What Is Micellar Water, and Should I Be Using It?

You’ve heard about it, maybe even used it, but do you know what micellar water actually is?

Micellar water–also called micellar cleansing water–seems to be that mystery skincare product that leaves many of us scratching our heads. It looks like water and even feels like water, but (as you’ll later find out) it’s far from that. I asked dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara why this stuff is so important for clean, healthy skin.

What Is Micellar Water and How Does It Work?

“Micellar water has little tiny micelles suspended in it. Micelles surround dirt particles and break them down—they can clean the skin without drying it out, so there’s no barrier-stripping soap needed.” says Gohara. Micelles, if you’re wondering, are tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules that attract dirt and oil naturally, so you’re not stripping the skin of the natural oils it needs to stay hydrated and healthy.

RELATED: The Best Moisturizers for Dry Winter Skin

Why You Should Use Micellar Water

So, why do you need micellar cleansing water? Doesn’t cleanser do the same thing? Well… not exactly. “I like micellar water as part of a double cleanse,” explains Gohara. “It gets rid of the big stuff like makeup, oil, and dirt while the gentle non-soap cleanser takes care of the nitty-gritty grime hiding deep in the pores,” says Gohara.

Gohara explains it simply: “Irritating soaps strip the skin of natural oils and proteins; micellar water helps to keep the barrier in tact, translating into healthy skin.” Micellar water is like your best, heavy duty soap without the dry, dull skin afterwards. It’ll keep impurities off your face and leave you feeling refreshed and, most of all, clean.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Acne Scars With Different Treatments

Ready to Test Out Micellar Water? Try These Brands

Are you convinced yet? If you’re thinking about trying micellar water, Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water ($12; has been a staple of mine for two years and has yet to let me down. Gohara loves La Roche-Posay ($20;, but you can also find micellar water at any drugstore near you– a drugstore favorite is the Garnier micellar water ($7; Since it’s growing in popularity, everyone has been jumping on the micellar water train, and believe me, you don’t want to miss out.

What Is Micellar Water And Why Is It Good For Your Skin?

You probably hear the term often, and perhaps you have even seen different brands offer this product, but really, what is micellar water? Or perhaps, the better question is: what is micellar water going to do for your skin?

Simply put, micellar water is a cleanser that is effective for removing dirt, oil, and makeup from the face. It is actually an incredible product that – believe it or not – can save your skin!

Sure, there are lots of other types of skincare products that are considered to be “holy grails” by different people. But micellar water is pretty gentle on the skin, and it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Here are some important pieces of information that will tell you more about what micellar water is.


First of all, micellar water is not just some sort of processed tap water. “What is micellar water made of?” you might ask. This water-like substance is loaded with micelles, which are small, cleansing molecules that are dispersed and suspended in water.

These micelles have hydrophilic (water soluble) and hydrophobic (water-insoluble) characteristics. Micelles pretty much work like magnets, in that they attract and trap the dirt and excess oils on your skin. This is why the water works well in removing makeup and in cleansing your skin.


Apart from knowing what micellar water is, it would also be good if you are aware of how it came to be. Micellar water was the brainchild of Parisians. They used this skincare product as a substitute for water (at least in terms of cleansing the skin).

During the time of the micellar water’s invention, water in Paris was really harsh on the skin, to the point that it would cause breakouts. That’s terrible, but as usual, necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s the reason why micellar water exists now. This skincare product can take off dirt, makeup, and oil, with no need to use any water. It’s also more gentle than harsher products like alcohol.


What makes micellar water a great choice is that it is gentler on the skin compared to other cleansers. According to this study, micelles have a larger size and hence are not able to penetrate the skin. The study also mentioned that structures that are less likely to penetrate the skin result in cleansers that are less aggressive.

This means that gentle cleansers, like micellar water are able to maintain the skin barrier’s integrity. Harsher products like toners with alcohol can disrupt the skin barrier and over-dry sensitive skin. On irritated skin, harsh cleansers can also further exacerbate problems.


If you’re looking for a cleanser that is easy to use and will remove makeup without leaving any residue on your face, then micellar water is the skincare product that you are looking for.

It has actually become one of the staples in fashion shows because it is able to take off makeup without having to rinse the face with water. It’s also perfect for traveling, your gym bag, or any other time you want to clean up quickly on the go.


Well, it must be noted that since micellar water is so gentle and hydrating, it is good for people with sensitive and dry skin. Some cleansers have harsh chemicals that can further damage and dry sensitive skin.

This is supported by this scientific study, which says that harsh surfactants in cleansers can cause irritation, barrier damage, dryness, tightness, and even itch. Unlike these cleansers and other products like toners, micellar water does not sting since it does not contain alcohol or drying surfactants.


For people with oily skin, micellar water can also be beneficial, and it can serve as the first part of their cleansing routine. However, if you are someone whose skin tends to get too oily, you might find that micellar water does not clean your face as well as you’d want it to.

If you want your skin to feel fresher and cleaner, you may want to supplement the micellar cleansing water with another gentle facial cleanser. The ideal routine would be to use a cleanser, then follow up with micellar water to balance ad deeply clean before using serums and creams. The benefit is that micellar water removes residues the cleanser leaves behind or misses, helping to protect skin pH balance.


Aside from removing makeup and cleansing the face, micellar water can offer you more benefits. In fact, it just might be the all-in-one product that you are looking for!


One more important thing to know about micellar water is that it is definitely a multitasker. With this product, you probably won’t have to use a separate cleanser and makeup remover anymore (unless, as we said above you have oilier skin or you want your skin to feel squeaky clean). That’s one great advantage if you tend to fall asleep with your makeup still on because you’re too tired to wash your face.

To use micellar water, you just have to put some of it on a cotton pad or ball, and then use it to wipe the makeup off your face. What’s even better is that you won’t necessarily have to slather on a different moisturizing product after, since micellar water also has the ability to moisturize the skin! Micelles are tiny lipid molecules that are suspended in soft water. And according to this study, emollients such as lipids and oils are able to hydrate the skin, as well as enhance its flexibility, smoothness, and softness.


No matter where you are or what time of the day it is, you won’t have any excuse anymore for not being able to cleanse your skin. You won’t even need a sink to be able to use micellar cleansing water!

It is an ideal product no matter if you intend to use it at home, or if you’re planning to use it on a vacation. In fact, you can also bring it with you to the gym and give your face a quick cleanse after your workout.


This is certainly an awesome benefit – who doesn’t want to look glowing, right? Here’s a tip for glowing skin: keep it hydrated! Hydration is an integral part of skincare no matter what your skin type is, and this hydration is offered by micellar water.

The results of this study show that the more hydrated the skin is, the more translucent it looks. That is synonymous with looking luminous! Overall, hydration simply makes the skin look healthier, and with healthy skin, you won’t even have to use makeup anymore.


Micellar water is good not only for your skin but for your makeup brushes as well. Micellar water is formulated to remove dirt, oil, and makeup, and it only makes sense that it’s able to clean your brushes in a pinch, too.

What’s great about using micellar water as a makeup brush cleaner is that you won’t have to worry about getting allergic reactions. If you use brush cleaners and soaps, and if you are not able to rinse your makeup brushes properly, the soap residue may irritate your skin. You can avoid that by using micellar water to quickly clean your brushes in between deep cleansing sessions.


Here is the quick answer: YES, IT DOES! But what is micellar water all about and how does it help acne? As this study explains, when dead skin cells, as well as dirt and oil build up at the pore’s opening, the sebum (produced by the skin to act as a natural moisturizer) will not be able to leave the pore. It then builds up in the sebaceous gland, which leads to the development of a whitehead or a blackhead.

When this blackhead or whitehead becomes inflamed, it turns into an annoying pimple. Because micellar water helps remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from your face, it helps lessen the chances of your pores being clogged, which is the reason that acne forms.


As mentioned earlier, micellar water is gentle on the skin. It doesn’t cause dryness like other cleansers, and in fact, it even helps moisturize the skin. Micellar water’s moisturizing property is one more factor that makes it ideal for acne-prone skin. Most of the time, acne-prone skin is oily. Some people think that drying out the skin and stripping off every bit of oil from it can stop breakouts. But the truth is that it actually does the opposite!

According to this study, washing the face too often can dry the skin out, which can irritate it even more. And dryness or skin irritation can produce inflammation. That is why physicians recommend that acne patients use moisturizers. By switching to micellar water for at least part of your daily cleansing, you may be able to lessen irritation.


If you want to be able to find the best micellar water for you, you first need to consider your skin type. While micellar water seems like a pretty simple skincare product, it actually has several different formulations. Some hydrate and soothe, some mattify, while there are also those that aim to purify the skin.


If you have normal skin that doesn’t get too oily, and if it also doesn’t react badly to most skincare ingredients, then you can pick pretty much any type of micellar water that you like. However, you have to make sure that you choose a formula that will maintain your skin’s balance. That means that you have to pick one that will easily cleanse your face and remove your makeup, as well as keep it hydrated and nourished.

Meanwhile, if your skin is dry, you have to avoid something that will dry out your complexion even more. But really, there’s no need to worry about that when it comes to any micellar water because a micellar water product should already be free from astringents and alcohol (double-check just to be sure).

It will be best though, to still choose a formulation that moisturizes and soothes the skin. That will help maintain your skin’s texture and ensure that any dryness will be addressed.


If your skin is always shiny – whether on your nose and chin, forehead, or all over your face, you should look for micellar water to help regulate excess oil. Of course, the first thing that you should look for is the micellar water’s ability to cleanse impurities. But you should also look for its ability to remove extra oil and mattify your skin while leaving it smooth and soft.


Micellar water is generally gentle to the skin and hence will help you if you have skin that is prone to acne or other imperfections. However, for the best results, it is recommended that you look for one that offers other skin care benefits, such as treatment of problem skin.

Look for a formula that can decrease excess oil, since excess oil can lead to breakouts and pimples. Also, choose one that can help prevent and combat imperfections while effectively drawing out the dirt from your skin. Soothing ingredients like cucumber and aloe would also be beneficial.


If your skin is quite picky when it comes to skin care ingredients, and if it is reactive, you will have to find micellar water that is gentle and fragrance-free. Aside from that, you should also make sure that it can easily remove dirt and oil, without you having to wipe or rub excessively. This is so that the chances of irritation will be minimized.


It’s not enough that you know what micellar water is. If you want to get the most out of this wonderful skincare product, you’ll also have to know how to incorporate it into your skincare routine. Aside from removing makeup, there are other ways you can use micellar water:


Wondering what micellar water is supposed to do in your morning routine when your skin’s not really dirty? Well, you ought to know that your skin may appear clean when you wake up, but oil has still built up on your face overnight.

Cleansing with micellar water can remove this oil build-up. Moreover, if you are always in a hurry and you don’t have the luxury of time to spend on a morning skincare regimen, micellar water can definitely help you out. Simply put some of it on a cotton pad and wipe the pad across your face. Quick and easy!


If you want to give your face a deep cleanse, you can first use micellar water on your skin and then wash with a rinse-off cleanser after. This is especially helpful if you have oily skin.


Whether you want to stop using harsh cleansers and switch to a gentler alternative, or you simply want to add another cleansing step to your skincare routine, micellar water is the way to go. Go ahead and try it out if you haven’t yet.


According to the experts, it depends on how you’re using it.

“In most cases, using micellar water as a makeup remover when followed by a real cleanser is OK but not as a cleanser alone in most cases,” said founder of buzzed-about clear-skin mecca Rescue Spa Danuta Mieloch.

“I think what people like about it is they see the ‘dirt’ on the cotton ball used to swipe the product over the face,” said holistic dermatologist Cybele Fishman, M.D. As satisfying as it is to see real-time cleansing feedback, she recommends oil cleansing or a creamy cleanser to most of her clients and uses them both herself. That said, there is a time and place for a good micellar water—she explained that micellar water is often a better option than many super-foamy, stripping cleansers.

It’s also helpful when you’re traveling, whether you’re a professional makeup artist or simply want to cleanse your face on-the-go. “I always carry it in my kit and sometimes in my own travel bag,” said green celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno. “You never know what’s in water when you’re on a job—the minerals can be drying, and it varies from town to town and country to country.”

Dr. Fishman, Plug, and Mieloch all agree that micellar water doesn’t cause much harm if you’re using a clean, nontoxic option. Conventional micellar formulas are an unnecessary daily skin care step that, in most cases, can be replaced with a product that’s less irritating and entirely devoid of surfactants and/or simply more effective at cleansing the skin. If you’re a bona fide micellar water lover—don’t fret. mbg’s experts have come up with a few excellent green swaps.

“Your skin!” my friend said with comforting glee from across the table. “What have you been doing?” To be honest, really the bare minimum and I hadn’t been washing it. And by that I mean that I had completely cut out traditional cleanser—foaming, cream, gel, and all—from my routine for a little over three months and had only been cleansing with micellar water.

And during that time, I explained I’ve dealt with less random breakouts than I ever had around my T-zone, even when I was on my period. On top of all that, my skin was way less blotchy and red. While I don’t have acne-prone skin, I do get zits here or there, just like the rest of us, fairly often.

She was shocked—and to be honest, I was too.

Here’s the background. I was recommended to make the switch after I was dealing with some unpleasant reactions, like stinging and red patches, to literally everything I was putting on my face. It was considered the gentle alternative to the scrubs and acne-fighting cleansers. For the past three months, I’ve cycled through multiple bottles of Simple Micellar Water ($9;, Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water ($11;, and Garnier SKINACTIVE Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser ($7;

Garnier SKINACTIVE Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser

It’s been around forever, and it’s just now becoming a beauty staple in your favorite brand’s collections, but for a very good reason.

“Gentle, gentle, gentle,” explained Dr. Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology. “That is the main—and crucially important—benefit of facial cleansing with micellar water.”

Micellar water works by using tiny spherical structures called micelles to lift dirt and oil from the skin’s surface and then are washed away by the water, noted Dr. Howe. Interestingly enough though, he also said that micelles aren’t exclusive to micellar water and that your average face soap probably has these particles in its formulation. Micellar water, however, has a “gentler concentration of the molecules that go into the formation of micelles.”

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

So why was I experiencing less breakouts than before I made the switch? It could be because I eliminated irritation.

“Many people with sensitive skin experience reactive breakouts,” he explained. “Dryness, harsh soaps, irritating make up, cause their face to break out with acne. Eliminate the irritation, and the breakouts stop. I think that’s what you did, by switching to micellar water.”

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

But that doesn’t mean micellar water is your answer to curing acne, or even someone who has acne-prone skin. You really have to determine if it’s right for your skin type and your routine—AKA how much makeup you wear on a daily basis.

“Micellar water cannot not lift clear as much surface oil as a traditional facial cleanser,” explained Dr. Howe. “So if you’re oily complected or use a heavy foundation, you are unlikely to get clean enough with micellar water alone.”

In that case, maybe it’s your first step in double cleansing, or perhaps you should opt for a more heavy-duty formula.

Me? I’m sticking to micellar water for the time being. My cabinets are stocked, and so far, my skin is in the clear.

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We get it. Washing your face is one of the last things you feel like doing at the end of a long day, but you really should. Sleeping with makeup on can not only lead to clogged pores and breakouts, but also result in premature aging.

“If makeup is not washed off at night, offending agents like dust and pollution stay in the skin and have ample time to create damaging free radicals. Plus, leaving your makeup on won’t give your skin the chance to breathe and recover from all the stressors (like the sun) you’ve exposed it to during the day, further promoting wrinkles and age spots,” said Dr. Kristina Goldenberg, a New York City-based dermatologist.

To make things easy, TODAY Style asked top beauty editors for their favorite makeup removers.

Your skin will thank you in the morning — and for years to come.

Oil Free Makeup Remover

1. Almay Oil-Free Makeup Eraser Sticks, $9, Amazon

Also available for $5 at Target.

“You know how when you wash your face, no matter what, there’s always a little bit of mascara left under your eyes? Ugh! Enter these makeup remover sticks. Just snap the portable swab to release the remover, and use the cotton tip to strategically clean up under your lash line for a completely clean face,” said Marta Topran, beauty director at Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health and Seventeen.

2. Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, $19, Amazon

“I have my mom to thank for my passion for beauty. When my sister and I got into skin care in our teens — and my mom was ordering products by the dozens — she decided to become a Mary Kay consultant. Lucky me, I got the goods for free. When I was 12 years old, I fell in love with the eye makeup remover. Needing the pink-tinted jar with the black cap meant I was old enough to wear eye makeup (yes!). The formula took off every trace of shadow, liner and mascara (even waterproof) by simply swiping, not rubbing, yet it didn’t sting my eyes or leave my skin greasy. Twenty years later, it’s the single beauty product I’ve stayed true to, even though I’m exposed to every makeup remover under the sun. I sprinkle a little bit onto a face wipe, then use it to remove my everyday smokey eyes in seconds. Thanks Mom and Mary Kay!” said Heather Muir, beauty director at Real Simple and Health.

Coconut Oil Makeup Remover

3. Kopari Organic Coconut Melt, $28, Sephora

Also available in a larger size for $38 at Nordstrom.

“Remember when the internet was flooded with stories about how coconut oil was going to save humanity (basically)? One article even listed 101 ways to use it (Tame flyaways! Whiten your teeth! Shine your shoes!). Yet, despite its impressive skill set, I didn’t fully embrace coconut oil until recently. What changed? I had a baby and the need for multitasking products got very real. Now, on most nights, my entire skin care regimen is in this jar. I scoop out a little, warm it between my fingers, then massage it all over my face and eyes. Shadow, liner, mascara, foundation and more are whisked away in seconds. And since it leaves skin soft and smooth, you can skip eye cream and moisturizer when you’re just too tired to deal. The moral of the story? The internet is always right,” said Andrea Lavinthal, style and beauty director at People.

Micellar Water

4. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, $6 (usually $7), Amazon

Also available for $7 at Walmart.

“This makeup remover does double duty when there’s no time for a full face wash which, for me, is almost every night! It cleanses and clears off makeup in one easy swipe. The water formula is gentle on my extremely dry skin — it never burns or stings — thanks to hydrators like glycerin. It even has the Good Housekeeping Seal. Oh, and the bottle is huge — it lasts forever!” said April Franzino, beauty director at Good Housekeeping.

5. Klorane Floral Water Make-up Remover, $24, Amazon

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Get a daily roundup of items that will make your life easier, healthier and more stylish.

Also available at Dermstore.

“When I’m not wearing tons of makeup, I can sufficiently wash my face with whichever oil cleanser I’m using that night. But every once in a while, a few extra coats of mascara coupled with a zealous eye pencil smudging will require a legit remover. And that’s when I reach for the big blue bottle. This gentle liquid erases the black and brown mess — over and under my eyes — in the most formidable yet tidy way,” said Jane Larkworthy, a beauty columnist at

6. Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water and Makeup Remover, $10, Amazon

Also available for $11 at Dermstore.

“When I first met this makeup remover, it was love at first sight. Based on a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation, I brought the cult-fave micellar water back from France. It was extra gentle and got off every stitch of my eyeliner ― and I wear a lot! Plus, it required no rinsing and also cleansed the rest of my face, not just my eyes. I’ve been an avid user ever since. This makes it so easy and keeps my skin looking great. To use, I just put it on the softest cotton pad I can get my hands on and swipe away my look of the day. Done!” said Holly Carter, style features director at Oprah magazine.

Maura Lynch, former beauty and lifestyle director at Women’s Health, agreed. “My eyes are wimps,” she said. “They complain about and react to just about anything I put near them! In the past, this meant I skipped mascara and eyeliner — I just didn’t want to deal with taking the stuff off at the end of the day. But I haven’t had any issues since I started using this micellar water, a staple at French pharmacies. I like to place a cotton pad soaked in the solution on my lids for a few seconds to let it soak before gently whisking away my makeup with one sweep. No residue or irritation — this stuff merits all the hype.”

Oil Makeup Remover

7. Lancôme Bi-Facil, $30, Nordstrom

Also available at Macy’s.

“Any eye makeup remover will sweep away eye shadow and mascara. But a really great one does it so well that you don’t wake up with leftover mascara flakes underneath your eyes in the morning. I’ve tried everything out there. I flirted with micellar water. (Eh.) I casually dated individual makeup wipes. (No chemistry there.) Even oil-based cleansers were a no-go. I always end up going back to this liquid makeup remover, which melts away waterproof formula. You could mistake it for water — it’s that light, and it has no discernible scent. My current hack: I use it to remove long-wearing liquid lipsticks. For me, there’s no other,” said Melissa Goldstein, beauty director at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings.

8. Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets Eye and Lip Makeup Remover, $34, Nordstrom

Also available at Neiman Marcus.

“I’m often pretty lazy about taking my makeup off at night. Usually I’m too tired or I just plain forget. And then after I hop in the shower, I come out to a face that looks like a Halloween party gone bad. Enter this liquid makeup remover, which I use sparingly (truly, just a dab of the liquid on a cotton ball or tissue paper works), to wipe off all my liner, mascara, shadow and eyebrow gel. The best part is it doesn’t sting my eyes, because inevitably, some of the formula will get in. And there’s no greasy film or residue left over,” said Jacqueline Gifford, travel director at Travel + Leisure and Departures.

9. Simple Skincare Dual Effect, $8, Walmart

“These days I have to stick to a super gentle face wash or my skin gets flaky. The downside: They’re not strong enough to lift regular mascara (and forget about long-wear pencil or shadow) without rubbing your eyes. So I always do a second cleanse just for my eyes with my favorite eye makeup remover. I shake the bottle before gently wiping a soaked cotton round over my closed eyes. That usually picks up all the stubborn waxes and pigment that my face cleanser leaves behind without irritating my eyes or getting my contact lenses filmy. (A lot of oil-based makeup removers ruin lenses!) And if I didn’t get everything, I’ll drop a little more remover on a Q-tip and then run it along my lash line to make sure my eyes are really clean,” said Erica Metzger, beauty and fashion director at Better Homes & Gardens.

Cleansing Makeup Remover

10. Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm, $110, Sephora

Also available for $104 at Amazon.

“If I’m wearing a lot of makeup or foundation, I reach for this black cleansing balm. It contains calcium and magnesium-rich Hungarian moor mud, which breaks down any oil or makeup on my face. I love that it smells like orange blossom and leaves my skin incredibly soft,” said Alexandra Parnass, former beauty director at Harper’s Bazaar.

11. Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser, $5, Amazon

Also available for $8 at Walmart.

“I discovered my favorite makeup remover before I could even see over the bathroom counter. My mother — and my grandma — both used this cleanser. They’d massage the cream over their faces, removing it with a washcloth or tissue. The whole ritual was so mesmerizing. I loved watching their elaborate eye makeup melt away, and how their faces looked different — so dewy and supple — once the cream was removed. And the scent? Fresh, clean and totally comforting,” said Jessica Matlin, beauty director at Harper’s Bazaar.

12. Laboratoires Filorga Foam Cleanser, $25, Amazon

Also available at Dermstore.

“About two years ago, representatives from a French apothecary brand introduced me to this amazing cleanser. I love the light, poufy texture — in my mind, everything should come in mousse form — as it completely dissolves my makeup in a single lathering without stripping my skin. I use it at the end of the day. It’s like a little reward for a day well-lived,” said Didi Gluck, deputy editor of beauty and lifestyle at Shape magazine.

13. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm, $34, Amazon

Also available at Sephora.

“Besides the fact that it comes in a creamy and hydrating balm formula, I love this makeup remover because it’s packed with echinacea, which works to protect my skin from all the pollution in the air,” said Julee Wilson, fashion and beauty director at Essence.

Makeup Remover Wipes

14. Pixi by Petra Lash Nourish Makeup Remover Pads, $10, Target

“My eyes tear up at pretty much everything: applying false lashes, eyeliner along the water line, a sappy movie and so on. So as you can imagine, finding a makeup remover that doesn’t cause water works was no easy feat. These pads have been my savior for taking off stubborn liner and mascara without any irritation. Plus, they’re ideal for travel thanks to their perfectly portable case,” says Dori Katz Price, beauty and fashion director at Family Circle.

15. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water Cleansing Wipes, $5, Amazon

Also available for $6 at Target.

“I discovered micellar water in Paris many years ago, and subsequently brought back bottles and bottles from every trip. A few years ago, the U.S. market finally caught on and now this fabulous moisturizing potion is available in convenient and efficient cleansing cloths — how very American! I’m obsessed with these wipes; they smell fresh but luxe, leave my skin soft and clean (no film!), and never sting my eyes,” said Gwen Flamberg, executive editor of beauty and style at Us Weekly.


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This article was originally published on April 24, 2017 on

Whenever I come home late from a (quite rare) night on the town, I always stick with a tipsy-and-tired-friendly pre-bed beauty regimen: Swipe on the micellar water, and then hit up my silk pillowcase.

It’s so good and easy that—despite being a firm believer in double cleansing—I’m sometimes tempted to use the micellar water on, well, regular nights, too. The magical, makeup-removing water has so many perks: Time saving! Gentle! Gets rid of all makeup! So it’s enticing to incorporate on the reg and leave the rest of your cleansers to gather dust on your beauty shelf. But it begs the question: Can micellar water really replace your cleanser? To perhaps change everyone’s lives, I sought out a derm for advice.

“Micellar water is a super gentle method of cleansing skin. It gets its name because it contains micelles which are oil-in-water suspensions that attract dirt, bacteria, and makeup, but gently—without stripping moisturize from your skin,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with New York’s Schweiger Dermatology. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t wear makeup or isn’t applying more skin-care products after cleansing, then you’re good. “In this scenario, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using only micellar water as your cleanser,” she says.

The thing with micellar water is that it can kind of stay on your skin after you use it. “I find that the residual micelles block other products from absorbing into the skin effectively, so I usually recommend my patients rinse afterwards with water,” says Dr. Nazarian. Sad news, though—she does recommend using something else in addition to your beloved micellar water. “Typically, I’d have my patients use another gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to rinse off any residue afterwards, such as the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($7),” she says. Womp womp. But even though it may add an extra 45 seconds to your routine, double cleansing is particularly helpful when it comes to getting rid of all of the gunk hiding out beneath the surface.

So you can continue to use that micellar water on lazy nights or no-makeup days or even just sporadically—but to totally prevent clogged pores, you should at least rinse your face afterwards.

Whatever you do, though, don’t wash your face in the shower. And this is how often you should actually wash your face—however you decide to do it.

The Pros and Cons of Micellar Water

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Despite the fact that micellar water has been available in the US for several years now, I still get a lot of questions about the product. The most common: “Am I being scammed by purchasing something called ‘water,’ a thing I can put on my face for free in my bathroom?” After trying many brands over the years and incorporating micellar water into my daily routine, I am here to tell you it’s not a scam. But there are definitely caveats.

First though, what is it? Micellar water, also frequently called cleansing water, is a cleanser for removing gunk from your face. Unlike a typical cleanser, you don’t have to rinse it off. Micellar water has been used in France for decades, and you can buy it in any pharmacy there. A French beauty publicist once told me it’s because the tap water is terrible, so no one wants to rinse their faces with it.

The way micellar water works is that a mild surfactant, the chemical that actually gets rid of dirt and makeup, clusters up into tiny balls called micelles. Once you pour it onto a cotton round, the micelles rearrange themselves for optimal cleansing. (If you are interested in the more in-depth science on this, please go read The Lab Muffin’s explanation, which is the best thing I’ve read about micellar water.) But micellar water isn’t great for all situations. I’ll start with the cons first:


• You have to use it with cotton pads, which adds some extra expense and makes it less convenient. You can’t just splash it on your face and go. (And don’t be wooed by so-called micellar makeup wipes that say they contain micellar water. I’ve spent time reading labels, and the ingredients are different; I’ve also heard anecdotal tales of those wipes being more irritating than the micellar water out of a bottle.)

• It won’t remove a full face of makeup thoroughly, so don’t expect it to take off your waterproof eyeliner and full-coverage foundation.


• Despite that last con, it does still clean really darn well. I use it every single morning when I wake up. I’m a proponent of double cleansing (oil cleanser followed by a foamy one) at night before my skincare routine, but in the morning my face isn’t that dirty, and cleansers dry me out too much. Micellar water leaves me feeling clean enough to put my morning skincare right over it on days that I don’t shower first thing in the morning. I have also stopped using makeup wipes after a workout and instead bring a travel-sized bottle of micellar water and cottons in my gym bag.

• If you do not want to commit to a full double cleanse, swiping micellar water first and following with your regular cleanser is better than just cleanser alone.

• It’s great for when you mess up your makeup. You can put a little bit on a Q-tip and fix an eyeliner or lipstick mistake. I also use it on a damp pad to gently pat under my eyes when I get the inevitable eyeshadow powder fallout.

• Finally, it’s great for when you want to re-touch your face makeup but not your eyes. You can swipe it all over your face and then re-apply foundation without worrying about washing off your eye makeup like if you were washing in a sink.

• It’s pretty gentle. Obviously read the ingredients first, because they vary widely from product to product, but I find most to be non-irritating and non-drying. A good one will leave your skin feeling soft and clean without an obvious residue. Here are six that meet these criteria:

Simple Micellar Water ($8.99); Garnier Micellar Water ($6.79)


Simple Micellar Water ($8.99): My favorite of all the drugstore brands, and a great starter formula if you’re new to using micellar water.

Garnier Micellar Water ($6.79): A good dupe for the original French export, Bioderma.

La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Water ($14.99); Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($14.90)


La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Water, $14.99: This bottle lasted me forever, and I like the very faint fragrance. (Many micellar waters have no scent.)

Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($14.90): The OG, and worth trying if you don’t mind spending a bit more.

Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Water ($13); Son and Park Beauty Water ($30)


Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Water ($13): A good workhorse, and the bottle design — with a dispenser at the top that you press down on to get the product out — is so easy.

Son and Park Beauty Water, $30: I know the price on this one is slightly alarming, but this is hands-down the best cleansing water I’ve tried. It has a ton of extracts in it, and it also acts like a toner. It’s fantastic.

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10 Best Micellar Waters For Better Skin For 2019 Ramona Sinha Hyderabd040-395603080 November 20, 2019

Check any skincare-obsessed millennial woman’s beauty closet, and I bet you will find at least one bottle of micellar water in it. This French skin care secret is no longer a secret. From the toughest waterproof makeup to the dirt in your pores – micellar water can clear away everything gently without irritating your skin. That’s why it’s your skin’s new BFF! But, given the endless choices of micellar waters available in the market, it can get difficult to choose between drugstore products and elite brands. To make it less complicated for you, I have rounded up a list of the 10 best micellar waters you can pick.

Products Check Price
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Check Price
Vichy Purete Thermale 3 in 1 One Step Cleansing Micellar Check Price
Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Check Price
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water Check Price
Lancome Eau Fraiche Doucher Micellar Cleansing Water Check Price
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water Check Price
Christian Dior Hydra Life Micellar Water Check Price
Ren Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water Check Price
Decléor Soothing Micellar Water Check Price
L’Oreal 3-in-1 Micellar Water Check Price

Top 10 Micellar Waters For Clean Skin

1. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-up Removing Micelle Solution

This oil-free cleanser can remove waterproof makeup easily without much struggle. It is best suited for those with sensitive skin. It helps in maintaining the hydrolipidic film of your skin and contains active dermatological ingredients that are close to your skin’s composition. It is easy to use and gentle on your skin.


  • Dermatologically tested
  • Maintains skin balance
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-greasy



Back To TOC

2. Vichy Purete Thermale One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution

This is an ultra-gentle product that not only works as a makeup remover but also doubles as a facial toner. It contains Pro-Vitamin B5 that takes care of your skin and soothes it. Its unique formula is gentle on your eye area (which is more sensitive than the rest of your face) and does not irritate it. It is pH balanced, so it won’t cause breakouts.


  • Non-oily
  • Alcohol-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Soap-free
  • No added colors
  • No fragrance



Back To TOC

3. Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water

This is a no-rinse formula that cleanses your skin without making it greasy. It contains thermal mineral water and botanical extracts that can take off the most stubborn makeup with ease. This product is a blend of six essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, and sage, which nurture your skin.


  • No artificial colors
  • No synthetic fragrance
  • No mineral oils
  • Perfect for sensitive skin



Back To TOC

4. Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

Simple is a brand that’s known for its no-fuss and skin-friendly products. This product is no exception. This advanced micellar water hydrates your skin while clearing all the dirt and gunk from your face. Made with triple purified water, it contains a blend of natural ingredients that your skin will love.


  • Gentle
  • No synthetic fragrance
  • No dyes
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Does not irritate your skin



Back To TOC

5. Lancome Eau Fraiche Doucher Micellar Cleansing Water

Though people with all skin types can use this micellar water, it is best suited for combination skin. The gentle formula of this micellar water takes your CTM (cleansing-toning-moisturizing) routine to the next level. It contains soothing rose extracts that improve the radiance of your skin.


  • Gentle
  • Non-greasy
  • Does not dry out your skin
  • Cleanses thoroughly


  • Expensive

Back To TOC

6. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

This micellar water by Garnier can remove makeup and skin impurities effectively and is suitable for all skin types. It leaves your skin feeling refreshed. It is extremely gentle on your skin and can also be used for removing eye makeup. This product is dermatologically tested and will not irritate your skin.


  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Silicone- and sulfate-free
  • Does not dry out your skin


  • May make your skin oilier if you already have oily skin

Back To TOC

7. Christian Dior Hydra Life Micellar Water

The effective formula of this Dior product removes all your makeup instantly and tones your skin. This micellar water contains soothing Echinacea flower extract. It increases the elasticity and maintains the natural balance of your skin. It also brightens your skin tone.


  • No alcohol
  • No artificial fragrance
  • pH balanced
  • A little product goes a long way


  • Expensive

Back To TOC

8. Ren Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water

With a soothing blend of rose otto oil and other botanical extracts, this micellar water is perfect for all skin types. However, it is especially helpful for those with dry skin. It cleanses the skin thoroughly without creating that feeling of excessive dryness and tightness.


  • Contains natural extracts
  • Soap-free


  • May leave a greasy film on oily skin

Back To TOC

9. Decléor Soothing Micellar Water

This micellar water is fragrance-free and good for those who have sensitive and acne-prone skin. It does not dry your skin out or give that feeling of tightness and discomfort after usage. The super gentle formula of this micellar water minimizes the risk of any skin irritation.


  • Contains rose essential oil
  • pH balanced
  • Contains natural bisabolol
  • Fragrance-free
  • Soap-free


  • Expensive
  • May cause a little sensation in the sensitive eye area

Back To TOC

10. L’Oreal 3-in-1 Micellar Water

This product is designed to remove face, lip, and eye makeup thoroughly. It is developed with the new micellar technology and contains unique micellar molecules for gentle yet thorough cleansing. It leaves your skin hydrated and fresh. It is best suited for people with sensitive, oily, and combination skin types.


  • Fragrance-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Oil-free
  • No-rinse formula
  • Does not cause breakouts


  • Struggles to clean heavy waterproof makeup

Back To TOC

There is no doubt that any of these list of best micellar waters will be a great addition to your beauty box. Go ahead and make this cult French “skincare must-have” a part of your beauty routine. And, of course, don’t forget to leave your feedback and questions in the comments section below.

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona has a Master’s degree in English Literature. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps readers select products and ingredients specific to their skin type and gives out tips to keep their skin healthy in a natural way. When Ramona is not working or experimenting with a new skin care product or ingredient, her books and a passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.

What Is Micellar Water and Should You Trade In Your Old Face Wash?

Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images/Amazon/CVS/Target

Make no mistake about it, micellar water is not your standard H2O. The difference? Here, derms break it down.

What is micellar water?

The namesake micelles—tiny balls of oil that act like little magnets and attract dirt, grime, and oil—and cleanse your skin. Long popular in Europe, micellar water is finally making a big splash (pun intended) stateside, and there’s a long list of reasons why you may want to swap out your standard face wash for one of these products (or more, specifically, one of these picks for the best micellar water).

What are some benefits of using micellar water?

“Micellar water offers several benefits,” says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. “The oil droplets in the water are actually quite hydrating and don’t disrupt the natural pH of skin like classic foaming, soap-based cleansers,” explains Dr. Nazarian. This makes micellar water ideal for those with dry or sensitive skin. “Micellar waters also don’t contain drying and irritating alcohol, which is yet another reason why they’re great for these skin types,” adds Devika Icecreamwala, M.D., a dermatologist in Berkeley, CA. (Related: 4 Sneaky Things Throwing Your Skin Off Balance)

But if your skin is on the opposite side of the spectrum—i.e. oily and acne-prone—they’re a good option for you, too. “Even those with acne or oily skin can use micellar water to clean skin thoroughly, without further irritating inflamed pimples,” says Dr. Nazarian.

Finally, there’s the convenience factor; if you don’t have access to a sink or water, you can still get a thorough clean with micellar water. Dr. Nazarian suggests simply saturating a cotton ball with the micellar water and swiping it gently over your skin. Then, use another clean cotton pad or ball to wipe the skin and remove the micelles, along with the dirt, oil, and makeup they’ve picked up. It’s as easy as that.

Officially convinced? Thought so. Check out these derm-approved picks for the best micellar waters.

7 Derm-Approved Picks for the Best Micellar Water

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

Image zoom Bioderma

Once a long-time cult-favorite you could only find in French pharmacies, devoted fans can now get this Bioderma micellar water stateside. (And fun fact: You’ll find it in pretty much every pro makeup artist’s kit.). Dr. Nazarian loves it for the “very gentle formulation,” which is both paraben-free and hypoallergenic.

Buy It, Bioderma Sensibio H2O, $15,

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for All Skin Types

Image zoom Garnier

Both Drs. Nazarian and Icecreamwala like this inexpensive drugstore pick for sensitive skin types because it doesn’t contain fragrance, sulfates, or parabens, all of which are common triggers that can stress out easily-irritated skin. This Garnier micellar water also comes in three sizes and a few different variations, including one that will remove even waterproof makeup.

Buy It, Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for All Skin Types, $7,

La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water

Image zoom La Roche-Posay

“This micellar water is unique in that it contains both micelles and poloxamer, a mild cleansing agent,” says Dr. Icecreamwala. It’s so mild, in fact, that it’s used in contact lens solution. She also likes it because it contains hydrating glycerin and antioxidant-rich mineral water to help sooth skin. (Related: There’s a Difference Between “Moisturizing” and “Hydrating” Skin-Care Products)

Buy It, La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water, $16,

Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water

Image zoom Simple

Dr. Icecreamwala says this Simple micellar water is “more hydrating than many other cleansers” thanks to its addition of vitamin B3 and triple-purified water that boosts skin hydration by 90 percent, she says. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic, pH balanced, non-comedogenic, and free of artificial dyes and perfumes.

Buy It, Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, $5,

Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Water Bar

Image zoom Dove

Micellar waters aren’t just for the skin on your face. You can reap their healthy skin benefits on each inch of your body with this solid version from Dove. “I like this one because it comes in bar form so you can use it on your body, or if you like to wash your face in the shower, where you can’t use cotton balls,” says Dr. Nazarian.

Buy It, Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Water Bar, $6 for 4,

Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

Image zoom Lancome

Those who wear a full face of makeup will appreciate that this micellar water removes even waterproof formulas, and can be used on your face, around your eyes, and even on lips. Dr. Icecreamwala lauds it for its effectiveness and taking off makeup, yet still leaving skin feeling soft and not stripped of all it’s essential oils. (Related: How to Boost Your Skin Barrier and Why You Need To)

Buy It, Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water, $40,

CeraVe Hydrating Micellar CleansingWater

Image zoom CeraVe

When your skin feels extra dry or irritated (hello, winter skin) reach for this micellar water. The addition of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide makes it particularly hydrating and soothing, points out Dr. Nazarian. It’s so soothing and gentle, that it’s even earned the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association.

Buy It, CeraVe Hydrating Micellar CleansingWater, $10,

  • By Melanie Rud

What is micellar water?

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