We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
You may already be familiar with the benefits of micellar water in your skin care routine, but this gentle cleanser can work just as well in your hair.
The micelle molecules that so efficiently trap oil and dirt on your skin do the same on your scalp. They can help clear away product buildup, pollution, sweat, dirt, and oil — all without stripping your skin or overdrying your strands.
Read on for a closer look at the benefits of micellar shampoo, plus some of our top product picks.
Micelles are tiny molecules created in surfactants, which are chemical compounds used in cleansing products.
Micelles form when surfactants dissolve in water. As you wash your hair, micelles trap oil, water, and other impurities before being rinsed away.
Buildup can develop from regularly using styling products, which can accumulate on hair strands and leave residue on the scalp. Buildup can also naturally occur as dead skin cells, sebum, and sweat accumulate.
Either way, buildup can cause an itchy, flaky scalp and dull, waxy hair.
Clarifying shampoos should only be used once a week at most, and never on color-treated hair. However, micellar shampoo is gentle enough to use more frequently for a deep clean and shiny strands.
Micellar shampoo may also be a good swap if your current shampoo is leaving your hair feeling dry, or if you live in an urban area and want to wash away lingering pollutants and their odors.
As a lighter product that offers a deep clean, micellar shampoo can add volume. That makes it particularly effective on thin and fine to medium hair textures.
Keep in mind that because micellar shampoo is so gentle, hair that’s especially gritty or oily may need more cleansing than this product can offer.
Before making a purchase, check the ingredients to ensure the product is suited to your hair’s texture and preferences. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top picks.
Not all micellar shampoos are created equal. In our search for the best micellar shampoos, we looked closely at ingredients and chose products that were rated well by online reviewers.
We also considered hair type. We chose options for hair that’s naturally curly or dry, as well as options that should work well for all hair types.
$ = under $10
$$ = $10–$20
$$$ = over $20
Palmer’s Natural Fusions micellar rosewater cleanser
A handy nozzle tip makes it easy to apply this cleanser directly to the scalp. The addition of rose water helps maintain scalp hydration, while the micelles offer a deep, gentle clean.
Palmer’s micellar cleanser contains ingredients that are ethically and sustainably sourced, and the formula is free of parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, phthalates, dyes, gluten, and GMOs.
Reviewers found that it dramatically cut down on frizz and worked well to soften and moisturize dry curls.
DevaCurl Buildup Buster
Curls can require a lot of product, but they tend to be easily weighed down. DevaCurl’s Buildup Buster helps gently remove accumulated styling products without stripping natural moisture.
You can use it weekly or as needed in place of your regular shampoo to remove product buildup.
In addition to micellar water, ingredients include Abyssinian seed and jojoba oils for moisturizing, softening, and shine-boosting benefits. It’s also free of sulfates (which can dry out curls), parabens, silicones, phthalates, and gluten.
While DevaCurl is a popular brand among people with naturally curly hair, the company is currently subject to class-action lawsuits by customers who claim they experienced hair loss and breakage after using its products.
It’s unclear what may have caused this, and whether it may be due to ingredient sensitivities. While some users note they’ve experienced issues, others do not.
Schwarzkopf Professional Bonacure Hyaluronic Moisture Kick micellar shampoo
With the addition of hyaluronic acid, a hydrating agent, this micellar shampoo is specifically formulated for dry, brittle hair, or curly hair.
The silicone-free formula gently cleanses and moisturizes for softness and shine. Some reviewers reported a silkening effect on their hair.
Kerastase Aura Botanica micellar shampoo
This micellar shampoo was created to clean and nourish dry hair, thanks to the addition of Amazonian Brazil nut and Thai rice bran oils. Reviewers reported the product left their hair feeling soft and lightweight.
It’s free of silicones, parabens, and sulfates. However, it does contain sodium chloride, so avoid this shampoo if you have keratin treatments. Sodium chloride can shorten the life span of keratin.
Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Micellar Water and Blue Ginger shampoo
Designed to cleanse and refresh dry, limp hair, this budget-friendly formulation is free of silicones, parabens, and dyes. It’s also color-safe and pH-balanced, which may help reduce frizz.
At least 90 percent of its ingredients are naturally sourced with minimal processing, but this shampoo does contain sulfates, which can be drying. Reviewers rave about the scent, a blend of ginger, floral, and musk.
Kristin Ess Scalp Purifying micellar shampoo
With its pointed nozzle, the bottle makes it easy to apply the formula directly to the scalp before lathering. It’s a vegan, cruelty-free product that’s both color- and keratin-safe, and it contains no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or silicones.
Instead of swapping out your shampoo completely, try rotating in this micellar shampoo a few times a week to boost shine, clarify, and hydrate the scalp, and lightly moisturize.
Pantene Pro-V Blends micellar gentle cleansing water shampoo
This micellar shampoo is pH-balanced and designed to gently purify the hair’s surface without overdrying. It contains no silicones, parabens, or dyes, but it does include sulfates.
It’s marketed for all hair types, but the addition of sulfates means it may not be the best option for hair that’s already low on moisture. Still, many reviewers found that it left their hair feeling light, bouncy, and moisturized.
Yves Rocher Anti-Pollution Detox micellar shampoo
This dermatologically tested formula is biodegradable and silicone-free. It includes moringa and agave, which are intended to remove pollution residue.
Since this product includes sulfates, it doesn’t make it ideal for hair that’s naturally dry. Reviewers found that this micellar shampoo left their hair feeling clean, silky, and weightless.
L’Occitane Aromachologie Gentle & Balance micellar shampoo
Designed for all hair types, L’Occitane’s micellar shampoo includes lemon, orange, rosemary, chamomile, and lavender for a light, fragrant aroma that reviewers love.
The formula contains no sulfates or silicones. Reviewers report that it leaves their hair feeling clean, shiny, and voluminous.
Natural buildup on the scalp and the accumulation of styling products can make hair feel dull and lifeless.
While clarifying shampoos can be a good option to remove that buildup, they may leave your scalp tight and itchy, and your hair feeling stripped.
Micellar shampoo is a gentle alternative you can use more frequently for fresh, clean, voluminous hair.