution of water, without a traditional emulsion. 

How Does Micellar Water Clean Skin?

For centuries, women have been using oils to cleanse their skin. It may seem counterintuitive, but clean oil attracts “dirty” oil and sebum from the skin, lifting dirt and debris from the skin and allowing you to rinse or wash away unwanted oil and dirt. Oil cleansing is nourishing, moisturizing, and effective, but can leave skin feeling a bit… well… oily. The oil-cleansed face can look a bit shiny or greasy, and isn’t a good surface for the application of cosmetics and other products. Many women prefer the “clean” feeling of cleansing with soap and water. 

With micellar water, the tiny oil particles have the effect of cleaning the skin with oil. They attract sebum and dirt, lifting them away from the skin. But the surrounding water solution helps those tiny oil particles rinse away cleanly, leaving the face feeling cleaner. 

What’s so Great About Micellar Water? 

So, micellar water cleans the skin and removes makeup. No big deal, right? We have lots of ways to wash our faces. Why does it matter? 

Micellar water matters for the women of urban France because they live in cities with very old infrastructure. Old pipes and old water supply systems make water “hard” – the water picks up a lot of minerals on its way to your faucet. While these minerals do not harm water quality for drinking purposes, they do have two important effects:

  1. Hard water makes cleaning agents less effective. The mineral particles in hard water react with soap and detergents, surrounding them and forming an insoluble solid (“soap scum’). Hard water makes it more difficult to use soaps and detergents to effectively clean anything. 
  2. Hard water dries the skin. The calcium and magnesium in hard water leave residue on the skin that can clog pores and deplete your natural moisture. 

With micellar water, (wo)men in Europe can effectively clean their skin and remove makeup without using the hard water available in their homes, workplaces, and gyms. This method of cleansing is effective, but also gentle and non-drying. And micellar water is also incredibly convenient: all you need is micellar water and a cotton pad. There’s no rinsing, no additional steps, and the face is clean and ready for any subsequent skin care products. 

Why the Micellar Trend? 

Micellar water was invented in 1913, but was popularized by French pharmaceutical company Bioderma Laboratories in the 1980s. It was a “skin care secret of the stars”: widely recommended by cosmetologists, dermatologists, and aestheticians, and Bioderma Micellair Water remains the gold standard. Then, in 2016, Garnier began selling a widely available, affordable micellar water, and the world took notice. Today, a bottle of Garnier’s micellar water is sold every four seconds. We are now seeing micellar shampoos and other personal care products as well. 

Micellar water is science and cosmetics and health and beauty in one, an old invention that is still spurring innovation 100 years later. Grapefrute shares this passion for innovation. We are an FMCG recruiter that loves the industry as much as you do. Contact us for more information about our staffing and recruitment services