We were writing an article on Micellar water and realized many people did not know what this amazing product is or why/how they should use it. We called upon Dr. Jennifer Lee, of REN Dermatology in Franklin, TN, to explain the benefits of this product that currently is enjoying so much buzz.

Dr. Jennifer Lee:

Dr. Jennifer Lee opened REN Dermatology in Brentwood. We found her fascinating as a FACES profile. Image credit: Ashley Hylbert

Dr. Jennifer Lee of REN Dermatology

Micellar water is a hot trend right now in skincare, but there is actual science behind it to support its benefits as a gentle, safe and convenient facial cleanser. It may end up being a lasting addition to your skincare regimen.

The basic chemistry behind micellar water boils down to surfactants. One end of a surfactant is hydrophilic and is attracted to water, while the other end is hydrophobic and is repelled by water but attracted to oils and grease. A micelle is such a molecule in which multiple hydrophobic tails cluster internally and the hydrophilic heads point outwards (forming a starburst-like pattern). Surfactants are present in so many of our skin care products, including soaps, shampoos, detergents, body washes, etc. They clean oil and dirt and also create the bubbles that we love so much when our shampoo or soaps lather up. However, surfactants can also be irritating. Not all soaps, face washes and cleansers are created equal and some can leave your skin feeling more dry, tight, and irritated after washing.

Your skin has a natural pH, and deviating significantly above or below this can promote irritation and possible infection, while staying close to our natural pH leads to better skin health. Skin pH is on average around 5.0, possibly even slightly below. Common soaps and facial cleansers are often at higher pH, and even tap water can increase the pH of your skin for up to six hours, which explains why over-washing your face can seemingly have the opposite effect and cause more irritation and break-outs.

Caudalie Micellar Cleanse

Caudalie Make-up Remover $28 (6.7 oz) or $14 (3.38 oz).

The reason why micellar water seems best used with cotton pads is that the cotton pads are hydrophilic and attract the water loving ends of the micelles. This leaves the hydrophobic tails of the micelles free to attract oil, makeup and other hydrophobic materials.

The newer micellar water products on the market seem to have minimal added preservatives and fragrances, making it a nice option for people with sensitive skin or those wanting a more natural cleanser. Some micellar water brands even claim to have some moisturizing capabilities.

I think micellar water will play a nice role for people with sensitive skin, with fragrance allergies, with acne but not overly oily skin, with eczema issues on the face. For me, it may not totally replace my Clarisonic/Gentle cleanser combo, but I like it as an option for the winter or for recovery from Laser procedures or chemical peels!

Thank you, Dr. Lee!

For more about our own Micellar trial, see our article: We Stopped Washing Our Face … and Our Skin Looked Great!

Also, check out REN Dermatology.