Sensitive Skin? Why You Need to Add Micellar Water to Your Beauty Routine Right Now

The newest skin care product that has everyone buzzing is micellar water, a cleanser that promises to make a big difference in your skincare routine. But what is micellar water exactly—and do you even need to try it? Here’s a closer look (plus some products I reviewed to get you started).

If you’ve ever fallen asleep with a face full of makeup on, then you’re guilty of breaking one of beauty’s golden rules. Not that you can be blamed—we’ve all stumbled in, exhausted, after an arduous day. But think of makeup removal as girl code of sorts. You absolutely have to do it, so why not make it as simple as possible? That’s what led me to micellar water, a game changer that cuts down on cleansing time and is just as effective—if not more so—than traditional makeup removers.


What is Micellar Water?

Micellar (pronounced me-sell-air in French) water is simply a gentle solution that combines water with small cleansing molecules of oil called micelles. The potent oil and water duo work like magic to rid skin of makeup, debris, and impurities. Think of them as little magnets that effectively pull all the gunk away from your skin with just a quick swipe of a cotton pad. (Even that combo is magical: cotton is hydrophilic, meaning that it attracts oil to its surface. Swipe a cotton pad soaked in micellar water over dirty, oily skin and voila—clean skin, instantly.)

Micellar water originated in France, where it was initially used as a substitute for harsh tap water. Unlike basic cleansers and soaps, micellar water is formulated without chemicals and detergents that may potentially irritate skin. And because it’s so mild, it doesn’t even require rinsing. Micellar water is also gentle enough to use on all types of skin, from oily and acne-prone to dry and sensitive.

Now that this little secret is not quite so secret anymore, you’ll find bottles crowding the drugstore shelves. I put a few to the test, and my (usually dry, often sensitive) skin couldn’t be happier or softer.

What Micellar Water Products are Right for You?


A great option if you’re just, er, testing the waters, Simple Micellar Cleansing Water ($7.99) is both wallet friendly and effective. It’s formulated with Chamomila Recutita Flower Extract, a skin-soothing ingredient that prevents discomfort. This was the first formula I tried, and my usually reactive skin stayed calm. All traces of makeup disappeared pretty quickly, which was most important to me.

A bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($19.95) is reportedly sold every six seconds worldwide. Like other types of micellar water, it leaves no residue behind. Most impressively, it lifts makeup right off the skin with a simple dab of a cotton pad. No vigorous rubbing is needed, which is great news for those of you with easily irritated skin.


I’m a loyal REN user, so naturally I scooped up the English beauty brand’s Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water ($25) to try next. Designed especially for sensitive skin, this light yet potent cleanser contains Rosa Otto oil (a soothing agent) and polyphenols (antioxidants that combat harmful free radicals). In a word, amazing. It leaves skin feeling refreshed and looking slightly dewy. I like using it at night as part of a relaxing pre-bed ritual.

Talk about getting your money’s worth. Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39) has a promising sort of name—you just expect good things when words like “spa” are thrown around. And this actually delivers, what with its nutrient-rich herbal formula. It’s made with heated water from Yumura Hot Springs in Japan (locals even use this hot water to cook!) and white birch sap, a vitamin-rich ingredient that rejuvenates and hydrates skin. Of all that I tried, this was by far the cream of the crop—it felt indulgent and elegant, and was something I actually looked forward to using.

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