Review: Micelle cleansers

Posted on October 11th, by Helen in Blog, Products, Reviews. 11 comments

Review: Micelle cleansers

When it comes to taking it all off (make up, that is), micelle cleansers, also called micellar water, are awesome. Because they require no water, micelle cleansers are perfect for times when you’re just too tired to wash your make up off after a gruelling day at work. Or when you need to wipe off make up before a workout and then the grimy sweat afterwards. Or when you’re travelling with a group of people and there’s only one bathroom to share, and all you want to do is clean your face and hit the hay. Or when you want to fix up messy eye makeup without removing the whole shebang. Or when you attempt to spray your pasty legs with Sally Hansen’s Airbrush legs in the car and get the ish all over your hands. True story, see pic…

How they work

These non-foaming, watery cleansers are made of a certain type of molecule, called Micelles, which are also found in detergents. A micelle is a round-shaped cluster of many cleaning agents that have a hydophilic (water-loving) exterior and a hydrophobic (water-hating, and fat-loving) center. When this cluster makes contact with your skin, it opens up like a little Pac-Man, and the hydrophobic center gobbles up all the impurities like dirt, oil, and foundation. The gunk-filled micelle Pack-Man holds onto the dirt inside its belly, which is then removed from the skin’s surface with a simple swipe of a cotton pad. Because you’re not rubbing or tugging at your skin, it remains balanced and clean. Some brands claim to be able to remove eye makeup too but I haven’t found one that can take it all off.

My Top Picks

1. Bioderma. This drugstore brand is a cult favourite, and the company prides itself as the inventor of the micellar water. It comes in two formulas:

  • Sebium H20 (blue) is for oily skin; it helps purify acne prone skin with copper sulfate and regulates oil secretion with zinc gluconate. This is the one I used to remove all the residue from my legs. I keep the small bottle in my car at all times for skin emergencies like these. 
  • Sensibio H20 (pink) is their fragrance-free formula for sensitive skin (i.e. rosacea, eczema, irritated skin, or skin made sensitive after chemical peels or laser treatments). The Sensibio H20 is the #1 cleanser in France, where the majority of people have sensitive skin. Fellow skincare junkie, Lisa, likes this one and found that effectively removed her eye makeup. I don’t find that micelle cleansers completely remove eyeliner and mascara. But then again, I wear much more eye make up than she does.

2. NeoStrata. Their pink coloured micellar cleanser feels refreshing after a sweaty workout and helps tame inflammation with cucumber extract.

3. Vichy. I used their Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 Calming Cleansing Solution all summer on my combination skin. I loved how it left my skin feeling supple and clean enough for my after-work nap. No foundation residue left on my pillow!

4. La Prairie Cellular Cleansing Water. Sold for $100 at Holt Renfrew, this luxe option provides hydrating hyaluronic acid, which leaves a light film on the skin that didn’t bode well on my oilier summer skin, but it’s just what my skin needs now as it becomes drier as the mercury dips.

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