Why You Should Pack Micellar Shampoo This Weekend

Why You Should Pack Micellar Shampoo This Weekend

The new shampoo trend is perfect for end-of-summer hair care.

While the technology behind micellar waters—the dirt-grabbing cleansers that have been popular in France for years—isn’t actually anything new for skin, the science is now being used for hair care, from drugstore brands like Pantene Pro-V to prestige brands like Kérastase. If you’re already a micellar disciple, it may not take much convincing for you to swap out your shampoo, but if you need the conversion, this is the perfect time of year. At the end of summer, hair is at peak levels of dirt. Think of your hair after a day spent swimming: salt or chlorine, sweat, and maybe some excess sunscreen. Definite signs of a great day, but also one of the worst combos for your buildup. But traditional clarifying shampoos may be too harsh and can exacerbate dryness, and cleansing conditioners likely won’t get rid of all the gunk.

Cosmetic chemists Perry Romanowski of TheBeautyBrains.com breaks down, in one of his podcasts, exactly how these cleansers work and why micellar technology in shampoo may be a good in-between option if you’re planning to live at the beach or pool over the next few weeks.


Most beauty enthusiasts already know how it works—or at least have heard the claims. But for the sake of understanding why the dirt-magnet technology is kind of a duh for hair care, here’s a little refresher: The micelles are basically chemical structures that gently cleanse by encapsulating harsher surfactants (i.e., soap) into little bubbles that suck up dirt and oil. “The idea is that micellar waters are milder or better for your skin because the surfactants are tied up in micelles,” says Romanowski. So in shampoo, it’s essentially doing the same gentle cleansing.

What these miracle waters do for long-wear makeup is exactly what it does for hair: cleans without stripping. DevaCurl was one of the first to incorporate the technology into a hair cleanser when it launched Buildup Buster, followed by Redken Clean Maniac Micellar last year. Both work like super-mild clarifying shampoos to remove product buildup and all of the other summer elements that can send your hair into recovery mode by the end of the season.


“Micellar cleansing can be used on hair, but it won’t clean as well as standard shampoos,” explains Romanowski. “However, it will clean better than co-washing.” So if you’re looking for a mild cleanser (i.e., you’re on vacay and may be washing daily), this would be a reasonable option. It’s also a safer bet for color-treated hair.


“Hair tends to get more oily than skin, so micellar technology likely would clean skin better than hair,” says Romanowski. If your hair is not particularly oily or dirty, a shampoo using micellar water may be effective enough to get it clean. Although, Romanowski adds, people typically wash their hair more often than they really need to. “If you don’t like your hair feeling oily or weighed down, you probably won’t like micellar shampoos.”

So who are micellar shampoos best for? If you have an oily scalp, this isn’t the best option for you. If you are a daily washer (with normal to combo scalp skin), have color-treated strands, or if your summer strand strategy involves gels, sea salt sprays, or curl creams, this offers a safe way of gently getting rid of all that product and leftovers from too much fun in the sun.
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