Written by Hanna Ibraheem

Micellar water is a go-to skincare step for many, but why does it work so well and which one is the best to buy?

When you hear the words ‘micellar water’, your mind might automatically cast to the inimitable Bioderma Sensibio H20 micellar water. This clever innovation saw many beauty aficionados and editors trek to French pharmacies just to get their hands on one. When it was finally brought to the UK in 2013, the micellar water market blew up and took up more space on high street shelves.

Since then, our love for micellar water has only continued to grow. A report by Mintel found that the number of British women using micellar water has increased from 25% to 29% in the last year and that interest in facial cleansing is growing. But what exactly is micellar water and how does it work?

Micellar (pronounced my-sell-er) water is a type of cleanser that was invented by Jean-Noël Thorel, the French founder of Bioderma in 1991.

“Micellar waters have been on the cleansing circuit for some time now,” says Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55. “They use tiny micelles (small balls of cleansing oil molecules) suspended in water to draw out skin impurities.”

Along with these micelles, you’ll find purified water that is gentle on the skin and a range of hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, too.

While they’re effective at removing make-up, they don’t provide a thorough cleanse on their own, though.

“They can be useful for all skin types but my feeling remains that they are most useful as a cleansing option when there is no water available,” says Dr Mahto. “To use these as a primary cleanser after removing make-up and sunscreen at the end of the day requires a lot of time and product.

“They can, however, be useful as a second cleanse to remove any excess grime after the main cleanse has been carried out with another product.”

Additionally, micellar waters are handy at breaking down stubborn eye make-up before you initiate a proper cleanse. Dispense some onto a reusable cotton pad and hold it over your eye to melt away mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow. This will save you from harshly rubbing the delicate eye area when you go on to cleansing.

Eager to give it a try? Here, we run through our favourite micellar waters on the market.

Best micellar waters, picked by the Stylist beauty team

  • CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water with Niacinamide & Ceramides

    Gentle yet effective, CeraVe’s micellar cleansing water is suitable for all skin types and around the eye area. An excellent option for sensitive skin, it’s also fortified with essential ceramides to protect the skin’s natural barrier and retain moisture and hydration throughout the day.  

    Shop CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water with Niacinamide & Ceramides at Lookfantastic, £10

    buy now

  • Garnier Organic Cornflower Micellar Cleansing Water

    Made with organic cornflower, botanical glycerin and barley water, this micellar water removes make-up effectively, while soothing skin. Plus, the packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable.

    Garnier Organic Cornflower Micellar Cleansing Water, £6.99     

    buy now

  • Lumene Nordic Hydra [Lähde] Pure Arctic Miracle 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water

    Formulated to maintain healthy skin, this micellar water contains pure arctic spring water and mineral-rich organic birch sap.

    Shop Lumene Nordic Hydra [Lähde] Pure Arctic Miracle 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water, £10.93

    buy now

  • Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-up Removing Micelle Solution

    The original micellar water, this Bioderma micellar is an undisputed cult product. It gets rid of dirt and make-up without disturbing the skin barrier or stripping skin. It’s no surprise that one bottle sells every three seconds worldwide.

    Shop Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water at Boots, £11

    buy now

  • Perricone MD No:Rinse Micellar Cleansing Treatment

    As well as providing a thorough clean, this micellar contains brightening l-carnitine (an amino acid) and vitamin b5 to hydrate skin.

    Shop Perricone MD No: Rinse Micellar Cleansing Treatment at Lookfantastic, £22.40

    buy now

  • Klorane Micellar Water with Organically Farmed Cornflower

    Made with only six ingredients, this Klorane micellar contains organically-farmed cornflower cultivated on the brand’s land in southwest France. It’s gentle enough for those with sensitive skin and leaves skin soft.

    Shop Klorane Micellar Water with Organically Farmed Cornflower at Lookfantastic, £16

    buy now

  • La Roche-Posay Sensitive Skin Micellar Solution

    Formulated specifically for those with sensitive skin – including skin types prone to redness, acne and inflammation – this micellar contains thermal spring water and removes make-up with one easy swipe.

    Shop La Roche-Posay Sensitive Micellar Water at Boots, £16.50

    buy now

  • Balance Me Flash Cleanse Micellar Water

    This clever little bottle contains a chain of amino acids that encourage collagen production, hyaluronic acid to keep skin plump and blackberry lead to boost elastin in your skin.

    Balance Me Flash Cleanse Micellar Water, £16

    buy now

  • Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water

    More of a milk consistency than a water, this Drunk Elephant product contains ceramides to keep the skin barrier balanced, as well as antioxidants and fatty acids to protect and hydrate skin.

    Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water, £12

    buy now

  • Glossier Milky Oil

    A combination of micellar water and weightless oil, shake the bottle to kick start the dual-phase formula. Once it has mixed together, squeeze it onto a reusable cotton pad and sweep it around the face.

    Glossier Milky Oil, £10

    buy now

Main image: Getty

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