I’ve had quite a few requests for a micellar water over the last couple years, and with hot(ter) temperatures finally upon us, I thought I’d give one a go. But first I had to find out what micellar water is.

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It turns out it’s an emulsifier powered cleanser, in the form of a rather diluted solution that’s mostly water. Wikipedia defines it as “surfactant molecules dispersed in a liquid colloid“. A micellar water cleanses your skin in the same way soap does, really—one end of the molecule grabs onto oils on your skin, and the other hitches a ride down the drain with some water, taking those oils with it.

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A lot of the storebought ones I looked at used ingredients like Polysorbate 20 or PEG-6 as their surfactant, but I wanted to see if I could go all natural. I decided to roll with a combination of yucca root, which contains natural saponins, and Turkey Red Oil (sulfated castor oil that somewhat magically self-emulsifies in water).

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From there, I wanted to add some other skin goodies. The majority of the cleansing water is aloe vera juice—the pure, clear juice, not the bright green goo from the drug store. I steeped that with white willow bark, a natural source of acne fighting salicin (grandfather to salicylic acid).

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I also added some acne fighting essential oils—black pepper and lavender. If you don’t have those on hand please feel free to use other acne fighting essential oils. Or, if acne isn’t an issue for you, feel free to choose an essential oil or two that combats whatever ails your complexion.

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The final product is a pretty bottle of gentle micellar cleansing water, with an added anti-acne kick. Because this is mostly water you should either make it in very small batches, store it in the fridge, and use it quickly or add a broad-spectrum preservative.

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Yucca & Aloe Micellar Cleansing Water

½ tsp yucca root
1 tsp white willow bark

100mL aloe vera juice (not the weird green gel!)
10mL/2 tsp vegetable glycerin

5mL/1 tsp Turkey Red Oil

black pepper essential oil
lavender essential oil

Measure the herbs out into an empty tea bag, tea ball, or tea strainer.

Measure the aloe vera juice out into a glass measuring cup and add the herbs to the juice. Let steep for at least an hour. If you want to speed this up, gently warm the aloe vera juice and do a warmer steep for 15–20 minutes.

Once the aloe water and herbs have steeped, squeeze out the herbs and discard them. Add the vegetable glycerin, Turkey Red Oil, and essential oils, and whisk to combine. When you add the Turkey Red Oil the mixture will go milky, this is exactly what we want.

Transfer the water to a 125mL/half cup bottle. To use, pour some on a cotton pad and swipe it across your face. Repeat if necessary.

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