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    What is micellar water and how does it cleanse?

    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.

    Micellar water cleansers, also known as cleansing waters, contain water and a very mild surfactant representing a dilute cleansing solution.  A micelle is a molecular cluster with a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic end, in this case dissolved in a water solution.  The hydrophobic end attaches to the skin soils, dissolving the soil in water through the hydrophilic end, and allowing water rinsing to cleanse the face.  Several different surfactants can be used such as cerimonium bromide, a cationic quaternary surfactant also known as a “quat.”  Quats are mild surfactants commonly found in hair conditioners to allow the excess conditioner to water rinse down the drain.  Polysorbate 20 is also used because it is a non-foaming surfactant.  Amphoteric surfactants of the type found in baby shampoo can also be used, such as disodium cocoamphodiacetate.   The product is stroked on the face with a cotton pad, rubbed to remove skin soils, and rinsed with water.  Micellar water is excellent at removing water-soluble cosmetics or facial cleansing in patients with dry, sensitive skin.


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    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...


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