Beauty In A Tik logo

TikTok Says Micellar Water Makes Shampoo Clean Better, So I Tried It

At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page. 
When it comes to haircare tips, TikTok is a mine of information. Where else would we have learned to use dental floss to prevent humidity-induced frizz, or that hyaluronic acid works just as well throughout your lengths as it does on your skin?
Lately it's all about cleansing — specifically how to ensure your hair is squeaky clean yet shiny and nourished after every wash. Shampoos and scalp scrubs often go viral on the app (if you haven't tried Maui Moisture, you're missing out) but now TikTokers are incorporating one unlikely product into their hair routines.
Enter: micellar water, a product typically used to remove makeup.
TikToker @abbeyyung recently hit 1.1 million views on her video in which she drenches her scalp and lengths in Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser For Delicate Skin and Eyes, $7.99. "Let's test micellar water before shampoo to see if it cleans even better," she captioned the clip. Abbey gives us a glimpse of her "super oily" hair in a before shot, then picks up the micellar water. Once her hair is saturated, she takes her time to massage it in and then shampoos twice. The result, according to Abbey, is hair that "feels so clean [...] soft and shiny".
Abbey added a caveat in the comments section. "This is definitely not a must do," she wrote. "Testing new things is just what makes TikTok fun for me! Take what works for you leave what doesn't." It wasn't long before the opinions came flooding in. "My hair is fine but I have a lot. It has a lot of build up. I'm going to try this to see if it works," wrote one TikToker. Another asked: "Why did I think Micellar water was only for makeup remover??" Some weren't exactly sold, though. "Terrified that this would strip my colour," observed one TikToker. Another said: "Guys there is micellar shampoo!!!"
So does it work? I have very oily roots, which are partly down to PCOS hormones combined with trialling lots of different hair products, and new curtain bangs, which I'm constantly touching. I'm also prone to a flaky scalp, so I considered myself the perfect candidate to try this out. My usual hair routine consists of a double shampoo anyway so any difference in feel or appearance would surely be down to the micellar water. Or so I thought.
I use micellar water every day to remove my makeup (followed by a proper, water-based cleanse). It cleanses my skin well without stripping it. Would it do the same for my hair?
I doused my lengths in micellar water from root to tip and, like Abbey, used my fingertips to massage the product into my scalp. There's no instruction on how long to let the micellar water work its magic so I left it on for an hour or so during a workout. When I looked at the bottle (which was three-quarters full when I picked it up) I was disappointed. My hair is bob-length, so relatively short, but I required so much micellar water to soak every single strand that the bottle was almost empty.
Still, I persisted. I stuck to my usual routine for the truest results, shampooing my hair twice and following with a conditioner. When I'd squeezed out the majority of the moisture using a gentle towel, I applied my trusty Olaplex No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum, $50, and let my hair air-dry like normal.
On close inspection of my roots the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised. My hair felt light and super clean but it always does after two shampoos. Happily, my scalp wasn't as flaky as before. Again, though, a double cleanse would lift away the majority of the dead skin. So is there anything in the micellar water hair hack at all? Hypothetically yes, says Chie Sato, head of education at Taylor Taylor, though it might not be for everyone.
"Micellar water contains tiny structures called 'micelles', which attract dirt and oil," she explains. "That makes micellar water great at removing products like makeup as well as sebum (oil) build-up from the surface of your skin." In theory, says Chie, this could also work on your scalp, as it has large hair follicles and oil glands which produce sebum to keep the hair moisturised.
But it's not exactly practical to drench your lengths in micellar water every time you go to wash it. "You would need a large amount of micellar water to fully cleanse your entire scalp," continues Chie, particularly if you wash your hair multiple times a week. "This could become expensive and wasteful, especially when there are other options on the market that are specially formulated to be safe for your hair and scalp."
I have to agree. While there are affordable micellar products out there, like the brilliant Garnier Micellar Water, $7.99, and Simple's Cleansing Micellar Water, $11.99, in my experience, you'd need half a bottle every time — and that can be pricy. Instead, I swear by shampooing my hair twice in the shower, particularly on days when it's very oily, if I've worked out or used lots of hair product like oils and styling creams. Chie agrees that double cleansing can have benefits.
"Double shampooing is a good way to make sure you're really cleansing your scalp and fully removing all product build-up and excess oils," she says. "The first wash starts to break down the product build-up, excess oils and pollution from the scalp. The second cleanse helps to rid them from your hair." Chie says that by removing impurities, you're allowing hydrating and conditioning products to penetrate the hair more deeply and that works to nourish parched, damaged strands in the long run.
If your scalp and hair gets super oily and feels heavy, Chie also suggests using a clarifying shampoo every other week. We recommend the Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, $14.49, which chips away at oil and dead skin with apple cider vinegar, or the Giovanni 50:50 Hydrating Clarifying Shampoo, if your hair is on the dry side. And for those with dandruff, I love The Body Shop's Ginger Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $14, which eradicates my flakes in one wash.
But if you're sold on the idea of micellar water? Try a micellar shampoo instead of a makeup remover. "A micellar shampoo is similar to a clarifying shampoo," says Chie. "This could be a good option if you want to test the effectiveness of micelles on your hair in a specially formulated product, rather than tipping a bottle of your favourite micellar water over your head." Try Kristin Ess Scalp Purifying Micellar Shampoo, $16.99, or the Kevin Murphy Scalp Spa Wash, $43.95, both of which strip product, oil and flaky skin build-up without zapping hair of moisture.
So would I use micellar water on my hair and scalp again? No. In my personal opinion, it's a waste of product, especially when there are dedicated haircare ranges that work better and are far cheaper. This is one hack I'll be shelving — sorry, TikTok!
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Hair