Podcast: Episode 3, micellar water

Audio episode, micellar water


  • The basic ingredients of a micellar water
    • water
    • glycols
    • surfactants
    • scent
    • conservative
    • pH adjuster
    • assands

Episode Notes

  • Micelle : aggregate, in the form of a sphere, of amphiphilic molecules. The lipophilic tails of our surfactant molecules, schematized in the form of tadpoles, not finding the oil by which they would be attracted, group togandher and form small spheres which are just waiting to find a fatty substance to s agglomerate there. And this is how micelles have cleansing powers.
  • Glycols : humectants that hydrate the skin
    • May come from plants: glycerin, butylene glycol, pentylene glycol, propanediol
    • Coming from pandrochemicals: all PEG (polyandhylene glycol)
  • Surfactants / cleaner : molecules that create cleansing micelles
    • Can come from plants: coco-glucoside, lauryl glucoside, decyl glucoside
    • Coming from pandrochemicals: PEG-6 caprylic/capric glycerides
  • Conservative : molecules which prevent, which inhibit the growth of micro-organisms such as bacteria for example.
    • May come from plants: certain ingredients such as glycols have anti-bacterial properties. However, there are few or no natural preservatives listed in the European cosmandic regulations. 12232009. Certain synthandic preservatives are authorized in organic cosmandics.
    • Coming from pandrochemicals: phenoxyandhanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate
  • pH adjuster :
    • To make more acid / lower the pH: citric acid
    • To make less acid / make more basic / increase pH: sodium hydroxide
  • Website : MastelCosmandics
  • The Instagram account: mastelcosmetics
  • The diagram of micellar water:

Schèma micellar water selon les dessous de la cosmétique

Don't hesitate to listen to the previous episode on mayonnaise and vinaigrette as well as the following on cosmetic development.


Hello, you are listening to episode 3 of the underside of cosmetics, the Podcast which reveals and explains to you with clarity and sincerity the world of cosmetics. I am Julie Magand Castel, chemical biologist and cosmetologist specialized in natural cosmetics and today we are going to talk about formulation. Indeed, for this third episode, we will see the main families of ingredients that make up a micellar water

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To start we can study the standard composition of a eau micellaire which is a generally contains few raw materials.

A micellar water is composed mainly of aqueous ingredients. L'eau is often the majority there, it can be replaced by juices such as aloe vera juice for example. Micellar water to contain glycols, which are a group of humectant molecules. That is to say that they will hydrate the skin. The glycols can be of plant origin or derived from petrochemicals. Generally they look like more or less viscous and transparent pastes. Glycerin is the most common glycol, then butylene glycol, pentylene glycol and propanediol are widely used as well. Glycerin is heavier and stickier than butylene glycol which is heavier than pentylene glycol which is heavier than propanediol. In addition to moisturizing, they also help preserve cosmetics, although they are not classified as preservatives.

It is therefore also necessary to rely on one or more conservatives to avoid microbial contamination. Preservatives should prevent the growth of yeasts, bacteria and molds. Some preservatives may be effective against yeasts only and not against bacteria and moulds. It may then be judicious to combine several preservatives with a different spectrum of activity to finally have a product protected against any microbial contamination.

Examples of widely used preservatives can be phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, benzyl alcohol, chlorphenesin. Preservatives are particularly supervised because they are listed in appendix V of the European cosmetics regulation. While the majority of ingredients used in cosmetics in Europe are not listed as authorized for the cosmetics industry. The regulation regulates the ingredients not authorized in cosmetics by listing them in Annex II of the regulation.

Some countries are particularly sensitive to preservatives, for example cosmetics imported into China must specify the method of preservation on their label. And luckily the preservatives are there because you won't like to see or smell a contaminated product. Next, back to our micellar water, it contains a surfactant which cleans and forms micelles - hence the name micellar water. We already talked about surfactant in episode #2: Mayonnaise and vinegar. In episode 2, we introduced the notion of surfactants, this group of molecules in the shape of a tadpole having a head attracted by water and a tail attracted by oil. We explained how surfactants can stabilize an emulsion, a system composed of oil and water. These molecules become half in the oil droplet, half in the water, at the oil-water interphase, which stabilizes the oil droplets in suspension in the aqueous medium. But what happens if a surfactant is introduced into an aqueous system only? Where are the oil-loving tails, the lipophilic tails of tadpoles that are the surfactants? Well they form micelles!! Micelles are an aggregate, in the form of a sphere, of amphiphilic molecules. The lipophilic tails of our surfactant molecules, schematized in the form of tadpoles, not finding the oil by which they would be attracted will group together and form small spheres which will only ask to find a fatty substance to congregate there. And this is how micelles have cleansing powers. You can find these surfactants on the list of ingredients of your cosmetics under the sweet names of coco-glucoside, lauryl glucoside or decyl glucoside. There are also synthetic surfactants such as PEG-6 CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC GLYCERIDES for example.

Then it is possible to add a perfuming concentrate with micellar water. However, it should be noted that the perfume is fat-soluble, but the majority phase of micellar water is aqueous. The cleansing surfactant can also act as a solubilizer. That is to say that it will make it possible to obtain a more or less clear homogeneous phase by positioning itself at the interphase of the droplets of concentrate for the dispersed in the majority phase.

Then, it is possible to add a whole host of active ingredients to provide the skin with the benefits targeted by the finished products. And finally, you have to measure the acidity of the formula and adjust it if necessary using pH adjusters such as sodium hydroxide or citric acid for example.

little music

To summarize, a micellar water is an aqueous system composed of water or juice, glycols to moisten the skin, preservatives to limit microbial contamination, surfactants that create micelles to cleanse, a perfume to provide a pleasant smell, a solubilizer to mix the perfume and the aqueous phase and active ingredients to provide other benefits to the skin.

I hope you enjoyed this episode and taught you what micellar water is. A new episode will be released next Saturday and you can find the ratings for these episodes on mastelcosmetics.com in the underside of cosmetics section. Mastel is written MASTEL and is the contraction of my two surnames Magand Castel.

Do not hesitate to react in the comments, to ask your questions or to indicate what you would like to hear next. You can subscribe to the Podcast The sous de la bwaterté today on various Podcast platforms including Spotify and follow its news on Instagram and Twitter with the username mastelcosmetics.

Also and of course feel free to share this podcast with your friends if you think they might enjoy it - thank you. I wish you a bwatertiful week and give you an appointment next Saturday.

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A chemist in the cosmetics industry for more than 5 years and a graduate of the Natural Raw Materials in Cosmetics Master's degree from ISIPCA, Julie is an expert in the development of natural cosmetic products.