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Micellar Water vs Toner: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: June 27, 2022

Finding the right skincare routine is already a complicated process. With all the different steps and trying to find the best products, there’s a lot you have to consider. 

Micellar water and toner are two products people often get mixed up and wonder what exactly each one does. If you also have those questions and want to learn more about how you can improve your skincare routine, continue reading this micellar water vs toner review. 

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Micellar Water vs Toner

Micellar water is a chemical compound made of micelles and soft water that is used as a skincare product. Micelles are attracted to oil, so it works great as a cleanser or makeup remover. Its first use as a skin care treatment was in France in 1913, but it gained global popularity in the 90s. Now, it is a common product used in many skin routines. 

Toners were developed and popularized as a post-cleansing product that restored your skin’s pH. After washing with a soap or cleanser, your skin’s natural pH can get a little thrown off from all the chemicals and scrubbing. Acid toners come in to reset it. Now, toners also work to moisturize the skin and tighten pores. 

Micellar WaterToner
Use before cleanser

Can be used as a makeup remover

Hydrates the skin

Removes dirt and oil from skin

Can be used as a gentle cleanser
Use after cleanser

Balances skin pH

Tightens pores

Hydrates the skin

Preps skin for the rest of your skincare

Now let’s dive deeper into what exactly micellar water and toner are, how they work, and which one you should use. 

What is Micellar Water?

Micellar Water

Micellar water is a solution of particles called micelles used to cleanse and tone the skin. When used on your face, micelles draw out and trap dirt and oil from your skin. In addition to cleaning, micellar water also has hydrating properties. 

What is Toner?


Toner is another skin care product that cleanses and hydrates the skin and helps to shrink pores. It’s usually a liquid or lotion that is applied before other skin treatments so that they have a better effect on your skin. 

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What’s the Difference Between Micellar Water and Toner?

Micellar water is a more versatile product than toner. It can be used for many things such as gentle cleansing or removing makeup and also helps to moisturize the skin. 

Toner, on the other hand, has a more specific purpose and should be used after a cleanser. Micellar water can be substituted for a cleanser, but a toner cannot. 

Micellar water is typically one of the very first steps in a skincare routine by getting rid of the majority of dirt and oil before a stronger cleanser. 

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Toner will help to get rid of residual dirt and oil after cleansing and restores your skin’s pH balance. It also hydrates the skin and tightens pores. With all these properties, toner preps the skin for the rest of your skincare. 

Which One Should You Choose?

Ideally, you can use both micellar water and toner in your skincare routine. 

Micellar water is great as a first cleanser followed up by another cleanser if you have a lot of makeup, dirt, or oil to get rid of. It can also be used as a cleanser on its own if you don’t need something strong. 

Micellar water can also be used as a toner in a pinch in order to draw out residual dirt and maintain skin pH. 

However, toner is better if you use a regular face wash in order to restore your skin pH before you add on more of your skincare. Toner can also close pores and get rid of skin cells, unlike micellar water. 

Both micellar water and toner are gentle enough for all skin types, especially sensitive skin.

If you are just looking for one product to buy, go with micellar water since it has a better overall use. 


Can you use micellar water as toner?

Yes, but only if you absolutely need to. Micellar water cleanses and hydrates the skin like toner, but it doesn’t help to restore your skin’s pH nearly as well. It also doesn’t close up pores like toner. 

Is micellar water the same thing as toner? 

Micellar water and toner are not the same thing. Though they have some similar properties, micellar water typically comes before cleanser while toner goes after. 

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, having both micellar water and toner in your skincare routine is ideal for your skin. They are used in different ways, so incorporating both would help maximize the benefits of your skin treatment. 

However, if you’re in a pinch, you can use micellar water as toner. But, you can’t use toner as micellar water. 

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