Have you ever used an e-cloth for cleaning? Been blown away by how it attracts molecules of dirt and dust that you couldn’t even see with the naked eye? Well, that’s pretty much how micellar waters work, on the complexion: acting like a ‘magnet’, attracting every last trace of the day’s make-up, pollution and general cellular ‘debris’. So no wonder there’s been a 94% increase in the number of micellar water products, in the past two years: these are a genuine alternative to old-school cleansers and cleansing wipes. (And not just for lazy beauties.) And generally, they’re all suitable for all skintypes.
Here’s the science bit: within the liquid – which looks just like water – are actually microscopic oil particles, or ‘micelles’ (hence the name) which dissolve impurities without stripping the skin. Micellar waters are formulated with non-irritating surfactants, ideal for even sensitive skins. Beyond that, these one-stop cleansers actually help to defend the skin’s all-important protective barrier from the limescale and other potential irritants found in tap water. With so many launched in recent years, we hope you find this valuable for helping you to identify the most effective, in our testers' considered opinions. Do scroll down for further winners – so many great results, we couldn’t leave them out.
GOLD AWARD (JOINT) Embryolisse Lotion Micellaire
From a pharmacy brand that women used to lug back from Paris until it became available here, a great performance for this tall flip-top bottle of micellar cleanser, which Embryolisse is suitable for even the most sensitive skins. It features soothing cornflower, chamomile and witch hazel water, alongside glycerine to soften skin. But as with all the micellar water winners, Lotion Micellaire’s clear, watery-looking formula packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing make-up, efficiently sweeping away even waterproof mascara.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I have used quite a few products like this one and this is my favourite. It left my face looking brighter and fresher, and the finish on my skin was not dry looking. There was no irritation at all and I have very sensitive eyes, as well as dry sensitive skin on my forehead and cheeks’ • ‘This removed make-up effectively, including eye make-up, and left my face feeling and looking refreshed and clean. It was very easy to use and I would buy it’ • ‘It didn't irritate my eyes at all and I wear contact lenses. It removed make-up very easily from my combination skin. It claims to cleanse, soothe and remove make-up and it absolutely does. My face was clean, hydrated and refreshed’ • ‘I do like the floral smell of this and it smells expensive. I also like how easy it is to see how much is left in the bottle. It is very gentle on my eyes and face. Because it takes so much to remove all of my make-up I first use my usual cleanser then wipe this over using two cotton pads to remove remaining traces of make-up, I then feel really clean and fresh. In the morning I use it on its own, and my skin feels sufficiently cleansed and fresh, ready for moisturiser.’
£15.99 for 250ml - click to buy
GOLD (JOINT) and BEAUTY STEAL AWARD SVR Physiopure Cleansing Micellar Water
SVR – who they?, we hear you chorus. Well, SVR’s UK profile certainly deserves to be higher than it is. In fact, the Paris company goes back to 1962, founded by a husband and wife pharmacist couple, Simone and Robert Veret, who wanted to bridge the gap between medical treatments and cosmetic skincare. Everything is tested on sensitive skin; they offer a couple of micellar cleanser options, with this suitable for any skin type; the Physiopure range features a signature trade element, oxygenating magnesium, to help boost skin glow. It’s lightly fragranced with marine and floral notes – and really very affordable, winning our ‘Beauty Steal’ gong.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘This glides over the skin and even one swipe one it picked up a lot of make-up. Even if I slept in my make-up (!) the next day the amount of product it took off was amazing. I really liked this product. I do love a micellar water anyway for speed, or for double cleansing. So I had high hopes for this and I wasn’t disappointed. I feel like my skin is very smooth, no residual product left, a great base for any further steps. My skin doesn’t feel taut, just clean and fresh, and nicely hydrated. It has shown me that these waters can not only clean but should also be delivering great skin care benefit’ • ‘Overall a nice quick product to use without the hassle of having to rinse or clean your face with a cloth. It cleansed make-up efficiently, and also eye make-up. It didn't irritate my eyes. My skin looked bright and had a nice tone. I would buy this to take on holiday’ • ‘A winner. I enjoyed using it and results were fabulous. Removed everything perfectly, even waterproof mascaras. I even had to hide it at one point because an auntie of mine was visiting and she loved it so much that she was using it all the time. I bought her one for herself as a pressie in the end’ • ‘The sort of product you would want your daughter to use on her skin as a first cleanser or take with you if you are backpacking. Skin felt soft and moisturised – I needed less moisturiser as the cleanser leaves skin quite hydrated.’
£11 for 200ml - click to buy
SILVER (JOINT) & BEST NATURAL (JOINT) AWARD Sukin Micellar Cleansing Water
This ties for Best Natural as well as the Silver Award with This Works – and actually, it’s a bit of a steal with it. Sukin hail from Down Under; often described as ‘Australia’s favourite natural skincare brand’, this vegan, cruelty-free, carbon neutral company makes a big thing of what they leave out (the usual parabens, colourants, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil etc.) But what you will find in this chunky flip-top bottle are soothing, purifying aloe vera, chamomile and cucumber, which also hydrate – so make-up is swept away, yet skin’s not left feeling tight.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I was surprised by how good this cleanser is. I have used micellar cleansers before but usually have to double cleanse as they don’t remove all make-up on the first cleanse. Only when I had applied an unusually thicker layer of make-up did I need to double cleanse. It was also a really effective eye make-up remover and didn't irritate my eyes at all. Will be great to take on holiday, reducing the need for different products’ • ‘This is a very gentle product that cleanses my skin really well and is very pleasant to use. I will definitely buy this product in the future. It contains natural ingredients and there is a long list of nasties including mineral oils and parabens that it does not contain. Overall there is nothing that I do not like about this product’ • ‘Loved this product a LOT – it removed a full face of long wearing make-up effortlessly although I did need to do a proper cleanse to remove all residue. Can't believe this is natural! It did struggle with waterproof mascara, but I would have no hesitation using this daily as it didn't strip or dry skin’ • ‘It’s hard to get excited about a make-up remover but I did really like this one’ • ‘I like micellar water and use this as part of my evening skincare routine. This cleanser delivered on its promises. It's quick and easy to use and works effectively. Contains some nice natural ingredients and leaves my skin refreshed and ready for its night-time products. It is reasonably priced and I would recommend this.’
£7.95 for 250ml - click to buy
SILVER (JOINT) & BEST NATURAL (JOINT) AWARD This Works Evening Detox Cleansing Water
'Unusually this is dispensed via a few squirts from a tube rather than a bottle – straight onto cotton pads, to sweep over face, neck and décolletage. This Works position this sleekly-packaged micellar product for purifying and revitalising ‘pollution-exposed skin’, which is increasingly found to be damaging to the complexion and to turbo-charge the ageing process. Key ingredients are aloe vera and sweet almond oil (this is said to reduce build-up in pores), while for a soothing action, licorice has been added. Last – but never least, in our book – there’s a generous amount of hyaluronic acid to plump and moisturise.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘It was excellent at removing make-up. I tended to use this after having used a creamy cleanser first and then used this product. Even when I thought my skin was clean it still removed traces of make-up from my face leaving it feeling really super clean afterwards. It even removes eye make-up efficiently and gently and I had been a bit nervous about using it on my eyes because I wear contact lenses and suffer with dry eyes and they are quite sensitive; I had no problems with this product’ • ‘Really impressed with This Works Evening Detox cleanser, it was very effective at removing all traces of make-up and grime from your face and neck and yet it left your skin feeling soft. It smelt like it 'meant business' in a good way! It was a surprise how gentle on the skin it was. Really liked this a lot, would recommend it and even thinking of buying it for a friend for her birthday’ • ‘My dry combination skin felt so refreshed and tingly in a positive way, and looked fresher too. I would most definitely buy it again’ • ‘This is a wonderfully gentle product and, unlike my previous experience, there is no stinging. In fact it calms the skin and is wonderfully hydrating, due to the hyaluronic acid content, I think – surprisingly I didn't always need a serum or moisturiser. It leaves the skin feeling fresh and clears any impurities. This product is perfect if you're a busy person constantly on the go. It was great for me as I could spray a few drops on the cotton pad, wipe and ready to go. It was so easy to use that I used it in the morning. It saves so much time using this cleanser over my normal one, which takes longer. You would have to use a lot of product to remove heavy make-up but for me this is perfect as I hardly wear any’ • ‘This promised to be a no-nonsense nighttime cleanser to purify and revitalise pollution exposed skin' - It did what it said on the packet, removed my make-up and cleansed my skin. Very effective.’
£22 for 200ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD A'Kin Micellar Water
A recent addition to the A’kin line-up, this pH-balanced cleansing water is infused with coconut water, green tea, cucumber and lavender. As you can probably tell from those ingredients, it offers a specifically cooling, soothing and refreshing action on the complexion. If you don’t yet know them, A’kin are an Australian natural skincare company which helped to pioneer the concept of ‘clean’ beauty: sulphate-free, paraben-free, ‘toxin-free’ and chemical-free. (Vegan, too – which we know matters more and more to you.)
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘A product I will never be without because I love the ease and efficiency for removing make-up or just to refresh my eyes. I found a great trick: I soaked two cotton discs and put them in small bag in fridge – wow! Great for puffy eyes in the mornings. Even when my skin as been topsy turvy and sensitive, which often happens in the winter months, this will always calm it down and take any heat out’ • ‘My skin actually felt very good and clean. I did not feel like I needed to wash it after, as there was no tackiness. I would buy this, which is surprising for me as I am a water and face wash girl through and through. I like how proactive the company seem about being natural, not tested on animals, no colours etc. We need more companies like this’ • ‘I found this product removed my make-up very well. I wasn’t expecting it to remove it quite as well as it did. Possibly because it’s marketed as natural, and I thought it wouldn't be as effective as conventional products’ • ‘I love this for a morning cleanse, no faff and my skin wakes up nicely, is beautifully clean and calm, ready for make-up. I have tried many micellar waters and some are so harsh, or make my eyes sting but this is the total opposite, it calms everything down and decongests the skin especially eyes, so that tells me how skin friendly it is. Also great for a weekend away’ • ‘I love how quick and easy this is to use. It is great just before bed because no matter how tired you are it doesn't take a minute to remove all make-up and leave skin feeling lovely and clean. It also lasts a lot longer than I thought it would. I have used it every evening over the last three and a half months and I still have about a third of the bottle left, so good value for money too’ • ‘The one thing that I really didn't expect from this product was that it really calmed the face acne I have at present from pregnancy. From having raging deep skin bumps going to bed, I have used this product (not moisturising afterward) and the next morning, like magic, the redness has calmed down, dryness has disappeared and the prominent bumps have been reduced to barely noticeable minor mounds. More to this product than the ability to cleanse!’
£12.50 for 150ml - click to buy