Hello there and Happy Easter, if you celebrate! I apologize for skipping Wishlist Wednesday this week, but I just started back up with school and needed a break to readjust to the class life. Anyway, today I wanted to bring you a special review comparing a few options of micellar or cleansing waters.
If you are unfamiliar of what this type of product is, it is a multipurpose skincare solution which removes makeup and cleanses the skin. Some formulas also claim to tone, moisturize, or balance the skin as well, depending on the brand of the specific product. Micellar waters also have a variety of uses. They follow up well after a cleanser or makeup wipe to remove those last stubborn bits of makeup, are convenient on long nights when you just need a quick-fix, or can be used as a refresher after waxing or a facemask when classic cleansing would be too harsh on the skin.
Micellar waters are not multipurpose in the traditional sense that they will be an all-in-one miracle product that will replace a whole proper skincare routine, but they are multifunctional and can be used for several different purposes and in different circumstances. To use, simply apply the product to a cotton round, enough to wet it but not over soak it so that it is wasteful, and wipe over the whole face as you would with a toner or wipe. Once again, I must emphasize that this will not take the place or give you the benefits of a full and healthy skincare regimen, but it is a great addition to any skincare collection. Here are the ones I have sampled so far:
Of course the first contender is arguably the most well known and loved micellar water in the beauty community, Bioderma. Bioderma is a French product and probably one of the original micellar solutions that were originally only widely available in Europe. I gave a pretty thorough review on this product in my Winter 2015 Empties post, but here is a more detailed breakdown of the product.
- Formula: Across the board, the formula of micellar waters are pretty similar and Bioderma is no exception. The solution is clear and lightweight, attempting to mimic the consistency of actual H2O. Of course, the contents of the product consist mainly of water with other ingredients for added benefits. This particular formulation of Bioderma is the Sensibo version for sensitive skin from England in the pink packaging, also known as the Créaline version in France. The bottle claims to remove makeup and cleanse. When used it is very gentle and does not dry out my skin. In fact, it even leaves it refreshed and rehydrated. 5/5
- Scent: The scent of Bioderma is indescribable! The best way I could put it is “clean in a good way”, and I know that is hardly helpful. It has a subtle, barely-there-smell that is reminiscent of a spa. The scent is not overwhelming but in fact I find it very soothing. 4.5/5
- Packaging: Bioderma comes in a pretty standard, rounded bottle with a pour-out spout and attached flip-up cap. There is nothing very special about it, but nothing wrong either. My only concern is that the flip-up cap could potentially break off, but this one has never given me problems and seems pretty sturdy. It is the most compact packaging of the three, however, and holds the most product. 3/5
- Effectiveness: To remove a full face of makeup, I typically use two cotton pads worth of product. A single use perfectly removes excess makeup after cleansing. I find that after use my face feels balanced and clean, even if this is the only product I’ve used. Also, this removes unexpected oil and dirt and is great for doing a quick cleanse for no makeup days. 4/5
- Bioderma is paraben free and also hypoallergenic. It is also free of added fragrances and parfums, but it does have a scent which comes from the cucumber extract and other ingredients already in the product.
- There is 250 ml (8.5 fl oz) in this bottle, the largest amount between these three options. Bioderma also comes in a variety of other sizes including a large 500 ml size and a mini 100 ml size. There is also an updated 500 ml package that comes with the pump top applicator where you can place the cotton pad on top of the nozzle and push down to dispense the product, similar to the alcohol and makeup remover dispensers around Sephora.
- French skincare has much stricter standards about what ingredients can be used and often contain far less harmful and dangerous chemicals than American skincare.
- When I originally started using this product two years ago, the easiest way to get a hold of it in America was to have a friend going to Europe bring it back for you or pay upwards of $60 for a 250 ml bottle online. It has since become easier and more widely available on Amazon but is still not quite as cheap as it would be in Europe. About 3 months ago, this bottle would have cost around $27 online but it is currently around $17 on Amazon (including shipping). My friend bought this bottle for me for £9.99 in England last summer which is equivalent to $14.91 in the US. Two summers ago, my friends bought my 500 ml Créaline bottle in France at a pharmacie for around €16, or $17.43 US. The pound to dollar comparison is fairly minimal, but the price in France is unbeatable, at double the amount for almost the same cost. It is also the most expensive option overall between these three.
- Despite being a French skincare product under stricter drug and medicine standards, Bioderma does contain PEG-6, a chemical that is slightly controversial. PEGs have a range of hazardousness, though, and PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides fall low on the scale and is derived from natural oils such as almond or coconut. However, using ewg.org, a cosmetic ingredients database, the overall hazard of this product averages out to a 1 on a scale from 1-10.*
This is the Simple Cleansing Water which hit the drugstores at the beginning of this year. Ingrid from Missglamorazzi on YouTube has raved about this product recently, but here are my thoughts.
- Formula: Once again, the solution is a water like liquid. The Simple water is much drier than Bioderma, despite the bottle claiming to hydrate the skin. It leaves my skin feeling dehydrated after use and I find that if I have active breakouts this sometimes aggravates them. When I have clearer skin, however, this product is much more manageable but must be followed up with a moisturizer. I feel that this formula does not suit my oily, acne prone skin but would work much better for normal to combo skin that isn’t prone to acne. 2.5/5
- Scent: The Simple water has a botanical scent that is definitely noticeable but not overwhelming. However, there is also a tinge of alcohol as an after scent to this. 3/5
- Packaging: The bottle is oval shaped and has a flatter, sloping side which makes it easier to lay flat. The top is similar to the Bioderma with the flip-top cap and pour nozzle. I find the joint on this cap to be more flimsy, though, and would recommend caution. 3.5/5
- Effectiveness: Despite drying out my skin, this is pretty effective at removing makeup. I use two and half cotton pad’s worth to remove a full face of makeup and one cotton pad to get rid of lingering makeup. This is not an effective cleanser, though, and is much harsher than I would prefer. I really wanted to like this product, but it is unfortunately not for me. Personally, this works better as a waterproof mascara remover or to wipe away finishing oil after waxing since it easily breaks down thick oils. 2.5/5
- The bottle claims to be “free of artificial perfumes or dyes and harsh chemicals (that can upset your skin)”. Averaging out, the EWG scores of the ingredients, the hazard score is around a 2.
- It is widely available at the drugstore and easy to find.
- The price is only $6.99, the cheapest out of these three options. It is so affordable that I would recommend giving this a go, even though it didn’t work the best for me, since it is so cheap, you wouldn’t be losing much.
- This contains DMDM Hydantoin, a preservative which is linked to allergies, irritation, and immunotoxicity and a high hazard ingredient.
- Only contains 198 ml (6.7 fl oz) of product, the least amount among the three.
Finally, I have the Sephora Triple Action Cleansing Water. I picked this one up per recommendation of Fluer DeForce on YouTube who claims to prefer it to Bioderma.
- Formula: A clear watery solution as well, this formula is more bubbly compared to the others. It is mild but unassuming. The Sephora cleansing water gets the job done, but I wouldn’t call it spectacular. [Edit] After using this once more, however, I found that the formula left my skin quite soft. On the downside, though, it immediately felt slightly sticky afterwards until it was completely absorbed into my skin and did not feel as refreshing or completely “clean” afterwards. 4/5
- Scent: There is a definite fragrance to this product, like a light floral and botanical perfume. It is strong, so if you do not like fragrance I would steer clear. I am not irritated by the fragrance, though. 3/5
- Packaging: The bottle is a typical cylindrical shape. It has a press-down cap that pops up a spout. This dispense system does not distribute product as evenly on the cotton pad as the other type of nozzle does though. However, the small bottle has been repackaged since I purchased this in January. The small version now has one of the pump top caps that dispenses product by pushing down on it, like the Sephora alcohol bottles in store. 2.5/5
- Effectiveness: It removes makeup well. I use two and a half cotton pads to remove a full face and one cotton pad is plenty to follow up a cleanser. The solution is gentle on the skin and leaves it  soft and unstripped, but does not have the rehydrating benefits like Bioderma. It cleanses skin effectively, and removes excess grease fairly. Overall, this falls pretty much in the middle. 3/5
- This cleansing water is paraben, sulfate, and phthalate free and scores around a 2 by EWG averages.
- The bottle claims the product is dermatologically and ophthalmology tested for comfort.
- Contains Sephora’s own HydroSen+, an ingredient designed to be more hydrating than hyaluronic acid.
- Contains fragrance which holds a high hazard as it is very vague and often can be irritating.
- Costs $12 for 200 ml (6.8 fl oz) of product. However, the repackaged version now only contains 147.7 ml (5 fl oz) of product at the same price. That is around .08¢ per ml, compared to Bioderma at around .06¢.
General Consensus: Overall, I still prefer Bioderma to all these alternatives, but they are not bad products individually. If I hadn’t tried Bioderma first, I probably would have been very content with the Sephora version. Neither of the alternatives are exact dupes, but they are worth taking a look at if you would not like to be more spendy and buy Bioderma.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and be sure to stay in touch using the social media links below!
*EWG is a database where you can search through 68,000 products and see their health hazard based on a score which is determined by the amount of hazardous ingredients in the product. 0-2 is a low hazard, 3-6 moderate, and 7-10 high. You can also look up any confusing chemical ingredients individually and see a score based on that ingredient. I could not find these specific products in the EWG database so I input the ingredients in each product individually and averaged out the scores for the ingredients to make an estimate.
All my love,
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12 Replies to “Product Comparison: Micellar Cleansing Waters [Bioderma vs. Simple vs. Sephora]”
Thanks so much for taking the time to do such a good and thorough review Megan! 🙂 I’ve heard so much about cleansing waters, but I’m yet to try any. I love it when people tale the time to write detailed reviews, it really makes my decision of whether or not I should purchase a product so much easier 🙂 keep up the amazing work ❤
Love, Adela xx
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You’re so welcome, Adela! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I have the same problem when I go to try a product and I can’t find a good review it makes the decision much harder! Thanks for leaving a comment ❤️
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This is such a thorough review and gave me so much more information than I even thought I wanted! I really appreciate all the work put into this post–super helpful! Thanks!
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Thank you so much! I’m so glad that you found it helpful 🙂 thanks for leaving such a sweet comment ❤️
I’ve heard good things about this bioderma product! Going on my wish ♥ list now.