Micellar cleansing water can cause skin to oil up, lead to acne

Using the wrong micellar cleansing water can cause your skin to oil up, leading to acne.

What is micellar cleansing water? How do they work?

Micellar cleansing water, also known as micelle solution, has been in the beauty market for a while. Basically, this water is made up of microscopic micelle molecules suspended in soft water. A micelle molecule is a spherical molecule with a hydrophilic (water-loving) exterior and a hydrophobic (water-hating) interior.

When we pour the micelle solution on a cotton pad and apply the cotton pad on our skin, the pressure causes the micelle molecules to open up. This exposes the hydrophobic interior, which will attract and attach itself to other hydrophobic molecules (e.g dirt, grime, make up, etc). Once the pressure is lifted, the micelle molecule closes and forms a sphere again, trapping the dirt inside the molecule. This lifts the dirt and non-water molecules off your face, thus cleansing your skin in the process.

My experience with Bioderma Sensible H2O Micellar Solution

I have been looking for a make up remover that works for oily/ acne skin. Being super acne-prone, I wasn’t comfortable with using oil cleaners. I have been using milk cleansers but I didn’t like the after feel of the milk cleanser.

So, I was really excited when Bioderma Sensibio H2O was launched. I bought a 250ml bottle as it was bundled with a 100ml free bottle. I can’t remember the price though as it was more than two years ago.

My first experience was good. It did remove my make up satisfactorily. I also preferred the after feel of the micellar water to the milk cleanser. I was happy that I could finally stop using my milk cleanser. After using Bioderma cleansing water, I followed up with Skinlycious Anti-Acne Wash, even though it was not necessary as micellar solution is suppose to be a rinse free cleanser. However, I am afraid of acne outbreaks, so I continued with my usual routine of Skinlycious products.

My happiness didn’t last long.

The next morning, I woke up with a very oily complexion. I have yet to wake up with oily skin ever since SkinLYcious 7 in 1 Pore Refining Hydrator Serum has controlled my oily skin. It didn’t occur to me it was the Micelle Solution until my skin oiled up again by noon even after I had washed it in the morning. This had not happened to me for a long time. Of course, my face was more clogged up then usual due to the increased oiliness. Acne started popping up.

A Déjà vu feeling set in. I knew it was the micellar cleansing water as I did not change my diet nor other skin care products. I had this experience before when I was trying to formulate a cleanser for normal skin to add to the Skinlycious brand. We were testing out and trying different versions of sulfate-free cleansers with milder surfactants. The first few versions I tried oiled me up by noon.

My chemist and I worked hard to improve on the formulations. I, having acne-prone and combination skin, tried 10 different formulations, but all gave me an oily complexion though the last version was not as bad. My best friend, who has normal acne-free skin, went through the 10 rounds of testing with me. The first few versions made her normal skin oil up by noontime as well. The subsequent versions did not cause her skin to oil up.

However, we decided that Skinlycious should focus on being an anti-acne brand as that’s where our uniqueness lies. And with more experience in testing, I also found out that certain preservatives and other ingredients can also cause my skin to be oily. These are not taught or found in textbooks. It’s only because I have super acne-prone skin that I am able to test, feel and know the difference between the different formulations.

I stopped using the Bioderma cleansing water and went back to using milk cleanser for my make up removal. It took about 4 weeks for my skin to regulate back to normal, i.e. oiliness sets in only in the late evening.

I didn’t think of trying another brand of micellar cleansing water for two reasons :

1) Bioderma is supposed to be the best-selling and the pioneer, so they should be one of the best cleansing water. If it doesn’t suit me, I guess other brands would not as well. After all, they all work on the same concept of using micelle molecules.

2) I didn’t want to risk getting acne again by trying new products. Sometimes, it takes much longer for the skin to regulate back to “normal”.

The micellar cleansing water that I am currently using.

I was introduced to Erabelle’s Hydra Cleansing Water after I did my eyebrow embroidery at Erabelle late last year.  They would give a small sample of this for cleansing. I decided to give it a try. I continued with my usual routine of Skinlycious products, adding the cleansing water before my Anti-Acne Wash.

I really like the after feel of this cleansing water. More importantly, it doesn’t leave me with oily skin and cause me to breakout. However, this 150ml bottle cost S$88.80. Every pump of the cleansing water used, I feel the pinch. It takes me about 8 pumps and 4 cotton pads to remove my make up completely. That includes removing my waterproof eyeliner.

Thankfully, I work from home most of the time and don’t make up that often. And I was given a $500 product voucher when I signed up for the eyebrow embroidery package. I used that voucher to purchase 5 bottles of Erabelle’s micellar cleansing water. Hopefully, my chemist and I can come up with my own micellar cleansing water that passes my standard before I finish these 5 bottles. I only launch products that I personally use into Skinlycious line.

The micellar cleansing solution that I am formulating.

It’s only after I tried Erabelle’s micellar cleansing water that I was convinced that micelle solution can effectively remove make up without oiling up the skin. It really depends on the formulation of the micelle solution. So far, the few rounds of the cleansing water has made my skin oily. We are still working on it.

UPDATE : We have launched our micellar cleansing water! 9 months and a few rounds of testing with my customers to come up with the final formula. Read more about behind the scenes to formulate Skinlycious Micellar Cleansing Water. 

Click here for more information on the micellar cleaning water specially formulated for acne, acne-prone skin.

Leave us a comment if you have similar experiences where cleansers oil up your face and cause outbreaks.



About the Author : Jasmine Kang

Founder of Skinlycious – a one stop skin care solution for acne and acne-prone skin. A science geek, who has struggled with acne for 14 long years. Armed with decades of acne-fighting experience and bioscience / pharmaceutical knowledge, she seeks to find solution for her own acne-prone skin. She also takes immense joy in helping people regain confidence by solving their acne woes. Her secret ambition is to rid the world of irritating acne.