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

By Melanie Rud
November 29, 2019
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Make no mistake about it, micellar water is not your standard H2O. The difference? Here, derms break it down.

What Is Micellar Water?

The namesake micelles—tiny balls of oil that act like little magnets and attract dirt, grime, and oil—and 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 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. (Related: 4 Sneaky Things Throwing Your Skin Off Balance)

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. Dr. Nazarian suggests simply saturating a cotton ball with the micellar water and swiping it gently over your skin. Then, use another clean cotton pad or ball 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.

6 Derm-Approved Picks for the Best Micellar Water

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

Credit: Bioderma

Once a long-time cult-favorite you could only find in French pharmacies, devoted fans can now get this 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.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for All Skin Types

Credit: Garnier

Both Drs. Nazarian and 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 three sizes and a few different variations, including one that will remove even waterproof makeup.

La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water

Credit: 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 sooth skin. (Related: There's a Difference Between "Moisturizing" and "Hydrating" Skin-Care Products)

Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water

Credit: 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.

Dove Anti-Stress Micellar Water Bar

Credit: Dove

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.

Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

Credit: Lancome

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 it's essential oils. (Related: How to Boost Your Skin Barrier and Why You Need To)


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