September 16, 2020



These Micellar Shampoos Are the Secret to Eliminating Hair Product Buildup


Chances are you’re familiar with micellar water. This uber-popular skincare product and French beauty staple uses tiny molecules to eliminate surface makeup and dirt without stripping the skin. Now, you can find micellar technology in the hair care aisle—in shampoos, specifically.

Micellar shampoo “is a shampoo that uses micelles [molecules] in the surfactant,” explains Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “These micelles have properties that attract both water and oil. They are found to effectively cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping the hair of essential, natural oils.” 

Hardges adds that micellar shampoo delivers a clean similar to that of a clarifying shampoo, getting rid of product, dirt, and oil buildup. But unlike many harsh clarifying shampoos, micellar shampoo leaves hair softer and more hydrated. That means even hair types prone to dryness, like curly and color-treated hair, can use micellar shampoo. 

Ready to give micellar shampoo a try? We’ve rounded up the best micellar shampoos for every hair type and concern. 

Best Overall: Neutrogena Healthy Scalp Shampoo with Micellar Water

Byrdie senior editor Lindsey Metrus swears by this micellar shampoo, and for good reason. The formula is incredibly gentle and moisturizing, making it a great option for even the most sensitive of scalps—plus, it doesn’t strip color, so you can safely use it if you dye your hair. While this micellar shampoo might be gentle, don’t get things twisted—it’s still super-effective at removing dirt, oil, and buildup from the hair and scalp. 

Best Budget: Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Blue Ginger & Micellar Water Shampoo

This budget-friendly option gets high marks for its color-safe, silicone-free formula. It not only rids your hair of buildup but also adds volume and smells ahhh-mazing. Oh, and we can’t forget about its shine-enhancing benefits: Users rave about how lustrous their hair looks after washing with this shampoo. 

Best Drugstore: Kristin Ess Scalp Purifying Micellar Shampoo

This drugstore micellar shampoo is formulated to work on all hair types and textures, from fine, thin hair to thick, curly hair. It features a proprietary blend of strengthening ingredients to smooth rough, damaged hair, and it leaves hair feeling oh-so-soft yet still clean. 

Best Splurge: Kerastase Aura Botanica Bain Micellaire Riche Shampoo

Pamper your strands with this ultra-luxurious micellar shampoo formulated for all hair textures from straight to wavy to curly to coily. Beyond the gentle micelles in the formula, this shampoo also contains nourishing Amazonian Brazil nut oil and Thai rice bran oil for an extra dose of silkiness and shine. 

Best for Dry Hair: BC Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick Micellar Shampoo

Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients for dry skin. It turns out it’s also a miracle-worker for dry hair. You can find hyaluronic acid in this micellar shampoo. It helps hold moisture in, so your hair is soft, smooth, and shiny after cleansing. Users highlight the silky effect this shampoo has on their hair. 

Best for Frizzy Hair: Aveda Rinseless Refresh Micellar Hair & Scalp Refresher

If you're not a fan of your frizz, this no-rinse micellar shampoo can help. It’s formulated with polymers that keep hair smooth for up to three days, even in humid conditions. Simply spritz it onto second-day hair to refresh your style, no shower required. 

Best for Damaged Hair: Mane ‘n Tail Micellar Shampoo

Damaged hair needs special care, and this micellar shampoo is more than up to the task of providing just that. The pH-balanced formula de-gunks the scalp while leaving essential moisture in place. As an added benefit, biotin in the formula helps encourage strong, healthy hair. 

Best for Fine Hair: L’Occitane Aromachologie Gentle & Balance Micellar Shampoo

Have fine hair? Say hello to your hair’s new BFF. Users call this micellar shampoo a great find for fine hair. Why? Well, it makes hair look thicker and is so lightweight it never weighs fine hair down. Another standout quality: the relaxing lavender scent.  

Best for Curly Hair: DevaCurl Buildup Buster Micellar Water Cleansing Serum

Curly hair can get a little dry, which is why using a moisturizing shampoo is key. This micellar shampoo fits the bill perfectly. It has a deep-cleaning formula, but it’s also quite gentle and nourishing. In addition to ridding hair of buildup, it also boosts bounce, adds shine, and soothes a dry scalp. 

Runner-Up, Best for Curly Hair: Wella NutriCurls Micellar Shampoo

Another solid pick for curly hair: This micellar water, which does an excellent job of defining waves and curls, taming frizz, and making hair feel more manageable. The hydrating formula is full of wheat bran extract and jojoba oil for lots of softness and shine. 

Best for Natural Hair: Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Water-to-Foam Shampoo

Cleanse natural hair without stripping it of much-needed moisture with this micellar shampoo. The micelles in the shampoo attract buildup and lift it away, while aloe calms a sensitive scalp. Users note that while the shampoo is very gentle, it still does an amazing job of clearing buildup. 

Runner-Up, Best for Natural Hair: Palmer’s Micellar Rose Water Cleanser for Hair

Natural hair types will also enjoy using this micellar shampoo, which is paraben-, sulfate-, silicone-, and mineral oil-free. It’s formulated to cleanse dry, color-treated, and textured hair types without over-drying hair. Plus, the nozzle allows for easy application to the scalp. 

Best for Color-Treated Hair: BC Bonacure pH 4.5 Color Freeze Micellar Silver Shampoo

Gone are the days having to worry about a clarifying shampoo stripping all of your color. This micellar shampoo busts through all the buildup while preserving your color and pumping up the shine while it’s at it. What’s more, keratin helps smooth and strengthen hair, while apricot oil adds a glossy finish.  

Best Exfoliating: Bumble & Bumble Scalp Detox

So you went a little too hard with the styling products, and now you need to start fresh. Enter this micellar shampoo, which contains salicylic acid to unclog dirt and dead skin cells on your scalp. While salicylic acid is a powerful exfoliating ingredient, there’s also panthenol in this shampoo to help retain moisture. Bonus: The shampoo fizzes on contact for a revitalizing feeling. 

If you’re interested in adding a micellar shampoo to your hair care routine, Hardges suggests starting by substituting your regular clarifying shampoo with a micellar one, using it once a month to see if you notice any instant results. “Monitor closely and slowly start to increase use if you feel the need to do so, especially if you have sensitive skin,” she says.