Most days I wear a lot of makeup–foundation, blush, multiple types of eyeliner, shaded shadow, mascara, brow gel (and that’s just to name some of it). It’s also usually on my face for long periods of time (think 7 AM-7 PM). Taking it off and treating my skin can be a bit of a chore. While I wasn’t necessarily looking to change my cleansing routine, I was completely fascinated by the recent buzz surrounding micellar water. It all sounded a bit too good to be true, so when I spotted a bottle by Garnier in our local drugstore I knew I’d have to put it to the test.
Micellar Water is a “solution,” or liquid mixture of a uniformly dispersed major and minor components. In this case, the major/more predominant component is soft water and the minor/smaller component is micelles, tiny oil molecules you can’t really see but can sorta feel. It seems like a lot of science for your bathroom counter, but it’s actually not that complicated. The idea is that oil, dirt, and makeup are attracted to the micelles, which combined with the water act like an all-in-one, wipe-away/absorbable cleanser. The product originated in France and resonated with people faced with hard (i.e. mineral-rich and thereby harsh-on-skin) water, but quickly gained popularity because of its gentle effectiveness. Beauty brands like Garnier, Lancôme, and Borghese have only recently brought the trend stateside.
I really like the bottle Garnier used for their micellar water. It’s made of a light and squeezable plastic so it’s easy to lift and handle. The nozzle in the cap evenly dispenses the liquid–I was a bit worried it would slosh all over the place. The translucent labeling is lovely and really suits the product–think crystal-clear and refreshing. However the instructions on it are a bit needlessly wordy. I know the product name isn’t all that intuitive, but trying to be catchy doesn’t really help make the directions/usage clear.
I have three favorite makeup removers, and I found them after trying some awful ones (I’m talking super oily or horribly fragrant). My priciest favorite, which I use for touch-ups or travelling, is Clinique’s Take The Day Off Makeup Remover. Garnier’s micellar water isn’t very expensive–especially compared to some higher-end versions–and it’s comparable to my flawless drugstore favorite Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. Though it offers a large amount of product, I do feel I’ll finish the bottle quickly–it seems to me that you need to use a lot at once. Also, instructions online and on the bottle advise that it’s best to saturate an absorbent disposable item like a cotton pad to use the micellar water effectively, upping the price-per-use a bit. (In case you’re wondering, my third favorite pick is Sephora’s Express Cleansing & Exfoliating Wipes, but with only 20 in a pack, I consider them a travelling-only or really late-night splurge.)
I wanted to love Garnier’s micellar water–the pitch sounded so good! However it just didn’t work as advertised for me. The fine-print on the product does seem to warn that it isn’t great at removing heavy foundations or stubborn eye makeup and I found that to be true. I followed the instructions and went through a decent amount of product and quite a few pads but mostly got a lot of smearing. I finally caved and used a separate makeup remover to cut through what remained. I switched back to the water to cleanse the rest of my face, and while it really did feel lovely–think cooling and gentle, not at all stripping like soaps–it didn’t seem to remove all of the makeup left on my skin. I had to use my entire cleansing routine after the fact and even as an extra step (which I’d be open to) I didn’t really feel like the micellar water added anything.
While there was nothing offensive about Garnier’s micellar water, the product just didn’t do it for me. I found it somewhat time-consuming to use, I dislike having to apply a lot product for the desired effect, and there is nothing more annoying than a face of smeared makeup. Garnier makes a variant on this micellar water (the bottle is blue instead of pink if you’re out shopping) that claims to remove water-proof makeup, so it may be more effective than this one (though none of my makeup was waterproof). My heavy makeup maybe the culprit here–I think all micellar water, even this one, would work well for people who do light makeup applications most days. Rather than toss the bottle, I’m going to use it as a cleanser on my makeup-free days (though I have favorite brands/products for that already so I won’t be repurchasing). Do let me know if you’ve had any luck with it–there are so many positive reviews out there, I feel like it might just be me!