Washing your face is a must, especially if you wear makeup and sunscreen on the daily. Though there’s nothing like a good ‘ole soapy cleanser and water, we don’t always have access to a sink—and sometimes lack the energy, honestly—to wash away the day. Enter: Micellar water. These soap-free, no-rinse cleansers contain tiny micelles (aka molecules) that sop up dirt, makeup, and oil, leaving you with clean skin.
Byrdie Tested & Approved
For a micellar water that gently removes makeup, absorbs quickly, and leaves skin feeling fresh, you can't go wrong with the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water. The Simple Skincare Kind to Skin Cleansing Micellar Water, a more budget-friendly option, received high scores across the board for its efficacy and skin-loving ingredients.
Micellar waters remove makeup and cleanse the skin in one simple step, making it ideal for minimalists or people who don’t have time for a multi-step skincare regimen. That said, you can use micellar water as the first step in a double-cleanse routine—simply pour some out on a cotton pad, wipe the pad across your eyelids and face, and follow up with your cleanser of choice.
In order to narrow down the best micellar waters on the market, we tested 31 different formulas in The Lab, our Manhattan testing facility. Testers evaluated each micellar water on the basis of feel, absorption, efficacy, hydration, and appearance post-cleanse in order to determine the products worth your money.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
Gentle on skin and eyes
It comes out fast if you’re not careful
This micellar water is a French pharmacy staple—for good reason. Ideal for sensitive and easily irritated skin, it’s formulated to soothe while it cleanses skin and removes eye and face makeup in one step. Even after wiping a micellar water-drenched cotton round across her sensitive eye area, our tester shared that she experienced no stinging or discomfort in the slightest. The formula contains fatty acid esters, which are similar to lipids (aka fats) already present in your skin. These help repair the skin’s protective layer, effectively treating irritation. After using this micellar water, you’ll walk away with soft, smooth skin—and no flakiness or redness in sight.
Price at time of publish: $17
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Micelles, Cucumber Extract | Size: 3.38 ounces
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
Great for sensitive skin
Some say the formula is different than it used to be
Get serious bang for your buck with this budget-friendly micellar water. It’s chock full of good-for-your-skin ingredients—including vitamin B3, vitamin C, and triple purified water—while still being completely lightweight. Our tester explained that it felt “light and calming” and didn't leave behind any residue. Best of all, sensitive skin types can rejoice at the fact that this micellar water is free of potential irritants like perfumes, dyes, and strong chemicals. It’s even been specifically ophthalmologist-tested for use around the eyes.
Price at time of publish: $8
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C | Size: 6.7 ounces
What Our Testers Say
“My skin was really clean after using the micellar water. In fact, it felt rejuvenated and as smooth as a baby’s bottom.” —Tannon Saunders, Product Tester
Drunk Elephant Milki E-Rase Micellar Water
Fresh and fragrance-free
Skin stays hydrated after several hours
Easily removes makeup
Can take several pumps to clean entire face
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, please turn your attention to this splurge-worthy micellar water from cult-favorite skincare brand Drunk Elephant. What makes it different from other formulations on the market is its barrier-supportive ingredients, which include a milky ceramide blend and plant-derived oils. Our tester was hooked, sharing that she couldn’t stop touching her face after because it felt like velvet.
Price at time of publish: $28
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Ceramide blend, Melon seed oil | Size: 8 ounces
Best Makeup Remover
Medik8 Eyes & Lips Micellar Cleanser
Gently removes face, eye, and lip makeup
Hydrates and soothes skin
Those allergic to ragweed should patch test
Waterproof mascara, liquid lipstick, and full-coverage foundation sure go the extra mile to ensure a makeup look stays put for hours but (annoyingly) requires a little extra effort to take off. When you’re wearing a full face of heavy, long-wearing makeup, you need a makeup remover that can cut through without forcing you to harshly rub or tug at your skin. This micellar cleansing water from Medik8 dissolves every last trace of waterproof makeup (thanks to a formula fueled by hydrators like vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, and cornflower) and doesn’t leave behind any yucky residue.
Price at time of publish: $20
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Hyaluronic acid, Vitamin B5, Chamomile, Cornflower | Size: 3.3 ounces
Typology 7-Ingredient Micellar Water
Simple and effective
Might be too shiny for oily skin types
Those in favor of a minimalistic approach (or those with fragrance allergies) will love this micellar water from Typology. The formula contains seven ingredients that work hard to remove oil, makeup, and bacteria with ease. You can expect your skin to feel smooth, slightly dewy, and really clean. Best of all, according to our tester, it leaves behind a lovely glow effect.
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Glycerin, Citric acid | Size: 6.76 ounces
Klorane Micellar Water
3-in-1 makeup remover, cleanser, and toner
Made with organic ingredients
Subtle alcohol-like fragrance
Even if you aren’t in close proximity to a sink, the Klorane Micellar Water ensures a fresh cleanse every single time. Thanks to the star ingredient, organic cornflower water, this formula gently removes makeup, cleanses, and tones the skin all at once. Even though the micellar water is working overtime to get three things done at once, it still feels comfortable and lightweight on the skin. There’s one thing to note: Our tester says that the formula has a subtle alcohol smell, so if that is a turn-off for you, you might be better off with a fragrance-free option.
Price at time of publish: $26
Ingredient Highlights: Cornflower water | Size: 13.5 ounces
Best for Sensitive Skin
Avene Eau Thermal Micellar Lotion Cleansing Water Make-up Remover
Gentle on easily irritated skin
If you have sensitive skin, then you know that finding a cleanser that won’t leave you beet red is quite the struggle. Enter this micellar water designed specifically for those with easily irritated skin. It’s formulated with the brand’s thermal spring water to calm inflamed skin and glycols to hydrate. The micellar water can be used on the face, eyes, and lips to remove makeup, cleanse, and tone.
One thing to keep in mind: Although it’s ideal for sensitive skin, this micellar water does have a subtle fragrance. According to our tester, it has a “pleasant” smell that isn’t too overpowering, but if your skin is triggered by fragrance, you may want to steer clear of this one.
Price at time of publish: $18
Ingredient Highlights: Thermal spring water, Hydrogenated castor oil | Size: 6.7 ounces
What Our Testers Say
“This product makes it feel like you’re putting a nice lotion on your face without you noticing it’s actually there.” —Nasya Sutrisno, Product Tester
Best for Oily Skin
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water Cleanser & Makeup Remover All-in-1
Needs to be shaken to experience full results
Those with oily skin will do best with mattifying micellar water, like this one from Garnier. It’s gentle enough to use on the face, eyes, and lips yet powerful enough to effectively absorb and control excess oil. Our tester raved about how quickly it got to work on his skin. He shared that almost immediately after use, his skin felt “refreshed” and “more awake.”
Price at time of publish: from $5
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Glycerin | Size: 3.4 ounces
What Our Testers Say
“I noticed a huge difference in my skin. I look glowy and bright, and I feel like my skin drank a fresh cup of coffee.” —Tannon Saunders, Product Tester
Best for Dry Skin
Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Micellar Cleanser
Improves skin softness
Say goodbye to dry, lackluster skin by cleansing with this micellar water. It’s formulated with a variety of glow-boosting ingredients (like reishi mushroom and essential oils) to instantly calm skin, help reduce redness, and amp up hydration. Our tester shared that prior to the test, she had dry patches all over her face. After cleansing with the Origins micellar water, however, she noticed a “significant difference” in the texture and feel of her skin. In fact, she said her face felt “hydrated and refreshed.”
Price at time of publish: $37
Ingredient Highlights: Reishi mushroom, Organic essential oils | Size: 6.7 ounces
Vichy Pureté Thermale Mineral Micellar Water
Contains volcanic mineral water
No matter your skin type, sometimes our skin craves a little hydration. Quench your skin’s thirst with this micellar water from Vichy. Formulated with the brand’s signature volcanic mineral water, this formula cleanses, removes makeup, and soothes skin, all in one step. You can expect impurities to melt away, leaving behind hydrated, refreshed skin. Plus, our tester kept raving about how comfortable her skin felt after using a micellar water-soaked cotton pad. Since it’s mostly thermal water, some found it to be very runny. Be careful when dispensing the product, so you don’t waste any.
Price at time of publish: $15
Ingredient Highlights: Thermal mineral water, Vitamin B5 | Size: 6.7 ounces
Kumiko Skincare Matcha Micellar Water
Contains nut oil
Designed to remove makeup and deeply cleanse the skin, this micellar water contains micelles that completely eliminate residue. Ingredients like matcha tea extract, almond oil, and hyaluronic acid help restore elasticity, provide hydration, and give the skin a nice, healthy glow. Even our tester said that her face looked “extremely glowy” and “more hydrated than it has ever looked.” Keep in mind that if you have a nut allergy, this formula contains almond oil which might trigger a reaction.
Price at time of publish: $35
Ingredient Highlights: Matcha tea extract, Almond oil | Size: 8.4 ounces
Best for the Whole Family
Mustela Baby Cleansing Water
Works on full body
Great for all ages
Requires a patch test
Micellar water can be used by anyone—including the little ones in your life. This one from Mustela gently (and safely) cleans and softens all skin—including face, body, and diaper area—without irritation. According to the brand, the formula is great for quick and easy cleanups in-between baths. Plus, with the sealable pump, it works well for travel, too. Our tester shared that the micellar water came out of the bottle very smoothly, and found it easy to apply all over his face. Like all skincare products, be sure to perform a patch test before applying it to your face or your baby’s face.
Price at time of publish: $16
Ingredient Highlights: Water, Glycerin, Avocado fruit extract, Aloe | Size: 10.14 ounces
What Our Testers Say
“I’m a guy, and I genuinely think I’m going to buy this because of how effective it is. It changed the overall feel of my skin in a matter of seconds.” —Alec Nathan, Product Tester
Our best overall pick is Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, a sensitive skin-friendly micellar water that removes makeup, cleans skin, and helps restore its natural barrier. For a more budget-friendly option, Simple Skincare Kind to Skin Cleansing Micellar Water is available at your local drugstore or on Amazon.
How We Tested
Byrdie editors did extensive research on popular micellar waters, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing 31 to test out first-hand. Our testers measured the moisture on their skin twice—once before and once after applying micellar water with a cotton pad. They took note of each formula’s feel, absorption, efficacy, hydration, and appearance post-cleanse, before deciding on a rating from one to five. Those with the highest scores made the list. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.
Testing Micellar Water for All Skin Types
What to Look For in Micellar Waters
Micellar waters are known for providing a gentler cleansing option. Look for micellar waters that are not irritating to the skin, with no harsh ingredients like soaps and alcohol. They should primarily consist of tiny oil molecules with extra components that provide additional skin-soothing and cleansing properties, like the chamomile in the Medik8 Eyes & Lips Micellar Cleanser.
Since micellar waters can be used to remove makeup, including around the eyes, they should not be harsh or full of chemical fragrances or strong ingredients that can irritate the delicate and sensitive eye area.
If you want your micellar water to provide even more benefits than cleansing and makeup removal, look for ones that contain additional ingredients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, oils, and plant extracts, like the organic essential oils in the Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Micellar Cleanser.
Look for micellar water that is designed for your skin type. Those with oily, acne-prone skin will benefit from purifying micellar waters like the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1, while those with dry skin should look for formulas that offer hydration, like the Vichy Purete Thermale Mineral Micellar Water. If you have sensitive skin, look for a minimalist product that cuts back on the ingredient list, like the Typology 7-Ingredient Micellar Water.
What is micellar water used for?
Micellar water is used to break down and remove oil, makeup, and dirt from the skin. It uses tiny fat molecules to de-grease and removes impurities from the surface of the skin, leaving behind a refreshed and clean face without the use of harsh soaps, detergents, or stripping ingredients.
Does micellar water really clean your face?
Micellar water really does clean your face by using tiny molecules to break down and wash away makeup, sweat, sunscreen, and grime from your skin without water.
Does micellar water need to be rinsed off?
While micellar water does not need to be rinsed off, you might wish to do so. Some people will experience breakouts if there is a film left on the skin after applying and wiping away micellar water. You can double-cleanse by using micellar water before your normal face cleanser.
What is micellar water vs. toner?
Micellar water breaks down and removes makeup, sunscreen, and grime on the skin. It’s usually the first step in your skincare routine. Toner, on the other hand, is typically used after cleansing to mop up any residual product, restore balance to your skin, and minimize the look of pores.
What Is Byrdie Verified?
Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced beauty writer and product tester. She has tried dozens of micellar waters— including several on this list, including Bioderma, Garnier, Simple Skincare, and Vichy. Caitlyn has been a writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty and style.