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What is Cleansing Water?

Cleansing water, also known as micellar water (pronounced my-sell-er) is made of a mix of purified water, hydrating skincare ingredients and low concentrations of mild surfactants that form into ‘micelles’. These micelles then attract dirt and oil on the surface of the skin to eliminate them. Unlike cleansing balms and cleansing oil with a smooth texture that glides on your skin without the need to use cotton pads, the best way to use cleansing water is by soaking cotton pads and gently swiping them over your face.

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When a cotton pad soaked in micellar water is applied and swept on the face, the tiny micelles gently pull away debris from the skin. Most cleansing water does not need to be rinsed immediately either, making them an essential skin care product that is especially beneficial when travelling or for those who prefer a refreshing, clarified finish after removing makeup.

Apart from removing makeup from your skin, cleansing water can also be used to gently dissolve residual sunscreen, moisturisers or even masks and other skincare products that have been applied onto your face. Cleansing water is a must-have especially when travelling, outdoors or in hot weather. They can be used as a quick cleanser in between sunscreen application to prevent clogged pores. On those days when you happen to mess your makeup, you can pour a small amount of micellar water onto a cotton pad to fix eyeliner or lip makeup mistakes easily, or when there is fallout from powdered makeup products.

The use of cleansing water dates back to the 1910s in France, where the French considered it a multitasking beauty staple that serves as a cleanser, toner and moisturizer all in one! This product was developed in lieu of traditional face washing because of France’s hard water which can dry out the skin easily. Also, they were used backstage where the sink and running water are not always readily available, to quickly remove makeup without excessively drying the skin out.

Who will benefit from cleansing water?

Cleansing water is a versatile, multi-tasking skincare product that effectively removes traces of makeup, impurities and dead skin cells while clarifying pores for a visibly clear and smooth complexion. With their low-irritation, light and gentle formula, cleansing water is beneficial for all skin types especially if you are a makeup wearer. Although some people use cleansing water as a single step of their skincare routine, it is still recommended to use it as part of your double cleansing routine and follow with a face wash afterwards, to ensure that you start with a clean and clear base when applying your Korean skincare routine.

Cleansing water is beneficial for all skin types, including sensitive skin because of its gentle texture that does not irritate or strip away moisture from the skin. Furthermore, with a balanced pH level to match your skin’s pH levels micellar water is a universally skin-friendly product.

To use cleansing water, simply pour it onto a soft cotton pad and lightly sweep it all over your face. Be gentle especially around the eyes and lips area; alternatively use a Lip and Eye Makeup Remover if you have sensitive skin to prevent irritation on the most delicate parts of your face. If your cleansing water is bi-phased with a layer of oil and water, gently shake the bottle to mix the two together before pouring it out.

How to choose cleansing water?

When choosing the best Korean cleansing water for your skin, a basic rule of thumb is to steer clear of anything that is heavily perfumed, contains harmful chemicals like parabens or drying alcohols that can compromise your skin barrier. Instead, look for naturally scented products that contain a small number of essential oils, or opt for unscented altogether.

If you have dry, sensitive skin that is prone to irritation and stinging, select cleansing water that contains skin barrier-strengthening ingredients like ceramides, Centella Asiatica, or deeply hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and Korean traditional herbal ingredients. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, find a micellar water that is enriched with gentle acids like AHA, BHA, PHA to add exfoliation effects, which will help with sebum control.

Commonly found ingredients in cleansing water include natural green tea, coconut water, aloe vera, cucumber which are known for their hydrating properties that will retain the skin’s hydration levels and prevent feelings of tightness and discomfort on the skin.

Cleansing water is a staple Korean beauty product thanks to its lightweight, watery texture that leaves skin clarified and smooth while being powerful enough to remove makeup and other impurities. It is perfect to use as the first step of your double cleansing routine, or on its own to remove light impurities. They are also easy to use, without the need for harsh scrubbing or rubbing your skin which can damage the skin barrier. Find the best cleansing water for your skin type and skin concerns at BONIIK across different brands of your choice!