Do you use micellar water on a daily basis? I know I do. That’s not a surprise because, I must admit, it removes makeup better than anything else. But have you ever wondered how does our makeup actually get removed? What actually happens there on the cotton pad and on your face?

The story starts at the microscopic level. Beyond our vision, there are tiny molecules we can’t see but they do all the ‘dirty’ job of removing makeup. The tiny molecules I am talking about are surfactants. They are present in almost anything that produces bubbles: detergents, shampoos…

Surfactant molecule with its head (hydrophilic=likes water) and tail (hydrophobic=repels, dislikes water)

Typical surfactant molecule has a head that likes water (hydrophilic) and tail that doesn’t like it, i.e. repels water (hydrophobic). Due to the specific structure, surfactants are able to self-organize when exposed to water and form so called micelles. Sounds familiar? Yes, micelles are the key word if we talk about micellar water.

Surfactant molecules organized in a micelle

Basically, in your bottle of micellar water there are molecules of surfactant at concentration that is high enough for them to form micelles, and that’s why it’s called micellar water. It really contains micelles – small structures that have tails of the surfactant in their inner part (tails don’t like water so they try to hide away from it as much as possible), while there are surfactant heads in the outer region which is exposed to water.

So what happens when you pour the micellar water on the cotton pad?

Micelles are structures in which molecules of surfactants are not so strongly connected. That means that, under certain conditions, they can rearrange and disturb this beautiful round-shaped micellar structure. One of the basic concepts of chemistry that plays an important role in this story is: hydrophilic things like other hydrophilic things, while hydrophobic stuff like other hydrophobic stuff.

When you pour the micellar water on the cotton pad, micelles actually open up and surfactant molecules reorganize themselves with their hydrophilic heads facing the hydrophilic surface of the cotton pad (yes, cotton is hydrophilic material, celulose). In this way, water-hating tails of surfactants are exposed to the air. When you gently rub your face with such cotton pad those hydrophobic tails can actually collect your hydrophobic makeup that is impossible to remove using only water.

cotton pad+ micellar.jpg
Micellar water on a cotton pad

To rinse, or not to rinse, that is the question…

And the answer is quite simple: it is up to you. If you like to rinse the micellar water after using it, do so. If you don’t, it is probably fine anyway. Personally, I prefer rinsing and making sure that no leftovers of surfactants are still on my face. However, if your skin doesn’t get irritated or if you notice that it feels just fine without rinsing the micellar water, just leave it as it is. 

And that’s basically it! It was not too complicated, was it? 🙂 So, keep removing your makeup each day before going to bed and see you in the next post! :*