by Brigid Anderson
Over the last few years micellar solutions have become one of the most popular products on the market to remove makeup. Though they've only recently become popular is the US, micellar solutions have been a beauty favorite in France for ages due to France's notoriously hard water. Micellar solutions, also called micellar water, offer a gentle and effective way to remove dirt, oil, debris and makeup from the skin due to the micelle molecules that they contain within the solution.
So what are micelle molecules? Micelles are molecules that act as a sponge to remove things that water cannot, like oils and waxes. Micelle molecules trap and absorb impurities and virtually dissolve them before they evaporate.
Because micellar solutions are a powerhouse when it comes to removing impurities, and because they are soap-free water-like solutions that don't require rinsing after use, they are an indispensable tool for those with sensitivities, allergies, and acne-prone skin and are a fantastic alternative to cleansing the skin with water.
Bioderma, a French skin care brand, created the first micellar solution for the skin called Sensibio H2O. I first learned about Bioderma back in 2013, and decided that I needed it in my life immediately. Unfortunately at that time it was not available in the US (or any micellar solution for that matter) and I had to order it from over-seas.
Bioderma's miceller solution quickly became an HG staple in my skin care routine. I kid you not, it was love at first swipe.
Soon I was ordering a few bottles at a time since they took eons to receive. After a few years of ordering it this way, micellar solutions started popping up on store shelves in the States (unsurprisingly) and Bioderma finally became more readily available on Amazon. As more brands evolved their product lines to include micellar solutions, Bioderma began releasing new and different versions of their celebrated micellar solution for different skin types.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O (pink) is for normal and sensitive skin, Sebium H2O (green) is for combo and oily skin (best for acne-prone skin), and Hydrabio H2O (blue) is for sensitive dehydrated skin. I have tried all three formulas and whereas they all perform similarly in efficacy, Sebium H2O performs the best for my particular skin.
All of Bioderma's micellar solutions come in 3 sizes (100 ml, 250 ml, and 500 ml) which makes it a breeze to travel with or keep in your gym bag.
After trying them all I settled on Sebium H2O, which is formulated for combination and oily skin. I've been a loyal Bioderma user from the very beginning despite the multitude of micellar solutions now available wherever skin care products are sold. I've tried a few here and there but I have always gone back to Bioderma without much thought.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me why I choose Bioderma over other brands. The best answer I could provide was that it works and works well for my skin, and because it's the first it's the best. What can I say? I'm stubborn. She fired back (rightfully so) that I had no way of knowing if it was the best if I haven't tried the majority of others.
My friend made a valid point, and it gave me an idea. I decided to put Bioderma micellar solution to the test against a number of readily available micellar solutions that have become very popular. I pulled out all the solutions I have in my arsenal and ran out to a number of stores to pick up others.
For the last week I have used Bioderma's micellar solution on the right side of my face and a competing solution on the left. By doing a side by side comparison I have been able to see just how well each perform in contrast to Bioderma.
For the sake of having some sort of control in this experiment, I have done my makeup with the same products for each test to lessen the variables and provide as much of an even playing field as possible.
Each micellar solution is used on an exfoliating cotton round pad (Target's Up&Up brand) and each solution is used on multiple pads until they result in a pad without any trace of makeup or dirt. This is the best method I could come up with to show how many pads are used for each solution and how effectively each solution removes my makeup.
- MAKE Beauty Moonlight Primer
- Cover Girl AquaSmooth Foundation
- Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium
- Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme
- Too Faced Born This Way Ethereal Setting Powder
- Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Charisma
- Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Original)
- Anastasia of Beverly Hills Eyeshadow in Lure
- Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Buck
- L'Oreal Brow Stylist Ultra Fine Shaping Pencil
- Benefit Gimme Brow in #3
- L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara
- J.Cat You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter in Crystal Sand
micellar solutions tested
- L'Oreal Micellar Cleansing Water for Normal to Oily Skin
- Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
- Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (Pink, Regular Formula)
- No7 Beautiful Skin Micellar Cleansing Water Normal/Oily
- Bioderma Sebium H2O Purifying Cleansing Micelle Solution for Combination/Oily Skin
Bioderma VS L'Oreal:
As you can see from the photo, it took quite a bit more of the L'Oreal Micellar Cleansing Water to remove my makeup than it did with the Bioderma. While the Bioderma side was coming up with clean pads, the L'Oreal was still in the process of removing makeup.
The last two pads were lightly rubbed against my lashes after the pads came up clean. As you can see there was still quite a bit more mascara left on my lashes with the L'Oreal than the Bioderma. Visually I could still see mascara toward my lash line on the L'Oreal side whereas there was none visibly left on my lashes on the Bioderma side.
To it's benefit, the L'Oreal formula does leave the skin feeling moisturized and dewy. I really do like the way my skin feels after using it. However, I would not use the L'Oreal Micellar Cleansing Water as a one step product to remove makeup and cleanse the skin, which kinda defeats the purpose altogether.
Judging by the results, I don't feel confident that all my makeup has been thoroughly removed or that my skin is clean enough to not cleanse.
Bioderma VS Simple:
I'm surprised how many pads I had to go through with the Simple miceller water. I have heard such amazing things about it that my expectations were pretty high before trying it, but unfortunately it just didn't work for me.
It seemed to do an okay job with my face makeup (I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt here), but it had a crazy difficult time with my mascara (which is not waterproof).
The solution itself does not feel like it goes a long way and I kept feeling like it was drying out before I was finished with the pad (which could have contributed to the number of pads needed).
Surprisingly, it also made my skin feel noticeably dried out as I used it, especially compared to the Bioderma side. The difference was a stark contrast. I should also note that my skin still feels dry on the left side, even after applying my Sunday Riley U.F.O. oil.
Because of how dry Simple's miceller water made my skin, and because of how difficult it was to remove my mascara, I have to give Simple a hard pass.
Bioderma VS Garnier Pink:
The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (pink) was one of the first drugstore micellar waters to hit shelves. I picked it up quite awhile ago while waiting on a re-order of Bioderma, but I hadn't used it since.
From the photo you can see that its ability to remove makeup is pretty similar to the Bioderma. It does take a little longer to get more remnants of face makeup all off, but it's ability to remove mascara is just as effective.
After using the Garnier micellar water, the left side of my face feels more stripped...more of that squeaky clean feeling. The Bioderma side feels clean but without feeling stripped. The Bioderma side feels softer, and the Garnier side feels smoother.
The primary reason I discontinued using this particular micellar water is because I found that with consistent use it dried out my skin. It ended up causing flakiness around my nostrils and on my cheeks, and it caused some peeling on my nose. Ultimately I had to stop using it.
Though the Garnier visibly dries out my skin over time, as a makeup remover and one stop shop cleansing solution, it's efficiency is comparable to Bioderma. I just don't know if I'd recommend it to anyone with dry or sensitive skin.
Bioderma VS No7 Beautiful Skin:
The No7 Beautiful Skin Micellar Cleansing Water is a new addition to the No7 product line, so I really wanted to include this micellar solution into this little experiment.
I have to say, I really like the locking pump on the bottle. Having a pump adds a bit more control over the amount of solution dispensed. This is especially useful for quick makeup removal during makeup applications in the event you make a mistake.
I was really impressed with this formula. It removed my eye makeup just as effectively as Bioderma, and though it took just slightly longer to remove all traces of my face makeup, I would say that No7 hits the mark in performing just as well as Bioderma.
The No7 formula is surprisingly very moisturizing and left my skin feeling clean and smooth. It felt extremely gentle and non-stripping, unlike Simple and Garnier. It does leave a tacky residue on the skin as it dries down, however.
No7 Beautiful Skin Micellar Water has a light, unassuming floral scent and though this is not an issue for me personally, it may be for others. Whereas Bioderma Sebium H2O has some added fragrance as well (the Sensibio does not), the No7 is a little stronger and was more noticeable.
Despite the tacky residue, the biggest drawback to No7's formula is that it does contain alcohol. Micellar solutions pride themselves on being alcohol free, so the addition of alcohol to this micellar water makes it a slightly different product which may not be compatible for those looking to introduce micellar waters into their routine based on their alcohol-free attribute.
Through this little experiment I was able to visibly determine that not all micellar solutions are created equal and they are not a one-type-fits-all product. Even though each micellar solution I tested brings something to the table, Bioderma still reigns supreme in my book.
Though a few did come close, Bioderma was still always first to cross the finish line at removing my makeup. It's non-irritating, non-drying formula leaves my skin clean, fresh and residue free and I maintain my original opinion that it is simply the best micellar product available.
Though there's nothing wrong with choosing a drugstore micellar product, if you have yet to try Bioderma I highly suggest doing so. The size of the full size bottle more than makes up for any extra cost and the variety of formulas offered allows for each skin type to find the right formula for their skin.
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Brigid Anderson has been a makeup addict for over 15 years and has worked as a freelance makeup artist and stylist for fashion labels and music videos. When she isn't writing about and using beauty products, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog Ivan, hoarding vintage clothing and vinyl records, and binge watching 'Game of Thrones'...repeatedly.