Some people in my world are raving about water cleansers. This new breed of cleansers are called micellar waters. And the tide is high.
The first one of these water cleansers to hit my headlines was by Koh Gen Do…..the people (mentioning no names) sung loudly of its praises and so I felt the need to jump on the bandwagon, or to catch a wave. I have tried three of them for comparison, Bioderma Sensible H20, Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water and La Roche-Posay Eau Micellaire.
Originally created in the 90s to help Parisian women deal with the region’s notoriously harsh water, micellar cleansers were a well kept secret, until makeup artists and models started raving about the benefits of the no-rinse formula.
Very quick and easy to use, a micellar cleanser is a lifesaver for on-the-go beauty and late nights. I concur, that sometimes my usual cleansing routine can seem like a chore, and that micellar versions don’t even need water to work. But does that make them any better for your skin? One of the good things about them is that they have mostly been adapted for sensitive skin and have been formulated with mild and non-irritating surfactants; one of their biggest marketing points is their suitability for sensitive skin types.
Even stubbon make-up can be theoretically removed with one sweep of a cotton pad and with no harsh chemicals or detergents to irritate and inflame skin. The waters contain tiny micelles (microscopic oil spheres) that dissolve impurities without stripping the skin so “even the most troublesome complexions are left feeling soft, nourished and hydrated”. So they say.
There is one big advantage to removing your makeup this way, and that is that you have to use cotton pads together with the cleansing waters. This actually plays a major role in why they are so effective at removing makeup. Cotton is hydrophilic (“tending to dissolve in, mix with, or be wetted by water”) so when you pour a micellar solution on the cotton pad, the hydrophilic heads are attracted to the cotton, leaving the hydrophobic tails sticking up to trap oil, wax based substances and dirt i.e., makeup and oils. When applied to skin, micellar water and cotton pads cleanse the skin by acting like a magnet, attracting and entrapping impurities without harsh rubbing or scraping. So you get clean, without damaging the skin.
They sound too good to be true, n’est ce pas? How could I not give them a go? So I have tried and tested them. I sampled three leaders in the market which are available most everywhere and range in price: Bioderma Sensible H20, Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water and La Roche-Posay Eau Micellaire.
There are many many more, with lots of brands putting one into the marketplace. Go to your local drugstore/chemist and you’ll find lots of options. I tried each one for a week each, and here are my conclusions which are not watered down.
- Micellar waters are really easy and quick to use.
- They do a good job of removing make-up and clean a dirty face.
- They do not feel nourishing in any way – not so good for dry skin
- They come in handy for lots of makeup changes in a short period of time so cannot deny that they are good for make up artists to have in their kits.
- Great for travel or short-term skincare. I will be packing a mini one in the holiday makeup bag
- Because they don’t offer that much in the way of nourishing or anti-aging skincare, I don’t think they can replace a good three-step routine (which, granted, takes longer at the end of the day).
To be honest I found them all one and the same, maybe the things that would point you towards a particular brand are not the same reasons I would pick that one…fragrance or lack of, and even colour, and price. They all left my skin feeling dry, but the Bioderma one is ok to use to remove eye makeup if you have lash extensions, and it’s not too expensive, so it’s my winner. The Koh Gen Do is runner up because the packaging makes it look like pink water. A stupid reason to like it, but there you go!
Bioderma retails for approx $15.00/ BPS8.00 for 250ml
Koh Gen Do retails for approx $39.00 for 300ml and doesn’t appear to be available to buy online on the UK although other products on that line are
La Roche-Posay retails for approx $10/ BPS 12.00 for 115ml
I concur that they do speed up the cleansing process, and yes I think they are much better than cleansing wipes which are usually loaded with chemicals, but the speediness of using them is mostly what I don’t like about them: they take away the process of cleansing. For me one of the reasons to take the time to cleanse your face is the ritual of it; the whole process of it, the feel, smell and texture of your favourite cleanser and most importantly, being in actual touch with your face. I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way as so many beauty experts emphasise the need for massage of facial skin and muscles and a new breed of oil-based slippery cleansers are marketed with specific instructions on how to do facial massage.
So the micellar water method leaves me feeling a bit jipped to be honest, but then again I grind my coffee beans every morning for the same reason: the joy of the ritual and the way it slows me down in an otherwise frenetic world. Slow food, slow travel, talking instead of texting, I am a bit of a dinosaur, a Cleanasaurus. But I’ll have one in my kit for fast changes.
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