Are All Micellar Waters Created Equal? The Twenties Club Investigates


A few weeks ago I ran out of micellar water, the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water that I buy from the supermarket every six weeks for around $11. 

Before venturing out to re-stock on my beloved face water, I remembered I’d been given a sample of the Bioderma Sensibio H20 with an online order I made from French beauty haven Ines Store. Anyway, I’ve been using this new micellar water for the past three weeks and I. Swear. To. Glossier. it’s better than the Garnier version.

This is only shocking to me because I was under the impression that all micellar waters were created equal. In fact it’s probably written in one of The Twenties Club’s beauty articles if you waded through the archives. I’ve always believed that “micellar water is micellar water” and the only thing that makes the prices fluctuate is the status of the brand behind it.

Feeling the urge to determine whether there was any truth to this discovery or if it was simply a case of being cast under the spell of French beauty products (highly likely), I went looking for answers.

The short answer is I was wrong. Micellar water isn’t “micellar water” across the board. They differ hugely from brand to brand and the thing that makes the Bioderma ($55) product differ from the Garnier, or the L’Oreal Paris De Micellar Water ($14.99) differ from La Roche-Posay ($28.99), is quality. Or more specifically, the quality of the micelles (aka, spherical liquid crystals). Those micelles are what turn into surfactants when your soaked cotton pad touches the skin and draws out any dirt or impurities it can find. So generally speaking, the more you pay for a micellar water, the more effective and efficient it will be at cleaning your skin which is ultimately how you avoid things like blackheads and breakouts.

Aside from the quality of the micelles, the other factor that distinguishes products with the same job title is what a brand adds to it. For example, La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution is enriched with the brands famous “thermal spring water” to make it a perfect option for sensitive, dehydrated skin. It’s prepared with a physiological PH and agents specifically selected for their tolerance by all skin types. In the case of Bioderma, their micellar is one of the best no-rinse solutions because it’s free from alcohol, soap, and fragrance so you won’t notice any residue.

And if you’ve always wondered why so many of the micellar waters you read about are from french beauty brands it’s because that’s where they originated. Micellar water was formulated in the early 90s to help Parisian women deal with the notoriously harsh water in Paris that wasn’t good for their skin (true story!). It’s a product that speaks to the simplicity of a french girls beauty routine and in terms of removing makeup or liquid-liner-gone-rogue, it’s unbeatable.

Merci micellar! From now on I’m reaching for the top shelf (and have already purchased a permanent stash of Bioderma).


Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club