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Cleansing your skin is an essential part of any good skin care routine. But with so many different products on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the best choice for you. Micellar water, cleansing oils, and cleansing balms are some of the most popular options. But what exactly is the difference between these three options? Are they interchangeable or can certain skin types benefit more from one over the other? In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between micellar water and oil cleansers. We’ll also look at which one might be better for certain skin types and whether or not they are good for removing heavy or waterproof makeup.
What Is Micellar Water
Micellar water has been around for quite some time now and it continues to be a fan favorite. This gentle cleanser is designed to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your face without irritating your skin. It contains tiny molecules called micelles that act like magnets and attract dirt and impurities away from your skin.
Micellar water is ideal for those with sensitive or dry skin because it doesn’t strip the skins natural oils, however, micellar water is suitable for all skin types, even acne-prone skin. You just have to be careful to look at the ingredients before purchasing. Micellar waters are not oil-based, but some formulas may contain oils to help remove waterproof makeup or nourish dry skin.
Many people love micellar water because it’s quick and easy – you don’t have to emulsify the product like you do with oil cleansers, so you can just go straight in with your second cleanser. Although micellar water should not be left on the skin, if you’re in a pinch, you can use it as your only cleanser to remove any impurities.
Micellar waters are pretty powerful cleansers, so you don’t have to pull and tug at your skin to get all your makeup off. However, micellar waters are not as powerful as cleansing balms and cleansing oils. Micellar waters are not good at removing sunscreen. Generally micellar waters are best for light makeup. If you wear heavy, waterproof, long-wearing makeup or sunscreen, you’ll need to use a cleansing balm or cleansing oil to fully remove everything.
Pros & Cons of Micellar Water
|Gentle and won’t strip the skin
|Cannot remove sunscreen or waterproof makeup
|Best for sensitive or reactive skin types
|Must be used with a cotton pad
|Quick and easy to use
|Can contain bad ingredients like alcohol or fragrance
What Are Oil Cleansers
There are two different types of oil cleansers: cleansing oils and cleansing balms. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two. For a more in-depth look, check out my blog post on cleansing balms vs cleansing oils.
Cleansing oils are cleanser that are oil-based designed to dissolve makeup and other impurities on the skin. They’re usually made of a mixture of several different oils to help nourish, moisturize and soothe the skin while effectively removing makeup and dirt.
Cleansing oils are most commonly formulated with argan oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil and castor seed oil. However, they can also contain coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil, which can be problematic for acne-prone skin, so it’s important to research the cleansing oil before purchase to ensure you’re using one formulated for your skin type.
The consistency can be thick (like olive oil) or on the thinner side, but they are always in liquid form. They are packaged in pump bottles, and can be a little bit messy if you’re not careful when dispensing the oil cleanser into your hands.
Cleansing oils are most commonly used as a first cleanser in a double cleansing routine. As some cleansing oils may leave a greasy/oily residue behind, it’s recommended to always follow up with a regular cleanser. They’re great for removing sunscreen and makeup without having to pull and tug at your skin.
Studies have shown that using oil based cleansers are better for the skin as they reduce friction and irritation from rubbing cleansers into the skin to fully remove makeup and sunscreen.
To use a cleansing oil, you’ll apply 2-3 pumps into your hands and gently massage over your skin to break down the makeup, oils and other impurities. You’ll want to massage the oil into your skin for at least 30 seconds.
Then you’ll wet your hands and emulsify the cleanser and gently massage again for about 30 seconds. You’ll see the cleanser turn milky-white as it emulsifies, and then you can rinse it off with warm water. The emulsification is important because it helps the cleanser rinse off completely to avoid any greasy or oily residue.
Cleansing Oil Pros & Cons
|Removes makeup quick and easy
|Can be messy
|Great for waterproof makeup
|Can leave an oily film on the skin
|More hygienic than cleansing balms
|Not easy to travel with
Cleansing balms have gained popularity in recent years because they are less messy than their cleansing oil counterpart.
Cleansing balms are thicker than cleansing oils but just as effective, if not more-so, at removing makeup residue while also protecting the natural barrier of your skin. Think of a cleansing balm as an oil cleanser that’s in a solid state.
Cleansing balms are solid, wax-like cleansers that are made with a combination of oils, waxes, and emulsifiers that work together to break down and dissolve stubborn makeup and impurities on the skin. They can be creamy and smooth or thick and waxy, depending on the formulation.
As you massage the cleansing oil into your dry skin, the oil will melt from the heat of your skin and turn into what feels like an oil. As you massage the balm into your skin, it will help to breakdown stubborn makeup, dirt and oils. Once you’ve massaged the balm in, you can either rinse it off with warm water or use a damp cloth to wipe it away. It’s always recommended to use a regular cleanser after a cleansing balm to ensure you remove any residue and leftover impurities from the skin.
Cleansing balms are popular among people with dry or sensitive skin, as they tend to be more gentle and hydrating than traditional foaming cleansers. They also offer the added benefit of being able to remove stubborn eye makeup and waterproof mascara without irritating the delicate skin around the eyes.
In addition to their cleansing properties, some cleansing balms also contain nourishing ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants, and botanical extracts to help hydrate and soothe the skin. Overall, a cleansing balm is a great option for anyone looking for a gentle, effective way to remove makeup and keep their skin clean and hydrated.
Cleansing Balm Pros & Cons
|Takes more work to massage into the skin
|Best for removing waterproof makeup & sunscreen
|Might feel heavy on oilier skin types
|Quick and easy to use
|May leave an oily film on the skin
Micellar Water Vs Oil Cleansers: Similarities & Differences
There are two main types of oil cleansers: cleansing oils and cleansing balms. Both are effective at removing makeup and other impurities from the skin, but depending on your skin type, one may be better suited to you than the other. Now we’ll take a look at micellar water vs cleansing oil vs cleansing balm to help you determine which is best for your skin type and skin concerns.
Micellar Water Vs Cleansing Balm
Micellar water and cleansing balms are both popular types of skincare products used for makeup removal and cleansing. While they share some similarities, they also have some key differences.
One major difference between the two is the texture and consistency. Micellar water is a liquid, typically with a consistency like water, that is designed to be applied to the skin with a cotton pad. It contains tiny micelles that attract and trap dirt, oil, and makeup, effectively removing impurities from the skin.
Cleansing balms, on the other hand, are thicker, creamier formulas that typically come in a solid or semi-solid form. They are designed to be massaged into the skin, breaking down makeup and impurities before being rinsed off.
Another difference between the two is the level of hydration they provide. Cleansing balms are typically more hydrating than micellar water, as they often contain nourishing oils and emollients that leave the skin feeling soft and moisturized.
Micellar water, on the other hand, can sometimes be drying, especially if the formula contains alcohol or other drying ingredients.
When it comes to choosing between micellar water and a cleansing balm, it really depends on personal preference and skin type.
Micellar water is a great option for those with oily or acne-prone skin, as it effectively removes excess oil and impurities without leaving a greasy residue.
Cleansing balms, on the other hand, are better suited for those with dry or sensitive skin, as they have more nourishing ingredients like oils and butters to nourish and moisturize the skin as it cleanses.
Ultimately, both micellar water and cleansing balms can be effective at removing makeup and keeping the skin clean and healthy. It’s just a matter of choosing the one that works best for your individual needs and preferences.
A cleansing balm is hands down the most powerful makeup remover with the least amount of effort, so if you wear a lot of makeup or makeup that’s long-wearing or waterproof, a cleansing balm is what you need.
More often than not, micellar water is not strong enough to remove waterproof or long-wearing makeup effectively.
Micellar Water Vs Cleansing Oil
Cleansing oils and micellar water are two popular options for removing makeup and impurities from the skin. While they both serve the same purpose, there are some key differences between them.
The most obvious difference is that cleansing oil is an oil-based product, while micellar water is water-based. This means that cleansing oils are more effective at removing impurities from the skin and can more easily remove stubborn, waterproof makeup.
Cleansing oils also tend to be more nourishing than micellar water, as they typically contain nourishing and hydrating oils like jojoba, avocado, or argan oil.
Micellar water is still great for removing makeup and general cleansing, but it can sometimes be drying if the formula contains alcohol, fragrance or essential oils.
Micellar water has a thinner consistency than a cleansing oil – micellar water looks and feels just like water, whereas cleansing oils have the texture of, well, oils. They can be thicker like olive oil or thinner like canola oil.
Both micellar water and cleansing oils are suitable for all skin types and can be used to remove makeup and impurities from the skin. It really just comes down to personal preference, as some people prefer the ease of micellar water while others love the nourishing properties of cleansing oils.
Micellar Water Vs Cleansing Oil Vs Cleansing Balm At A Glance
- Best for light makeup
- Used on a cotton pad
- Convenient & easy to use
- Best for sensitive skin
- Gentle and non-irritating
- Should not be used by itself
- Oil-based cleanser
- Effortlessly removes makeup
- Best for oily or acne-prone skin
- More lightweight than balms
- Can be messier to use
- Solid oil cleanser
- Best for removing waterproof makeup
- Best for removing sunscreen
- More nourishing than cleansing oils
- Best for normal to dry skin types
So Which Is Best?
Both micellar water and balm/oil cleansers are great, and both have their advantages. Micellar water and oil cleansers are both excellent choices for removing makeup and impurities from the skin. However, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at these to help you determine which cleanser is right for you.
Cleansing balms and cleansing oils will always be more powerful than micellar water. They can break down stubborn, waterproof makeup and other impurities more effectively than micellar water, which is great for those who use long-wearing, waterproof makeup and/or sunscreen.
Micellar water is best for those that wear little to no makeup (think tinted moisturizers).
Micellar water is the clear winner when it comes to convenience. All it takes is a few swipes over your skin with a cotton pad and you’re good to go. Cleansing oils and balms, on the other hand, need to be massaged into the skin for at least 30 seconds and then emulsified for another 30 seconds or so, then finally rinsed off.
Though many might give extra points to micellar water because it can be used as a waterless, no-rinse cleanser, it really shouldn’t be used like this daily. But when you’re in a pinch, it can get the job done.
It’s also important to consider which of these products are most eco-friendly. Since you have to use micellar water with a cotton pad, it can be wasteful. Of course, you can always opt for reusable cotton pads. With cleansing balms and oils, all you need is your hands.
Because micellar water was first invented for extremely sensitive and reactive skin types, it tends to have the bare minimum ingredients. Although some formulations may contain a few added ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid or panthenol, micellar waters typically don’t have a ton of nourishing ingredients for the skin.
Oil cleansers, on the other hand, are packed with good for the skin ingredients like plant oils, butters and other nourishing ingredients.
Should I Use A Cleansing Oil, Micellar Water Or A Cleansing Balm?
If you’re struggling to decide which of these cleansers is right for you, I’ve made a quick guide to make the decision process easier (and faster). Below are two questions to ask yourself when deciding which cleanser to use:
Do I need a gentle cleanser just to remove dirt and oil?
Then go for a micellar water. If you wear makeup daily, micellar water won’t be the best option, but if you just want something gentle to cleanse away the days impurities, micellar water is a great choice.
Do I need a cleanser that effortlessly removes all makeup, dirt and oil?
Then go for a cleansing oil or cleansing balm. These are more powerful than micellar water and will effortlessly remove sunscreen, makeup, dirt and oils without drying out your skin.
If you want to dig a little bit deeper, here’s a guide I’ve created on which cleanser is best for which skin type and needs.
Dry Skin – Cleansing oil or cleansing balm
Oily Skin – Micellar water or cleansing oil
Combination Skin – Micellar water, cleansing oil or cleansing balm
Sensitive Skin – Micellar water
If you wear sunscreen – Cleansing oil or cleansing balm
I wear mineral sunscreen daily and personally find that micellar waters just don’t get the job done. I prefer cleansing balms to breakdown and fully remove all traces of the sunscreen, but cleansing oils are just as good!
If you wear light makeup – Micellar water or cleansing oil
Think of light makeup as tinted moisturizers and non-waterproof makeup. Micellar water can generally remove lightweight makeup with ease. Cleansing oils can easily breakdown lightweight makeup as well.
If you wear waterproof or heavy makeup – Cleansing balm or cleansing oil
When I do wear makeup, I always use a cleansing oil or cleansing balm to remove it. Both make it so effortless and I’m not scrubbing my skin or spending 15 minutes trying to get everything off.
Micellar Water Vs Cleansing Oil Vs Cleansing Balm FAQ’s
Can I use micellar water and cleansing balm together?
Yes, you can use micellar water and cleansing balm/cleansing oils together, however, it’s not necessary and may be a bit wasteful. When it comes to micellar water vs oil cleansers, you really just need one.
Both cleansing balms and micellar waters are meant to be used as a first cleanse in a double cleansing routine. If you use micellar water and then a cleansing balm (or vice versa), you’re risking leaving residue and other impurities on your skin which can lead to irritation and breakouts.
Additionally, you don’t need to use micellar water, cleansing balm and then a second cleanser – this will likely strip your skin and lead to a damaged skin barrier, irritation and acne.
If you’re wearing a lot of makeup, opt for an oil cleanser or balm. If your skin is sensitive and you don’t wear a lot of makeup, micellar water is a great choice.
Can I use both micellar water and cleansing oil?
While you can use both micellar water and cleansing oil, it’s really not necessary and it’s best to use just one or the other. Both cleansing oils and micellar waters are meant to be used as a first cleanse in a double cleansing routine. If you use micellar water and then cleansing oil, you’re risking leaving residue and other impurities on your skin which can lead to irritation and breakouts.
Additionally, you don’t need to use micellar water, cleansing oil and then a second cleanser – this will likely strip your skin and lead to a damaged skin barrier, irritation and acne.
If you’re wearing heavy makeup or sunscreen, go for a cleansing oil. If you have sensitive skin or don’t wear any makeup, micellar water should be sufficient.
Should I use micellar water before cleansing balm?
It’s generally a good idea to use micellar water before cleansing balm. Micellar water is great for removing surface-level impurities, while cleansing balm can penetrate deeper into your pores to remove stubborn makeup and dirt and help to unclog pores.
However, keep in mind that both micellar water and cleansing balm are meant to be used as a first cleanse in a double-cleansing routine. If you use micellar water and then a cleansing balm, you’re risking leaving residue and other impurities on your skin which can lead to irritation and breakouts. It’s best to use just one or the other.
Is micellar water better than cleansing oil?
Whether micellar water is better than cleansing oil depends on your skin type and personal preference. Those with extremely sensitive or reactive skin, micellar water is better than an oil cleanser. Micellar waters are formulated with minimal ingredients and use extremely gentle surfactants to cleanse the skin.
On the other hand, cleansing oils are great for those who may have more makeup to remove (like waterproof mascara). Oils can easily breakdown heavy makeup and sunscreen without stripping your skin.
Micellar water is great for gently removing makeup and dirt without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Cleansing oil, on the other hand, is better for breaking down heavy makeup and sunscreen.
Does micellar water work as an oil cleanser?
No, micellar water does not work as an oil cleanser. Micellar water is formulated with very mild surfactants and other ingredients that are designed to gently remove dirt and makeup from the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Contrary to popular belief, micellar waters do not contain oils (unless of course the formula has added oils).
Oil cleansers, on the other hand, use a blend of oils to breakdown makeup and other surface impurities. Oils are very effective in removing heavy makeup and sunscreen and help to nourish the skin as they cleanse.
Should I use micellar water or cleansing oil for oily skin?
Whether to use micellar water or cleansing oil for oily skin depends on your personal preference. Some people find that micellar water works well for removing surface-level oil and dirt without stripping their skin. Others prefer cleansing oil because it can penetrate deeper into their pores to remove more stubborn impurities.
If you have oily skin, it’s important to ensure you are gently cleansing the skin so you don’t strip skin of its natural oils. Doing so can lead to an overproduction of sebum, which will cause your skin to become even more oil and potentially lead to more breakouts.
If you have oily skin and don’t wear makeup or sunscreen, micellar water is a great option. However, if you wear makeup or sunscreen, a cleansing oil or cleansing balm will be the best option to ensure you’re removing all impurities from the skin to prevent breakouts.
Can you use micellar water as cleansing oil?
No, micellar water is not meant to be used as a cleansing oil. Micellar waters are formulated with mild surfactants and other ingredients that are designed to gently remove dirt and makeup from the skin without stripping or irritating it. Micellar water does not contain oil. Cleansing oils, on the other hand, use a blend of oils to breakdown makeup and other surface impurities.
Is it better to use micellar water or cleansing balm?
Whether to use micellar water or cleansing balm depends on your skin type and personal preference. Micellar water is great for removing surface-level impurities, while cleansing balm is better for removing stubborn makeup and dirt. If you wear heavy makeup or have dry skin, you might prefer cleansing balm.
Why are cleansing balms better than micellar water?
Cleansing balms are better than micellar water for removing heavy makeup and sunscreen because they contain more emulsifiers and cleansing agents. They’re also better for dry skin because they tend to be more moisturizing. However, micellar water is still a great option for removing surface-level impurities and is generally gentler on your skin.
Micellar water is a great option for those with dry skin types that don’t wear a lot of makeup. However, micellar water typically does not contain many moisturizing ingredients like cleansing balms do. Cleansing balms contain many different oils and butters which help to nourish and moisturize the skin as they cleanse, so many people with dry skin prefer using cleansing balms or oils.
Micellar Water Vs Oil Cleansers Wrap Up
With so many different types of facial cleansers available today it can be difficult deciding which one is right for you – but if you take into consideration your individual needs such as your skin type and what kind of cleanser you need, this guide should help you narrow down your choices significantly. Each product has unique benefits depending on what type of skin you have—cleansing oils and cleansing balms are great for those with dry, mature and normal skin types micellar water is perfect for those who have sensitive or reactive skin. Micellar water is a quick and easy cleanser designed to remove oils, dirt, makeup and impurities from the skin, but it’s best for those who wear little to no makeup. Oil cleansers, on the other hand, can breakdown waterproof, long-wearing makeup and sunscreen with minimal effort and without stripping the skin.
No matter which one you choose, it’s important to remember that both micellar water and oil cleansers should be used as part of a double cleansing routine and should always be followed with a regular cleanser to remove any residue and leftover impurities.