Micellar waters contain molecules called surfactants, which are also present in lots of other cleaning and cleansing products. The surfactant molecules have a 'head' that's attracted to water, as well as a 'tail' that's attracted to oil and grease - they can therefore bring together water and oil, which are normally repelled away from each other. Micellar water contains lots of clusters of these surfactant molecules (called micelles) floating around in purified water. When these micelles are applied to a cotton pad and wiped over the surface of your face, the oil-loving tails stick out and grab onto the dirt, grease and grime residing on the surface of the skin. This provides the cleansing and makeup removing qualities that micellar waters are so commonly known for, without irritating or stripping the skin. Not all surfactants are created equal and the ones within micellar waters are extremely mild; they're even mild enough to be left on the skin without causing irritation.
Micellar waters are extremely easy to use - you simply need to apply them to a cotton pad and wipe over the surface of skin until the pad comes away clear. Although they're really effective at lifting nasties from the surface, you do need to be sure to repeat the process until you've removed all the build-up from the day. Personally, I prefer to use them after I've used a cleansing balm (which is much quicker and more effective and cleansing deeply,) to remove any remaining residue on the surface of my face. They're great for quick and easy fixes, removing light makeup or simply refreshing skin, but using them as the only makeup removal product within your repertoire comes with problems of its own. Unfortunately too many women are relying on their micellar water as the only cleanser within their routine, removing surface makeup without giving their skin a deep cleanse; although the clever micelles will remove surface grease and dirt, they won't lift up build-up or dead skin cells that sit within open pores. (In fact, they were originally popular because they removed makeup backstage at fashion shows easily and effectively; however, it doesn't matter if a model has makeup applied onto a non-thoroughly cleansed face and steps out onto the catwalk for the fifth time that day. It does matter if you go to bed without a thorough cleanse.)
It's no surprise that micellar waters have boomed in popularity in the last few years. They've definitely taken the crown from BB Creams in terms of the most popular and sought after products in the beauty arena. They're affordable, easy to use, uncomplicated, gentle and are so much better than a dreaded face wipe; they can provide an extra element to a routine, or just help you step away from the products that are doing you no good at all. These 'magic' potions won't be going anywhere fast, but do use them with a hint of caution... Nothing will ever be the answer to beautiful skin: that's just down to a great routine and products that will only be of benefit to your complexion. Anything that's quick and easy is normally too good to be true.
Are you a fan of micellar waters? Do you use them alone, or in conjunction with other cleansing products?