Saturday 24 March 2018

Beauty - Ruth Griffin: The magic of micellar water

How to use the cult cleansing product

Micellar water has long been a skin secret of French women. Photo: Bioderma
Micellar water has long been a skin secret of French women. Photo: Bioderma
La Roche Posay micellar water
Embiolisse micellar water
Garnier micellar oil
Le Mara micellar water, Aldi
La Mer micellar cleanser
Simple micellar wipes
Payot micellar mousse
Bioderma Sensibio H20 micellar water

Rummage through any model, make-up artist or actress's kit bag and you're guaranteed to unearth a bottle of micellar water. The cleansing water is enjoying peak popularity at the moment, and there's a host of new micellar products being launched by almost every skincare brand this autumn. But what exactly is it?

Micellar water has long been a skin secret of French women - it was originally created a century ago as an alternative to using the hard water present in Paris, which was causing damage to the visages of the city.

A modern micellar water formula was created by French brand Bioderma in the 1990s, and it quickly became a cult product. Its popularity has led to multiple brands creating their own versions of the cleanser in the past few years.

In micellar products, minuscule oil molecules called 'micelles' are suspended in soft water. When applied to the skin on a cotton pad, they act as magnets for grime, oil and impurities. Much of the popularity of micellar products is due to the fact that there's no rubbing, no rinsing, no multi-step cleansing steps involved. Instead, it's a quick and easy way to remove make-up and cleanse the face without the use of parabens, harsh detergents or soap which can dry the skin out.

Micellar water is gentle enough to be used on eyes and is especially great for sensitive, acne prone, dehydrated and ageing skin. In a nutshell, micellar water cleanses skin without stripping it.

With celeb fans including Gwyneth Paltrow and model Coco Rocha, micellar water has created such a beauty buzz that there are entire beauty blogs and chat room discussions about it. So is it really a wonder beauty product? Yes! I think this is an excellent skin saver and worth trying.

I would recommend you chose a water that is targeted for your skin type (see my top picks, right) and to stick to the water and cotton wool method. The wipes and pre-soaked pads are OK options in a squeeze, but not as effective or soothing on the skin.


French brand Bioderma invented the modern micellar water in 1995. For decades it remained a French skin secret, but today there is one bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O sold every three seconds around the world. here, the brand’s head of medical strategy, Dr Michelle Sayag, explains benefits of using micellar water.

What is micellar water?

Micellar water is a gentle, non-rinse cleansing solution that removes all traces of make-up with micelles. Micelles look like tiny particles, suspended in ultra-purified water that catch impurities like magnets. Once on the cotton pad, all make-up (even waterproof), sebum excess, and pollution residues on the skin are removed.

What are the benefits of using it?

Bioderma micelles are made up of a cleansing agent that is very similar to the composition of the skin, meaning it has high tolerance even for the most sensitive skin. Micellar water soothes and decongests the skin and leaves a feeling of freshness without damaging the skin. 

Why has it suddenly become so popular?  

Women are looking for a quick way to remove make-up and all other impurities without damaging their skin. Micellar water is a genuine revolution for sensitive skin.

What’s the difference between it and other cleansers?  

Micellar water has a pure formula with the right physiological pH that guarantees high tolerance for the skin. It also doesn’t contain soap, alcohol or parabens. This is not the case for all other forms of cleansers.

Treat vs Cheat

La Mer Cleansing Micellar Water, Brown Thomas

La Mer micellar cleanser

If your budget allows it, try this micellar water enriched with marine nutrients and 'Miracle Broth' particles for an uber-luxurious option

Lé Mara Beauty, Aldi

Le Mara micellar water, Aldi

A good alternative is this organic seaweed-based micellar water. Hand-harvested seaweed from the west coast of Ireland provides extra skin soothing and nourishing benefits

6 of the best Micellar products

Best for a quick fix

Simple micellar wipes

I rarely use wipes - they don't agree with my skin, which can be sensitive and dry - and I noticed a big improvement in my skin a few years ago when I stopped using them. I realise they are very handy, but long term I think it's a better skin option to only use them the very odd time. A good option is these micellar versions.

Simple Micellar Cleansing Wipes, €2.99, supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide

Best for dehydrated/ageing skin

Embiolisse micellar water

This micellar water is a favourite of make-up artists and models. It's very hard-working on removing make-up, but it leaves your skin feeling fresh and soothed rather than taut and pulled. Your skin will actually feel nourished and look glowing after using.

Embryolisse Micellar Water, €9.90, pharmacies nationwide

Best micellar cleansing foam

Payot micellar mousse

If I'm wearing a lot of make-up, to remove it, I use an oil-based wash-off cleanser, then this foaming micellar cleanser after. Most micellar waters do not need to be rinsed off but this foaming cleanser must be washed off with warm water. Skin feels clean but moisturised after. A gorgeous product.

Payot Micellar Express Foaming Cleanser, €28, selected salons nationwide and

Best for sensitive skin

La Roche Posay micellar water

Specifically formulated for sensitive skin, this micellar water option is great for Irish skin. Most of us have Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1, which is extremely fair and susceptible to rosacea, skin redness and sensitivity. Very calming and soothing on the face, using this involves a lot less pulling and dragging of the skin than can occur when using traditional cream cleansers and toners.

La Roche-Posay Sensitive Skin Micellar Solution, €15.50, pharmacies nationwide

Best overall

Bioderma Sensibio H20 micellar water

Bioderma is the most famous of the micellar waters. This is such a nourishing skin soother and cleanser, specially formulated for dehydrated skin. Your face will be left clean but not stripped. Bioderma Sensibio H20 micellar water, €11.50, pharmacies nationwide

Best make-up remover

Garnier micellar oil

The original Garnier Micellar Water (in the pink bottle) is Ireland's best-selling micellar product. This new version is oil based, so it's ideal for removing oil-based skin products like SPF and foundation. It's gentle enough for use on eyes and is surprisingly brilliant at removing mascara. Tip: Oils are the best option for the removal of eye make-up and mascara. You can also use baby oil, coconut oil, Vaseline and non-scented face oils.

Garnier Oil-infused cleansing water, €5.99, supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide

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