I’m pretty excited to be able to share a micellar water recipe I’m happy with. I’ve been experimenting with micellar water formulas quite a lot over the last year and while the concept is simple enough in theory, it took quite a lot of fiddling and refining to create something that is lovely in reality. The biggest part of refining this formula ended up being removing things, which can be hard for a person with far too many ingredients (cough cough) to do. I can just hear my hydrolyzed proteins and extracts singing to me from the pantry, and my humectants saying “surely, a bit more of me can only make your product better“. Shhhhh, ingredients. Stop leading me astray.
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So, what is micellar water? It is, simply put, water with a wee bit of a surfactant added. It is used by applying micellar water to a cotton pad and swiping it across the face until the skin is clean. The tricky part is creating something that works and can be left on the skin without driving you batty because it leaves your skin sticky or tight.
The ingredient I fussed with the most was the surfactant/solubilizer. I tried five different ones: cocamidopropyl betaine, polysorbate 80, olivem300, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, and PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides. Some experiments got down to 0.18% of surfactant and I still didn’t like the after-feel (and also found the performance was starting to drop off). PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides quickly distinguished themselves as the best surfactant for this project by a wide margin. It works, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or coated or sticky. Please do not substitute this ingredient. From my experiments I cannot recommend anything I feel performs as well.
I played with several different humectants as well, and settled on 0.5% each sodium lactate and vegetable glycerin. I found there is some more room to play in this category as long as you are keeping the total amount around 1%, so if you have a fancier humectant you enjoy that you’re itching to include, you likely could—though you may need to experiment to find what’s just right for you. For those experiments I’d recommend making smaller batches and using distilled water in place of the hydrosol to reduce waste. I certainly filled a lot bottles with similar smaller batches!
Now, you can have plenty of fun with the hydrosol part! I’ve used rose hydrosol because I adore it, but different hydrosols would work just as well, as would a blend. I found 15% to be more than fragrant enough (some of this micellar water leaked on my trip to Australia and my whole bag smelled of roses!), but you could use more if you prefer, reducing the amount of distilled water to compensate.
You’ll notice the percentages of most of the ingredients are tiny. Please, please, please use an accurate scale to make this recipe. Something that’s accurate to 0.1g is ok, but 0.01g would be better. I like this scale and this one. You could scale up the recipe to work with a 1g scale, but then you’d be making a litre of micellar water, and that’s absurd, especially for a recipe you’ve never tried before (just because I love it doesn’t guarantee you will!).
Once you have all the ingredients this is crazy easy to make; I just weighed everything directly into my bottle, capped it, and shook it to combine. The pH of this micellar water is ~5.5 as-is, so no pH adjustment is necessary. Enjoy!
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Rose Micellar Water
83.1g | 83.10% distilled water
15g | 15.00% rose hydrosol
0.4g | 0.40% PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.50% vegetable glycerine
0.5g | 0.50% sodium lactate
0.5g | 0.50% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Weigh everything into a 120ml/4oz squeeze bottle. Cap and shake to combine. That’s it!
To use, soak a cotton pad in micellar water, and wipe it over your face. Repeat with fresh cotton until it comes away clean (I usually need two).
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this 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 100g.
- You can use a different hydrosol in place of the rose hydrosol, or replace it with more distilled water
- If you choose to alter the surfactant or humectants you’re on your own. I experimented with these ingredients a lot and this is the best combination I found; nothing else was worth sharing, recommending, or using.