Micellar waters – cringeworthy or happily stash? (multiple product reviews)

I am relatively new to micellar waters, even though they have been on the market for many years. But I was interested to see if there was much difference from facial wipes, turns out there is!

What is micellar water?

A relatively simple formula, consisting of soft water and surfactant(s), this is the basic formulation of any micellar water. Some have active ingredients, e.g. salicylic acid, for additional properties. Naturally, there will be things like preservatives to maintain longevity.

The combination of the water and a surfactant creates tiny micelles which are attracted to oil and dirt. Making micellar water quite effective in accomplishing a gentle cleanse. There are far more in-depth articles on the internet about this than I can provide.

However, for those who wear sunscreen and or heavy makeup, this is unlikely to be a one-stop-shop for you. You would probably get a better result by following up with a cleanser (water or gel). Alternatively, a traditional double-cleanse would probably be preferable.

Surfactants have received a lot of bad press, correctly formulated they perform a range of necessary tasks. But, like anything else, if there is too much of any ingredient, they can be an irritant.

It is just a case of finding a micellar water product that works for you; the good news is micellar waters are formulated to be gentle.

How to use micellar water

Soaking a cotton pad or ball encourages the micelles to gravitate to the surface, with a water base at the bottom. A gentle sweep across the face will help remove the sins from the day while leaving a hydrated base.

I use this type of cleanser in the morning, while my face isn’t that dirty and follow up with a gel cleanser. My personal preference is washing off the micellar water as I’m not too fond of the idea of leaving cleansing products on my skin.

However, the product has been formulated to be left on if that is what your heart desires!

I tend to douse my cotton pad with the cleanser as I am not a fan of friction in skincare. I would rather the product does the cleansing, not the cotton wool.

Is there any difference to facial or make up wipes?

Ok, there are lots of variables you need to consider, such as the brand of wipe or water. But generally, I find:

  • Wipes have a lot of ingredients which can be irritating
  • With micellar water, you control how much product is on a cotton pad or ball. With wipes, you have less control, and they tend to dry out as time goes by
  • The micellar water collects any oil or grime from your face; a wipe will do this to a certain degree, but they tend to smear things more so
  • Micellar water is universally hydrating
  • A bottle of micellar water (in my humble opinion) is more economical as it lasts ages!

Micellar waters are not all formulated equally, but they are ‘much of a muchness’ in a sense. Some will be more effective than others, but they all seem to achieve a very similar result. As such, I will use this page to write down my observations of the waters that I have tried.

Here are the micellar waters I have tried…

Bioderma – Sensibio H20Bioderma Sensibio H20

The product is the original water that was produced by Bioderma (found with a pink lid). I found this to be extremely gentle and excellent at removing the grime that had accumulated and was soothing.

The Sensibio is hydrating, has a light fragrance, alcohol-free and paraben-free. This product is a great place to start and is a favourite with makeup artists everywhere!

At the time of writing, you could purchase a 500ml bottle for £15.00 from Feelunique.


Bioderma – Sebium H20Bioderma Sebium H20

The Sebium is the oil-controlling version of Bioderma’s lineup of micellar waters. This product is an excellent and effective cleanser, on the odd occasion I left the product on without washing; it did seem to help with my oil in my t-zone.

This water has a subtle fragrance, it is non-comedogenic (will not clog pores), alcohol-free and has no colourant (as the liquid itself blue).

At the time of writing, you could buy a 500ml bottle from Feelunique for £15.00


Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing WaterGarnier Skin Active Micellar Water

The Garnier is a close dupe for the Bioderma Sensibio H20 and has similar product claims.

I will say that I prefer the Bioderma version, as I felt my skin felt fresher after use.

This micellar water is formulated for use with all skin types, including sensitive and has no perfume, which might make this a better buy if you have issues with perfumes or scents.

At the time of writing, you could buy a 400ml bottle from Feelunique for £5.99.


Yes to Tomatoes – Blemish Fighting Micellar WaterYes to Tomatoes - Clear Skin Micellar Water

The title of this product is a mouthful! This was the first type of this product I had ever tried for apparent reasons! (See the name of this product!)

This micellar water has the addition of salicylic acid, which gives it blemish-fighting properties. However, given the acid and the alcohol, this does not dry out your skin and leaves it glowy and hydrated.

The pump applicator is excellent for dosing up a cotton pad or ball. 

I feel that this product is less about removing sunscreen or makeup and more of a treatment. Because of the acid, I would not recommend putting this anywhere near your eye!

The formula does have a scent which is not unpleasant; there are no parabens, SLS or silicones. This product is cruelty and silicone-free as well. 

If breakouts cause you issues, this could be an excellent place to start. In these cases do not rinse it off after application, as you want the salicylic acid to do its job.

At the time of writing, you could buy a 230ml bottle for £6.99 from Feelunique.com.


Nivea – MicellAir Skin BreatheNivea - MicellAir Micellar Water

This micellar water is the offering from Nivea, and it is formulated to be used on the face, lips and eyes. But this water is marketed as a makeup remover. 

I cannot speak for the makeup removal qualities, but it does a decent job of starting to get rid of my sunscreen. 

There is no perfume in this, and it does not dry out your skin after use. There are several oils in this, which probably explains it being marketed as a makeup remover. 

It’s not bad; the least luxurious experience out of the waters I have tried! But for the low price, it could be worth a go. I would say this is better at cleansing than the Garnier but not as good as the Bioderma. 

At the time of writing, you could purchase a 400ml bottle from Superdrug for £4.99. 

If you are interested in reading about other cleansers, I have tried, please click here.

Have you used this product or something like it? Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below.

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Thank you for reading

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