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Toner and micellar water are not must-haves in your routine, but if you have any interest at all in skincare, you might wonder what the differences are between micellar water vs toner and if you need them in your routine. No matter how much of an expert you are in skincare, sometimes all these new products and terms can get confusing. So, I’m here to help answer a commonly asked question: which is better, micellar water vs toner?
The answer isn’t as simple as you may think and it’s not a clear comparison because micellar waters and toners are actually very different!
What Is Toner?
When you think of toners you probably think of astringent type toners that you use to treat acne. However, modern day toners have come a long way and they are much different (and better for your skin) now! Toners are a water-y like consistency that can have an array of skin benefits.
Depending on the formulation, toners can help with anti-aging, acne, dry skin and pretty much any other skin concern. Toners tend to have skin-loving ingredients like anti-oxidants, chemical exfoliants and other hydrating ingredients.
When used in a skincare routine, toners help to remove any excess product, dirt or cleanser that didn’t get washed off, and they also help add hydration back into the skin, adjust the skin’s pH levels and more depending on the active ingredients in the toner.
What Is Micellar Water?
Micellar water is essentially made of two ingredients: oil and water. Long story short, it’s a waterless cleanser. Of course, there are other additives, but the oil and water are the main two ingredients. In the micellar water, there are tiny little droplets of oil, called micelles. If you’ve ever seen micellar water on the shelf, you may have noticed how the oil and water layer separate. Then when you shake it up, the oil droplets disperse throughout the water.
The oil helps to break down any makeup, dirt and oil so it is removed easier from your skin. It helps get skin clean and make sure you aren’t leaving any residue or dirt on your skin.
Micellar water is supposed to be used on a cleansing pad or cotton ball. Then you swipe the cotton ball all over your face to remove makeup and any extra dirt or bacteria. Many people use micellar water before cleansing to remove makeup.
Many people wonder “does micellar water tone skin?” and the answer is no. Micellar water only cleanses skin.
It’s important to note that micellar water should not take the place of an actual cleanser. Although it does do a good job of cleansing, it’s still not enough to rely on on its own. Plus, the oil in micellar water can break some people out if left on the skin. This can be why some people say micellar water is bad. Micellar waters are not bad, it’s just that people often use them incorrectly.
Micellar Water Vs Toner
So, now that we know what micellar waters and toners are, what’s the difference and how do you know if you should use one or the other? When it comes to the debate of which is better micellar cleansing water vs toner, it’s pretty easy because they are very different products!
Micellar water is meant for cleansing. Sort of like a “pre” cleanse. It’s great to remove makeup or any dirt off your skin, but it’s not meant to replace a cleanser or have any other skin benefits. Whereas toners do have skin benefits and they are not meant to cleanse the skin.
Micellar water should be used before your regular cleanser to remove any makeup, dirt and oil. Whereas toner should be used after your cleanser to rehydrate the skin, treat any skin concerns, adjust the pH and remove any extra dirt, oil bacteria, etc.
Micellar waters do sometimes have skin-benefiting ingredients, like glycerin or anti-oxidants, but oftentimes toners are more concentrated and will do a better job if you’re looking to clear up any skin concerns.
Who Should Use Micellar Water?
Anyone can use micellar water, but they are especially beneficial for those with more sensitive skin types. Some micellar waters do not require water and claim they can be replaced as your cleanser in your routine. However, I do not recommend this, especially if you wear makeup! I have tried many micellar cleansing waters and put this claim to the test.
I found that when I wore makeup, I had to use multiple cotton pads and go over my face quite a few times to get all the makeup off. For me, it’s just not practical and is very wasteful because of the amount of cotton pads and products you have to use.
However, micellar waters can be a great first cleanse to help break down and remove makeup. Then by following up withe a second cleanser, that cleanser will remove any extra makeup, dirt or residue and actually clean your skin.
So, bottom line, anyone can use micellar water in their skincare routine, but I wouldn’t rely on it by itself to thoroughly cleanse your skin.
Who Should Use Toner?
Toners are a great addition to your skincare routine, but not a necessary one. If you’re all about simplicity, then you can definitely skip toners. However, pretty much every one can benefit from a toner, especially if you have any skin concerns you are wanting to address.
Toners can hydrate, exfoliate, calm, treat acne, boost collagen production and more. So, if you’re looking to add an extra step in your routine and want to address certain skin concerns, toners are a great option for you!
Bottom line, toners can be used by anyone, but aren’t a necessary step in your routine.
When To Use Micellar Water In Skincare Routine
Many people wonder “do you use micellar water before or after cleanser?” If you do decide to use a micellar cleansing water, then it’s important to use it at the right time in your routine. Micellar cleansing waters should be used before your cleanser.
When To Use Toner In Skincare Routine
Toners should always be used right after cleansing. Toners should come before any serums, treatments or other products. Since toners are usually water-y in texture, it follows the thinnest to thickest rule. Plus, toners help adjust the pH of your skin, so they need to be used right after your cleanser.
Micellar Water Vs Toner: Commonly Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about micellar water vs toner.
Is Micellar Water Good For Acne?
Micellar water is not good or bad for acne. Micellar waters do not contain any ingredients that would help or treat acne. If anything, the oil in the micellar water could end up clogging your pores and creating new acne. This is also why I recommend following with a separate cleanser if you use micellar waters.
Should You Moisturize After Micellar Water?
You should always moisturize after cleansing your skin, whether you use a micellar water or regular cleanser. No matter how gentle your cleanser is, it will still strip your skin of its moisture to some degree. So, even if you have oily skin, you should always moisturize after using micellar water!
Should You Wash Your Face After Using Micellar Water?
In my opinion, yes you should always wash your face after using micellar water. However, I know some people use them by themselves.
Can I Use Micellar Water And Toner At The Same Time?
You can definitely use micellar water and toner in the same routine. If you use micellar water and a cleanser then your routine should be micellar water, cleanser, then toner. If you just use micellar water and toner, then you would just use micellar water then follow up with your toner.
Can Micellar Water Dry Out Skin?
It’s definitely possible for micellar water to dry out skin, but it’s unlikely. Micellar cleansing waters were actually developed for dry and sensitive skin types as a way of cleansing without stripping the skin.
Should I Use Micellar Water If I Don’t Wear Makeup?
You definitely can! Especially if you wear sunscreen, micellar water can help break down the sunscreen so you’re ensuring you get everything off at the end of the day. Even without makeup, micellar water can help break down the oil and dirt on your skin and ensures you’re getting your face clean at the end of the day.
Best Micellar Waters
Best Micellar Water For Sensitive Skin
Bioderma Sensibio H2O
If you have sensitive skin, Bioderma is one of the best brands for you and their micellar water is no different. With limited ingredients and patented micelle formula, this will help remove makeup, dirt and oil all while maintaining and repairing skin’s moisture barrier. There’s a reason this one is a cult favorite!
Best Micellar Water For Acne-Prone Skin
Bioderma Sébium H2O Micellar Water
This one is just as good as the original (above) but formulated especially for combo, oil and acne prone skin. With added ingredients to help with oil control, this one is your best bet if you have more problematic skin.
Best Micellar Water For All Skin Types
Simple Kind To Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
With limited ingredients, plus skin-loving additions like Vitamin B3 and Vitamin C, this micellar water is perfect for all skin types. Simple is also a great brand for sensitive skin types because they use minimal ingredients and don’t use any harsh chemicals. So this is another great option for sensitive skin and it’s also more accessible than Bioderma.
Best Toner For Acne-Prone Skin
Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner with Moringa + Papaya
With 2% Salicylic Acid + enzymes, this toner will help exfoliate dead skin, unclog pores and kill acne causing bacteria. Plus extracts that will help re-hydrate skin so it doesn’t get dried out.
Best Toner For Anti-Aging
Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution
This glycolic and lactic acid combo packs in 16% AHA, making it a strong and effective toner to help increase skin cell turnover, unclog pores, fight fine lines and wrinkles and smooth out skin texture. Plus Niacinamide to help even out and brighten skintone. This is a great toner for anti-aging, acne, dull skin, skin congestion and hyperpigmentation.
Best Toner For Dry Skin
Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner with Hyaluronic Acid
With hyalyronic acid, evening primrose oil and essential fatty acids, this toner helps to strengthen and repair the skin’s moisture barrier, keeping your skin plump, hydrated and soft. It helps to replenish your skin’s nutrients to keep skin healthy, so it’s a great toner for rehydrating your skin after cleansing.
Best Toner For Sensitive Skin
Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Toner For Normal To Dry Skin
This milky toner is ideal for sensitive skin types and those with reactive skin conditions like rosacea. With hydrating and skin soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and allantoin, this toner helps to replenish skin with hydration and calm irritation and redness.
Micellar Water Vs Toner: Bottom Line
So, which is better micellar water or toner? In my opinion toners all the way. Although I do like micellar cleansing waters, I just prefer a regular ol’ cleanser to get the job done. I have sensitive skin and never really found them extra soothing or better for my skin. However, I do know people that swear by them and they can be a great option!
Toners, however, have much more benefits to the skin and contain active ingredients that can help improve your skin concerns. So, if you have a cleanser that you love and are looking to treat a skin concern, definitely go with a toner!
Where do you stand on the micellar water vs toner debate? Do you prefer one or the other? Let me know in the comments!