Is Micellar Water a Toner? The Differences and How to Use

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Skincare products that perform similar functions are commonly misplaced. For instance, micellar water and toner. These two products do not only look alike but they also have similar functions.

This isn’t so strange because all cleansing products have a clear, water-like appearance and similar packaging.

Micellar water can fill in the role of toner in your skincare routine when you’re in a pinch. It helps to tone and soothe your skin while hydrating it. However, micellar water cannot always be used as a toner.

As a skincare beginner, you may want to grab just any bottle of clear liquid for your facial cleansing. Therefore, you should know the differences between micellar water and toner and why you shouldn’t use just anyone.

What Is Micellar Water?

Micellar water is a clear, water-like product that can fill in for many facial cleansing purposes. This liquid-based product contains oil droplets called micelles that help to lift off makeup, dirt, and grime from your face, leaving your skin squeaky clean.

Micellar water has outshined other cleansing products because it effectively removes oil-based makeup from your face. More so, it can help shorten the time spent on the cleansing step of your routine.

Additionally, this cleansing product is moisturizing and can help refresh your skin on the go. It leaves out ingredients like alcohol which can strip your skin of moisture.

Such ingredients are replaced with glycerine, purifying water, and oil droplets that keep your skin looking hydrated and vibrant.

This product is highly suitable for every skin type, including oily skin, acne-prone skin, and sensitive skin. It is soothing and very gentle on the skin.

You do not need to rinse off this excellent cleanser after use. This is one edge it has over other cleansers. It comes in very handy while traveling and on a visit to the gym.

Micellar Water vs Toner

Comparing micellar water and toner, you’ll have to look beyond the physical appearances. Otherwise, you may just conclude that they are the same product.

Micellar water is a cleansing product that can remove makeup, oil, dirt, and grime from your face. Toner, on the other hand, helps to balance your skin’s pH and prep it to receive the active ingredients in your serum and moisturizer.

Furthermore, toners do not contain the molecules of oil present in the cleansing water. They are completely packed with water, hydrating ingredients like glycerine, hyaluronic acid, and some actives which micellar water does not contain.

While you can use micellar water to clean off makeup, the same does not apply to toners. You can only use a toner post-bathe or after wiping off makeup with a makeup remover or face wipes.

Also, toner should be applied after using a cleanser on your face. You should not apply toner directly to your face. Toner provides a broader range of benefits for the health of your skin when compared to micellar water.

However, where toners are rather too irritating for your skin, you should go for micellar water.

Is Micellar Water Good for Your Skin?

Yes, it is. Micellar water uses a gentle alcohol-free formula to cleanse your skin and remove makeup. The oil droplets attract oil-based residue and effectively lift them off your skin.

It is highly moisturizing and helps to keep your skin hydrated. Moreover, it penetrates deep into your skin and helps to remove excess sebum that clogs your pores and causes acne. Therefore, if you have acne-prone skin, you need micellar water on your routine.

In addition, micellar water is gentle on the skin. While it cleanses your skin, it retains the integrity of your skin barrier. It doesn’t strip your skin of oil and damage your natural barrier which is responsible for keeping out irritants that can affect the overall appearance of your skin.

What Is Micellar Water Good For?

Micellar water is very hydrating. It contains humectants like glycerine which helps to attract and retain moisture in the outer layer of your skin. The oils present also help to moisturize your skin.

The micelles present in this product follow the oil attract oil principle to lift oil and makeup off your skin. More so, micellar water is gentle on the skin and works for every skin type.

It is also very soothing and helps to calm skin redness and prevent skin inflammation. Micellar water shortens your skincare routine and it’s yet as effective. You can use it to touch up your makeup during the day without ruining anything.

Is Micellar Water Better Than Toner?

Micellar water and toner aren’t so comparable because they are different from each other. These two products perform various functions on the skin and are formulated differently.

While toner can help balance skin pH, micellar water cannot do that. Also, micellar water can remove makeup but toner cannot. The latter is more effective when used post-cleansing.

Both products are great cleansers, they effectively hydrate your skin and leave it looking smooth and soft. Additionally, they are mild and soothe every skin type, including sensitive skin.

Can You Use Micellar Water as Toner?

Yes, you can. When you’re in a pinch, micellar water can suffice as a toner. The micelles in micellar water can help increase skin permeability, making serum and moisturizers penetrate your skin better.

Moreover, it cleanses your skin better than a toner can and it is also very hydrating on the skin.

However, micellar water may not always suffice as a toner, especially when you have oily skin. Some toners contain exfoliating ingredients like AHAs/BHAs that can help unclog your pores and slough off dead skin cells to brighten your complexion.

Micellar water, on the other hand, does not contain exfoliating ingredients. Generally, you shouldn’t replace toner with micellar water. Toners help to remove residues of the harsh chemicals in cleansers and balance skin pH.

Is Micellar Water Good for Oily Skin?

Micellar water is a great cleansing product for oily skin. It penetrates the skin, removes excess sebum, unclogs your pores, and helps to clear acne.

This multi-purpose facial cleanser is lightweight and does not leave residues. The micelles present in the formula also work to keep your skin moisturized. When your skin is moisturized, sebum production is regulated and acne is kept at bay.

It effectively lifts off impurities, calms redness and inflamed skin. The alcohol-free formula helps to retain the integrity of your skin barrier. It doesn’t strip your skin of oil; this keeps your skin from overcompensating with excess production of oil.

Is Micellar Water Better Than Toner for Acne?

To start with, micellar water does not contain exfoliating ingredients as toner does. Also, it doesn’t contain active ingredients and botanical extracts that help to address acne and influence skin health.

Therefore, it may not effectively treat acne beyond hydrating your skin and removing excess oil.

On the flip side, toners have these ingredients as an edge over micellar water and can better treat acne. Moreover, the surfactants in micellar water create a film over the skin; this can aggravate acne.

How to Use Micellar Water In Your Skincare Routine

1. As a makeup remover

Micellar water is an effective face cleanser. It contains micelles that effectively lift off heavy makeup and product from your face. It is gentle on the skin and takes off the product without in-between rinses.

  • Dampen a cotton ball with micellar water
  • Then, gently wipe off the makeup from your face
  • Press the dampened cotton ball over your eyes to dissolve eye makeup before you wipe it off
  • You can dampen another pad if the first one is soiled
  • Afterward, use your regular cleanser to remove residues
  • Then, you can continue with the rest of your routine

2. As a face toner

Although micellar water is not a toner, it can help tone your skin and increase skin permeability for other products down your routine.

  • To use micellar water as a toner, begin your routine with your regular cleanser
  • After cleansing your face, dampen a cotton ball with micellar water
  • Then, gently wipe across your face to remove
  • Then, wipe the dampened cotton ball across your face to double cleanse your skin, tone and hydrate it
  • Afterward, you can go ahead to moisturize your skin

3. As a face wash

You can use micellar water as a face wash. This purpose cuts out the need to rinse your face with water after cleansing. It cleanses your skin without leaving residues, an oily feeling, or skin stripped of moisture.

  • Dampen a cotton pad with micellar water and use it to cleanse your face during your morning and evening routine
  • You do not need to rinse off micellar water after application. Moreover, you can use it to cleanse your face during your midday touch-ups.
  • It leaves your skin feeling hydrated and clear.

Is Micellar Water Safe for Skin?

Micellar water is generally safe for the skin. It is lightweight and leaves no residues on your skin. More so, it doesn’t contain alcohol and ingredients that can strip your skin of moisture and cause it to dry out.

However, there are chances that micellar water can be a little unfit for your skin. This is because it contains surfactants that leave residues and create a film barrier over your skin. This barrier reduces the penetration of the ingredients in a serum or moisturizer.


Should you use micellar water before or after toner?

Use micellar water before toner. Micellar water removes makeup, oil, dirt, and grime from your skin. Afterward, use toner to balance your skin’s pH and prep it for other products down your routine.

However, since micellar water can work as a toner, it may not always be a necessity to apply toner after cleansing with micellar water.

Can you use micellar water and toner together?

Yes, you can use micellar water and toner together in the same routine. Wipe your face with micellar water to remove impurities, then, apply toner to balance skin pH.

Do dermatologists recommend micellar water?

Yes, they do. They recommend micellar water for all skin types. Dermatologists affirm that these products can help wipe off makeup and remove impurities. This cleansing product also hydrates your skin and keeps it clear.

Can you use micellar water as a cleanser?

Yes, you can. Micellar water can effectively fill in as a cleanser in your skincare routine. It contains oil droplets that can help lift off oil, makeup, and other impurities.


Micellar water is not a toner, nor the other way around. Although it can work as a toner, you should not replace toner with Micellar water. Both products have unique differences in their functions; therefore, they shouldn’t be misplaced.

Micellar water is a cleansing product while toners are not. Toners rather double cleanse your skin, balance skin pH, and refine your pores. Sometimes, you may use micellar water as a toner but it shouldn’t replace toner.

In conclusion, both products are safe for every skin type and highly hydrating. They are not comparable because they are different from each other. When used separately or together, your skin is in for good freshness.

Thanks for reading.

Check Serum101 to read more related comparison articles that show the clear-cut differences between your skincare products.