February 4, 2015

What is Micellar Water?

what is micellar water

What is Micellar Water? What is a cleansing water? Curious about cleansing and micellar waters? A lot of folks are. A while ago I wrote an article entitled “Cleansing Waters: Are They Necessary to Your Makeup Removal?” and much of what I said in it still stands true. I’m not really a huge fan of micellar waters aside from the fact of how quick, easy, and super fast it is to remove makeup when I’m being lazy!

In 2012, NARS Makeup Removing Water launched and soon after MAC released their own variation. At the time it looked like we were headed into a trend and might just see more micellar waters releasing from a variety of brands…! But the trend kinda died out slightly but with the recent introduction of Simple Micellar Water you might see more and more cleansing waters hitting the market.

So what’s is a micellar water anyway?

Cleansing Water

My first introduction to micellar water started with Japanese brand, Mandom. I tried and loved their Cleansing Express Moist Cleansing Lotion which really was an easy and quick way to remove ALL my makeup when I was just too tired to bother with the rest of the products I use nightly to get off all my makeup.

Micellar Water is sometimes mistaken for toner. It’s not a toner. It is however, a makeup remover. It’s basically a water formulated with micelles or tiny cleansing molecules that float within water. You can saturate a cotton ball or a Swissper with the water and swipe across your face to remove dirt, oil, and makeup quickly. It’ll remove your makeup as it cleanses and you won’t need to rinse it off. Pretty nifty right?

Personally it’s a great pick if you’re a blogger as you can quickly remove swatches from your arm using a micellar water (I actually use wipes though) or quickly remove makeup to do a new look super fast!

I think the nicest thing about micellar waters is the fact they are so gentle. My skin never feels tight or dry after using them which makes them an ideal pick for those with sensitive skin or even dry skin that tends to get drier after cleansing.

They also happen to be super convenient as they are a one step cleansing process and you don’t need anything else aside from a cotton ball or a Swissper to use with them! No running water, other cleanser, just the water…swipe and go to bed.

I never feel fully clean when I use them to be honest and I end up using them in a double cleanse process in most cases. Although there are days I come home exhausted and I just wanna fall into bed and that’s the days cleansing waters are totally my bag as they are quick, easy, and simple.

One of the first true budget micellar waters recently launched from Simple Skincare. The new Simple Micellar Water is $6.99 for 6.7 oz and an ideal pick for for sensitive skin as it has no harsh chemicals, no perfumes, and no dyes. It contains B3 and C in a purified water base! A few months ago Canada and the UK as well as Asia also were privy to the new UK L’OrΓ©al Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution (around $8) which I suspect we’ll see here in the US as soon as Summer 2015 or earlier. Garnier also has a cleansing water that released in Japan but that might be a while before we see it here in the US and knowing Garnier I fear it might be heavily fragranced! Dr Jart also has a new Dermaclear Micro Water available at Sephora. There are quite a few options available in the micellar slash cleansing water world at the moment from high end to mid range and now budget friendly ones too!

I have a feeling we’ll see a huge wave of waters hit the market in the Summer!

Do you use micellar waters?

Do share your experience with them!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Chelsea

    I’m a big fan of Bioderma! Have repurchased countless times. Beautylish just started carrying it too! I tried the Simple Micellar Water, but unfortunately, I’m somewhat allergic to chamomile (it’s related to ragweed).

    • Aishling

      Did ur face tingle with that.i used a cheap water from poundworld and my face feels sore and tingly and it had the same stuff in it.

  • hollie

    Sephora Collection cleansing water is the best I’ve tried other than Bioderma, which is now on Beautylish (mine should be here today- yay!)They also carry the Dr. Jart, Caudalie, Koh Gen Do, and Ren waters- none of which I like nearly as well as the Sephora Collection.

    Like you, I use it more as a makeup remover than a cleanser, but will use as a cleanser in a pinch if I’m too tired for the whole PM regimen.

    • Isabella Muse

      same here, totally my lazy girl’s way of removing makeup when I’m wanting to get to bed Hollie!

  • Carol G.

    I tried the Simple brand and it was my first experience with a micellar water. Let’s just say I’m not a fan. I agree with you, Muse, because I still didn’t truly feel clean after using it. Also, the Simple one states to not use it on your eyes. Well forget that. I wear waterproof mascara everyday and if I’m going to use a so-called makeup remover, it better take off everything! I’ll just stick to my cleansing oil. That is the best since it takes off every stitch of makeup -waterproof mascara included- and leaves my skin soft, not stripped. I realize these waters are supposed to be great because there is no need to rinse them, but I’ve never run into a situation where I didn’t have running water to rinse a cleanser off my face. Plus I felt as though I had to keep saturating the cotton pad and swiping it over my face again and again (and again…). Really wasn’t a time saver for me.

    • Isabella Muse

      yeah Carol, I feel that way about most cleansing waters. They are GREAT for quickie clean ups and super gentle on my dry skin but I just need more πŸ™‚

  • Eli

    Micellar Water was first introduced by Bioderma – a French brand. To me it is still the best out there (it’s called Sensibio H20), and I’ve tried quite a lot. But I don’t know whether it’s available in the US.

  • Kim

    I love the Simple Micellar water. I hate washing my face in the sink, so I used to use makeup wipes at night, but they tend to dry my face out and they don’t remove eye makeup. Even cleansers that claim to be made for dry skin make my skin feel tight, and cause dry patches. The simple water is so much gentler, it actually leaves my skin feeling hydrated, and you get a ton of uses out of a 6 dollar bottle, as opposed to 30 wipes for 7 bucks. I also travel a lot, and love that I can throw a little tiny travel bottle of this into my bag, instead of bulky wipes. It has done wonders for my dry skin. I even have my husband using it before bed, as he gets dry skin in the winter as well. I had low expectations because the price is so low, but I am seriously impressed by Simple’s product and don’t feel the need to splurge on anything more high end.

    • dp

      Agreed. Was on a schedule for a couple of weeks where I had NO time for my usual bedtime routine. The Simple water was on sale and I thought I would give it a go on my **scary sensitive rosacea skin**. It was awesome. Removed makeup, eye makeup (whoops!) and left my skin soft and calm. Wipes usually make it angry, so I was relieved. Won’t use it daily, but it was so refreshing to find this.

  • Annette

    Yes big fan of the Garnier one. It was my absolute favorite ‘beauty’product of 2014 and will continue to use it.

  • Bonnie S

    I used to use the Bioderma and Reversa micellar waters a lot and loved them – and then Ponds came out with its makeup removal wipes and that’s what I now use in the morning. I double cleanse at night; once with a cream to get the makeup off, then I follow with a gel & my Clarisonic to deep clean; don’t need the micellar water in my pm routine. I’m trying to streamline the number of products I use. If that’s possible. I love collecting products πŸ™‚

    • Moja31

      Ponds wipes in the purple package are amazing. My first step makeup remover, work great & smell great.

  • Jasmine

    I hv been used water remover more then 10 years. My first bottle obviously was Bioderma but I don’t really like it. I suffered from seriously break out n my dermatologist suggested me using Vichy cleansing water. Ever since, Vichy cleansing water is my go to product. It’s super effective. It does its job very well. Two cotton pad, everything gone. Of coz, waterproof mascara / eyeliner excluded. Also, it’s very mild and no fragrance at all. Muse, u may wanna try it out πŸ™‚ Btw, Thx for all your afford. I love your blog very very much. I read every night before I go to bed )@(

    • Isabella Muse

      aw thanks Jasmine so glad you enjoy Musings πŸ˜€ I’ll have to try the vichy one, thanks for the rec!

  • snesbear

    I just got the Simple Micellar water. So far I’ve been using the Garnier Gentle Clarifying Cleansing Gel which claims to wash your face *and* removes makeup. While it removes most of my makeup, I feel that it doesn’t get my eye area well enough. So I’m not sure if the Simple is a waste of money or not. We’ll see. On top of the Garnier gel I’ve been using Squalane oil and my skin is just glowing. I have no pimples and all the sebaceous filaments around my nose & under my bottom lip are almost completely gone.

  • Lori hagemeier

    Cleansing water vs Cleansing oil.
    Which do you prefer?
    What’s the difference?

  • Fancie

    I’ve never tried one before but man they sound perfect for me! I almost always wait until I’m dead ass tired to remember that I’m still wearing a face full of makeup and sometimes wipes just aren’t enough. Especially if I’m wearing mascara. I’d love a quick cleansing solution that I can quickly use before bed

  • Dia

    I think these waters are like the stuff used to moisten makeup removing wipes. Instead of pulling out a cloth, you soak a cotton pad with the water, and it does the same thing. I don’t feel completely clean when I use wipes, it’s like I just loosened the makeup and grime, and it’s still on my face along with the cleanser, so I always do a quick rinse afterwards.

  • Moja31

    I use Bioderma to get every last trace of makeup off after using a wipe, and before I clarisonic. I make my dad pick some up whenever he goes to Paris. Interested in trying the simple one out, even though their products haven’t really worked for me in the past.

  • Nurse Ratchet

    I have used Bioderma and I use it as the first step in my cleansing routine. If I want to just flop into bed, I use a Neutrogena makeup removing wipe followed by an Aveeno Feverfew for sensitive skin wipe…the combo of the two removes all traces of makeup without irritating my rosacea/sensitive skins. I think follow with toner and moisturizer and within five minutes I’m in bed!

  • annie

    i think micellar water is great for in-between makeup removal, for example, changing makeup look. But other than that, I relied on cleansing oil for all-over make up removal. Im a stickling for double-cleansing so micellar never felt clean enough for me. And i do feel a tad guilty over so much cotton pads being used, since i already using for many other purposes.

  • Holly

    I’ve used Boots No 7 Cleansing Waters (available both in Europe and at Target in the US) and I quite like it. It’s really a good standby for regular cleansing for me. I used it during a vacation to England and it worked incredibly well on its own. I did go over my face twice to get rid of all the makeup though.

    I believe most of the ones I’ve seen mention not getting it in your eyes. I was wondering if you might have some insight: do you use it on eye makeup? If so, does the brand you use say it’s safe for that? Or do you specifically use some method to avoid getting it into your eyes?

    • Isabella Muse

      i typically eyes, I used to use mandom on my eyes as it’s good at removing waterproof makeup but my second bottle (my first was one) and third, and fourth, seemed to have been formulated differently and they stung horribly! I usually remove my eye makeup with eye makeup remover first which I find a pain as one step turns into two πŸ™‚ but it it says avoid eyes, def do so, not all of them are not eye safe but some aren’t meant to be used around the eye area.

    • Isabella Muse

      toners don’t remove makeup Emilia, they are a prep prior to moisturizer. For dry skin, they add moisture and allow moisturizer to sink into the skin a little easier. For oilier skin, some formulas are good to tighten pores after cleansing and also removing any excess oil that perhaps your cleanser didn’t get out.

  • Brooke Jones

    Hi Muse!
    Do you watch the Wayne Goss Youtube channel? He just posted a review on this one that is pretty good! Love him! He is so entertaining. I am struggling to find something that doesn’t give me the “panda eye” so I have an unhealthy mascara collection!

    • Isabella Muse

      i do πŸ™‚ he’s fab! I haven’t seen his review yet tbh! Haven’t had a second to catch up on blogs/gurus this week but Have to check it out πŸ˜€

  • IrishRedRose

    I just love Bioderma Sensibio and have repurchased it many times (online, via Amazon or EBay.) I probably will continue to do so. It’s extremely gentle yet I never feel like I didn’t get it all or am not sufficiently clean. PLUS, it removes eye makeup and never, ever stings or irritates my eyes. I also like that while it’s not even a tiny bit drying, there’s also no oil slick getting in my eyes, or stinging from the oil free version of heavier makeup removers I’ve tried from Lancome and other labels. I also like Origins’ cream cleanser, Burt’s Bees lemon poppyseed scrub, and especially Alba Botanica’s gentle cleanser. But really, the Bioderma product is pretty brilliant. The refreshing simplicity of it actually makes me feel cleaner, there’s no smell, film, creamy residue, etc. I’ve tried some other micellar waters and honestly I didn’t think they were half as good.

  • Jay M

    Though they are a good way to remove makeup. i don’t feel they get it all off especially if you have sunblock on. I use the balms and it melts everything off from my lightest makeup day to my full face makeup for a formal event.

  • MandyB

    The Roche Posay one is really good at taking off eye make up but I love the Bio Beaute by Nuxe Orange Flower one – it smells like a summer vacation someplace warm.

  • petitez

    I’ve been using Biore Micellar Cleansing Water for awhile now. I do like how its easy to use and it removes makeup easily. But does it remove makeup as throughly as cleansing oil? Somehow I still feel cleansing oil are better…… >.<

  • Pam

    I’ve been using Le Couvent des Minimes 3 in 1 Micellar Water which has a lovely rose scent. I rarely use it to take off my makeup though it does work well for that, I use it occasionally in the morning before applying my skincare. It is gentle, never leaves my face feeling taut, and does not cause any type of skin reaction on me.

  • Sana Nurani

    I love Bioderma, it’s so gentle, use it everyday. But it’s so expensive in Canada compared to the UK. I want to try the Loreal one, in your opinion how does Loreal Micellar Solution compare to Bioderma?

    • Isabella Muse

      I’m not sure I haven’t yet tried the L’Oreal, it isn’t available in the US yet.

  • Soup

    Yves Rocher’s Micellar Water (in the all green bottle), reg $15 but often BOGO. It is amazing, leaves my almost 50 y/o combo skin feeling fantastic and I am horribly picky about my skin care. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Rachel

    I bought the Simple one a few weeks ago for those nights when I’m just too tired to use my Clarisonic and take everything off. I did have wipes for that, but I used them so seldom, they were dried out when I needed them. I have to say though, I’ve used the Simple Micellar Water almost every night since I’ve bought it! It seems to take everything off, it doesn’t irritate my skin (a lot of wipes do, for some odd reason), and it doesn’t dry me out. I don’t wear a lot of makeup during the week (concealer, powder foundation, blush, setting powder) and most of it has disappeared by the time I do wash my face, so this works out ok for me. However, on the weekends, when I do the full face, the water doesn’t cut it! I need the oil, the cleanser, and the Clarisonic to feel clean!

  • kellly

    I have dry skin and like using oils, so I don’t know that I can be persuaded to even try them. I like water soluble oils to remove eye makeup and then wash and rinse my face with baby shampoo and then put a whole bunch of products on after cleaning (serum, gooey cream and OIL) for night. I live in a pretty dry climate, too, so it’s not overkill. I don’t really think I’d use the waters right, since I’d probably wipe off my makeup and then go ahead and wash my face as usual anyway! Otherwise I’d feel like I was just smearing remnants of my makeup around and not really rinsing it all off.

  • blahblahblah

    never, EVER. only use cleansing water. it NEEDS to be rinsed off with water, because it’s pretty much just a watery soap LOL.

    • quartzpebble

      Yep. Micelles are just what form when something like soap is mixed with water–they form little blobs because the parts of the molecule that mix easily with oil and are repelled by water all cluster together in the middle. ANY soap or detergent is a micellar cleanser.

  • Libby

    I’ve tried my hand at quite a few of the micellar waters (Ren, Caudalie, Koh Gen Do, Bioderma and Sephora Collection) and I really do love them to take off my makeup with but that’s mostly in the summertime. Now that it’s winter, I find myself reaching for cleansing balms more often because they seem to be a better choice with this harsh weather.

    Out of the ones I’ve tried, I love Bioderma and Koh Gen Do the best. Caudalie’s was probably my least favorite and I would put Ren and Sephora’s on the same level but the Sephora Collection one is way cheaper, lol. I’m really interested in trying the Simple one though! And the Dr Jart’s one xD I love Dr Jart’s skincare so I have high hopes for it!

  • Sippe

    I love Bioderma but it have to be rinsed otherwise I’ll get pimples like crazy.So it does not do exactly what it claims.It would be too good to be true,if I wouldn’t have to rinse it off πŸ™‚

  • Kathleen

    Would a micellar water be good to use in the morning? For some reason, I hate the idea of washing in the a.m.

  • Jean

    I LOVE Bioderma and have found this the best and most effective cleansing water for me. Sephora is too heavily fragranced for me and Simple just didn’t do the heavy lifting that waterproof products require. Have heard a lot about L’oreal and how good it is. I think most lines will bring out some version of this in 2015! Excited to see who????

  • Kathy

    I don’t get it. It’s essentially glorified soap water. Micelles are nothing special. Like someone said above, they form in any soap or detergent.

  • Vikki Velvetfur

    Hiya! I used the Bioderma one years ago in Paris (before micellars were a thing here in the UK) and I really wasn’t impressed – it didn’t take my mascara off! I’m curious to try it again though someday… The Garnier one is fabulous, I’m now on my second bottle, it gets everything off, is safe to use on eyes (removes mascara!) and isn’t scented at all (well maybe it has an ever-so-slight fragrance but I can’t smell anything). It’s also the best value for money, as it’s a 400ml bottle for about the same price of all the others that are 200ml! The Vichy one is also amazing (but more expensive than the Garnier one), the Number 7 one I found not very good (again, didn’t remove mascara), the L’Oreal one is very good as well but not as good value as the Garnier one. Also Nivea do one which is lovely – very pretty bottle, haha!

  • Gilanin

    I bought a micellar water today and tried it once, it left my skin so soft and hydrated. I always put on moisturiser whenever I wash my face, even if I just swipe it with a wet wipe to feel fresher because it dries out so easily. It felt nice. I went later to shower and I could feel there was something slippery on my skin, and that is the slippery moisture I feel from Dove, when I use their soap because it doesn’t dry the skin as much as other soaps do. The brand is a French one called Mixa and I bought it because I’ve tried their hand cream and it was the best hand cream I’ve had yet. My hands were dry like sand paper and heavily cracked, a little blood and all. My hands were ok after using it 2 or 3 times. I also bought a CC cream, haven’t tried it yet, but it seems everything from this brand is good, because it is targeted for sensitive skin, and my skin is not even sensitive.

  • Andy

    Amazing how people can be made to hand over money for something that is basically a dilute surfactant solution, not much different from normal bodywashes and mild shampoos. It seems that as soon as you start sticking scientific words into a product’s name it’ll sell like hot cakes. Baaaaaaaaa

  • Laurie

    I love Garnier one it’s for waterproof makeup and it doesn’t have much fragrance. Actually, I do not smell anything. I have sensitive dry skin and no problems. I have been using Clinique waterproof makeup remover for years, but at 18 bucks it was getting ridiculous in price. It was the only one that worked quickly, at that said I am very happy with the results of Garnier.

  • Brittny

    I had been using Simple micellar wipes and began to have red, dry, lumpy rashed on my chin every once in a while. Very painful and have small puss filled sacks that would drain if popped. I found out this is most likely from one of the plant extracts in the Simple Micellar product. I wouldn’t advise using it to remove your makeup. though I have only used the Micellar wipes not the bottle. I stick to my clinique three step and take the day off milk cleanser.