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micellar water

Battle of the micellar waters: Which comes out on top?

Before you buy another bottle, read this.

(The NIVEA, Casmara and Bioderma Micellar waters were sent to the writer as part of press drops. The writer paid for the other micellar waters featured out of her own money. has not received payment for featuring any of the below brands.)

FOR MANY, MICELLAR water is a necessary evil. It might not be great for you, or your skin, but it certainly does the job when it comes to removing gunk off your face (especially waterproof gunk.)

Garnier brought micellar to the mainstream with their offering early last year. Bioderma came before though, albeit with a slightly heftier price tag. But what about other brands? Are people sleeping on other brands? Let’s find out!

The competitors

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water 400ml (€7)


The old reliable. I’ve used this as a fail safe for years, as I know it works and it’s pretty readily available. HOWEVER, when I don’t double cleanse (I know, arrest me!), I find it dries my skin out a bit so I’m intrigued to see how it compares to the others. 

Nivea MicellAIR Expert Water 400ml (€7, see pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide)


This contains dry oil and black tea extracts which are supposed to lessen that residue-y feeling you get after applying Micellar water.

Casmara Micellar Water 400ml (€18)


It might be more expensive, but it does offer Pollu-block – a natural acive ingredient that creates a protective shield on your skin to protect against ultra violet light, atmospheric pollution and chemical agents. Casmara can also be used on sensitive skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water 250ml (€11.50)


The big daddy of micellar waters, it’s the most expensive one for the least amount. How does it hold up against it’s cheaper counterparts?

Cien Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin 400ml (€1.60)


I mean, you can’t really argue with that price. But what about the quality?

The test

I applied my favourite waterproof eyeliner, Essence Liquid Ink, and mascara to my eyes, as well as whatever foundation and concealer I had to hand. 

The badly applied eyeliner was for test-purposes only, I swear.

Image from iOS (15)

First up – Casmara vs. Bioderma!

Here’s how my eye looked when I removed one side using the Casmara micellar on one cotton pad:

Image from iOS (16) How the Casmara micellar water removed my makeup.

Image from iOS (17) How the Bioderma micellar water removed my makeup.

Both products removed my makeup quickly and efficiently. I did feel the Bioderma meted off the makeup a bit more, which lead to some gunkiness in my eye (it was minimal, though!) In terms of bottle design, Casmara’s pump means it trumps Bioderma in terms of water wastage. Otherwise, they were fairly comparable in terms of dry down and feeling after.

In the next round, Garnier and Nivea went head-to-head, in which I was forced to reapply the makeup I had just removed. Sob.

There's liner under all that eyelid, I swear.

First up, Garnier. 

Image from iOS (19)

… Versus Nivea.

Image from iOS (20)

Now, at this point, my eyes are obviously a bit wrecked. I don’t think that’s a reflection on either product.

Again, with both, I only needed one pad to do each eye and give it a thorough clean. Neither of these bottles has a pump, but the design of the Nivea one means flow is slightly more controlled.

The Garnier one, upon swiping, feels so soapy in comparison to any of the others used, which feel like water. I became very aware of what I was putting in to my eye, and that it probably wasn’t very good in the grand scheme of things.

Finally, the dry-down of the Nivea micellar felt an awful lot quicker and nicer in general. The Garnier one left a slightly cloying feeling on my skin.

Last but not least, the Cien micellar water all on it’s own. This time, I only applied makeup to one eye, attempting to pick the least battered one.

Image from iOS (21)

Image from iOS (22)

Again, I got a a soapy vibe off this, but it also did the job with one pad. This one also had the strongest scent of the lot of them. It’s really hard to put my finger on what exactly the scent was, but it was just chemical-y over all.

Also, it looks yellow in the bottle. Like, urine yellow. In hindsight, that should have been enough of a warning sign.

“What about the skin, Fionnuala?”

Good question, I’m glad you asked. As outlined above, micellar water really isn’t particularly great for your skin if it’s not included in a double cleansing routine. Having trialled them all on separate occasions, the Cien micellar water left me with a skin reaction that I was reluctant to do a rigorous, photographic test on.

I had no issues with any of the others. However, overall, the Nivea one felt the nicest on my skin, drying down quickly and leaving no weird residue.

Parting thoughts?

  • In terms of actual removal, all micellar waters gave similar results.
  • For me, the Nivea felt the least harsh on my skin overall, while the Cien gets a big thumbs down from me.
  • While they are comparable in price, Nivea trumps the Garnier due to the lack of residue it leaves on the skin.
  • If you’re going high end, Casmara ends up being cheaper, less wasteful and just as effective as the Bioderma micellar water.

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