Micellar water is all the rage in the beauty world, but how does it work? The answer is surprisingly complex: Micellar water contains tiny molecules called surfactants, which are attracted to both oil and water molecules. When you apply micellar water to a cotton pad and wipe it across your skin, these surfactants surround the oil molecules (dirt, makeup, etc.) on your skin, and carry them away.

All this sounds cool and sciencey, but how can you make micellar water work for you?

Cleanse makeup and dirt in one go 

Simply put, micellar water is really good at cleansing your skin. Those powerful little surfactants can remove makeup and dirt in one go, making micellar water the perfect one-stop skin cleanser. Many women notice that micellar water removes makeup more thoroughly and efficiently than oil-based cleansers, and that a bottle of micellar water lasts longer than a bottle of oil-based cleanser as a result.

Unlike oil-based skin cleansers, micellar water doesn’t leave a potentially pore-clogging oily residue behind. This means that you don’t necessarily have to wash or even rinse your face after cleansing with micellar water–a major benefit, as over-cleansing the skin can cause dryness and irritation. Cleansing once with micellar water can help you to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

If you want to wash your face again after cleansing with micellar water, consider using a gentle, natural cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.

Remove eye makeup without causing irritation

Eye makeup remover can cause irritation for two reasons. First, the ingredients in these removers are often harsh on your skin–and on your sensitive eyes. Many women notice ongoing irritation, redness, and stinging when using conventional eye makeup removers. But micellar waters tend to be super minimalistic when it comes to the ingredients that they contain, which means you can avoid annoying eye irritation when removing your makeup.

Many eye makeup removers can also cause irritation due to the amount of physical contact required with the eye: All that scrubbing and dabbing can be extremely stressful to your eyes! However, micellar water is both gentle and effective, which means you won’t have to rub your eyes hard in order to get all of your makeup off.

Touch up eye makeup without destroying your masterpiece 

Here’s one of the worst feelings in the makeup universe: You’ve applied your eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara perfectly, creating a masterpiece on your eyelid. You want to touch it up a little, so you swoop in with your oil-based remover–only to be left with a greasy residue that your new coat of makeup won’t stick to!

Unlike other removers, micellar water doesn’t contain any oil, so you don’t have to worry about that annoying residue! If you want to touch up your eye makeup, all you have to do is gently dab with a little micellar water on a cotton pad, and apply your new coat of makeup.

Unclog pores between sunscreen applications 

Finally, micellar water is a great option for long days in the summer sun, when you may need to apply and reapply (and re-reapply) sunscreen to your skin to keep from turning into a human tomato. When you apply one layer of sunscreen directly overtop of another, the product can clog your pores and cause breakouts. Cleansing with micellar water in between sunscreen applications helps your pores to stay clear and happy.

A few of our favorite micellar waters: