Clean and Simple

Cleansing water is the new must-have item for pre-treatment preps and bathroom shelves. By Jenni Gilbert.


I’ve been a fan of the ‘double cleanse’ since a former colleague and beauty guru Zoe Foster-Blake lauded its benefits a few years ago.

It was an epiphany for my fine-textured skin that became so easily congested (and, without diligent care, tends to age faster than thicker skins).

The first time I tried it I was astounded at how ‘unclean’ my face actually was. I massaged in a light cleansing oil and tissued it off – OMG. The dirt.

Then I followed with a non-stripping foaming cleanser (it’s different for everyone; my skin just doesn’t respond well to milk or cream cleansers), followed by a light exfoliating toner. Yet more yuck.

As the days and weeks progressed, not only did my skin become comfortably (ie. not ‘squeaky’) clean but the congestion disappeared and my complexion looked lighter, brighter, healthier and was more receptive to treatment products.

Fast-forward some five years and the double cleanse is fundamental to my skincare routine.

But a few things have changed. Even the light cleansing oils – and gels, which were also great – now often feel too heavy. For the past 12 months I have been getting breakouts, which I blamed on an aggressive albeit non-invasive skin rejuvenation procedure (with otherwise positive results).

It no doubt did have something to do with that, but ageing skin is less tolerant of ‘ stuff, I find. Anything too heavy weighs on it, literally, making it look sad, sallow and blemished.

Story short, I have become a huge fan of cleansing water. Not the stuff from the tap (although we could hardly do without that in cleansing rituals) but the micellar variety.

They’re not new. Indeed they’ve been around for years and a secret weapon among makeup artists and models, who have to quickly remove makeup between shows or photo shoots.

But suddenly it seems micellar (in French pronounced ‘me-sellaire’) waters are gushing forth.

Originating in France, they are non-rinse, soap-free cleansing waters that contain micelle molecules, which are made of fatty-acid esters. Applied with a cleansing pad, the composition of the molecules makes them brilliant at trapping and gobbling up makeup, dust and pollution tout de suite. Some tone as well, and feature skin-soothing ingredients such as cucumber extract.

I have found them invaluable for removing grime for the daily grind ahead of using a foaming cleanser and toner – but also brilliant for those evenings when I just want to fall into bed (and otherwise would have been – mea cupla – too lazy to take off my makeup, mascara and eyeshadow included.)

I asked the experts behind four top professional skincare brands that have recently released micellar waters about their myriad benefits.

Thalgo-cleansing water 2-in-1

‘Cleansing water is designed and formulated for the end user to have a product of convenience,’ says Kim Thomasson, education manager for BLC Cosmetics, distributors in Australia of Thalgo.

‘This type of product cleanses the skin well with very little effort and can be utilised in many ways such as when travelling (during a flight, on a short vacation, camping), after hitting the gym or playing sport,

‘It’s great for a quick home care program when people are time poor – eg. busy mums, corporates – and for getting clients moving away from soap.

‘Thalgo Cleansing water 2 in 1 shouldn’t replace a normal milk or foaming cleanser but it definitely has an important place in the market for consumers looking for a quick action.’



‘Absolution L’Eau Soir et Matin cleansing water can be used in place of any other make up remover,’ says Isabelle Carron, founder and creator of French bio-cosmetic and organic skincare brand Absolution Apothecary.

‘It is efficient but very soft, even for sensitive eyes. You don’t have to rinse it, because it’s a 3 in 1 product (makeup remover/cleanser/toner).

‘L’Eau Soir et Matin is also very refreshing, pleasant during warmer weather.

‘There is nothing to say that a cleansing water should be used in place of other, conventional cleansers. However, it really comes down to consumer preference.

‘A benefit for skin therapists is that cleansing water eliminates the need to use a cream or foaming cleanser in a facial treatment protocol.

‘For makeup artists, it allows for perfect cleansing of the skin without the use of water. It’s treating and feeding the skin while leaving it perfectly prepared for makeovers.’


‘Sothys Micellar Cleansing Water is pH correct and therefore suits every skin type,’ says Sandi Daley, Australian co-distributor of Sothys Paris. ‘Plus certain spa waters used in formulation can reduce skin reactivity and create a calm and hydrated ‘canvas’ to work on.

‘Thermal water is used as a base to the product usually with the addition of micelles which work as absorbers of both oil and water soluble impurities in the skin.

‘European thermal spa water usually has a low sodium but high magnesium ratio and therefore supports the natural microbiome (flora, or good bacteria) on the skin, leading to a healthier functioning skin.

‘Micellar water is convenient, easy to use, can remove eye makeup and acts as both a cleanser and a lotion in one. It makes a perfect gym bag partner as it can prevent post-workout breakouts when used immediately before and after exercise.

‘Every cleansing routine should be done twice to thoroughly remove makeup. If the micellar water is used to remove makeup before cleansing with a milk, foaming cleanser or deep enzyme cleanser as a second cleanse it can be beneficial – both in-clinic and at home.’

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