Why are micellar waters so popular and how do you formulate them?

  • July 7, 2022
  • 4 minutes of read time

Why are micellar waters so popular and how do you formulate them?

For 30 years, micellar waters have been gaining popularity day by day. When a (well-known) company launched a new product called "micellar water" in 1991, which was better adapted to the biology of the skin and addressed the concerns of sensitive skin, one could hardly imagine the success of this new galenic but very simple product.

What is a micellar water?

Micellar waters have a very minimalist appearance, because they usually just look like water. However, they are rich in active molecules and must contain at least MICELLES. Micelles are invisible microspheres formed from amphiphilic molecules (surfactants) dispersed in a solution. They are able to trap impurities while respecting the skin barrier so that make-up and excess sebum are removed in a single movement. In addition to micelles, micellar waters can also contain moisturizing, soothing and cleansing ingredients. Finally, an important point is that micellar waters must respect sensitive skin. This mix of good skin tolerance, ease of use and efficiency with a clean look is ultimately what makes micellar waters so successful.

Today, this success is driven by the European market, which accounts for 33% of the market share, followed by APAC with 30% and North America with 27%(1) . In addition, there is a momentum of new launches, especially in younger markets with high growth potential such as Brazil or Indonesia (+9.1% and 21.6% CAGR respectively(2, 3) ).

The popularity of this format is also leading to its expansion from facial care to other categories such as hair or body care. Shampoos, conditioners, hand gels and "micellar" baby cleansers are spreading and developing this concept worldwide.


What are the characteristics of a micellar water?
  1. Tolerance & mildness: suitable for sensitive & irritated skin
  2. Refreshing, soft and non-sticky texture
  3. Cleansing properties: removal of impurities and make-up

How do you formulate a micellar water?

The classic composition of micellar water corresponds to 0.1 to 5% cleansing and solubilising surfactants (anionic/amphoteric/non-ionic, mild, capable of dissolving oils), 0.1 to 5% emollients/humectants and 0.1 to 5% active ingredients and preservatives.

What are Seppic's key ingredients that are best suited for formulating micellar water?


Surfactants & Solubilizers

Surfactants are the most important ingredients for micellar waters. The selected surfactants should have good cleansing properties, a low CMC (critical micellar concentration), a good skin compatibility profile and a non-skin drying effect.

Our alkyl polyglucosides are particularly interesting because they have a low CMC and thus form micelles even at a very low concentration.

Oramix CG110 is also a very good natural solubilizer, which helps to incorporate any fragrances. 

SEPICLEAR™ G7 is another powerful, non-ionic & natural solubilizer. Unlike other natural solubilizers, it does not produce foam, which can be an essential point when formulating cosmetic products such as toners, facial or even micellar waters.

Active ingredients & preservation

Skin hydration is one of the most popular and important attributes of beauty products. Of course, this also applies to micellar water. AQUAXYL™, our moisturizing bestseller, is a sugar-based complex that hydrates the skin and strengthens the skin barrier and is perfect for this galenic.

For skin purity, Capryloyl Glycine, a glycine-based lipoamino acid, regulates oily and acne-prone skin while reducing impurities. FLUIDIPURE™ 8G, the liquid form of Capryloyl Glycine, is very suitable for the formulation of micellar water.  

SEPICIDE™ G is also a skin cleansing agent for acne-prone skin, showing a broad antimicrobial spectrum and is also a solution for a mild and natural efficient preservative.

Seppic Micellar Water Formulations

Here are some examples from our formulation database:

A natural and minimalist micellar water that is particularly gentle and skin-friendly, making it ideal for sensitive skin! ORAMIX™ NS 10 gently cleanses the skin and removes make-up, while SEPICLEAR™ G7 as a non-foaming solubiliser allows the introduction of fragrance and supports cleansing. AQUAXYL™ moisturizes and restructures the skin by harmonizing the skin's water balance, and SEPICIDE™ G has skin-cleansing properties and ensures the natural preservation of the formulation.

EU07715 I COSMOS skin friendly micellar water

A deodorant & refreshing water to eliminate impurities and control body odours: A minimalist formula for sensitive skin!

ORAMIX™ CG 110 cleanses oily skin and solubilises the fragrance and FLUIDIPURE™ 8G helps to protect the product in addition to clarifying the skin: The dosage of the preservative can be reduced to 0.6% instead of 1% (challenge test: criterion A).

AS40033 - Deo Micellar Water

This minimalist, milky micellar water cares for the skin by gently soothing and removing make-up. The combination of ORAMIX™ CG 110 and EMOGREEN™ L19 helps remove even water-insoluble make-up such as mascara. AQUAXYL™ provides moisturising properties and SEA STARWORT™ OIL soothes sensitive skin.



(1) Based on Kingpin market research data.

(2) CAGR: compound annual growth rate

(3) Based on Mintel research data (first launches of micellar water between 2019 and 2021.