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There's practically a new trend in skin care every other week. First it was transforming cleansers, then it was essences, and now it's micellar water. Somewhere between toner and cleanser, micellar water is a magical potion that completely removes makeup (waterproof formulas, too!), dirt, and oil from the skin without stripping your complexion. But how does it work? According to dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, it all comes down to little molecules called micelles. "Micelles are nano-sized, single-layer fatty bubbles," explained Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas. "They are able to absorb other fats such as sebum and oils inside." Consider: though olive oil and balsamic vinegar separate from each other, two oils would blend together. So, by using a lipid to cleanse your skin, the oils on the surface join up and leave you squeaky-clean.
Micellar waters are a dream product for lazy girls. If you thought washing your face while showering was as low-maintenance as it gets, think again. "Micellar waters are different from traditional cleansers that need to be applied and then removed," explained Jacqueline Flam Stokes, vice president of retail marketing and sales for Avène. You simply pour a little product on a cotton pad, then wipe your skin clean — and it feels delightfully refreshing! For stronger skin-purifying benefits, some micellar waters contain a light surfactant (read: cleansing agent) to break down makeup to make the micelles' job easier. According to Flam Stokes, adding a surfactant "immediately solubilizes and draws impurities from skin like a magnet."
Not sure where to place micellar water when it comes to the order of your skin care routine? We're a fan of using it for double-cleansing after washing your face or applying it in the morning after sleeping with a heavy night treatment. Read on to see some of our favorite micellar waters on the market. And we swear — once you try it for the first time, you won't know how you lived without it.