- Micellar water is a gentle remover and cleanser that also hydrates the skin and requires no rinsing. It’s a great do-it-all skin-care product that takes less than 10 seconds.
- French pharmacy cult favorite Bioderma earns our vote for the best micellar water because it’s non-irritating, effective, and a great value.
Washing your face is basically the breakfast of skin care – it’s the most important part of your day. Nourishing, often basic, but still utterly satisfying. It’s the backbone of a good skin-care routine. The secret to your skin’s success.
Micellar water is clear like regular water, but way more effective than splashing Evian on your skin. What you don’t see are tiny micelles, or basically small oil-loving molecules, that suck waxy makeup, dirt, and general gunk out of your pores. Sounds satisfying, doesn’t it?
Sometimes called cleansing water, micellar water is an excellent makeup remover whether used alone or as part of a multi-step routine if you wear heavy makeup. Just pour some out onto some cotton rounds to cleanse your face or onto a cotton swab to get around your eyes or lips to clean up migrating liner or lipstick.
My favorite way to use it though is as a morning cleanser. It’s gentle on my skin, easy to use, and doesn’t require extra rinsing. It serves as a quick way to remove any tacky or oily residue from night cream without needing to scrub your face. Some people prefer to still rinse after using micellar water, but I don’t.
There are a million micellar waters and although they look identical, there are subtle differences between formulas that make some better than others. The excellent news is that there’s no need to get super fancy – most of the best micellar waters are available at the drugstore.
Here are the best micellar waters you can buy:
- Best micellar water overall: Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water
- Best micellar water for sensitive skin: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
- Best micellar water for oily skin: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying
- Best micellar water for waterproof makeup: Glossier Milky Oil
- Best luxury micellar water: Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water
The best micellar water overall
Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water is a cult favorite for a good reason – it’s incredibly gentle, with micelles that closely mimic the natural composition of your skin.
Since you’re looking for micellar waters, chances are you’ve heard of Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water. It’s a French pharmacy staple that has become a hit stateside and according to the brand, there’s a bottle sold every two seconds.
This micellar water tops pretty much every expert’s list of best micellar waters on the market because it’s gentle, oil-free, fragrance-free, and now, easily accessible. There are multiple formulas – original, oil-free for sensitive skin, and one for combination or oily skin.
It stings my sensitive eyes less than other micellar waters I’ve tried, and has a moisturizing texture. The brand claims that the micelle molecules in the formula are “very similar to the skin’s natural composition,” which means that they won’t irritate or strip skin of moisture.
This is an Amazon best-seller with more than 2,000 shoppers giving it a combined rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Bustle praises Bioderma for superior makeup-removing abilities and Insider Picks has rated it our favorite makeup remover. It was also one of our go-to cleansing waters when an editor couldn’t wash her face after getting her brows microbladed. Allure, Best Products, and Byrdie are also big fans.
Pros: gentle, oil-free, a formula to suit each skin type, large bottle, fragrance-free
Cons: not expensive but still on the pricier side
The best micellar water for sensitive skin
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water is made with gentle ingredients that won’t aggravate sensitive skin.
Super sensitive skin types might want to check out Simple Micellar Cleansing Water as its formula contains nourishing vitamin B3, brightening vitamin C, triple-purified water, calming chamomile, soothing glycol, and skin-strengthing niacinamide. It’s free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, and dyes.
You may need a few swipes with a cotton pad to dissolve tough-to-remove makeup like mascara or berry-colored lipstick, but it’s an excellent first step that cleanses and rehydrates the skin instead of wringing it dry.
The cleanser is a top shopper and expert pick, with an average 4.3 rating at Target based on more than 5,000 reviews, an Allure Best of Beauty win in 2015, and positive mentions in Bustle, Best Products, and Byrdie.
While the formula is gentle enough for sensitive skin, it’s not approved by the National Eczema Association for eczematic skin so consult with your derm first.
Pros: gentle for sensitive skin, fragrance- and dye-free, non-toxic
Cons: not approved for those with eczema or rosacea
The best for oily skin
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying is an oil-fighting formula that won’t dry you out.
If you have an oily complexion, Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying is a good option.
Garnier’s range of micellar waters is often compared to Bioderma’s, though I find the sensitive skin version has a stronger scent despite being fragrance-free. It comes in a few varieties, like one for removing waterproof makeup and one for mattifying oily skin, which I find the most unique.
TotalBeauty says Garnier’s mattifying micellar water “has all the wonderful cleansing properties of a traditional micellar water but leaves skin with a clean, matte finish.” It’s also been featured on best-of lists at Skincare.com and Bustle.
Ulta customers give this product high marks too – the formula has a 4.3-star rating based on nearly 150 reviews, and Influenster reviewers give it 4.5 stars based on 2,800+ reviews. Many reviews say the formula doesn’t contain alcohol, but it actually has denatured alcohol, which has astringent properties that can help mattify oily skin.
Pros: affordable, mattifying, large bottle size, no residue
Cons: includes alcohol
The best micellar water for waterproof makeup
Glossier Milky Oil is a unique blend of oil and micellar water that dissolves waterproof makeup in seconds.
Those who wear waterproof or heavier makeup like waterproof mascara or cake eyeliner might not find micellar water effective enough to use alone without a second cleanser. Glossier Milky Oil provides a unique solution by combining oil and micellar water in a bi-phase formula.
Shake the bottle to mix the layers of water and oil, and then squeeze it onto a cotton round or dry skin. It will leave behind a slight oily residue because of the formula, so you’ll want to follow up with a gentle cleanser. There’s moisturizing vitamin B5 and soothing comfrey root extract too so your face won’t feel raw after removing stubborn makeup.
This is one of the gentlest makeup removers I’ve ever used; my eyes are very sensitive, and this doesn’t make them sting or tear up in the slightest. I can even open my eyes during the process without causing chaos.
The main downside is the size of the bottle – at 3.4 fluid ounces for $12, it’s not a great value compared to the others on this list.
“I’ve never used something that got off all traces of my eye makeup so easily and completely. My skin has no bad reactions and my makeup is gone, get it you won’t regret it!” writes one Glossier customer.
Pros: removes waterproof makeup, gentle, vegan, hypoallergenic
Cons: fairly expensive for the size, not oil-free
The best luxury micellar water
- Koh Gen Do
Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water is a luxurious cult-favorite micellar water available in convenient value-size packaging with a pump.
Labeled as “Spa Water,” Koh Gen Do’s micellar water makes cleansing feel like a luxurious treat.
Part of the hype comes from the gentle formula that lists ingredients usually found in rich creams than cleansing waters. It has mineral-rich spring water, six nourishing herbs, white birch sap with skin-boosting amino acids, and arginine to help encourage collagen production and elasticity.
The other part comes from its pump bottle packaging. The packaging for most micellar waters leaves much to be desired. Those big openings leave plenty of room for error, and I’ve splashed my bathroom counter with precious cleansing water more times than I can count.
Thankfully, Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water comes in a huge bottle with a very handy pump dispenser. The runniness of micellar water makes it difficult to control the amount of product you’re using at a time, but the pump ensures you won’t waste a drop.
Which is important, because this stuff is not cheap. The large value-size is $75, while a standard bottle will run you $57 and a mini travel-sized bottle is $25.
Still, editors at Into The Gloss are big fans. “The huge pump bottle means you won’t skimp on your makeup removal routine, and you can repurpose it when it’s all gone.”
Pros: convenient pump bottle, anti-aging ingredients, three different sizes
What else we considered:
- Aveeno MaxGlow Micellar Gel Cleanser ($5.14): This is a nice lightweight gel cleanser that incorporates micellar technology, but it’s not quite the same as a true micellar water. For one thing, it’s too thick not to be rinsed off.
- Yes to Cucumbers Calming Micellar Water ($6.44): The pump packaging on this micellar cleanser is genius, but I personally find the smell a bit too intense. It also stung my eyes pretty badly when I attempted to use it for makeup removal.