There’s no denying the fascination many of us have with the magical aura of
French skincare routines and the specific brands and products French women swear by to keep their complexions in pristine, glowing condition. One commandment of French skincare? Simplicity. Which, is perhaps why multi-functioning micellar water solutions are one of the most iconic staples of French regimens.
Used to simultaneously clean the skin and remove makeup (but without harsh soaps, fragrances, or other skin-stripping additives) micellar waters are a handy, no-rinse alternative to your typical cleansers or toners. As the name suggests, the starring ingredient of the product category is micelles which basically act like mini magnets to attract and trap impurities in the skin like sebum, pollution, oil, makeup, and any other day-to-day residues. Plus, since the formulas are usually incredibly simple in chemistry and specifically feature non-irritating ingredients, they’re an excellent option for anyone with sensitive skin, especially.
Due to micellar water’s popularity, there are countless options on the market which makes it hard to discern which formulas make for the most worthwhile investment. So, we did some digging and identified 12 French-made micellar water formulas that all get top-ratings from beauty editors and nit-picky consumers, alike. Keep scrolling for all the best French micellar water elixirs the beauty industry has to offer along with the best-selling skincare products to pair with them.
Here it is—the most iconic micellar water in all the land, especially stateside. We love it best because it’s affordable without sacrificing quality, it’s especially ideal for the most sensitive of skin (even those with rosacea), and it effectively cleans skin and removes stubborn makeup with no-rinse necessary. The formula contains fatty acid esters (the constituent elements of micelles) that mimic the phospholipids of skin cell membranes, which help repair the skin’s hydrolipidic film.
A moisturizing, non-greasy shower oil that locks in hydration for a full 24 hours.
Like pretty much all micellar waters, this soap-free formula doesn’t require water and is safe for sensitive skin, that said, it’s especially amazing for aging skin thanks to how nourishing and hydrating the ingredient list is; organic chamomile, peptides, Viniferine, and shea butter work together to soothe, lift, nourish, and improve overall brightness or dark spots.
Speaking of radiance, this cult-classic serum expertly targets dark spots and uneven skin tone.
Not only do we love Garnier for its budget-friendly price point, but the brand also offers four different micellar water formulas to suit an array of skin needs. For oily skin, we recommend their $7 mattifying number which also helps detoxifying congestion-prone pores. (And yes, while widely known as a U.S> drugstore staple, Garnier was founded in France and has been around since 1904!)
A feather-light, oil-free moisturizing gel that delivers potent hydration to even the driest of skin types.
For those who feel like they need an extra hit of detoxification, we recommend this micellar water-gel-cleanser hybrid from La Roche-Posay. Just like most micellar waters, there’s no need to rinse this formula from your face, but you’ll apply it to wet skin and massage it in instead of using a cotton pad or toning cloth. An effective mix of poloxamer, glycerin, and thermal spring water goes to work to remove even the most stubborn makeup or pollution residue while simultaneously moisturizing and soothing the skin.
This famous sunscreen delivers a 24-hour dose of hydration along with a helpful shield of SPF protection. (It’s the brand’s best-selling sunscreen formula!)
Infused with detoxifying organic cornflower, this is one of the best micellar waters on the market—not only for efficient makeup removal but for those with sensitive or puff-prone eyes. The pH is specifically balanced to resemble the pH of tears to help prevent irritation, and it’s also vegan, hypoallergenic, and Ophthalmologist-tested.
Line-smoothing and de-puffing eye patches enriched with matching organically farmed cornflower extract, chamomile, and arnica.
Think of this best-selling formula as your classic micellar water 2.0. It’s laced with cell-sloughing salicylic and lactic acids to banish breakouts and bacteria while keeping the complexion soft, clean, calm, and healthy. It also features Vichy’s famed mineralizing water which is enriched with 15 essential minerals sourced directly from French volcanoes to help strengthen and repair the skin barrier.
This skin-boosting serum is so lightweight it feels completely invisible on the skin, Alas, the formula brims with hyaluronic acid and 89% mineral water to soften and plump thirsty skin with a surge of moisture.
If you’ve never heard do Payot Paris, you’re in for a treat. The beloved French brand makes some of the dreamiest complexion remedies, and this milky micellar elixir is at the top of our list. While the brand also makes a non-milky, water-like version, we’re obsessed with how velvety-smooth this micellar milk leaves our skin. That said, both formulas share the same lush skin actives like hyaluronic acid, raspberry extracts, and micelles.
So, this pot of cream is kind of magical. It’s a 70-year old secret (and a longtime best-seller for the brand) that essentially speeds up the breakout cycle by bringing small, bourgeoning bumps to their peak maturation phase faster so they’re gone sooner. The top-secret formula was developed by Dr. Payot, himself, and it works while you sleep to fast-forward and quickly erase stubborn pimples. Brilliant, no?
Sure, this star French micellar water may resemble other top-notch options in terms of it’s watery, soap- and rinse-free formula, but the strategic roster of ingredients is unique and especially clutch for re-building, repairing, and re-balancing off-kilter skin. It boasts complexion-impriving prebiotics from chlorella vulgaris (a green microalgae similar to spirulina) that help re-set the skin’s microbiome by specifically feeding the good bacteria on the skin.
Talika’s Bio Enzyme masks are a crowd favorite. You can choose from a few different formulas (everything from Purifying to Anti-Aging) but this hydrating is a fool-proof option that treats hydration-starved skin with Alpine botanical extracts, hyaluronic acid, bamboo stem cells, arnica extract, and hydrophilic sugars.
Supremely lovely, this high-quality micellar water from Avène has a refreshingly short and simple label of ingredients. It deftly removes makeup, cleanses the skin, and keeps irritation at bay in one fell swoop and is a great option for anyone who has normal skin without any particular skin concerns.
Post-cleanse, nothing beats a refreshing mist with the brand’s best-selling thermal water mist.
This might be the most expensive micellar water on our list, but it’s a supreme option for anyone looking to double-down on their glow efforts. Essential oils go to work to help soften and top-up parched complexions with moisture while the hero ingredient—white rose native cells—illuminate the skin with high-wattage brightening perks.
$60 a pop for a lip balm isn’t something to joke about, but this makeup artist staple is in a league of its own thanks to ingredients like essential rose wax, precious floral oils, bio-ceramides, and vitamin E which nourish chapped lips back to health, seal in moisture, and even help rebuild and re-define the lip contour for a perter-looking pout.
Ultra-dry and/or mature skin can both benefit from this supreme, water-less micellar complex. It has a tidal wave of strategic ingredients like sea lavender oil and polysaccharides (to help prevent premature aging), chamomile and rose essential oils (to calm inflammation), sodium PCA (to bind-in hydration), plus bergamot and mint essential oils (to boost and suppleness).
Another great antidote for dry skin, this complexion-reviving toner boasts lots of skin-loving botanicals like cypress oil, thyme oil, and glycerin.
Formulated with 94% natural-origin ingredients, this ophthalmologist-tested, ultra-comforting micellar formula is one of the best options on the market for anyone, but especially those prone to irritation and redness. The key ingredient is Azahar flower which helps pacify, tone, re-invigorate a stressed complexion.
Another essential for anyone prone to redness, this best-selling serum utilizes chamomile, Hawthorne, and peony extracts (along with a heavy it of pro-B vitamin, glycerin, and antioxidant-rich grape polyphenols) to keep skin as calm, cool, and collected as a cucumber. It’s also great for fending off skin damage incurred by the environment or pollution. Up next, My Favorite (But Expensive) Beauty Brands Rarely Go On Sale—Except for Right Now