Originally a French skincare staple, micellar water is a multitasking product loved for its ability to cleanse skin and remove makeup, all in one step. It's a great alternative to makeup wipes and face washes, especially for busy people, because it's gentle yet effective.
Since there are so many different types of micellar waters available on the market, we spoke to dermatologists and celebrity makeup artists to find the best ones. We looked for products that effectively remove makeup and dirt while leaving your skin moisturized but not greasy. So whether you're looking for a micellar water for dry, sensitive skin, or something to remove tough waterproof mascara, there's an option here for nearly every skin type or concern.
Best Overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
What We Love: It's great for all skin types and comes in travel sizes.
What We Don't Love: It won't effectively remove waterproof mascara.
Bioderma's micellar water is beloved by both beauty editors and celebrities alike. "Bioderma effectively removes makeup without irritating your skin," celebrity makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan Fisher once told Instyle. "It can be used on all skin types, so it's a great tool to have in my makeup kit. I also love that it's unscented, and that it doesn't affect the skin's natural pH."
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The product has minimal ingredients, including cucumber extract to soothe and hydrate the skin. A couple of our writers swear by the product as the only cleanser that won't leave their skin irritated or with breakouts. It's available in a few different bottle sizes (even a small one for travel), and you can also opt for a bottle with a pump instead of the traditional cap.
Good For: All Skin Types, Especially Sensitive | Fragrance: No | Size: 3.38-16.9 oz
View at Amazon ($5-$24) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best Value: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: It's a large, inexpensive bottle that lasts for a while and — most importantly — works.
What We Don't Love: Some say it leaves their skin a little dry, so it's good to follow up with moisturizer.
If makeup mogul Bobbi Brown is a fan of a product, you know it's good. "The Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water is just amazing," Brown once told InStyle. "It takes everything off. I am always tired at night, so I use a cotton pad and all my makeup comes right off." Coming in a generously sized bottle, this micellar water from Garnier will get you the most bang for your buck. It works super well on different skin types, and there's even a version designed for waterproof makeup.
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Good For: All Skin Types | Fragrance: No | Size: 3.4-13.5 oz
View at Amazon ($7-$14) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best for Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: It doubles as a purifying toner for oily skin.
What We Don't Love: It's not fragrance free.
Specially formulated for people with oily skin, La Roche-Posay's micellar water won't leave your face looking greasy. It uses the brand's signature thermal spring water, an antioxidant-rich solution that soothes skin while removing dirt and makeup. Another notable ingredient is zinc, which can help fight oil and acne without clogging your pores. Meanwhile glycerin keeps your skin hydrated by absorbing water from the surrounding environment. You can also use this water as a purifying toner if you have especially oily skin.
Good For: Oily, Breakout-Prone Skin | Fragrance: Yes | Size: 13.52 oz
View at Amazon ($15) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best for Sensitive Skin: Eau Thermale Avène Micellar Lotion Cleansing Water
What We Love: The brand's thermal spring water is super special and sourced from France.
What We Don't Love: The scent may be too strong for some.
The secret behind Avène's celebrity-loved skincare products? The thermal spring water that comes from the French city of Avène. "Avène's thermal spring water has a low mineral count with a low sodium count, which does not dry out the skin and is rich in silica, which makes the water soft and soothing," dermatologist Dr. Melissa K. Levin previously told InStyle.
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You can harness the gentle yet effective power of the spring water to clean your skin and remove makeup. Even customers with sensitive and acne-prone skin are impressed with how gentle it is. The micellar water has a fragrance that shoppers describe as "light and clean," but you're better off choosing another option if your skin doesn't tolerate scented products.
Good For: Sensitive Skin| Fragrance: Yes | Size: 3.38-16.8 oz
View at Amazon ($10-$28) © Provided by Instyle micellar water
Best With Pump: Caudalie Vinoclean Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: The pump makes application easy and sanitary.
What We Don't Love: You have to use two pads to fully remove makeup with this product.
Another great option for sensitive skin, Caudalie's micellar water contains two calming ingredients that make it stand out from the rest: organic chamomile and grape water. The chamomile extract moisturizes sensitive skin, while the organic grape water (found in many of the brand's celeb-adored products) reduces redness and soothes skin. Shoppers say that it only takes a pump or two of the micellar water to cleanse their whole face, and they appreciate that the bottle is sanitary and easy to use.
Good For: Sensitive, Irritated Skin | Fragrance: Yes | Size: 6.7 oz
View at Sephora ($28) © Provided by Instyle micellar water
Best for Dry Skin: Garnier SkinActive All-in-1 Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: Rose water and glycerin make this product extra hydrating.
What We Don't Love: It can sting if you get it in your eyes.
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If over-washing your dry skin leaves your face feeling tight or irritated, using a hydrating micellar water can help prevent that. This one from Garnier is similar to the one featured above, except it uses rose water and glycerin to moisturize the skin. Shoppers say it leaves their face "fresh and clean."
Good For: Dry Skin | Fragrance: No | Size: 13.5 oz
View at Amazon ($7-$14) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best for Waterproof Makeup: L'Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: It easily takes off waterproof makeup without harsh rubbing or tugging.
What We Don't Love: It feels a little greasy.
If you're looking for a micellar water to remove heavy or waterproof makeup, then consider this option from L'Oréal. Even though it's tough enough to remove the most stubborn long-wear makeup, it's still dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested for safety. One customer raved about how well it removed their "full glam" makeup look.
Good For: Removing Waterproof Makeup | Fragrance: No | Size: 13.5 oz
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View at Amazon ($9) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best With Ceramides: Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water
What We Love: This product restores the skin barrier with three types of ceramides.
What We Don't Love: It doesn't remove heavy makeup that well.
Most of the micellar waters on this list are virtually clear in color, but this one from Drunk Elephant has a milky, fragrance-free formula that contains three types of ceramides. As board-certified dermatologist Marina Peredo previously told InStyle, ceramides are an ingredient that hold moisture and restore the skin's barrier. The blend also has wild melon seed oil, which is rich in omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, for extra moisture. Just keep in mind that some reviewers mention that the micellar water doesn't remove heavy makeup as well as they expected it to.
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Good For: Dry Skin | Fragrance: No | Size: 3.3-8 oz
View at Sephora ($14-$28) © Provided by Instyle micellar water
Best Drugstore: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: It's a great foray into micellar waters for beginners.
What We Don't Love: You might need to rinse/cleanse your skin after.
This micellar water from drugstore brand Simple is another budget-friendly option, especially for anyone trying micellar water for the first time. Shoppers especially love that the formula uses simple ingredients (including vitamins B3 and C) to remove impurities from the skin without causing irritation. After swapping her cleanser for this micellar water, one of our writers noticed her breakouts disappeared and her skin was less blotchy and red. Sometimes less really is more.
Good For: All Skin Types, Especially Sensitive | Fragrance: No | Size: 13.5 oz
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View at Walmart ($9) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Most Gentle: Mustela Baby Cleansing Water
What We Love: It's gentle enough to use on a baby's skin.
What We Don't Love: You might need to follow up with a moisturizer.
Even though Mustela is known for its baby skincare, its products (including this micellar water) can be used on people of all ages. And think about it: If it's gentle enough to use all over a newborn's delicate body, it's gentle enough for an adult to use on their own skin. It contains soothing aloe vera leaf extract and avocado perseose, which is the brand's patented ingredient for strengthening and improving the skin barrier. If you have extremely sensitive skin or struggle with issues like eczema, give this cleanser a chance.
Good For: Sensitive Skin | Fragrance: Yes | Size: 10.14 oz
View at Amazon ($16) © Provided by Instyle micellar water
Best Splurge: Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water
What We Love: This luxe option packs both hydrating and exfoliating ingredients.
What We Don't Love: The small bottle goes by quickly.
This micellar water from Lancôme is worth the splurge. Not only do customers say it removes their makeup well, but they love how it makes their skin feel after applying it. The formula contains moisturizing glycerin, honey, rose water, and exfoliating salicylic acid, but low enough concentrations to still be gentle.
Good For: All Skin Types, Especially Oily or Breakout Prone | Fragrance: No | Size: 6.7 oz
View at Sephora ($40) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best Anti-Aging Option: IT Cosmetics Miracle Water Micellar Cleanser
What We Love: It's formulated with collagen, peptides, and antioxidants.
What We Don't Love: It's expensive.
This powerful option from IT Cosmetics is packed with skincare ingredients that make it an anti-aging treatment and makeup remover all in one. The multitasking micellar water contains collagen and peptides, which will smooth and firm your skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It also has antioxidants like vitamin C and green tea that help with dark spots and uneven skin tone as well as soothing ingredients like aloe and chamomile. We know you're a multitasker, so you deserve to use a product that works as hard as you.
Good For: Mature Skin | Fragrance: No | Size: 1.7-8.5 oz
View at It Cosmetics ($16-$38) © Provided by Instyle Cleansing Water Face
Best Wipes: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Wipes
What We Love: You get the cleansing power of Bioderma in portable wipes.
What We Don't Love: The wipes may dry out over time.
Even though micellar water is pretty easy to use, sometimes it's not practical to carry a bottle and cotton balls around. That's when these wipes come in. You still get the cleansing power of our Best Overall pick in a pack of biodegradable, resealable wipes. Victoria Beckham is a fan of these wipes because they "the only product that allows her to remove every trace of makeup from her skin without causing any irritation." Toss them into your gym bag or suitcase for cleansing on the go.
Good For: Traveling | Fragrance: Yes | Size: 25 wipes
View at Amazon ($6) © Provided by Instyle Bioderma Sensibio H2O Biodegradable Wipes
"Micelles are molecules that basically act like a vacuum on the skin. By simply swiping a solution of micelles (aka micellar water) on your skin, dirt and debris are taken up by these molecules and trapped inside them," says dermatologist Dr. Kavita Mariwalla of Mariwalla Dermatology.
And it's super easy to use, so there's no reason to skip it at night. All you have to do is soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently wipe your face to remove dirt, impurities, and makeup. Dr. Mariwalla says it's a good idea to layer on an active and/or cream after swiping your skin with the water though most formulas are moisturizing, so you don't necessarily need to moisturize afterwards.
Besides being clutch when you're too lazy to watch your face, micellar water is great for anyone with sensitive skin that's prone to breakouts and/or dryness. "Gentle, gentle, gentle," Dr. Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, once told InStyle. "That is the main — and crucially important — benefit of facial cleansing with micellar water."
As Dr. Mariwalla says, micellar waters fully cleanse your skin without making it feel squeaky clean or tight.
While micellar water is super easy to use and gentle on the skin, it may not be enough to remove heavy makeup alone.
"Micellar water cannot not lift as much surface oil as a traditional facial cleanser," says Dr. Howe. "So if you're oily complected or use a heavy foundation, you are unlikely to get clean enough with micellar water alone."
On those days you are wearing heavy makeup, you can use micellar water as your first step, followed by a regular cleanser. In fact, Dr. Mariwalla personally uses micellar water as her first step when double cleansing to remove zinc sunscreen.