The inspiration for this Gel Micellar Water came from two places. The first was a gelled micellar water sample I got when I made a purchase. The second was a leaking bottle of non-gelled micellar water in my travel bag. Given I’ve already got a micellar water formulation I love, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to gel it and create something that’s rather fun (this is based on the assumption that gels are fun, which I’m fully on board with) and significantly less spill/leak prone.
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I selected Aristoflex AVC as our gelling agent because leave-on skin feel is incredibly important with any sort of leave-on cleanser. It is, of course, important for all leave-on products, but I find micellar water to be one of those products where even the slightest bit too much of something sticky or filmy can completely ruin the feel of the product; and to me, that wrecks the product. I find gels made with more traditional gums like xanthan and guar leave a tight, tacky film on my skin when they dry down, and that sensation drives me mad.
Beyond the gelling agent this is a pretty straightforward micellar water. There’s a teensy amount of surfactant (PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides) for gentle, effective, non-tacky cleansing. There’s a bit of a non-sticky, non-electrolytes-containing (electrolytes + Aristoflex AVC = bad) humectant (propanediol 1, 3) , our preservative, and water. You could fancy up the formula a bit by using a hydrosol to replace some of the distilled water; I find 20–50% hydrosol in a formula usually gives a nice scent level. That will give you a micellar gel that smells lovely and brings along any of the attributes of the hydrosol you choose (for instance, lavender and chamomile would bring some soothing and calming properties to your product).
I chose to package my Gel Micellar Water in a soft squeeze tube, but I think it would do well in a variety of different packages. A squeeze bottle with a disc top would work well, as would a standard pump bottle or an airless pump bottle. It’s thick enough that you could even forgo the orifice reducer type top and just go for a straight-up cap in a bottle, but I think you may want to keep some sort of squeezability in the bottle in that case for easier dispensing.
The entire formula is cold processed and comes together really easily. If you wish to adjust the thickness of the product you can do that my increasing or decreasing the Aristoflex AVC (more will make the product thicker, less will make it thinner). For reference, a 1% Aristoflex AVC version was more of a micellar paste than a gel, so I would recommend adjusting by 0.1–0.2%, balancing the formula as required with more or less distilled water. Happy making!
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Gel Micellar Water
Sprinkle the Aristolflex AVC overtop and blend with a mini mixer or whisk until the entire mixture has thickened and emulsified. I find it’s easiest to stir, leave it for about twenty minutes to fully hydrate, and then stir again. That’s it!
To use, dispense a dollop of the gel onto a disposable cotton pad and swipe over your skin. Repeat with new pads until they come away clean. I stored my micellar gel in a soft squeeze tube.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this gel micellar water contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 60g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there!
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- Because micellar water is a leave-on cleanser I find the leave-on skin feel is extremely important; it’s also very easy to make a micellar water with an unpleasant leave-on feel, be it too sticky or too tight. Avoid sticky ingredients wherever possible.
- Do not introduce any electrolytes into this formula or the gel will fail—this includes ingredients like sodium lactate and aloe vera.
- You can try a hydrosol(s) in place of some or all of the water
- You can try vegetable glycerine instead of propanediol, but keep in mind that vegetable glycerin is stickier than propanediol.
- If you choose to alter the surfactant you’re on your own. I experimented with every surfactant I own and PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides is the only one that produced good results.
- If you are familiar with a different carbomer-type gelling agent you can use that instead of the Aristoflex AVC, though you may need to experiment with the amounts to get the desired end consistency.
- I do not recommend using a gum like xanthan gum or guar gum instead of the Aristoflex AVC as their leave-on skin feel is very unpleasant. Hydroxyethylcellulose might work.