5 Micellar Cleansing Waters That May Be Good Enough to Replace the French One I'm Obsessed With

After six months of nearly daily use, my Bioderma bottle is about halfway done, which is when I start to panic.
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Publish date:
November 5, 2015
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sephora, Shiseido, vichy, bioderma, makeup remover, micellar water, REN, Simple, Cleansing Water

I am really into rituals and routines; it’s part of the reason I love makeup and skincare. Every day when I come home from work, I play with my disgruntled cat, then take off my makeup. And my bra. Because let's be serious—it’s not staying on any longer than it has to.

My makeup remover of choice is Bioderma because I’m a big ol’ skincare snobby-snob and I love trying out cult products. I prefer Bioderma to straight oil or biphase makeup removers (the kind that you need to shake up before using) because my skin is hella sensitive and I’ve had one too many breakouts or bad reactions to using the really oily stuff. Bioderma has never done me wrong, so I have a hard time straying away.

Luckily, I have a well-traveled friend who understands my undying need for fancy French skincare and can pick me up a few things when she goes to Paris. This is how I’ve come to own the big kahuna giant bottle of Bioderma, complete with fancy pants all French label.

After six months of nearly daily use, though, my Bioderma bottle is about halfway done, which is when I start to panic. My worldly friend isn’t planning on any trips abroad any time soon, so I decided to broaden my horizons and test out a few different micellar waters to see if anything can live up to my one and only.

Simple Cleansing Micellar Water ($6.99)

As far as I know, Simple is the only US drugstore brand that carries micellar water that you can just, like, run to CVS and pick up. Outside the US, many brands like L’Oreal, Garnier, Nivea and even budget-friendly Bourjois have their own cleansing water. I guess the big wigs don’t think that the US is ready for it yet? (But if you want to, you can pick up some of these versions from online retailers such as FeelUnique, ASOS, Amazon, etc.)

Simple Cleansing Micellar Water is, far and away, the cleanest-feeling micellar water that I’ve tried. It’s even cleaner-feeling than Bioderma, but just by a smidge. It comes in around seven bucks and is in an easy-to-use (and not overuse) squeeze bottle. Not only does it get off every reasonable scrap of makeup, but it does it without drying out my skin and leaves zero (and I do mean zero) residue.

Vichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution ($17)

Vichy takes the silver to my OG Bioderma. It is very slightly fragranced to make you feel all zen when you use it. This cleansing water takes every single little bit of non-waterproof makeup off, and it leaves my skin feeling moisturized.

I’m not going to lie: I keep this one by my bed so that when I’m feeling particularly lazy and don’t want to actually do my skincare routine before bed, I can just do an extra few swipes of this to make sure I’ve really got all my makeup off, and then just hit the hay. I have not once woken up with those tell tale mascara eye bags when I’ve done this.

Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water ($20)

I’m consistently surprised by the quality of the Sephora Collection makeup so I was excited to test out their very own cleansing water. There are a few different sizes to choose from, which is super-helpful if you are traveling, plus it comes equipped with a satisfying, if a little too powerful, pump.

My one issue with this makeup remover is that it’s pretty strongly scented. It’s a lovely, spa-like scent, but it tends to stick around, and I know some people really don’t like fragrance in their skincare products, so it’s worth noting. The Sephora cleansing water easily swipes off makeup without having to rub your skin to get the job done. It leaves skin feeling soft and not stripped, with a very slight but not bothersome residue left over.

Shiseido Pureness Refreshing Cleansing Water ($22.50)

The Shiseido Pureness Refreshing Cleansing Water is oil-free but feels surprisingly oilier than the others. This doesn’t bother me because it doesn’t feel oily at all after you’ve wiped and it has dried, but it’s worth a mention if you are vehemently against anything that looks or feels oily. It is also fragranced kind of like the brand’s sunscreen.

This Shiseido option also comes with a really nice pump. Seriously, this pump is the bomb; it gives you just the right amount of cleanser to dampen a cotton round without it getting overly soaked or shooting the cleanser half way across the room.

REN Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water ($25)

Y’all. This. Smells. Amazing. It’s not overwhelming or strong, and I would genuinely wear it as perfume. It uses rose otto oil and tannins from centifolia roses, which makes this more of a rosewater/micellar water hybrid.

This is not the strongest micellar water for removing mascara or other tough makeup. That being said, it is the only 3-in-1 that I would actually say “yeah, go ahead and use it as a toner too.”

This is best for a lazy morning skin-cleaning or to follow up after an oil cleanse to make sure you’ve really got it all off.

Bioderma Crealine Micellar Water

Obviously, I had to include a shout-out to Bioderma, too. Although its mystique (and price) has worn away as it has become more and more easily available, this is still the standard for micellar waters. It is sans parfum (thanks, bottle) and gets every bit of makeup off of my face with no scrubbing needed. Besides making me feel like a fancy French lady when I use it, it has been a staple in my routine because it does exactly what it says on the bottle with absolutely no fuss.

  • How do you remove your makeup?
  • Can we talk about skincare your routine? I’ve been doing some minor shake-ups in the last week or so and I want to hear what products you love.
  • Do you start your skincare routine right away when you are done for the day, or wait until right before you go to bed?