Micellar water recommendations

Some micellar waters that are suitable for all skin types, sensitive or not
Fragrance-free micellar water recommendations

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Two of my first posts were on side-effects from micellar waters. My plan was to write one short post, but minimalism was never one of my virtues! I had a “what the heck have I done” moment after I published them. Who on earth would want to read about micellar water surfactants?! But, boy, was I wrong! It’s really encouraging that there are  other people across the globe that share my fascination for cosmetic ingredients.

But you know what was missing? Product recommendations. Because no post is complete without a host of affiliate links! So in this post you’ll find some micellar water recommendations that are ideal for every skin type, sensitive or not. Most of them are very affordable too.

Please bear in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to micellar waters. You may have to experiment to find out what works best for your skin. I do think that Bioderma’s Sensibio is a good product to start with, especially if you prefer to not rinse your face after cleansing.

If you buy from one of my affiliate links, you won’t incur any additional charges and I will just earn a very small commission that will help this blog to keep going. 

Why all recommended products are fragrance-free

I decided to recommend only fragrance and essential oil-free micellar waters. Many people use a lot of micellar water to remove stubborn make-up and they inadvertently apply a lot of pressure with the cotton pad. It’s best to not douse your face with fragrance ingredients and then press them deeper into your skin. 

This is especially the case for people with sensitive skin who are more prone to irritant and/or allergic reactions. Myself included! If you enjoy the ritual of applying products that smell nice, I reckon it’s better to use a lightly fragranced moisturizer.

To learn more about irritant and allergic reactions, please check my post on hypoallergenic products

To view the product ingredient lists, scroll down to chapter 10!

2. Bioderma Sensibio H2O

I believe that Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O has one of the best formulations on the market. And if you don’t want to rinse off micellar water, it might as well be the safest option available

Its ingredients

It mainly cleanses with the emollient ingredient PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides that’s very unlikely to cause side-effects if it’s not rinsed.

And it includes other beneficial ingredients too. 

Xylitol is a hydrating sugar alcohol that may soothe irritation and strengthen the skin barrier. 

Rhamnose is also a hydrating ingredient and one study showed that it may even have anti-aging benefits. The study was funded by L’Oreal, though! 

And Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotic plant sugars with hydrating properties (“prebiotic” means that they feed friendly bacteria in your gut). They may have anti-inflammatory properties when taken orally. In theory, they may also have an anti-inflammatory effect when applied topically.

None of the above ingredients will do miracles for your skin, but they are an excellent addition in a micellar water and they may soothe sensitive skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O keeps getting great reviews online and I’m not surprised.

One thing to note is that it contains a small amount of Propylene Glycol. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, It is not a problematic ingredient for the vast majority of people. But if you are allergic to it, you should try a different micellar water.

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3. SVR Sensifine AR Micellar Water

SVR is a “French Pharmacy” brand that’s less known than Bioderma or Avène, but I feel that this micellar water is a hidden gem. If you feel that Bioderma’s Sensibio doesn’t remove make-up effectively, it’s worth trying SVR Sensifine

Its ingredients

Just like Bioderma, it is based on the emollient surfactant PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides. But it also contains some other mild ingredients that may work together to dissolve stubborn make-up and sunscreen, such as Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate and Propanediol. SVR Sensifine even throws a bit of Niacinamide the mix!

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4. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for Sensitive Skin

I had never used a micellar water but I recently started using sunscreen on my neck daily. It was about time! If I don’t shower in the evening, it can be very difficult to remove mineral sunscreen from my neck by washing in the sink. Every time I try it, the bathroom is magically transformed into a soapy lake. I tested Garnier SkinActive and I found that it removed all sunscreen with no side-effects. For either me or my bathroom!

Its ingredients

This super popular micellar water has a rather different formula to Bioderma Sensibio. Its main cleansing agents are Hexylene Glycol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate and Poloxamer 184. None of the above ingredients sounds very enticing, right? But they are all considered mild and pose a low risk of side-effects. It’s a gentle micellar water, but I think it’s best to rinse it off with water if your skin is sensitive or has signs of irritation. 

It doesn’t contain any beneficial ingredients other than Glycerin. Considering the low price, I don’t think that’s a deal-breaker. It’s a great product and out of all the micellar waters in this post, it offers the best value for money

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5. L'Oréal Revitalift Filler Cleansing Micellar Water

OK, the name of this skincare line by L’Oréal is a bit over the top. I bet many consumers are drawn to the promise of a “Revitalift Filler”. Promises are made to be broken, aren’t they? There’s no such thing as “filler in a bottle”. A filler’s place is in a syringe!

Its ingredients

Grandiose promises aside, this is a perfectly fine micellar water and in contrast to many L’Oréal products, it is fragrance-free too. Its cleansing ingredients are very similar to the Garnier Micellar water I mentioned above. That’s not surprising, since Garnier is owned by L’Oréal.

However, L’Oréal went the extra mile by including Hyaluronic acid in this product. More specifically, Sodium Hyaluronate. This is a salt form of Hyaluronic acid that is also used in injectable Hyaluronic. When used topically, it won’t have the “woh effect” of dermal fillers. But it does have the potential to hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

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

Ok, I admit that any product called “Arctic Miracle” would catch my attention. But is this Finnish micellar water as wondrous as the Northern Lights? Almost, otherwise it wouldn’t be in this list. If you’re a fan of exotic plant extracts, you may like this micellar water. I am not sure if I can describe Nordic plant extracts as exotic, but you get the idea!

Its ingredients

This product dissolves make-up and/or sunscreen mainly with Butylene Glycol and Poloxamer 184. The first is a multi-purpose ingredient that’s present in loads of leave-on products. Poloxamer 184 is a mild surfactant.

The ingredients that provide a Nordic touch are Betula Alba Juice and Cloudberry Fruit juice extract. 

Betula alba is a species of birch. The sap (or juice) of the birch tree is a traditional beverage in various parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It contains minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and sugars. The nutrients in birch sap are very likely to have a hydrating and soothing effect on your skin. 

Cloudberry is a type of berry that is particularly popular in Scandinavian countries. Just like all berries, it is a source of various beneficial compounds, such as Vitamin E, Beta-carotene, Vitamin C and anthocyanins.

This product comes in a nice transparent bottle.  But if you buy it, store in a dark place to ensure that the plant extracts retain their potency.

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7. Clinique 2-in-1 Cleansing Micellar Gel + Light Makeup Remover

This very intriguing product from Clinique is a gel, rather than a liquid. That’s an interesting concept: since it’s a gel, you apply it with your fingers and you need a cotton pad only to remove it. Or you can just rinse it off with water. If your skin doesn’t like cotton pads, this product could be a great choice for you. 

According to Clinique, this micellar gel won’t remove long-wearing or waterproof formulas. But if you only wear light make-up, it’s a brilliant choice. And it could also be perfect as an a.m cleanser.

Interestingly, this product has a very different type of formula to standard micellar waters. Its ingredient list is akin to that of a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. 

Its ingredients

I am very keen on the mix of beneficial ingredients this micellar gel contains: Sucrose and Trehalose are sugars with water-binding properties. Cucumber extract has soothing and antioxidant properties and it may have anti-acne benefits. Bisabolol is an anti-inflammatory compound found in chamomile.

There are even a couple of anti-aging peptides in the formula, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1. These two are widely known as Matrixyl 3000.

The two main ingredients in the formula that dissolve and remove make-up are Propanediol and Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane. I’m having some trouble memorizing the latter! Both of them are multi-purpose ingredients with hydrating properties and they are considered mild enough to be used in creams and serums. Propanediol is chemically related to Propylene Glycol, but it is said to be better tolerated by people who are allergic to the latter.

Decyl Glucoside

One thing to bear in mind is that this micellar gel contains Decyl Glucoside. It’s a surfactant that’s considered very mild but may cause allergic reactions in some people, mainly if it is not rinsed. However, I think it’s at a way too low concentration to cause issues, unless you have an established allergy to Decyl Glucoside. If in doubt, just rinse your face with water when you’re done with cleansing. 

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8. Neutrogena Skin Detox Triple Micellar Water

Ok, “Skin Detox” is a catchy name but your skin can’t detox. And you don’t remove toxins by perspiring during yoga. Or in public transport on a hot summer day. That’s a job for your liver and your intestines! However, a good micellar water will indeed remove pollutants, along with make-up and sunscreen. This micellar water will do the job and it’s super affordable too.

Its ingredients

Just like in Bioderma’s Sensibio, the main surfactant in this product is PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, a very mild surfactant with emollient properties. Other cleansing ingredients are Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol and Poloxamer 407.  

In a review on Beautypedia, I read that this does a good job at cleansing, but it may leave a tacky finish on the skin. I think that’s a potential issue with many micellar waters, though. It’s easily fixed by rinsing your face with water.

This micellar water also contains an interesting extract from the plant Portulaca Oleracea, also known as Purslane. Purslane is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is a good source of Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene (Provitamin A), Vitamin E, Glutathione and various minerals. I can’t guarantee that the extract in this product contains an appreciable amount of these nutrients. Hopefully it does! 

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9. Simple Micellar Cleansing water

Simple is a very popular UK drugstore brand that keeps it simple, pun obviously intended. Simple is endorsed by the band Little Mix, so I bet this micellar water has been flying off the shelves lately. 

Its ingredients

This micellar water mainly cleanses with the usual suspects: Hexylene Glycol and PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides. 

It also contains one of my favourite skincare ingredients, Niacinamide as well as Panthenol and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a form of Vitamin C. Judging by their place in the ingredient list, none of these ingredients are in a concentration of more than 1%.  So don’t expect this micellar water to replace your dedicated Niacinamide and Vitamin C products. Other than that, it’s a great, inexpensive micellar water that often gets rave reviews.

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10. Ingredient Lists

Water (Aqua), Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Cetrimonium Bromide.

Aqua (Purified Water), Propanediol, Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Cetrimonium Bromide.

Aqua / Water, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Disodium EDTA, Poloxamer 184, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide.

Aqua / Water, Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hyaluronate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Poloxamer 184, Myrtrimonium Bromide.

Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Betula Alba (Birch) Juice, Rubus Chamaemorus (Cloudberry) Fruit Juice Extract, Poloxamer 184, Propanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Allantoin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.

Water\Aqua\Eau, Propanediol, Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Polysorbate 20, Sucrose, Trehalose, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Bisabolol, Pullulan, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Decyl Glucoside, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol.

Aqua, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, PEG-8, Poloxamer 407, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, BHT, Sodium Benzoate.

Aqua, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Phenoxyethanol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Niacinamide, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Panthenol.

Sonoyama K. (2012) Fructo-oligosaccharides and skin inflammation. In: Preedy V.R. (eds) Handbook of diet, nutrition and the skin. Human Health Handbooks no. 1, vol 2. Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Salli K, Lehtinen MJ, Tiihonen K, Ouwehand AC. Xylitol’s Health Benefits beyond Dental Health: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1813. Published 2019 Aug 6.

Pageon H, Azouaoui A, Zucchi H, Ricois S, Tran C, Asselineau D. Potentially beneficial effects of rhamnose on skin ageing: an in vitro and in vivo study. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2019;41(3):213-220.

Naveed, Akhtar & Mahmood, Arshad & Barkat, Ali & Khan, Barkat & Mahmood, Tariq & Muhammad, Haji & Khan, Haji M. shoaib & Saeed, Tariq. (2011). Exploring cucumber extract for skin rejuvenation. AFRICAN JOURNAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY. 10. 1206-1216. 

Maurya AK, Singh M, Dubey V, Srivastava S, Luqman S, Bawankule DU. α-(-)-bisabolol reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production and ameliorates skin inflammation. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014;15(2):173-181.

Sasseville, Denis MD, FRCPC Alkyl Glucosides: 2017 “Allergen of the Year”, Dermatitis: 7/8 2017 – Volume 28 – Issue 4 – p 296

Uddin MK, Juraimi AS, Hossain MS, Nahar MA, Ali ME, Rahman MM. Purslane weed (Portulaca oleracea): a prospective plant source of nutrition, omega-3 fatty acid, and antioxidant attributes. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:951019. Published 2014 Feb 10.

Bukhari, Associate Prof. Dr. Syed Nasir Abbas & Roswandi, Nur & Muhammad, Waqas & Habib, Haroon & Hussain, Fahad & Khan, Shahzeb & Sohail, Muhammad & Ramli, Nor & Thu, Hnin & Hussain, Zahid. (2018). Hyaluronic Acid, a Promising Skin Rejuvenating Biomedicine: A Review of Recent Updates and Pre-clinical and Clinical Investigations on Cosmetic and Nutricosmetic Effects. International journal of biological macromolecules. 120. 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.188. 

Boroduskis, Martins & Kaktiņa, Elza & Nakurte, Ilva & Samodova, Diana & Ramata-Stunda, Anna. (2017). Chemical characterization and in vitro evaluation of birch sap and a complex of plant extracts for potential use in cosmetic anti-ageing products. Environmental and Experimental Biology. 10.22364/eeb.10.22364/eeb.15.05. 

Jaakkola M, Korpelainen V, Hoppula K, Virtanen V. Chemical composition of ripe fruits of Rubus chamaemorus L. grown in different habitats. J Sci Food Agric. 2012;92(6):1324-1330.

Zaguła, Grzegorz. (2017). The Bioactive and Mineral Compounds in Birch Sap Collected in Different Types of Habitats. Baltic Forestry. 23. 

Fiume MM, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, et al. Safety Assessment of Propylene Glycol, Tripropylene Glycol, and PPGs as Used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology. 2012;31(5_suppl):245S-260S.

Matts, Paul & Oblong, John & Bissett, D.L.. (2002). A Review of the range of effects of niacinamide in human skin. Int Fed Soc Cosmet Chem Mag. 5. 285-289. 

Safety Assessment of Poloxamers 101, 105, 108, 122, 123, 124, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 188, 212, 215, 217, 231, 234, 235, 237, 238, 282, 284, 288, 331, 333, 334, 335, 338, 401, 402, 403, and 407, Poloxamer 105 Benzoate, and Poloxamer 182 Dibenzoate as Used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology. 2008;27(2_suppl):93-128.

Corazza M, Lauriola MM, Bianchi A, Zappaterra M, Virgili A. Irritant and sensitizing potential of eight surfactants commonly used in skin cleansers: an evaluation of 105 patients. Dermatitis. 2010;21(5):262-268

What’s your experience with micellar waters? Leave a comment below!

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Hi, I’m Tassos and I’m the creator of Skinchat.  Read more.