Can someone help me understand/formulate the components of Micellar Cleansing Water?

liprepapliprepap Member
edited August 2016 in Formulating
Hi, all.

I am new here, and to cosmetic science. So, sorry in advance for any mistakes.

I wanted to start a scientific discussion on Micellar cleansing water/ micellar water. I've been hearing some buzz about it and decided to check it out. It is a cross between a mild cleanser and a toner/makeup remover. You have the option of sweeping your face with it and leaving it on if you are on the go, or rinsing your face afterwards

 I've read that it originated in France as a solution to hard water. But I am unable to find any recipes/formulas or any reference pre 2014/2013 that give any good information on the history of Micellar water.

The ingredients seem simple enough and I wanted to see if I could recreate this. I am attaching a few links that will be followed by questions. Thanks to everyone who read through the whole post and for your input!

How to #1:
How to #2:

Comparison of Ingredients in 2 popular store brands:


I really like recipe in How To #1 mainly because it seems the most simple and natural.

Question 1:  Is micellar water a new invention?
The ingredients seem simple enough, it is hard to believe that this is a recent concoction. Did anyone not think of it in the past? If so, did it go by the same name? What were the components?

Question 2: What is acting as an emulsifier in the recipe for How to #1?
One of the steps is to just blend everything together, but without an emulsifier, wouldn't eventually the molecules separate? Is it possible that the honey extract is acting as an humectant and emulsifier?

Recipe #2 uses lecithen, someone recommended polysorbate 20 as an alternate. Thoughts?

Question 3: What is acting as a surfectant in How to #1?
Recipe #2 uses a face wash of your choice, but if I wanted to create something from scratch, what are my options?

Do I have to use something soapy in micellar water? If oil is a component of soap, is oil then not a surfectant in itself?

If I left out the soap part is it still considered Micellar water?

Question #4: Why is Castor Oil a big component of micellar water?
Why hydrogenated castor oil and almond oil? Why not coconut oil?

 If I wanted use different oils, could I? Would it make the quality of formulation better or worse?
Any thoughts on optimal oil choice? Is argan a possibility? Jojoba? Grapeseed?

Question #5: What do I need to make micellar water?
After going over the ingredients list and the recipes, what do I need to make a natural and effective batch of micellar water that could be comparable to store brands, if not, (hopefully) better?

Humectant: Glycerin, honey.... ???
Surfectant: Is this part optional? 
Botanical extracts

Well, I think that's all I can think of for now. 
Thanks again, everyone.


  • Micellar waters didn't exist before 2013/14 because the marketing departments of some large cosmetic companies hadn't invented the terminology.

    Micelle has a scientific definition (have a look on Google).

    Micellar water, on the other hand, is a vague term thought up by sales and marketing departments to sell dilute solutions of detergents/surfactants with a few miscellaneous additives for a very high price.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Hydrogenated Castor Oil is just a wax - it does very little in that formula except thicken. It should be PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil instead, which is a very good solubilizer.

    "Micellar water" is a made-up term - it is a pure marketing creation - scientifically, it's just a fancy way of saying "surfactants diluted in water".
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
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