Toddler and Preschool  |  Adults  |  Cosmetics and personal care products

Is Micellar Water Safe? (And What Is It, Anyway?)

The Bottom Line

Micellar water is a cosmetic product that is used to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from the face. Micellar water is made up of water mixed with soap, hydrating chemicals, and perfumes. If swallowed, it is unlikely that a small amount of micellar water will result in poisoning, but it may cause vomiting or diarrhea. Micellar water can also be irritating if it gets in the eyes.

The Full Story

Micellar water is a cosmetic product that is used as a facial cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from skin. The main ingredient of micellar water is, you guessed it, water! The remaining ingredients are a combination of very small amounts of surfactants, humectants, and fragrances. That's just a fancy way of saying soap, hydrating chemicals, and perfumes. The term "micellar" comes from the chemistry term "micelle." Micelles are little clusters of molecules that trap oils, making them easier to wash off.

Since the product is mostly water, it is unlikely that a small amount of micellar water will result in poisoning if swallowed or used on the skin. If swallowed, the most likely symptom to develop will be mild nausea. For someone with a sensitive stomach, vomiting or diarrhea might occur. If someone unintentionally drinks micellar water, have them drink a few small sips of regular water to rinse the remaining material into stomach.

Although the ingredients are mild, micellar water can be irritating if it gets in the eyes. If someone experiences eye irritation after getting micellar water in their eyes, gently rinse the exposed eye with room temperature water for 10-15 minutes. Any persistent eye pain or symptoms might need medical examination and treatment.

If you suspect someone has been exposed to micellar water and is having a problem, check the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for guidance or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Lindsy Liu, PharmD
Certified Specialist in Poison Information

For More Information

Oliver D. What the heck is micellar water, and should you use it? [Internet]. New York: Huffpost; updated 2016 13 Dec [cited 2020 28 Feb].

Wischover C. The pros and cons of micellar water [Internet]. Washington: Racked (Vox Media); updated 14 Nov 2017 Nov 14 [cited 2020 Feb 28].


References

McGuigan MA; Guideline Consensus Panel. Guideline for the out-of-hospital management of human exposures to minimally toxic substances. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(7):907-17.

Using laser light scattering for the characterization of micellar water [Internet]. Manchester (UK): Azo Materials; updated 2019 Jun 11 [cited 2020 28 Feb].

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Keep micellar water in its original container.
  • Store micellar water products out of reach of children.
  • Do not leave micellar water products open and unattended.
  • If micellar water is swallowed, do not induce vomiting.

This Really Happened

A 3-year-old boy drank a sip of micellar water while out shopping with his mother. He was given a snack and never developed symptoms.