Answer: I hear you. I’ve got sensitive skin too and I am always looking for effective cleansers that don’t trigger problems. I am intrigued by the narrative about Micellar cleansers and your question pushed me to do both book and practical reseach.
Micellar Cleansers 101
Micellaire waters are clear, usually colorless and often fragrance free. They are applied with a cotton ball, applied to the face to remove dirt and oil. Unlike other cleansers they remain on the skin and are not rinsed off with water. Micellar cleansers are very proud of the fact that they are soap and detergent free, but that claim is somewhat misleading. Micellaire waters have chemicals with a different action from detergents but they are still a form of surfactant.
Here’s how they work. The micellar molecules act kind of like little a pac man that gobles up the dirt and oil. By contrast soaps and detergents act like wetting agents to help water dissolve the bonds between oil and dirt.
Sounds good, but how well does micellar water work? Some brands say they work with make-up including eye make-up, Other advise avoiding eyes and or that they do not remove oil based make-up. In other words, the action and activity of micelle water vary from brand to brand.
Micellaire Field Research
The first brand I tried was Sephora Eau Micellaire demaquillante. I poured a bit on a cotton ball and started to rub it gently on my face. Almost immediately, my eyes started to burn a bit even though it was nowhere near my eyes. Although it was recommended for eye make-up removal, I did not feel comfortable using to take off my liner and mascara.
I could see from the cotton ball that at least some of my blush and BB cream had been removed. But my skin did not feel clean, so I added a bit of Neutrogena facial cleanser to another wet cotton ball and rubbed it on my face. This second cotton ball showed that a good bit of make-up had remained after the Micellar cleanser. Then I used my favorite oil free eyemake-up remover for a final step. As it turned out using a Micellar cleanser took three separate steps and products– not exactly a time or money saver.
Other Brands, Same Story
I tried two other brands of Micellar cleansers ( Lancome Eau Friache Douche and Caudalie Eau Micellaire Demaquillante) ) with pretty much the same results. Some were not as irritating, but still did not do a through job of cleaning. I was also disappointed that the most expensive cleanserfrom Lancome had alcohol as the second ingredient. For skin that is sensitive or suffers from eczema or rosacea, alcohol is a poor choice. Bottom line, compared to Micellar water, real water is free and does not contain preservatives, fragrance, preservatives and alcohol. Its an easy choice.