We tested dozens of micellar waters to discover which of these quick but thorough cleansers and makeup removers deserve your time and money
We’re not exaggerating when we say everyone we know has a Garnier or Bioderma micellar water in their skincare stash. For a gentle yet effective way to remove makeup, micellar water is the bedside table essential we couldn't do without.
Garnier sells a bottle of its micellar water every five seconds, and there are various different versions of the cult product available, including the latest drop, the Garnier Vitamin C Micellar Water , £4.66, which launched this month with vitamin C added to the mixture to illuminate and brighten, but much of the beauty of micellar water is the simplicity.
How does micellar water work?
Micellar water is made up of micelles that work like magnets, capturing make-up, impurities and pollution that can then be wiped away without rubbing or tugging at your skin, according to Garnier.
How to use micellar water as a cleanser
You'll often see micellar water in fancy gym cleansing rooms, because it's such an easy way to quickly swipe makeup off your face before you get sweaty and while it's a great quick fix, when it comes to your evening cleanse, it's not wise to use micellar water as your only cleanser.
Consultant dermatologist Justine Kluk, recommends using micellar water as the first step in your skincare routine, followed by a second cleanse for a deeper clean.
Nurse Lucy Phillips, founder of Kaizen Medica l skin clinic in Hampshire agrees. “I’d suggest using micellar water for your first cleanse, then following with a foaming cleanser .”
Having said that, in the morning it can feel lovely and refreshing to wipe your face with a reusable cotton pad soaked in micellar water to wake up your skin. We've also been known to follow a balm cleanser with micellar water if the balm hasn't managed to get every scrap of mascara off. Basically it's a great all-rounder for however you want to use it, so long as it's not your only cleansing step at night.
Are micellar water and toner the same?
They certainly looked remarkably similar, but have different purposes. Micellar is your quick route to cleansed, refreshed skin, whereas toner is used to rebalance the skin's pH after cleanser, or to exfoliate if it's an acid toner.
Which micellar water is best?
You'd be forgiven for thinking that all micellar waters are the same, but the fact that Garnier has so many different micellar waters proves there are difference between them all. These are the micellar waters we've tried, tested and would recommend to friends.
The French one: Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water Sensitive Skin, £10.80 for 250ml
Bioderma’s famed micellar was among the first to arrive in the UK back in 2013, saving beauty editors traipsing back from Paris with suitcases full of it. Splashed onto a cotton pad and gently swiped over the face, it removes makeup effortlessly (even mascara and liquid eyeliner don’t stand a chance) and leaves skin feeling refreshed, cleansed and smooth to the touch. To try it is to love it - there's a reason this is a cult buy. Celebrity fans include Kourtney Kardashian, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lucy Hale.
Much like Garnier's micellar water, this comes in many different variations including a micellar water for dehydrated skin and a micellar water for blemish-prone skin .
The micellar water for sensitive skin: Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, £3.30 for 400ml
We included this in our round-up of the best micellar waters for sensitive skin , but thought it deserved inclusion in here too. While not the most powerful of micellar waters, it gently removes the make-up of an evening (albeit a bit slower than some of the others we tried) for a fresh-feeling face. If you wear makeup that requires a more powerful going over, this makes for a lovely refreshing product to swipe over your face first thing rather than a step in your PM routine.
The best all-rounder: Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser For Sensitive Skin, £7.99 for 700ml
We could gladly include any of Garner's micellar waters, from the new vitamin C iteration to the glow-giving rose water edition in this edit, but it makes sense to include the original. This large bottle of fragrance-free micellar contains very few ingredients, one of which is glycerin - a great ingredient for sensitive skin as it can help to repair the fragile skin barrier, plus it helps the skin retain moisture according to Lucy Phillips.
The formula feels incredibly gentle and soothing yet, is effective at removing even the most stubborn makeup plus it's in a 100 per cent recycled bottle. Use with Garnier's ultra-fluffy Reusable Makeup Remover Eco Pads for extra earth-friendly points.
Best Nivea micellar water: Nivea MicellAir Professional Micellar Water, £5.99 for 400ml
Effective enough to remove all traces of makeup, yet gentle enough to avoid being stripping, this budget-friendly micellar water is loved by professionals and makes light work of a day’s build-up of makeup and grime to leave dry skin feeling refreshed, cleansed and cared for.
Best caring Micellar Water: Avène Micellar Lotion Cleanser & Make-Up Remover for Sensitive Skin, £16.50 for 400ml
Avène is known for skincare that brings damaged skin back to health after it's been in the wars and this caring micellar water does just that. It's incredibly light and refreshing, specially formulated for sensitive skin making it a perfect match for delicate types. The no-rinse formula leaves skin feeling hydrated, soft and clean and it smells lovely! As with many Avene products, it contains high levels of spring water to soothe the skin.
Best micellar water for dry skin: Cerave Micellar Cleansing Water , £10 for 295ml
Given that Cerave is known for pared-back skincare, it seems surprising that they didn't realise their first micellar water until this year. But it was well worth the wait, combining niacinamide and ceramides to quench thirsty, dry skin. It doesn't make the skin feel stripped, leaving it feeling hydrated instead.
The luxury micellar water: Bramley Micellar Water, from £16 for 250ml
With most micellar waters costing less than £10, you might think it unnecessary to pay more than that, but there's nothing wrong with adding a little luxe touch to your second cleanse. Enter this buy from Bramley, it instantly transports you to all those fancy country hotels that have it in their bathrooms. This feels soft and ever-so gentle on the skin and is infused with chamomile and rosewater for a subtle floral freshness that makes removing your makeup feel like a self-care treat.
Best plumping micellar water: L’Oreal Revitalift Filler Replumping Micellar Water, £7.99 for 200ml
As well as removing makeup with the lightest of sweeps, this genuinely feels plumping. Despite the water texture it somehow feels soft on the skin, with the hyaluronic acid content locking moisture in the skin for a fresh, youthful feeling face.
MORE GLOSS: Reusable makeup pads that could make your cleanser redundant