Since I’m no longer a full-time beauty editor, new products don’t land on my desk with the same speed and volume as in years past. So while I was aware of the gentle buzz surrounding something called micellar water, I didn’t pay much attention. Micellar cleansing water? I assumed this was another probably unnecessary product to add to one of those crazy multi-step face-washing regimens.
Then a few months ago, a publicist pal sent me a bunch of product samples including a bottle of micellar water, and I took a closer look. You can’t actually see them, but the active ingredients—micelles, which are suspended in the water—are super-effective micro-droplets of cleaning power. Said micelles are made up of lipid-based surfactants that solubilize and sweep away sebum, makeup and grime with a few swipes of a micellar-water-soaked cotton pad. Skin is left feeling clean and balanced—neither oily nor dry. (Micellar water is not to be confused with a more drying astringent or toner.)
A minor issue for some might be the need for a constant supply of cotton pads at the ready for micellar water to do its work—you can’t just splash it on your face and be done with it. But the cotton gives you the satisfaction of seeing all the sludge that comes off your face and onto the pad. It’s very satisfying.
This is all I’m using to wash my face on most days. What about you?
It’s doubtful you’ll go wrong with any micellar water you try. Click through the photos below for a few to consider.
Update: After two weeks of using only micellar water to wash my face, I longed for the embrace of warm water and a foaming cleanser; I missed the satisfaction that comes with a round of exfoliating. So while I still use micellar water solo in the morning, it’s a different story at night. Depending on my mood and perceived complexion needs, I’ve added in a second step on some (but not all) evenings.
Eau Thermale Avène Micellar Lotion
From France, where micellar water was invented, this is made with the storied Avène Thermal Spring Water, revered for its soothing and restorative properties. Purchase on DermStore for $28.
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
In addition to the original pictured here, it also comes in a Mattifying formula for oilier skins and a Waterproof version for more industrial-strength removal (i.e., it will take off waterproof mascara). Purchase on Target for $6.69.
MyChelle Dermaceuticals Quick Clean Micellar Water
This is the first micellar water I tried—and loved. Infused with strawberry, kiwi and other botanicals, it worked really well even when I forgot to shake before using. Unfortunately, I dropped the entire bottle of MyChelle into the toilet by mistake, so I moved on and tried a few more micellar waters. Purchase on Amazon for $15.
Yes To Cucumbers Calming Micellar Cleansing Water
Featuring cuke for its soothing qualities. Or choose try Yes to Coconut (hydrating), Yes to Tomatoes Charcoal (detoxifying), Yes to Tomatoes (acne clearing) or Yes to Cotton (comforting). Purchase on Target for $8.99.
This brand for sensitive skin started in the UK in 1960 and was introduced to the US in 2012. The micellar water has already been showered with “best of” beauty awards—no wonder so many of my friends use it. Purchase on Walmart for $5.82.
A makeup artist pal recommended NYX a few years ago, and ever since, I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve tried from this brand. Purchase on Amazon for $16.99.
Pacifica Kale Water Micellar Cleansing Tonic
While it’s hardly a surprise to find kale in a beauty product these days, it’s likely the glycolic acid doing the heavy lifting in this potion, best suited for people with oily, clogged skin. Purchase on Target for $11.99.