Micellar cleansing waters might look like water and feel like water, but before you take a big gulp, hold up.
Once considered France’s best kept skin-care secret, micellar cleansing waters are now, well, making waves. Originating in Paris during the ‘90s, this holy water of sorts was welcomed by French women who wanted to curb the detrimental effects the city’s famously harsh water had on their skin. Fast-forward 20-plus years and one bottle of Bioderma Crealine H2O — the cleansing water that started it all — is now sold every three seconds around the globe.
So, how are cleansing waters different from your average foam or cream cleanser? Well, instead of using soap and alcohol like regular cleansers, micellar waters contain tiny micelles (a cluster of fatty acid esters) that help dissolve impurities on the skin like makeup, dirt, and oil — similar to how washing detergent breaks down grease.
As for the H2O found in the micellar formula itself, “It’s highly purified,” says Pascal Piedimonte, Bioderma’s training manager, of the brand’s signature cleanser. Add that it requires no rinsing, and this water is a real winner. That’s right — there’s no need to get your hands wet or pat your face dry. “Simply soak a cotton pad with the water, wipe over the face, and that’s it,” explains Piedimonte.
It's for these reasons that some of the world’s top makeup artists swear by them. “They are extremely gentle yet vigilantly effective at removing makeup, waterproof mascara, dirt, and impurities,” says Glenn Nutley, celebrity makeup artist for Miley Cyrus, Eva Longoria and Sarah Hyland. And, he offers up this pro secret: “Soaking a cotton tip with cleansing water also helps to straighten out wonky liquid-liner flicks.”
Suited to all skin types but specifically formulated for sensitive skin, cleansing waters are available pretty much everywhere. Read on to find out which one you should be adding to your skin-care routine now.
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While it’s cheaper to buy this bad boy in Paris (around 10 euros, or $13), it’s worth every penny you’d pay for it here. This soap-, fragrance- and alcohol-free cleansing water is the one that started the trend. It’s so good it’ll even remove the trickiest of waterproof mascara.
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Infused with pure lily extract to protect skin, this liquid-gold formula removes makeup in an instant. Plus, it looks beautiful in your bathroom.
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Containing French rose, this refreshing water soothes the skin while removing even the most stubborn eye, lip, and face makeup. Dark-burgundy lipstick stains, begone!
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The first mass-market micellar formula to hit shelves, Garnier’s cleansing water is just as gentle as the others. The clincher? The huge 400-milliliter bottle yields up to 200 uses — that’s about a nickel per application.
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Camellia leaf and rose flower extract are at the heart of this liquid. Powered with glycerin, it claims to preserve the skin’s natural lipids and removes makeup and dirt while not disrupting the skin’s natural pH level. It’s also fragrance-free; however, rosewater adds a delicate natural scent.
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Containing coconut-derived surfactants, this cleansing solution smells like vacation in a bottle. Rose petal extract provides a pretty floral scent, while allantoin cools and moisturizes the skin.
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A powerhouse brand among French pharmacies, this invigorating formula cleanses, tones, and calms the skin — a real triple threat.
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Only get 20 seconds to yourself at night? No problem — this award-winning cleansing water cleans your face in 10. Plus, it ships for free if you buy it from Nordstrom. Winner.
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Oil- and alcohol-free, this water whisks away any nasties that can clog pores. It features peony root and rosemary extract to control excess oil, fight bacteria, and prevent blemishes.
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If you prefer fragrance, this water has a lovely one. Ideal for sensitive skin that is prone to redness and rosacea, it offers the same deal as the others: No rinsing needed. Genius.
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