The Science Behind Micellar Water

by - 8/15/2015

Say goodbye to your make-up removing cleansers, girls... there's a new product in town

Everyone and their grandma is talking about it, and here's the reason: it's magic. Well, it's science, but they're pretty much the same thing, right? Any fellow biologists out there will already have this drilled and engraved into their brains, but here's how it works..

We start with molecules called surfactants. Picture these molecules as teeny tiny little sperms. They have hydrophilic "heads" which are attracted to water, and lipophilic (or hydrophobic) "tails" which are attracted to oils and grease. These ends usually don't like each other very much.

We know that splashing water on your face doesn't really do much to remove make-up. We also know that oil floats on water (due to their densities and polar ends). So we need something with water to cleanse you skin, and with a molecule that has a lipophilic "tail" to attract all of the grease and dirt and oil and make-up and remove it from your skin.

Surfactant molecules bring all of this together and it creates the best of both worlds! So, how does this relate to micellar water? A micelle is a ball of surfactant molecules, with all of the tails on the inside of the ball and all of the heads on the outside. So micellar water is essentially water with tiny micelle balls floating about in it!

So, the big 'thing' about using micellar water on a cotton pad is apparently a very important 'thing'... Cotton pads, like water, is hydrophilic (water loving). And hydrophilic things like other hydrophilic things. With me so far? So, when you pour some micellar water onto the cotton pad, the hydrophilic heads 'stick' to the cotton pad, leaving the lipophilic (oil, grease, dirt loving) tails hanging off the end of the cotton pad. When you then sweep this cotton pad over your make-up, the lipophilic tails grab your make-up and excess oil and pull it off you skin. Simple, right?

If you'd like to see more science-based beauty posts, let me know by tweeting me @shannonalexlata or by commenting on my Instagram @saveshannon!

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