Cleansing your skin every evening (and morning, if needed) is the second-most important part of a COMP skin care routine. A well-formulated micellar water or cleansing water can be a great option for people who prefer to remove makeup and/or clean their skin quickly with a cotton pad and without using water. You can read more about cleansing micellar waters in the following or skip directly to our list of the best micellar waters below. If you are looking for other types of cleansers, you might want to check out our list of the best cleansers for sensitive skin.
The French cosmetics company Bioderma launched Sensibio H2O (also known as Crealine in the motherland) in 1995 as the first commercial non-rinse cleansing/make-up removing water specifically designed for sensitive skin, but it took more than a decade before the product really gained world-wide recognition and popularity. Bioderma’s success has made numerous other cosmetics brands, high-end as low-budget, create their own micellar waters in recent years, with varying degrees of accomplishment. It’s otherwise not that complicated as there is nothing particularly high-tech or advanced about how micellar cleansing waters work – although some marketing claims and spin would have you think otherwise.
All cleansers and detergents contain some sort of surfactants, which are molecules which can blend with water as well as dirt and oils (such as skin sebum). Micellar water is simply made up of small clusters of mild surfactants called micelles, which don’t have to be rinsed off the skin. However, there are plenty of other cleansers which contain equally mild surfactants; e.g. the milky La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser also doesn’t have to be washed off.
There is thus nothing advanced about formulating a good micellar water, yet there are plenty of sub-par products out there. The problem is typically the inclusion of dubious essential oils or plant extracts which do not belong in skin care products as their potential benefits are moderate in comparison to their sensitizing properties. When selecting products for our list of the best micellar waters for sensitive skin we have also ruled out products which contain fragrance.
Who Shouldn’t Use Micellar Water?
Micellar water will generally only provide a light cleaning of your skin which is fine if you have normal to dry skin, but those with combination or oily skin will often experience that a micellar water can’t do the job properly. Similarly, people with very dry skin might prefer a more emollient cleanser like a no-rinse milky cleanser. Those who primarily use micellar water for removing makeup might also find that it comes up short for getting rid of hardcore waterproof makeup – even if the product is marketed as suitable for such a purpose.
The Line-Up: Best Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin
Overview of the Best Micellar Waters for Sensitive Skin
|Product||Bioderma Sensibio H2O||Garnier |
SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
|Simple Cleansing Micellar Water||Klorane Floral Water Makeup Remover||Lumene Micellar Cleansing Water|
|Size:||100 ml, 250ml and 500 ml||100 ml and 400 ml||200 ml||100 ml and 400 ml||250 ml|
I. Bioderma Sensibio H2O
Bioderma Sensibio H2O/Crealine is the brand’s bestseller – at the product’s 20th anniversary in 2015, Bioderma stated that a bottle of Sensibio H2O is sold every 3rd second. Nevertheless, it is indeed a very well-formulated gentle product worthy of the hype and popularity. Besides the cleansing agents, the micellar water contains cucumber extract (an antioxidant), skin-replenishing caprylic/capric glycerides as well as rhamnose and fructooligosaccharides which are believed to have some anti-aging properties. Bioderma’s other micellar waters Hydrabio H2O and Sebium H2O are not recommended as they contain fragrance. Bioderma Sensibio H2O comes in three different sizes; 100 (3.4 fl. oz.), 250 (8.33 fl. oz.) and 500 ml (16.7 fl. oz.).Ingredients – Bioderma Sensibio H2O: Water (Aqua) • Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides • Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract • Mannitol • Xylitol • Rhamnose • Fructooligosaccharides • Propylene Glycol • Disodium Edta • Cetrimonium Bromide
II. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (Waterproof)
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for waterproof makeup cleanses the skin gently and efficiently without containing harsh detergents, irritants or fragrance. It is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, as it doesn’t leave a film on the skin (particularly annoying for oily skin) or make the skin feel dry and tight (particularly annoying for dry skin). You might be wondering why it is not the more popular pink ‘regular’ version of Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water that made this list, but the answer is simple as the pink version contains the surfactant disodium cocoamphodiacetate which should not be left on the skin, but washed off with water. This kind of ruins the point of a micellar water in our opinion.
- Note: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for waterproof makeup has an ingredient list identical to that of L’Oreal Paris’ corresponding product (L’Oreal owns both brands), but is slightly cheaper.
III. Simple Cleansing Micellar Water
Simple Cleansing Micellar Water is exactly what its name indicates; simple – and gentle on sensitive and dry skin. Besides the cleansing agents, it contains anti-irritants such as chamomile flower extract and niacinamide (vitamin B3) and other skin-beneficial ingredients like panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) and sodium ascorbyl phosphate (form of vitamin C). In 2017 Simple has launched another micellar water, the Simple Water Boost Micellar Cleansing Water for people with dry or dehydrated skin, but this product is not recommended as it contains cetylpyridinium chloride (often used in mouthwash). According to the European Union’s Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety(SCCS) opinion on the ingredient, it is safe to use in cosmetics “except for potential skin, eye and oral mucosal irritation” – but why would you buy a product containing a potential irritant if the original Simple Cleansing Micellar Water doesn’t?
IV. Klorane Eau Florale Demaquillante /Floral Water
French Klorane otherwise specializes in mild shampoos with plant extracts, but has also made other skincare products based on the same principle of gentleness. The name of its micellar water Klorane Eau Florale Demaquillante is very fitting as the third ingredients indeed is cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus) water. Hereby Klorane actually walks the talk unlike some other “natural” skincare brands which ‘greenwash’ their products by marketing them as “natural” while only including a very small amount of such ingredients. The only bad thing about Klorane Eau Florale is that it is more pricey in the States than in Europe, so do stock up if you come to this part of the world. Klorane Eau Florale Demaquillante comes in two sizes: 100 (3.4 fl. oz.) and 400 ml (13.5 fl. oz.).Ingredients – Klorane Eau Florale: Water (Aqua) • Butylene Glycol • Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water • Poloxamer 184 • Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides • Cetrimonium Bromide
V. Lumene Pure Arctic Miracle Micellar Cleansing Water
Lumene is something as unusual as a Finnish beauty brand but nevertheless it has been around since the 1970’s. Lumene Pure Arctic Miracle 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water is perhaps not miraculous, but it does have a nice gentle formula with skin-softening ethylhexylglycerin as well as soothing and conditioning allantoin. The third ingredient is Betula Alba (birch) juice, but research has mainly established the benefits of birch bark extract which is a quite different thing in qualities and origin. The same goes for the inclusion of Rubus Chamaemorus (cloudberry) fruit water; there is only research regarding cloudberry seed oil and extract.