Back to beauty school: More than just water

By Tracey Strange

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Micellar water looks like water, feels like water, but cleanses in a way that water never could.

Quick-fix cleansing solutions such as makeup wipes and micellar waters have always appealed to the lazy girl in me. But after cutting corners when it comes to cleansing, I'm usually left with a vaguely regretful feeling - like I really should have made more of an effort.

I'm also aware that like fast-food, makeup wipes aren't particularly good for you and should be nothing more than an indulgence, reserved for those times when you're sick, without water or truly, madly fagged. Mostly they just move dirt around your skin, leave an irritating residue - and they are soberingly bad for the environment.

Micellar waters, on the other hand, are as convenient as wipes and just as easy to find. Water/oil hybrids, they contain micelles, special clusters of surfactant molecules that cling to dirt and dissolve it. Mild and alcohol-free, they could be even better for you than a traditional cleanser, especially one that contains skin-irritating sodium laureth sulphate.

Here are three to try.

Proof that you don't have to spend a lot of money is Essano's Rosehip Mini Gentle Facial Cleansing Micellar Water ($7). Travel size (100ml) it may be, but it contains organic rosehip oil and aloe to effectively clean and remove makeup in one step. It's particularly useful for those who want to give MW a go but don't want to make a huge investment. (And the full size is also a bargain at $13.)

Another affordable option is Sukin's Micellar Cleansing Water ($12.20), a no-rinse cleanser that combines aloe, chamomile and cucumber to soothe and hydrate. It's also effective at getting rid of stubborn makeup.

Priced a little higher is Avene Micellar Lotion ($49). A brand known for being good for sensitive skins, Avene has mixed its proprietary thermal spring water with sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid, to hydrate, tone and cleanse.

Tip: Micellar water not as effective as you'd like? The trick is to use a cotton pad or swab, and not a cotton ball, cloth or wad of tissue.

Read the label: Retinol

WHY LOOK FOR IT: Widely regarded as one of the "super stars" of anti-ageing, retinol is a vitamin A derivative that treats everything from dullness and sun spots to wrinkles and sagging jowls. Retinyl palmitate and retinyl linoleate are retinol forms that are potentially less irritating but also comparatively less efficient.

HOW IT WORKS: It speeds up cell turnover, plumps, exfoliates and stimulates cellular repair, making the skin firmer, more vibrant and better defended against free-radical damage. Use it at night, apply to clean dry skin, and watch for the sensation - if it doesn't tingle it's probably not working correctly. Also be wary of the efficacy of retinol products that aren't contained in airtight packaging.

WHERE TO FIND IT: It's commonly available, but two brands that make it a key focus are Environ Skincare and Dermalogica. Find it in Dermalogica's Age Smart Overnight Retinol Repair ($147) and Environ's Intensive Retinol range (from $77).

You beauty: Imogen Johnson, founder of Johnson & Laird Management

"A statement lipstick before any meeting is my go-to. Plus, white eyeliner along the waterline, a touch of bronzer and a sculptured eyebrow completes any look."

- Canvas

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