What Is Micellar Water — and Should You Trade In Your Old Face Wash for It?

Get in on the gentle cleansing trend with these derm-approved picks for the best micellar water available.

micellar water fb
Facial Skin Care. Young Woman Applying Micellar Water On Cotton Pad Refreshing, Moisturizing And Cleansing Skin Standing In Modern Bathroom At Home. Selective Focus, Shallow Depth. Photo: Prostock-Studio/Getty

Make no mistake about it, micellar water is not your standard H2O. The difference? Here, derms break down what micellar water is, micellar water's benefits, and the best micellar water products you can buy at every pricepoint.

What Is Micellar Water?

Inside micellar water, the namesake micelles — tiny balls of oil that act like little magnets — are suspended in water, and attract dirt, grime, and oil to cleanse your skin. Long popular in Europe, micellar water is finally making a big splash (pun intended) stateside, and there's a long list of reasons why you may want to swap out your standard face wash for one of these products (or more, specifically, one of these dermatologist picks for the best micellar water).

Micellar Water Benefits

"Micellar water offers several benefits," says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. "The oil droplets in the water are actually quite hydrating and don't disrupt the natural pH of skin like classic foaming, soap-based cleansers," explains Dr. Nazarian. This makes micellar water ideal for those with dry or sensitive skin. "Micellar waters also don't contain drying and irritating alcohol, which is yet another reason why they're great for these skin types," adds Devika Icecreamwala, M.D., a dermatologist in Berkeley, CA.

But if your skin is on the opposite side of the spectrum — i.e. oily and acne-prone — they're a good option for you, too. "Even those with acne or oily skin can use micellar water to clean skin thoroughly, without further irritating inflamed pimples," says Dr. Nazarian.

Finally, there's the convenience factor; if you don't have access to a sink or water, you can still get a thorough clean with micellar water since it doesn't require rinsing. Dr. Nazarian suggests simply saturating a cotton ball (or an eco-friendly reusable cotton round) with the micellar water and swiping it gently over your skin. Then, use another clean cotton pad to wipe the skin and remove the micelles, along with the dirt, oil, and makeup they've picked up. It's as easy as that.

Officially convinced? Thought so. Check out these derm-approved picks for the best micellar waters.

Derm-Approved Picks for the Best Micellar Water

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

Bioderma micellar water

Originally, this cult-favorite could only be found in French pharmacies. Now, devoted fans can get Bioderma micellar water stateside. (And fun fact: You'll find it in pretty much every pro makeup artist's kit.). Dr. Nazarian loves it for the "very gentle formulation," which is both paraben-free and hypoallergenic.

Buy It: Bioderma Sensibio H2O, $15, amazon.com

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for All Skin Types

Garnier micellar water

Both Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Icecreamwala like this inexpensive drugstore pick for sensitive skin types because it doesn't contain fragrance, sulfates, or parabens, all of which are common triggers that can stress out easily-irritated skin. This Garnier micellar water also comes in multiple sizes and a few different variations that remove even waterproof makeup, including an anti-aging option packed with vitamin C and one infused with rose water to address dry skin.

Buy It: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for All Skin Types, $7 (was $9), amazon.com

CeraVe Micellar Water

micellar water cerave

With over 1,200 five-star ratings on Amazon, this popular micellar water comes from derm-loved brand CeraVe. It contains hydrating glycerin, niacinamide to soothe skin, and three essential ceramides to restore and maintain the skin barrier. Not to mention, it's free of fragrance and parabens, is non-comedogenic, and has the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance — so it's guaranteed to be extra gentle on sensitive skin types.

Buy It: CeraVe Micellar Water, $10, amazon.com

La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water

La Roche-Posay micellar water
La Roche-Posay

"This micellar water is unique in that it contains both micelles and poloxamer, a mild cleansing agent," says Dr. Icecreamwala. It's so mild, in fact, that it's used in contact lens solution. She also likes it because it contains hydrating glycerin and antioxidant-rich mineral water to help soothe skin. (

Buy It: La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water, $16, amazon.com

Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water

micellar water simple

Dr. Icecreamwala says this Simple micellar water is "more hydrating than many other cleansers" thanks to its addition of vitamin B3 and triple-purified water that boosts skin hydration by 90 percent, she says. Plus, it's hypoallergenic, pH balanced, non-comedogenic, and free of artificial dyes and perfumes.

Buy It: Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, $7, amazon.com

Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water

micellar water yes to coconut

Another Amazon customer favorite, this micellar water has racked up over 1,700 glowing, five-star ratings. It's made with coconut extract (so it smells like a tropical paradise) and micellar water to cleanse skin, remove makeup, and moisturize all at once. The mess-free pump dispenses the perfect amount of water in your cotton ball or reusable makeup pad each time, so you're not wasting any.

Buy It: Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water, $9, amazon.com

Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

lancome micellar water

Those who wear a full face of makeup will appreciate that this micellar water removes even waterproof formulas, and can be used on your face, around your eyes, and even on lips. Dr. Icecreamwala lauds it for its effectiveness and taking off makeup, yet still leaving skin feeling soft and not stripped of all its natural oils. (

Buy It: Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water, $62, macys.com

Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Water Bar

Dove Micellar soap bar

Micellar waters aren't just for the skin on your face. You can reap their healthy skin benefits on each inch of your body with this solid version from Dove. "I like this one because it comes in bar form so you can use it on your body, or if you like to wash your face in the shower, where you can't use cotton balls," says Dr. Nazarian.

Buy It: Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Water Bar, $30 for 6 bars, walmart.com

Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water

micellar water drunk elephant

This milky micellar water from coveted brand Drunk Elephant is made with wild melon seed oil (rich in antioxidants and fatty acids) and a ceramide blend (derived from plant sources and almost identical to the natural ceramides found in skin). Together, they smooth, moisturize, and plump skin, while gently removing makeup, dirt, pollution, and bacteria from pores.

Buy It: Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water, $28, amazon.com

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