If you’re lazy and proud, then raise your hand – or just go ahead and pick up a bottle of micellar water for yourself! Cleansing micellar water is so simple and easy to use that there absolutely has to be a catch. Can something so good truly exist? Well, pay attention, because there is no catch – micellar cleansing water can do it all: it removes makeup with a swipe of a cotton pad, and can even tone and hydrate the skin – no rinsing required!
I want to open you up to the world of micellar water, so I’ve collected all of the best micellar water options out there on the market. I also explain what is micellar water in this article, and exactly how it works. I list all of the benefits that come with micellar cleansing water, and I also talk about one particular drawback that I think you should keep in mind.
In addition, I’ll help you figure out how to choose micellar water based on your skin type, and I even give advice as to how to use micellar water properly, so you can get your skin perfectly clean without any trouble.
Guide to the Best Cleansing Micellar Water Options: Contents
• 19 Best Micellar Cleansing Waters for Every Skin Type
• What Is Micellar Water and How Does It Work?
• Micellar Water Benefits
• Cons of Using Micellar Cleansing Water
• Micellar Water vs. Toner
• How to Pick the Right Micellar Water?
• How to Use Micellar Water
Based on their efficiency, smell and skin-conditioning ingredients, these 19 are the best micellar waters you should consider trying.
1. Son & Park Beauty Water
This product is a two-in-one, working as cleansing water to remove impurities from the skin, as well as as a toner to tighten the pores, hydrate the skin, and prepare it for any additional products. It contains papaya enzymes to soften the skin and witch hazel to tone and tighten.
2. Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water
This gentle cleansing water from Caudalie is the best cleansing micellar water for those who want a gentle, all-natural, yet thoroughly cleansing option. This cleansing water contains a lot of glycerin to keep the skin hydrated, as well as refreshing grape water and soothing chamomile extract. It’s a great choice for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It is available for sale at Sephora.
3. Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water
This is one of the best micellar water options for really getting in there and removing even heavier makeup. The formula is barely felt on the skin, and is loaded with skin-conditioning ingredients like xylitol and lactic acid, as well as a blend of nourishing vitamins and botanicals. It is great for all skin types, and can even be used around the eyes. You can find it at Sephora.
4. Philosophy Purity Made Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
This simple micellar water from Philosophy is a fabulous option for those with oily and combination skin. It has a mattifying effect on the skin, and it does an excellent job removing all kinds of makeup, dirt, and impurities. It is available for purchase at Ulta.
5. It Cosmetics Miracle Water 3-in-1 Micellar Cleanser
This is a super hydrating and anti-aging take on a multi-purpose product, and it is certainly one of the best micellar water options for those with dry skin. It contains a probiotic complex that seriously restores moisture to the skin, along with renewing peptides.
It is hydrating enough that some people won’t even need to use a moisturizer after using it, and light-reflecting pigments in it will give your skin a gorgeous glow. This is a fabulous choice for dry, normal, and sensitive skin types, but it won’t work for those with fungal skin issues. You can purchase it from Sephora.
6. Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water
This is another probiotic take on micellar water that leaves the skin feeling hydrated and renewed. This gentle liquid removes light makeup and impurities without any issues, but might not be enough for heavier makeup. It’s the best micellar water for those with dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin, although it can work with most skin types. Pick it up at Sephora.
7. Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Micellar Cleanser
This is another excellent option for those trying to fight premature aging and dryness at every step of their routine. This micellar water is made with a rich complex of fruit and plant extracts to protect the skin from free radical damage to keep it feeling supple and soft. Despite that, all skin types can use this micellar water. It is available at Sephora.
8. Trish McEvoy Instant Solutions Micellar Cleansing Water
This is another micellar cleansing water option to really get the best of serious makeup and grime. It’s safe even to remove makeup from around the eyes, since a touch of soy protein and hyaluronic acid in this formula keep the skin feeling hydrating. It’s a great choice for all skin types. You can buy it from Nordstrom.
9. Bioderma Sensibio H2O
The original cult favorite certainly deserves recognition as one of the best micellar waters out there, even after so many years. This simple formula cleanses the skin flawlessly and removes all traces of makeup, without drying or irritating the skin. It includes pore-tightening cucumber water, anti-aging vitamin E, and a touch of hydrating xylitol, and it works for all skin types. It is sold at Dermstore.
10. Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water
This gentle micellar water is a fabulous anti-aging and skin-brightening choice for all skin types. It contains the miraculous niacinamide, an ingredient that brightens, protects, and even mattifies the skin, as well as vitamin C and hydrating panthenol. It gives a lighter cleansing that is more suited for morning use or for a double cleanse. It is available for sale at Sephora.
11. Neogen Dermalogy Real Flower Cleansing Water – Calendula
A blend of calendula and chamomile makes this the best micellar water for calming down sensitive and irritated skin. This gentle micellar water is great at removing light makeup and impurities, and it is light enough as to work for any skin type. If you’d like to try it, find at at Sephora.
12. By Terry Cellularose Micellar Water
This unique formula thoroughly removes makeup while rejuvenating the skin. It contains rose extract and glycerin to support skin cells and keep the skin feeling hydrated. It smells beautiful and works well for all skin types. It is sold online through Nordstrom.
13. Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water Face, Eyes, Lips
This hydrating formula smells like magic as it removes all traces of even heavy and water-proof makeup. This liquid leaves the skin feeling refreshed and hydrated, and yet it works for all skin types. You can buy it at Sephora.
14. Belif Cleansing Herb Water
Herbal waters and extracts contain all kinds of benefits to all skin types, including protecting the skin from environmental damage, softening it, and tightening the pores. That’s why this gentle cleansing water formula works for just about everyone. It will remove most makeup, although might not work with more water-proof formulas. It is sold online through Sephora.
15. La Mer The Cleansing Micellar Water
This moisturizing micellar water from La Mer feels extremely luxurious to use. It’s a perfect formula for dry skin, as it contains some nourishing oils and botanicals, but it can work for normal and combination skin types as well. The skin feels soft and lovely after it’s been used. Find it for yourself at Sephora.
16. Avene Micellar Lotion
Avene went ahead and made a really nourishing and soothing micellar water that is excellent for sensitive and dry skin. It leaves the skin feeling cool, refreshed, and brightened, and it does a great job of removing light makeup and impurities. You can buy it online through Dermstore.
17. Burt’s Bees Micellar Water
You don’t have to go broke to enjoy one of the best micellar waters out there. It gives a light cleansing that is great for mornings, and contains skin-hydrating ingredients like honey and lactic acid. It leaves the skin feeling a little mattified, so it’s great for oily, normal, and combination skin. You can purchase it from Ulta.
18. Kenzoki Amazing Cleansing Water
Choose this cleansing water with ginger for skin that will feel really refreshed and invigorated. This non-drying formula removes makeup extremely well, and it works beautifully for all skin types. Pick up a bottle at Sephora.
19. Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic
This natural take on micellar water lathers gently, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be left on the skin. It includes hydrating coconut water and soothing calendula, to perfectly cleanse and nourish all skin types. Find it for sale at Ulta.
Before we start, don’t let brands and articles fool you into thinking that micellar water has some ridiculously innovative, high-tech formula. I love micellar cleansing water as much as the next beauty junkie, but as far as products go, micellar water is actually pretty simple.
Micellar water is a liquid that contains a collection of surfactants – that’s right, the same surfactants you might see in a face wash, shampoo, or even dish soap.
Surfactants are compounds that reduce the surface tension of two liquids that wouldn’t normally mix, in order to allow them to mix. In the case of micellar water, surfactants allow oil and water to mix, so that the water formula of the micellar water can grab the oils and impurities from the skin, leaving it clean.
They do so because one end of the surfactant molecule is water-loving, and the other is oil-loving. Water sticks to one side, while oil sticks to the other.
The word “micelle” refers to clusters of surfactants. As long as they’re just floating inside the micellar water, the surfactant molecules end up sticking to each other in a ball where the oil-loving part of the surfactant inside, with the water-loving tales on the outside.
That surfactant ball is a micelle, and it is actually destroyed once the micellar water is poured onto a cotton pad for cleansing. Once micellar water is poured on a cotton pad, the water-loving end of the surfactant sticks to the cotton, while the oil-loving end is on the outside, ready to grab excess oils, makeup, and impurities off of the skin.
Unlike the surfactants used in other cleansers, the surfactants used in micellar water are super gentle, so if a few of them are left on the skin after the cleansing it’s no big deal – they are extremely unlikely to irritate the skin.
• The first benefit is very obvious: micellar water is super easy to use. You don’t need to stand at the sink, splashing your face and getting water everywhere. Just pour some on a cotton pad and get wiping, for easy, no-hassle cleansing. This is why makeup artists absolutely adore micellar water!
• Since micellar water is often injected with all kinds of humectants, its formula is non-drying. In fact, it usually leaves the skin feeling really soft and supple!
• Since micellar water does not need to be rinsed, it’s great for on-the-go. Whether you’re traveling, camping, or just going to the gym, you can keep a bottle of micellar water in your bag and use it just about anywhere. You can even decant your micellar water into a travel-sized bottle, and take it with you on the airplane!
• Beyond just cleansing, micellar water can contain other benefits to the skin. In a traditional cleanser, all of the great skin care ingredients are mostly wasted, since all of the product ends up going down the drain. Since micellar water doesn’t have to be rinsed, any other skin care ingredients in it stay on the skin and get to work their magic.
• Micellar water can be a multi-use product! Some formulas can double as a toner, while others are even hydrating enough to substitute for your moisturizer, particularly if you have oily skin.
There aren’t many drawbacks to using micellar cleansing water, but there is one that I feel is very important to mention: since micellar water has to be used with a cotton pad, it’s not great for the environment, and it does cause a lot of waste.
This is why I keep micellar water in my arsenal, but I only use it on days when I’m too tired (or let’s be honest, too drunk) to wash my face properly with a cleanser and a microfiber cloth. The rest of the time I don’t think the amount of waste created is justified.
Micellar water is a skin-cleansing product first and foremost, and it contains surfactants in order to do that job perfectly. While toners may look and feel similar to micellar water, they’re not a cleansing product at all.
Toners are supposed to stay on the skin in order to balance the skin’s pH, tighten the pores, increase hydration, and improve the penetration of other products into the skin after the toner has been used.
Toners do not contain surfactants or other cleansing agents, and any cleaning they do is incidental to the fact that they’re a liquid that’s applied with a cotton pad. Any damp cotton pad would remove some debris from the skin, but not nearly as much micellar cleansing water, since they also contain specific cleansing agents.
Some micellar water can also double as a toner, since it can be made with many similar ingredients. Micellar water can be made to tone and tighten the skin with ingredients like witch hazel, or it can be formulated like a hydrating toner with the help of hydrating ingredients like glycerin.
It is up to you whether you still want to use a toner after using micellar water, since toner is not necessarily a mandatory skin care step.
Most micellar cleansing waters are one-size-fits-all, and are meant to work for all skin types. No matter which bottle you reach for, you are likely to find a product that will work well with your skin.
Cleansing Micellar Waters for Normal and Combination Skin
If your skin type doesn’t overproduce or underproduce oil, and your pores are mostly medium sized, then you really cannot go wrong with micellar water. Any formula you choose will do an excellent job of cleansing your skin without disrupting it.
Opt for micellar water that you think will do a good job of cleansing your skin based on the amount of makeup you wear, and you can even choose one based on factors like how much you like the scent or how cute the packaging is.
Cleansing Micellar Waters for Dry Skin
Micellar water is perfect for those whose skin does not produce a lot of oil, because it doesn’t strip the skin at all. When you choose the best micellar water for you, make sure to avoid products described as “mattifying” or read reviews to see whether people find that it leaves their skin feeling “tight” or “dry”.
Instead, look for micellar water that will leave your skin soft, supple, and hydrated. Formulas with hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid will be an excellent choice, as well as formulas that include nourishing botanical oils.
Cleansing Micellar Waters for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
If your skin produces a lot of oil, and you break out occasionally, then you definitely want to be a bit more careful with the micellar water you choose. Search for formulas that are more mattifying (I list a few in the best micellar water recommendations), and look for micellar water that is also described as having a toning effect.
Ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree oil can help tighten the pores and stave off breakouts. For some people, surfactants can cause breakouts, so you might want to rinse your face with water after you’ve used micellar water.
Cleansing Micellar Waters for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin that turns red or irritated easily, then the first thing you want to do is avoid micellar water formulas that contain a lot of fragrances, as these can irritate the skin. You can look for formulas that contain soothing ingredients like calendula and chamomile, although even without them, most micellar water formulas will be gentle enough for your skin.
Some people find that even the gentle surfactants in micellar water can irritate their skin, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t use micellar water – they just want to rinse their skin after using it, to remove those surfactant traces.
Micellar water is super easy to use – that is why it is so popular, after all!
• All you need to do is soak a cotton pad in some of your micellar cleansing water of choice.
• Using upward motions, wipe your face with the cotton pad. Don’t stop until you’ve used it over your whole face!
• Don’t forget to get close up to the hairline and below the jawline.
• If you’re wearing heavy makeup, you might need to use a second cotton pad about half way through your cleansing process.
• To cleanse the area around the eyes, begin by first gently pressing the cotton pad against your closed eye, in order to allow the micellar cleansing water to break down your mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow.
• After a few moments drag the cotton pad gently downwards and outwards.
• If necessary, repeat this process to fully remove all eye makeup.
• If you have sensitive skin, rinse your face with some water once you’re done cleansing, to remove traces of the micellar water.
• Finish off your skin care. You may choose to cleanse your skin again with a gentle foaming cleanser, or to wipe your face with a cotton pad soaked in toner. You can also skip those steps and jump straight into using your moisturizer, or any other leave-on skin care products that you normally use.
• Micellar water can also help with makeup touch-ups! Soak a cotton swab in micellar water and use it to correct any mistakes you may have made with your eyeliner, lip line, or any other spot that requires very exact cleaning and correcting.
Photos via @orchidsandpeonies, @lavendascloset, @ohtobeamuse, @noellekramer