Deep into the world of micelles: What makes micellar water so popular and how to master their formulation?

  • February 21, 2022
  • 3 minutes of read time

Deep into the world of micelles: What makes micellar water so popular and how to master their formulation?

Body care
Face care
Hair care

For 30 years, micellar waters have been gaining popularity day by day. When a (well-known) company launched a new product in 1991 called "micellar water", more suited to the biology of the skin and responding to the concerns of sensitive skin, it was hard to imagine the success of this new galenic, yet very simple.

What is a micellar water?

Micellar waters have a very minimalist appearance. They just look like water. However, they are rich in active molecules and must, at the very least, contain MICELLES. Micelles are invisible microspheres formed from amphiphilic molecules (surfactant) dispersed in a solution. They are able to capture impurities while respecting the skin barrier, and thus eliminate make-up and exces of sebum in a single gesture. In addition to micelles, micellar waters can also contain moisturizing, soothing and purifying active ingredients. Finally, an important point, micellar waters have to respect sensitive skin. This mixture of good cutaneous tolerance, ease of use and efficiency with a clean look is ultimately the success of micellar waters.

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

The popularity of this format also makes it move from facial care to other categories such as hair care or body care. Shampoos, conditioners, hand gels, “micellar” baby cleansers are multiplying and developing this concept more globally

To remember

  1. Tolerance & mildness: suitable for sensitive & irritated skin
  2. Refreshing, soft & non-sticky textures
  3. Cleansing properties: impurities & make-up removal

How to formulate a micellar water?

The classical composition of micellar waters corresponds to 0.1 to 5%  cleansing and solubilizing surfactant(s) (anionic/amphoteric/non ionic, mild, able to solubilise oils), 0.1 to 5% emollients / humectants / superfatting agents, 0.1 to 5% active ingredients and preservatives.

What are the key Seppic ingredients most adapted to micellar water formulation?


Surfactants are the key ingredients for micellar waters. The chosen surfactants should have good cleansing properties, low CMC (critical micellar concentration), a good skin tolerance profile and non-skin drying effects. Two surfactants of Seppic portfolio stand out: PROTEOL™  APL EF (Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids) and PROTEOL™ OAT PF (Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids). The PROTEOL™ line is based on amino acids, grafted on lipophilic chains, and provides cleansing performance while maintaining skin integrity. Both grades are readily biodegradable.

Furthermore, the alkyl polyglucosides of the ORAMIX™ line are particularly interesting for their low CMC, thus forming micelles at a very low concentration. ORAMIX™ CG110 and ORAMIX™ NS10 are the most suitable.

Active ingredients

Skin hydration is one of the most popular claims among beauty products. Of course, this also applies to micellar waters. AQUAXYL™, our moisturizing best-seller, is a sugar-based complex dedicated to skin moisturization and skin barrier reinforcement and perfectly adapted to this galenic.

For skin purity, capryloyl glycine, a lipoaminoacid based on glycine,  regulates oily & acne-prone skin while reducing the number of imperfections. FLUIDIPURE™ 8G, the liquid form of capryloyl glycine, is most adapted for the formulation of micellar water (a pure powder form is also available here).  

For more information on other categories of products suitable for micellar waters, do not hesitate to contact us.

Seppic micellar water formulas:

Micellar lotion for teenagers blemished skin

This micellar lotion purifies the skin & helps maintain its balance.

Know more

Soft micellar milky water

This minimalist milky micellar water takes care of the skin, by removing makeup & gently soothing.

Know more

Urban detox dry cleanser

A leave-on cleansing foam that remove daily accumulation of pollution residue.

Know more


(1) Based on Kingpin market research data

(2) CAGR: current annual growth rate

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

For more information about our ingredients and formulations :

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