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How To Use Micellar Water to Remove Sunscreen

Micellar water is an effective cleansing agent that can be used to adequately remove all traces of sunscreen at the end of the day. Waterproof sunscreens, mattifying sunscreens and tinted formulations can be difficult to remove without a designated makeup remover. Micellar water can do the trick. However, it is important to find a micellar water that is non-irritating and to ensure it is used in a gentle manner to avoid skin sensitivity. 

Can I Use Water To Remove Sunscreen?

While the term micellar water closely resembles “water”, it is not effective to only use water to remove sunscreen.

Water has a neutral pH and no added surfactants to aid in cleansing the skin. Regular cleansers, micellar water, and oil cleansers are able to magnetize dirt, oil, sebum, and other skin debris and pollution to remove them easily.

This is through the action of surfactants which are cleansing agents that remove proteins and oil off the surface of the skin. Water will simply wash off superficial contaminants on the surface of the skin and will not actually remove any makeup efficiently. 

What Is The Proper Way To Remove Sunscreen?

The best way to remove sunscreen is by using a specific cleanser that is meant to remove makeup and sunscreen.

These cleansers usually state that they are “makeup removers” or can “remove sunscreen” directly on the bottle.

In this way, you can assume that they have been specifically tested to remove these products.

The best type of cleanser to use includes an oil cleanser or micellar water, followed by a second foaming cleanser to ensure all sunscreen is removed properly.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of using an oil cleanser. 

In terms of micellar water, this is a gentle water-like liquid that can be used on the skin to melt away sunscreen before cleansing the skin with another cleanser.

It is available over the counter, is affordable, and there are products made to target both sensitive, reactive, and acne-prone skin. Therefore, it is is easy to find a micellar water for your skin type, even if it is usually sensitive to cleansers. 

How To Use Micellar Water to Remove Sunscreen

Women Holding Micellar Water and Pouring Some into Cotton Pad

Micellar water can be used with either a cotton pad or by using your hands to remove the sunscreen. To use micellar water with a cotton pad, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Soak a cotton pad with micellar water
  2. Gently wipe the face with the cotton pad until the sunscreen has come off
  3. Rinse the face off with lukewarm water
  4. Follow with a second, gentle foaming cleanser

The issue with using a cotton pad to remove the sunscreen is that the rubbing motion may irritate the skin. It is recommended to use your hands to remove sunscreen with micellar water. The steps should be as follows:

  1. Pour a small amount of micellar water onto the palm of one hand
  2. Rub your hands together, ensuring not to spill too much product
  3. Gentle rub the skin in circular motions to spread the micellar water across the skin
  4. Rinse the face off with lukewarm water
  5. Follow with a second, gentle foaming cleanser

This way, you can avoid the abrasive friction caused by the cotton pad. 

Do I Need To Double Cleanse If I Only Use Sunscreen?

As mentioned above, the act of “double cleansing” the skin involves using a second cleanser to wash off residual makeup, sunscreen, and product off the face to ensure it is completely clean before adding skincare products to it.

It is necessary to double cleanse the skin to ensure there is nothing leftover on the skin after cleansing the first time.

If there is any sunscreen left on the skin, using nighttime skincare products over top unclean skin can lead to breakouts and clogged pores as well as redness and skin sensitivity. 

Do Dermatologists Recommend Micellar Water?

There are a variety of reasons that dermatologists recommend micellar water.

For one, it is an affordable way to completely remove sunscreen, makeup and other daytime skincare products.

Secondly, it is gentle on the skin. Since many micellar waters have minimal ingredients, it can get the job done without added fragrances and pore-clogging ingredients. To note, it is still important to read ingredient labels yourself to avoid pore-clogging ingredients.

In addition, micellar water is easy to use and works effectively to remove sunscreen without having to cleanse the skin with drying cleansing agents. 


Cleansing Formulations That Respect Skin Barrier Integrity – PMC (

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