Finally, The French Woman’s Secret To Beautiful Skin

Have you heard of micellar water? I never had until a few months ago, when I read an interview with the stunning French actress Roxane Mesquida. Her flawless, glowing skin sent me into fits of envy so powerful, I was just dying to know how she does it. Fortunately for me, this interview just so happened to be on my beauty bible, Into The Gloss, which is so incredibly detailed and personal that I’m reluctant to even call it a blog. It’s the brain child of Emily Weiss, a Voguette and former model who has personal ties to some of the biggest names in the beauty business.

Excuse me for gushing — I live and breathe beauty, so Emily’s site is literally my idea of heaven: among other stories, she conducts beauty-oriented interviews with such inspirational figures as model Coco Rocha, top stylist Marina Muñoz, fashion royalty Ines de la Fressange, and even industry heavyweight and socialite Lauren Santo Domingo. These ladies, and so many more, dish to Emily on their personal routines of skincare, makeup, and general grooming.

As it so happens, many of these beautiful women are utterly French. I’ve always looked to the French for, well, all of my inspiration, be it art, style, beauty, or simply attitude. You know, that je ne sais quoi. I have always battled issues with my skin: it’s too oily, then it’s too dry; it’s bumpy, it’s red, it looks angry. With my obsessive notes on the skincare of other, more beautiful people, I found that these ladies all had one thing in common. They don’t use tap water on their face. It sounds ridiculous, like I splash my face with Evian each morning, but it’s not so. Micellar water is difficult to describe, but it replaces your every day soap-and-cleanser routine, and it’s especially suited to sensitive, problematic skin like mine. Any skin type can use it, from the oiliest to the most dehydrated.

I’m sure you’re familiar with contaminants in the water that comes out of our sinks and showers. It’s full of minerals, toxins, and chlorine, which has led many of us to become slaves to bottled or filtered water for drinking … but what about for your skin? Tap water in and of itself robs your skin of its essential protective oils. This is where micellar water comes in. I don’t know the exact science behind it, and I won’t pretend like I do, but micellar solutions are capable of cleansing your skin, removing makeup and pore-clogging grime, without the use of harsh detergents like those present in facial cleanser formulas. This has been an absolute godsend for me, plus there’s no scrubbing, no soap, no splashing your face with water: it only takes a cotton ball. My face no longer gets as irritated, or breaks out in furious red non-zit bumps, like it used to when I used tap water.

It’s impossible not to get your face wet while showering, but using a micellar solution immediately after can save your skin from the effects of tap water. Micellar water is wonderful at removing makeup, but I prefer taking mine off before using the formula so as not to waste it. I first remove my face and eye makeup with an easy face wipe like Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($5.99 at, which remove eye makeup surprisingly well. I then saturate a cotton ball with the micellar water, and just rub it over my face, making sure to apply it to every inch, even those easily ignored. If there’s a lot of makeup residue on the cotton afterwards, which there usually isn’t, I repeat the action with a fresh pad until it comes up clean. Then I dry my face with a towel and continue my skincare routine. No toner required — micellar solutions tone as they cleanse.

It sounds too simple, like it couldn’t possibly get your face completely clean, but it does. I have significantly less breakouts and blackheads than ever after making the switch to micelle. I would even go so far as to say that this simple change alone has improved my skin in ways that I had hoped expensive cleansers, serums, and treatments would. All it took was a bottle of water.

To try:
Caudalie Cleansing Water, $26 for 6.7 oz (Sephora)
Bioderma Crealine H2o, $29 for 500 ml (Amazon)
Dior Instant Cleansing Water, $36 for 6.7 oz (Sephora)
Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water, $14 for 5 oz (Sephora)
La Roche Posay Physiological Micellar Solution, $13.63 for 200 ml (Le Guide Sante)
Yves Saint Laurent Toning & Cleansing Micellar Water, $40 for 6.7 oz (Sephora)
Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur, $37 for 6.8 oz (Sephora)