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is micellar water good for acne?

Micellar water’s popularity doesn’t need much explaining. It’s cheap, easy to find, and so gentle it feels just like regular water. But is micellar water good for acne?

Pardon my skepticism, but when you’ve been dealing with acne for so long, it’s hard to jump at the next big thing they say will treat your acne.

I do see the appeal—micellar water is no doubt more affordable compared to standard acne treatments like salicylic acid. So, many people are curious whether this cheaper option can be the solution to acne they’ve been searching for.

But before you jump the gun and add it to your routine, let’s look at the science behind micellar water and find out whether it’s good for acne or too good to be true.

What is micellar water?

Micellar (pronounced my-sell-er) water’s rise to popularity in the recent years might make us think it’s a new product in the market. But it’s actually been popular in France for decades.

This skin care product acts as a facial cleanser, helping remove impurities and excess sebum from your skin.

Yes, despite looking and feeling like regular water, micellar water can clean skin effectively while also being gentle. 

What makes all that possible is the combination of purified water, hydrating ingredients (like glycerin), and micelles, tiny lipid cleansing molecules.

These micelles are the star of micellar water (hence the name!).

As an extremely mild surfactant, micelles are responsible for cleaning the skin by acting like a magnet to oil and dirt. They lift away dirt, oil, and makeup from the skin without any need for harsh rubbing.

After cleansing, you won’t feel your skin dry up. Quite the opposite really! Since micelles are lipid molecules, they are also capable of moisturizing skin. 

Your skin will be left clean and hydrated after using micellar water.

is micellar good for acne

What’s so good about micellar water?

So, okay—it’s just a cleanser, what’s the big deal?

The big deal for a lot of people that love using micellar water is that it’s so portable and convenient to use.

For people that find it tedious to cleanse their face or have hard water at home, micellar water is a great alternative. 

If you’re not using it to remove a thick layer of makeup, dabbing some micellar water on a cotton pad and lightly swiping it across your face is enough to clean your skin. This also makes it nice to have when you’re travelling (you know, in case the water where you’re going ends up being questionable).

Yes, properly formulated micellar water cleanses without needing to be rinsed off. 

But of course, it’s a matter of personal reference and various factors that affect your skin. 

If you do have makeup on, using micellar water before your regular cleanser will help make sure you’ve removed every bit of residue on your skin’s surface. Not even waterproof makeup is safe from micellar water.

If you have sensitive skin, rinsing off micellar water may be preferable. Even the mildest surfactant still has a chance to tick off sensitive skin.

Another thing to love about micellar water is its gentleness. That’s why you can often find this recommended to all skin types. Micellar water is uncomplicated and good at its job.

Is micellar water good for acne? What can it do?

Now that we know all these things, is micellar water good for acne?

Well, that depends on what we mean by “good.”

First of all, since it’s a product meant for cleansing skin, micellar water sure is good for helping keep skin clear. Effectively cleansing skin means less to no blocked pores to worry about.

And we know how acne is often the product of clogged pores becoming inflamed and turning into pimples. So, keeping the skin clean is good for acne-prone skin.

Several studies even tell us that using a mild face wash helps improve acne and reduce black heads (1, 2, 3). And we know by now how mild micellar water is.

So, by gently removing dirt and oil, micellar water can help prevent clogged pores and pimples—keeping skin clear. 

By that definition, yes, micellar water is good for acne!

But if by “good,” you mean micellar water can rival standard acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—then, no, micellar water is not good for that.

Acne-fighting ingredients in over-the-counter products have special properties that made them deserve the title in the first place.

For example, benzoyl peroxide (BP) is a strong bactericide. This means BP is very effective in killing the acne-causing bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes. That’s why it’s often recommended for topically treating mild to moderate acne.

Micellar water doesn’t usually come with ingredients that target treating acne. 

Just remember: it’s micellar water not miracle water. So, the best you can hope for from micellar water is helping keep your skin clean in a low maintenance way. 

Let's take it a step further than "is micellar water good for acne?"

Is micellar a must-have for acne-prone skin?

Do you have a gentle cleanser that works for your acne-prone skin? 

Then chances are, micellar water isn’t a must have for you.

As they say, why fix it if it ain’t broken?

But if you do find yourself needing another product for removing makeup effectively before your gentle cleanser, micellar water is good for that job.

Other makeup removing cleansers like cleansing oils and balms tend to be pricier. So, you’ll probably save a lot more by choosing micellar water since it’s an affordable, easy to find, and effective cleanser.

If you do already have a trusty makeup remover, then you likely won’t need micellar water.

So no, micellar water is not a must-have for acne-prone skin (or other skin types for that matter).

Micellar water is good for acne as it can help keep skin clean. 

But it’s no miracle water by a long shot. So, you can’t throw away your acne treatments in favor of micellar water.

If topics about acne interests you and you want to learn more about the whys and hows of this skin condition, consider signing up for the free newsletter where we go deep into all things acne.

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