Skip to main content

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

  1. blog
  2. > Ingredients

Micellar water: Should you rinse after application?

The answer depends on your skin type—allow our experts to explain.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Oct 10, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
Micellar Water Close Up
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Oct 10, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Micellar water can seem like magic. This skincare product can easily “melt” off hard-to-remove makeup like mascara and lipstick, with no harsh rubbing necessary. It’s not quite a cleanser, even though it can help you cleanse your skin. That might lead you to ask: Do you rinse off micellar water?

The answer isn’t quite so simple: Ultimately, it depends on a few different factors, including your skin type. Curology’s expert team of dermatology professionals is here to explain everything you need to know about this convenient product. 

What is micellar water?

Micellar water is a popular product thanks to its ability to effectively cleanse skin and gently remove makeup in one simple step.

Micellar water typically includes purified water, moisturizers, and mild detergents. These key components work together to form tiny micelles, or spherical structures, which efficiently attract and trap dirt, oil, and makeup particles.¹ As a result, micellar water provides a convenient, non-abrasive solution for cleansing skin, without disrupting its natural balance and hydration.

How does micellar water clean your skin?

If you’re thinking of adding micellar water to your skincare routine, you should know how it works. 

Micellar water is a gentle and effective way to cleanse your skin. It contains special ingredients called nonionic surfactants that are efficient at cleaning your skin.² These surfactants form tiny droplets called micelles that act like magnets, attracting and trapping dirt, oil, and impurities from your skin.³ When you rinse your face, the micelles along with the trapped impurities are easily washed away. The best part is that micellar water is suitable for sensitive skin because the nonionic surfactants are less likely to cause irritation.⁴ At the molecular level, nonionic surfactants have a unique structure that allows them to be more gentle than other surfactant types.⁵ It not only cleanses but also helps moisturize your skin, making it a great choice for your skincare routine.⁶ 

Should you rinse off micellar water, or leave it on?

Micellar water contains very mild surfactants, which is why it’s highly effective at cleansing your skin. However, if surfactants are left on your skin for extended periods, they may cause irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.⁷ Rinsing off micellar water may be a good idea if your skin is more sensitive.

However, not all micellar water products require rinsing. Many can be used as a quick-and-easy cleanser, or as the first step in your cleansing routine to remove makeup, sunscreen, or other personal care products.

Using micellar water in your skincare routine

Incorporating micellar water into your skincare routine can be beneficial. Research has shown that a regimen including micellar water, cream, and serum is suitable for sensitive and redness-prone skin. In one study, this combination led to an enhanced clinical appearance and a decrease in associated symptoms for rosacea patients.⁸

You should follow the steps that come with the micellar water you purchased. When using Curology’s micellar water, follow these simple steps:

  1. Dampen a cotton pad with micellar makeup remover and gently wipe over your closed eyes, skin, and lips, taking care to avoid getting the product into your eyes. 

  2. For waterproof makeup, hold the pad on top for 3 seconds before wiping it away. Make sure to keep your eyes closed throughout the process.

And that’s it! There’s no need to rinse off the product. Although rinsing is generally not necessary, if you have sensitive skin or eyes, you should consider washing the product off after use. 

You can incorporate micellar water at the beginning of your skincare routine, and continue applying your other products afterwards. If you choose to use a cleanser after micellar water, you'll be performing a double cleanse, providing an extra-thorough cleaning.

The benefits of micellar water

In addition to helping clean your skin, micellar water can have additional benefits.

Gentle on sensitive skin

Research has shown that micellar water is an effective product for sensitive skin. One study examined a skincare regime consisting of micellar water, cream, and serum. The results concluded that this combination was particularly suitable for sensitive and redness-prone skin, resulting in an enhanced clinical appearance and a reduction in skin redness.⁹ 

Hydrating 

Micellar water is also known for its hydrating properties, which makes it an ideal choice if you’re looking to maintain skin moisture while cleansing. A moisturization efficacy test revealed that micellar water provided an immediate increase in skin hydration that persisted for over four hours. In comparison, cleansing oils also showed a short-term increase in moisturization, but their effects only lasted for two hours.¹⁰

3 micellar water products for your skin

Each of these gentle yet effective solutions is designed to remove makeup, dirt, and impurities while maintaining your skin's natural moisture balance.

1. Curology The Micellar Makeup Remover

Curology's Micellar Makeup Remover is a gentle, powerful cleansing solution designed to effortlessly remove makeup, sunscreen, and daily impurities. This innovative formula harnesses the power of micellar technology to lift dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin, leaving it refreshed and hydrated. 

Clinically tested to improve skin hydration by 103% immediately after use*, our Micellar Makeup Remover is great for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Simply dampen a cotton pad, gently wipe over your face, and enjoy a refreshed complexion with no need to rinse afterward. 

*Based on a clinical study of 52 people, after application.

2. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser

The Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water is a makeup remover and cleanser designed for all skin types. This formula lifts away dirt, oil, and makeup without harsh rubbing or rinsing. Ideal for face, lips, and eyes, it leaves skin feeling clean, refreshed, and hydrated. 

3. Bioderma Sensibio H20

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water is a hydrating cleanser specially formulated for sensitive skin. This dermatologically-tested micellar solution effectively removes makeup, dirt, and impurities, without stripping the skin’s natural oils. Enriched with soothing cucumber extract, it leaves your skin feeling refreshed and residue-free. 

Start your journey to a radiant, healthy complexion with Curology

If you're looking for a gentle and hydrating cleanser that removes makeup, dirt, and impurities while leaving your skin refreshed and radiant, Curology’s micellar water may be the right solution for you.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

Embrace the convenience and effectiveness of micellar water by trying it for yourself. Check out our offerings and get paired with a licensed dermatology provider for personalized skincare advice today! 

FAQs

What happens if you don't wash off micellar water?

If you have very sensitive skin and you don’t wash off micellar water after use, it may leave a residue on your skin that can cause irritation. However, it’s generally safe, and sometimes preferred, not to wash it off. That said, it’s important to follow the instructions of your specific product.

Can micellar water be left on the skin?

Micellar water can usually be left on your skin, but if you have very sensitive skin, it’s generally recommended to wash it off after use. While micellar water is designed to be gentle and non-irritating, it’s still a cleanser that contains surfactants that can potentially cause dryness, irritation, or other skin issues if left on for an extended period of time.

Do I need to wash my face before using micellar water?

It’s not strictly necessary to wash your face before using micellar water, as it’s designed to effectively remove dirt, oil, and impurities from your skin's surface. However, if you have heavy makeup or excessive dirt or sweat on your face, it may be beneficial to wash your face with a gentle cleanser first to remove the bulk of the impurities. 

This can help ensure the micellar water is able to effectively target any remaining impurities and leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed. You could also use another gentle cleanser after using micellar water. Ultimately, it depends on your individual skincare needs and preferences.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar waterJournal of The American Academy of Dermatology. (June 2017).

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar waterJournal of The American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

  3. Percival, S.L., et al. Surfactants: Role in biofilm management and cellular behaviour. International Wound Journal. (June 2019).

  4. Mijaljica, D., et al. Skin Cleansing without or with Compromise: Soaps and Syndets. Molecules. (2022, March 21).

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar waterJournal of The American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar waterJournal of The American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

  7. Inami, Y., et al. Surfactant-induced itching and the involvement of histamine released from keratinocytes. Yakugaku Zasshi. (2012, n.d.).

  8. Guertler, A.,et al. Efficacy and safety results of micellar water, cream and serum for rosacea in comparison to a control group. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (October 2020).

  9. Guertler, A., et al. Efficacy and safety results of micellar water, cream and serum for rosacea in comparison to a control group. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  10. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar waterJournal of The American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

Related Articles

How to determine your skin type, according to expertsHow to remove makeup without makeup remover wipesThe complete guide to face cleansers for every skin typeSkincare tips for dry skin, according to dermatology providersWhich face cleanser is right for you?

Popular Articles

Ask Curology: Is my cold breaking me out?Slugging: The dermatologist-approved skincare hack going viral on TikTokTretinoin vs retinol: What’s the difference?How to create a self-care routine that actually sticksYour 2023 skincare horoscope
Try prescription skincare
30-day trial. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get routine essentials
A display of Curology Custom Formula bottles on a white shelf.

Good skin days ahead

Join the 1M+ patients who’ve tackled everything from acne, to fine lines, to hair thinning with prescription-powered treatments, personalized by a Licensed Dermatology Provider.
Ingredients proven to tackle
  • Breakouts
  • Redness
  • Fine lines
  • Dark spots
  • Hair thinning
$29.95/month
*Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get StartedShop ProductsWhy CurologyGuidesOur StoryCommunity
All Rights Reserved 2014-2024 Curology Inc.
Terms of ServicePrivacy Notice
Do Not Sell My Personal Information