Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
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, £6.99. "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 CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water with Niacinamide & Ceramides, £10, every day to remove my makeup (followed by a proper, water-based cleanse) because of all the brilliant skincare benefits. It boasts ceramides to keep the skin barrier intact and niacinamide, which is nice and hydrating. Both cleanse my skin well without stripping it. Would they 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 in the name of Beauty In A Tik. 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 Aquis towel, I applied my trusty Olaplex No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum, £26, 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 London, 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 Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin, £5.99, and Simple's Cleansing Micellar Water, £5.50, 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 LØRE Originals Cleanse + Purify Vegan Shampoo, £18, in salon. It contains salt and prickly pear extract which gently exfoliate the scalp, removing product and sebum build-up while increasing circulation. This boosts healthy hair growth." Also try OGX Clarify & Shine+ Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, £7.99, which chips away at oil and dead skin with apple cider vinegar, or Noughty Detox Dynamo Clarifying Shampoo, £6.99.
For those with dandruff, I love The Body Shop's Ginger Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, £7.50, which eradicates my flakes in one wash. If you have an itchy scalp plus dandruff, nothing beats Head & Shoulders DERMAXPRO Soothing Anti Dandruff Dry Itchy Scalp Shampoo, £6.
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, £10, or The Hair Boss The Micellar Shampoo, £7.99, 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 which work better and are far cheaper. This is one hack I'll be shelving — sorry, TikTok!
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.