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I Hated Cleansing…Until I Discovered TikTok’s Micellar Water Hack

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
I love putting on makeup. There's something very therapeutic about slowing down and focusing all of my attention on one thing at a time, like perfecting a feline flick or getting my bronzer placement just right. But come the end of the day, I'm too tired even to think about taking it off.
While I'll never commit the cardinal beauty sin of sleeping in my makeup, I know I'm not alone in putting off cleansing. A top London dermatologist once told me that one of the most common skincare mistakes she sees in clinic is patients who skip washing their face regularly. As a result they come to her with dullness and breakouts, the aftermath of which can leave a lasting effect in the form of skin staining and scarring.
It's why practising double cleansing in the evening — using micellar water to remove makeup followed by a proper, water-based cleanse — has gained so much traction among beauty experts and skinfluencers. But there's no denying it's a chore.
Not only does double cleansing take time and effort but I think it's wasteful to use so many cotton pads. That's before I've touched on how scratchy some can be (especially the reusable pads if you've washed them a couple of times), plus the inevitable pulling motion over your skin — particularly the very delicate eyelids. But you can always count on TikTok to find a way around the faff of double cleansing — and it's not the hack where you blow through a cotton pad saturated in micellar water to make it foamy. With all due respect, please don't do that.
In a TikTok video with 751.2k views and counting, beauty creator @sbeautyxxx shows how they melt their makeup off without cotton pads. The TikToker decants their Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser, £5.99, into a spray bottle and spritzes their entire face until drenched. They let the micellar water work its magic for a couple of moments, then use their fingers to rub it off. Miraculously, the micellar water cuts through their heavy eye makeup, foundation and lipstick in next to no time. "I do my skincare after this FYI 😅 I double cleanse & do my entire routine 🥰," they wrote in the comments section. One follower wrote back: "I do this and it makes the whole process 10x faster AND easier 😩." Another said: "You just saved me from falling asleep with makeup on."
You might be thinking: Why not use a balm cleanser? We know they're out there but balms often contain thick oils and waxes, which can clog pores and make already greasy skin greasier. That's bad news for the acne-prone among us, even if you do attempt to wash it off afterwards. A lot of the cult balm cleansers out there also contain essential oils as fragrance, which can irritate sensitive skin and eyes, and it's not uncommon for them to come with a hefty price tag. In comparison to some of the hyped cleansing balms, micellar water is a more affordable option and it lasts longer, too.
I wear foundation, concealer and powder as a base but I love to pile on the liquid liner and mascara. Could a simple spritz of micellar water melt everything away, all without having to scrub like crazy with a cotton round? I didn't believe it but gave it a go anyway, using CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water with Niacinamide & Ceramides, £11. Another of my favourites is Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water Sensitive Skin, £11, but if you'd rather spend less, Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, £5.50, is just as great (and almost always on offer).
So how does micellar water work? Dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite explains that CeraVe's micellar water contains small, suspended molecules called micelles. "By nature, micelles attract dirt and oil," says Dr Granite. "Micellar water is designed to cleanse without stripping," she adds. "The micelles attract just the makeup, excess sebum and daily grime rather than taking the oils from your skin and drying it out."
@jacquelinekilikita IB: @sbeautyxxx because balm cleansers can be too heavy for acne-prone skin like mine, full of essential oils (often irritating for me) & expensive! #beautyinatik #beautyhack #skincarehack #skincare #micellarwater ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim
I'd recently finished a toner which came in a spray bottle so I washed the inside with soap and warm water and filled it up with the CeraVe micellar water. The key is to spritz your face liberally to create enough slip to be able to chip away at any makeup — or even SPF — you're wearing. Surprisingly, my foundation, lipstick and lip liner dissolved almost instantly. I thought removing my mascara and eyeliner would take a bit of extra work, as it does when using cotton pads. But just using my fingertips cut through the heavy pigment like a hot knife through butter — man, was it satisfying. I made sure my fingertips were wet with extra micellar water before pinching my lashes very gently to rub away the last remaining slicks of product.
I will say that micellar water is unlikely to work on waterproof mascara. For that, you'll need something oil-based and nothing beats Institut Esthederm Osmoclean Eyes and Lips Make-Up Remover, £24. Rinsing away the melted makeup took seconds and while I was at the sink I followed with another cleanse — this time water-based, using Carbon Theory Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Gel Cleanser, £9. This is so good at unclogging pores and making skin feel smoother.
While this micellar water hack works a treat, one of the most important things you can do for your complexion is cleanse it properly twice a day, every day, said consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. "Going to bed in your makeup is singlehandedly one of the worst possible things you can do," she added. "I always cleanse morning and night, and double cleanse in the evening to make sure I've removed any excess makeup, sunscreen or pollution that I've come into contact with during the day. This ultimately enables products such as moisturisers and serums to work more efficiently, too."
When it comes to cleansers, Dr Mahto likes micellar water and rates following up with a gentle, creamy cleanser. I'd personally recommend Dove DermaSeries Hydrating Facial Cleanser, £9.50, The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, £5.50, or Biossance Squalane + Aloe Amino Gentle Cleanser, £20, if you have more to spend. If your skin is acne-prone, Dr Mahto suggests a foaming gel cleanser. Try La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel, £13.50.
Without a doubt, this hack cut time, effort and waste from my cleansing routine. I'm almost certain it's kinder on my skin, too, which is no longer pink from the friction of the rough cotton pads.
If you're a Beauty In A Tik regular, you'll know that plenty of TikTok hacks (semi-permanent lip liner, lube as makeup primer, applying foundation with a jade roller) are a total flop. But this one? It just makes so much sense.
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