Micellar water has been around for over a hundred years, but it made a huge resurgence in the beauty market a couple years ago. I’ve always been very dedicated and serious about skincare (and cleansing), but I dismissed micellar water as just one more product that wouldn’t really work. At the time, I was already using eye makeup remover, cleansers, toners, etc – did I really need to add some “water” that may or may not work? Fast forward to my trip to Vegas in April when on a whim, I picked up a travel-sized bottle of micellar water. I figured my daily cleanser could use a boost since I’d be rocking a full face of makeup for Vegas nightlife.

O. M. G. – this stuff is awesome! I was surprised (and disappointed) that I’d been down on this powerhouse of a product for so long. If you dive into the chemistry, you can read about micelles and oil and soft water. For more science and history, there’s tons of article out there, but I found this piece in Elle to be straightforward and helpful.

To celebrate my recent discovery, I’ll be reviewing four different micellar cleansing waters that I tested for you guys! I’ve got drugstore bargains and department store splurges. Happy cleansing!

Peace + love,

A couple notes before we start: For testing purposes, I made sure to stick to a consistent makeup routine and I only used round cotton pads with the cleansing waters. I also made sure to test each product for at least a week. And because I have eyelash extensions, I don’t use eye makeup remover anymore since I don’t wear eyeliner or mascara. Also, all quoted product descriptions below are pulled straight from respective product websites.

Drugstore Bargains

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water ($6 – $19) 
“Thoroughly cleanses and instantly hydrates skin and unclogs pores with a formula that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin. Made with triple purified water and skin-loving ingredients…It also instantly boosts skin hydration by 90%, leaving your skin feeling soft, fresh, and revitalized. Free of artificial perfumes, dyes, and harsh chemicals.”

My Take: This is the product I took to Vegas with me. It was an all-star! There was a couple nights where I did a full face of makeup (I mean full coverage foundation, highlight & contour, smoky eye, bold lip – everything) and after a few wipes of with the Simple water my face felt pretty clean and smooth. Full disclosure, for my long-wear lip color, I did need additional makeup remover, but Simple handled my face makeup with relative ease. I also did follow with Cetaphil, but that was more out of habit than necessity. On days that I’m not wearing as much makeup, the Simple water is plenty strong.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 ($7)
“This All-in-1 cleanser is surprisingly powerful yet gentle to skin. It is specially formulated to effectively cleanse, remove makeup, and refresh skin… without harsh rubbing, leaving skin perfectly clean, and refreshed without over-drying.”

My take: Nope, just nope. This water does take makeup off, but not nearly well enough. Even on the third cotton wipe, product is still showing up on the pad. My face just doesn’t feel clean afterward. However, like the claim on the website, it’s definitely not drying, so that’s good. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite.

Mid-Range Option

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micellar Water Ultra ($20) 
“Removes what you see and even what you can’t see from your skin. Purifying Zinc removes excess oil and leaves skin feeling fresh; Gentle, water-like texture; Use as a no-rinse cleanser, makeup remover or toner to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and pollution from your skin; Paraben free. Soap free. Alcohol free.”

My take: Just okay. As a brand, La Roche-Posay gets lots of hype so I guess I was just expecting a better performance. I need at least two wipes and I still felt like I absolutely had to wash my face afterward, but it definitely takes off more product than the Garnier. However, I think this is a great option for someone who doesn’t wear much makeup, is worried about overcleansing, or has very sensitive skin because it is in fact, quite gentle. I also love that this product is alcohol free.

Department Store Luxury

Dior Hydra Life Micellar Water – No Rinse Cleanser ($42) 
“A new-generation micellar water that offers a concentration of powerful makeup removal properties and a fresh, comforting texture. Infused with Echinacea flower extract and powerful micelles, it traps all impurities, removes makeup from the complexion and eyes in a single step and durably soothes skin. Makeup is instantly and thoroughly removed; the skin is perfectly clean.”

My take: The only reason I tried this in the first place was because of a Sephora sample. Bad idea. Instead, I was left wishing that this product had a cheaper price tag because it’s actually very good. It takes off all my makeup with a single cotton pad and my skin feels super clean, refreshed, and smooth. This was the only product where if I didn’t wash my face after, I didn’t feel guilty about it. With this, I felt like my face was legit cleansed. I’ve read that some reviewers don’t like the scent, but it doesn’t bother me. One note though, when wearing more than just my normal daily makeup, I did need two cotton pads.

Final Thought

While I don’t think I’ll ever make the switch to using a micellar water as the only cleansing step in my skincare routine, I do really like how my skin feels after pairing micellar with my Cetaphil. If I can make it fit into my regular beauty budget, I plan to keep buying the Dior option. If not, I’m perfectly happy repurchasing the Simple Micellar Water to provide that added cleansing boost to my nightly routine.

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