Micellar water V Essence

Both liquid light and incredibly nourishing, these watery-assets are the next generation of skin saviours - and here's how they differ.

Micellar water

Micellar water is a life savour. While it looks and feels just like water, it’s made with tiny microscopic oil molecules called micelles that are suspended in soft water. This combination becomes a magnet to grime, dirt and makeup, away from the skins surface. While these watery cleansers are incredibly effective, they are also gentle. They won't strip your complexion like soap and harsh cleansers, but will keep the good oils on the skin protected and intact. 

Above: Garnier Facial Cleanser Micellar All-in-One, $13. Essano Rosehip Gentle Facial Cleansing Micellar Water, $10. Decléor Aroma Cleanse Soothing Micellar Water, $60, $60. Dior Instant Cleansing Water, $74.

Top tips: 
Micellar water doesn’t require actual water to work, so there’s no rinsing allowed.
Always soak a cotton pad with micellar water, and then sweep it over skin to cleanse.
Beauty director Sarah Simpson adds a splash of micellar water to cleansing wipes if they have become dry.


An essence is a liquid moisturiser, not to be confused with a toner or serum. And are at the heart of a Korean skincare routine, due to their hydrating benefits. The easiest way to define an essence, is to learn what they're not. They don't cleanse skin. Or tighten pores and remove excess oil, as a toner would. And they are not a skin serum. They do, however, contain high doses of active, nourishing ingredients, which penetrate deep into the skin. And, their real charm is that they are bursting with hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, that instantly nourishes skin so it feels immediately refreshed. The best time to apply an essence is straight after cleansing and before a serum and moisturiser.

AboveEstèe Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion, $102. Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, $45. Shiseido Bio-Performance Super Refining Essence, $132. Prevage Anti-Aging Antioxidant Infusion Essence, $120. 

Top tip:
Don't soak cotton squares to apply an essence. Always press it into the skin, with the palms of you hands.
An essence isn't for everyone, those with oily skin, or acne-prone skin may find the ingredients too rich.