…Because it’s not our hero. It’s a silent cleanser. A micellar water.
All outdated movie references aside—I finally finished up a bottle of the Asian beauty favorite, Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Foam. Unfortunately, I have little self control when I’m desperate for a routine replacement, so I’ve now accumulated too many cleansers, including (some are from one of my routine updates):
- Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash (!!)
- Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel – part of a birthday gift from Sephora
- Jasaengyeon Herbal Foaming Cleanser by Doori Cosmetics
- Other random cleanser samples and travel kits from Doori Cosmetics
- Son & Park Beauty Water
Son & Park Beauty Water has gotten so much acclaim in the past year that I was…actually suspicious. Yeah, I have this odd habit of trusting something less when it’s so popular; I mentally put more pressure on it to impress me. Oh, you got about 300 five-star reviews on a top K-beauty online shop? Prove the numbers aren’t manipulated. PROVE IT. Yeah, call it the anti-herd mentality. Whatever it is, I has it. This is also why I can’t watch movies sometimes.
Shoutout to my friend Clifford for sending me this sizable decant in a little K-beauty swap! (I sent him some Klairs vitamin C serum and some moisturizer samples in return.) Let’s make this micellar water tremble in fear! I mean, well, let’s just try this.
First of all, what’s this micellar water that everyone’s been raving about for the past couple of years? Michelle of Lab Muffin breaks it down gently:
- Basically, micellar water consists of water + surfactant(s), a general term for ingredients (of different types) that allow oil and water to play well together. It’s essential in many soaps, detergents, and the like all around your home.
- A micelle is a structure that forms at the molecular level. Molecules in a micelle each have a hydrophilic (water-loving) head and a hydrophobic (water-repelling) tail. These molecules arrange themselves together in a sphere so that the hydrophilic heads line on the outside, and all hydrophobic tails hang out inside the sphere; this is why micelles play so well with water! Thus, micellar water works because unlike plain oil mixed with water, micellar water doesn’t separate into different layers. This translates to more even product/ingredient distribution on your face. Yaaay.
- What makes micellar water so amazing? As Lab Muffin’s easy-to-read diagrams show, if used with a wool or cotton pad—some swear by the Selena layered cotton pads—micelles will break down a bit and basically become a happy little oil-loving layer on the pad, just waiting to wipe off your makeup and sebum.
As micellar water, Son & Park Beauty Water is intended to be the jack-of-all-trades, and also the master-of-all-trades. Get it? Because the complete saying is, “jack of all trades, master of none”? Okay, okay, you didn’t come here for a lesson on English-language sayings. Anyway, here are some claimed uses for Beauty Water:
- Cleanser – Yep. Pretty self-explanatory. Use this with a cotton pad.
- “Refresher“ – You can use in the middle of the day, too, or whenever you need a little skin boost. Even better, decant it into a fine-mist spray bottle for better refreshment. Mmmm.
- Toner – Its pH is a solid 5.0, so this can help readjust your skin’s pH and prep it for the rest of your skincare routine if your cleanser(s) is too basic. It can be used to condition your skin pre-makeup as well. Plus, it has a few “nutritional ingredients” such as “coconut willow bark, papaya extract, lavender water, rose flower water, and other skin benefiting extracts” (Memebox).
See Cosdna for more details. Those with 1 or higher “Acne” or “Irritant” value, as well as a red “Safety” value, are bolded*:
Water, Rose Damascena Flower Water, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Orange Fruit Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana Water, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol PEG-7 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Alcohol Denat., Xylitol, Phenoxyethanol, Decyl Glucoside, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel, Citrus Granolis Grapefruit Peel oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Water, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Water, Copaifera Officinalis (Balsam Copaiba) Resin, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine), Illicium Verum (Anise) Fruit/Seed Oil, Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Propylene Glycol, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Extract, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil, Malic Acid Sucrose Urea, Tartaric Acid, Origanum Majorana Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens Extract, Mentha Rotundifolia Leaf Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Mentha Spicata Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Dehydroacetic Acid, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. The amount of ingredient actually in the product, as well as the product’s overall formulation, greatly affect the potential for irritation. Not everyone will be sensitive to these bolded ingredients, and you may be sensitive to ingredients that are not bolded. Every individual’s skin may react differently. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
This looks and feels just like straight-up water, but let’s see how it performs beyond that!
Cleanser: I’ve learned that the best way to use micellar water for makeup removal is to soak and swipe. Leave a soaked cotton pad on your skin for 5-10 seconds, then wipe! This is a little different from what we might expect from most other makeup removers. I’ve also read recommendations to leave 4-5 soaked cotton pads on your skin for about 10 minutes for both cleansing and post-cleanse toning. But that’s a bit much for me, personally.
However, don’t expect this supposedly magical product to replace a proper double-cleanse. Like most micellar waters, Beauty Water can only do so much for a full face with layers of sunscreen, makeup, and/or sebum and grime built up during your daily grind. Have a demonstration:
As you can see, there are still little scattered bits of glitter and eyeliner left. Beauty Water is good, but not perfect. Fanserviced-b‘s review clarifies that, in most cases with micellar water, you’re only moving around the makeup/grime. Sure, you’re displacing a lot of makeup and it’s catching onto the cotton pad, but this doesn’t come close to the thoroughness of a proper oil cleanse + second cleanser. To actually remove all of your makeup and grime using micellar water, you’ll need to use both sides of several cotton pads—and at that point, do you really want to rub your skin with cotton that much on the daily?
Micellar water is a great alternative for when you’re too tired to make it to your bathroom for a full cleanse. Using this instead of double-cleansing is not as bad if you literally haven’t put anything on that day except for perhaps a light moisturizer—but whenever possible, opt for the proper double-cleanse which removes makeup and grime rather than moving it around.
I also recommend checking out skin technician Caroline Hiron’s post about beauty water not being a proper cleanser. I really love the point she makes about all-natural-chemical-free-product enthusiasts who claim that micellar water is amazing because “OMG NO CHEMICALS.” Unfortunately for them, the world is literally made of chemicals. H2O is made of chemical elements. Even YOU’RE chemicals. My pet peeves aside, you should clarify that you don’t actually mean all chemicals are bad—just the clinically-proven, multiple-scientific-studies-proven harmful ones. At least, I hope that’s what you mean.
Refresher: Also as fan-b says, use this as a “refresher” only when you’re not wearing makeup—otherwise, this will loosen and displace your makeup, making you look like a sad clown stranded in the rain. That’s unfortunate if you’re like me and you wear makeup to work or class daily. Still, it’s nice to keep this handy for your homebody days.
(pH-Adjusting) Toner: I’m drawn to this particular use for Beauty Water. While my cleanser is not currently too acidic/basic, Beauty Water is still great for providing some light hydration and nutrition post-cleanse before moving on to your next skincare routine steps. Of course, I still prefer a hydrating toner like Hada Labo’s Gokujyun, Shirojyun, or Premium lotion, whose hyaluronic acid actually attracts water and helps other skincare products soak in much better. Speaking of skin nutrition, be aware that if you use micellar water as a cleanser, it likely won’t be on your skin long enough for you to actually get the moisturizing benefits. This is true for all cleansers that claim to have some sort of moisturizing, active (BHA or AHA), brightening, etc. properties.
I’m too oily to use this as a makeup prep product; perhaps it’s best for dry to normal skin. Use this 5-10 minutes before putting on makeup; it may help condition and moisturize your skin, meaning that your makeup will go on better and stay on longer (because makeup don’t like flakes!). 😛
This is probably my first time being a little impressed with a product’s scent. I mean, I usually just say something like “unpleasant at first but ultimately unobtrusive,” or “medicinal with light, clean notes.” This water smells like what you’d expect a cleanser to smell like, but fresher. Somewhat like a pile of clean laundry on a crisp spring morning. Or perhaps like a Sunday sunrise that you catch for five seconds before sleeping in for another couple of hours, forgetting your errands and chores for the day. Okay, this makes no sense anymore.
The standard price for a whopping 340-mL bottle is $30 on Soko Glam and a little over $30 on Amazon; it used to be $25 on Memebox but appears to have been sold out for a while. It costs more than your average drugstore micellar water ($0.08/mL versus $0.04/mL of the Simple Cleansing Micellar Water, for example). But clearly, a huge majority of buyers say it’s well worth it!
Bottom line: Manage your expectations, but hey, you know what? This is a pretty neat product. I recommend it for all skin types depending on what you want to use it for:
- Cleanser – All skin types and concerns. If cleansing a bare face, then it’s okay, but you’ll need at least one other cleanser to remove sunscreen, makeup, and sebum/grime. This is a decent third cleanser + pH-adjusting toner as well.
- Refresher – All skin types and concerns (if you’re not wearing makeup!).
- Toner – Dry to normal; good for dehydrated skin, but not as good as a toner with hyaluronic acid.
Personally, I don’t think I would buy a whole bottle for myself because I usually have my arsenal of double-cleansing steps for my grossly oily skin. BUT—this definitely serves its claimed multipurposes satisfyingly well, so I would purchase if I needed a lightweight cleanser, third cleanser, or toner. This would also be an excellent choice for short-term travel, or to decant in a small (spray) bottle and keep in your bag for the daily grind.
Overall, I’m rating this based on what it is. It’s a really simple but wonderfully multitasking little bottle of lightweight cleansing/toning joy. Feels good, man. Just be sure to treat this is more of an excellent supporting character rather than the star of your daily skincare routines.
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
5 / 5: HOLY GRAIL STATUS. I dare you to pry this from my cold, dead, kpop-glowy hands.
4 / 5: I really liked this! Would repurchase until I find a better alternative.
3 / 5: So-so. Unimpressive results, but may work better for others with different conditions.
2 / 5: Would not repurchase. Possibly caused some issues for me, but may work for others.
1 / 5: This lied to me. It did nothing that it said it would, and caused some issues.
0 / 5: Do not buy this. No one should have to suffer the way I did.
P.S. I’m submitting this to the Asian Beauty Link party! Micellar waters were actually completely new to me until I received this Beauty Water, because double cleansing had been such a tried-and-true part of my routine. I’m glad I had a chance to venture into this unknown territory; I’ve learned a lot and hope my exploration has helped you!
P.P.S. Hey, you made it to the end! By the way, I know, I know—I apologize for being AWOL from the blog, although I’ve still been on social media, so I’m not totally dead! Yaaay! This past month, I’ve been trying to improve my terrible sleeping habits (residual evidence of my English degree) and before I knew it, I seemingly time-traveled and was already preparing for/planning a family trip to Maui. Now, that was all sorts of relaxing and insane at once.
Haleakala is absolutely worth waking up at 2 a.m., by the way. But also never, ever drive Kahekili Highway if you don’t have to.
Anyway, not to worry, my pretties. As he probably said in his native German back in his day, “I am Bach.”