Micellar water reviews: Garnier, Bioderma Hydrabio & Sensibio, Marcelle 3 in 1

Micellar water review comparison bioderma garnier marcelle bubble

For those of you who don’t already know, micellar waters are water-like makeup removing solutions. They use hydrophilic/hydrophobic “micelles” to break down makeup with the power of an oil while still having the texture of water, and they’re… kind of fantastic.

Ever since trying the Marcelle 3 in 1 (formerly the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Water), I’ve been smitten with micellar waters. They’re an awesome way to gently remove makeup with no silicones and no oily residue, and while they break down makeup as well as many bi-phase makeup removers, they don’t set tubing mascaras the way an oil will.

Nowadays, there are a ton of micellar waters on the market – so here’s a comparison of four of the best.

Bioderma Sensibio micellar water review

4. Bioderma Sensibio Make-up Removing Micelle Solution ($26.95 CAD/500ml) 

Sensibio is the mother of all micellar solutions. Invented in 1995, Sensibio/Créaline just celebrated its 20th anniversary – and one bottle is still sold every 3 seconds worldwide.

The Sensibio range is fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin, and the micellar solution replaces your make-up remover and toner. But, as much as I love Sensibio, I think that 20 years of competition and new technologies can make a better product.

The packaging: Bioderma’s packaging is a classic, but the lids are very fragile and snap off if you open the circular top from the wrong angle. Bioderma is available in the widest range of sizes (100 ml to 1L, depending on your country.)

The product: While gentle and fragrance-free, I find that Sensibio is a little drying, especially in the eye area. Sensibio is the least effective makeup remover of these 4.

The price: $26 CAD per 500 ml

Marcelle 3 in 1 micellar water review

3. Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD/300 ml) 

The Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution was my first cleansing oil, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s Canadian, it’s fragrance-free, and it comes in awesome packaging. 

The packaging: The best of the bunch! The 3 in 1 comes in a sturdy flip-top push dispenser. However, it only comes in the one size, and there is no open-cap version available for q-tip dipping.

The product: More effective than Sensibio, but slightly more astringent.

The price: $33.25 CAD/500 ml

Garnier Micellar Water SkinActive review

2. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water ($8.97/400 ml)

Garnier’s SkinActive micellar waters (also available in blue/waterproof) are the newest micellar waters on the block, and I’ve gotta give it to ’em: they’re really not bad!

The packaging: Sturdy lid & slim bottle. However, the SkinActive line is a blatant ripoff of Bioderma, which is a big turn-off for me.

The product: The SkinActive Micellar Water is more effective than Bioderma Sensibio and less drying than Marcelle’s. It feels slightly more “soapy” than either of the two.

The price: $11.21 CAD/500 ml

Bioderma Hydrabio micellar water review

1. Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Micelle Solution ($24.90/500 ml)

Hydrabio is Bioderma’s newest micellar water, and it is by far my favourite of the line. It’s optimized for dehydrated/dry, sensitive skin, and for my fragile, dry skin, it is the most gentle of the bunch. 

It’s very fragranced, however (it smells kind of moisturize-y floral), so it’s best for sensitive-fragile skin, not sensitive-“allergies galore!” skin.

The packaging: Fragile lid & wide volume range (see above).

The product: The most gentle AND the most effective of these four. It’s a little more “slippery” feeling, but it completely melts away even my waterproof gel eyeliners. (This is the #1 micellar water in Canada!)

The price: $24.90/500 ml

Bioderma sensibio vs hydrabio sensitive skin review comparison

The verdict?

While I would prefer it without the fragrance, I find Bioderma’s Hydrabio micellar water to be both the most gentle and the most effective micellar water in drugstores right now. However, all four of them are honestly very good – good enough that you should never have to return to non-micellar makeup removers ever again!

There are still a handful of micellar waters that I have yet to try, though, and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Hit me up in the comments to rave about your favourite micellar water!! 

Micellar water review comparison bioderma garnier marcelle

Micellar water drugstore comparison review

Removal comparisons – each wiped vertically 5x using a cotton pad soaked with micellar water. Eyeliner being removed is the Shu Uemura Drawing Pencil in M Black 01.

Bioderma Crealine makeup remover review

100mL Bioderma Sensibo packaging!

Garnier SkinActive micellar water comparison Bioderma

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water lid

The ingredients

Bioderma Sensibo H2O ingredients: 

Water, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Propylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Cetrimonium Bromide. 

Marcelle 3 in 1 ingredients: 

Water, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Cetrimonium Bromide, Sodium Citrate, Disodium EDTA, Salicylic Acid.

-The aloe and glycerin will condition the skin, but the salicylic acid is likely why it feels more astringent. In the long term, it should help prevent acne and milia. 

Garnier SkinActive ingredients: 

Water, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Disodium EDTA, Poloxamer 184, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide.

-Surfactant and disinfectant.

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O ingredients:

Water, Glycerin, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Polysorbate 20, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Niacinamide, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Apple Extract, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Propylene Glycol, Hexyldecanol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Cetrimonium Bromide, Fragrance.

-Glycerine and castor oil give this makeup remover a more soothing, hydrating effect. Niacinimide will help increase ceramide and fatty acid levels in the skin for ongoing hydration. 

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  • Sophie

    This was SO useful!

    Sophie x

  • Lauren

    I agree, the Garnier waters are a little too similar in packaging and presentation to the Bioderma for comfort. That being said, I've been particularly impressed with the Garnier blue bottle/waterproof micellar water. Don't let the biphasic liquid fool you, as long as you shake them up before using, the oily residue is surprisingly minimal. They also break up waterproof mascara like a dream. I use them exclusively now, even when I'm wearing regular mascara, as I want to minimize pulling and rubbing on that delicate skin as much as possible.

    • Hmm, that sounds really interesting! I don't understand how a biphasic oil could be a micellar water, though — won't it just lock down any tubing products? :/

      Still… I've heard some seriously amazing things about that blue Garnier one! Might have to give it a go ;)

  • esharp1978

    Hydrobio is what I've been using for a while, it came out in France some time ago. I'm only last one or two uses so I'm glad it's back in North America.
    My recent post Ponzi Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris

    • Those French folks get all the good skincare first! ;)

      I'm glad you'll be able to stock up over here now, too!

  • styletostay

    I've been using the garnier one lately and I really can't complain about it,especially with that price tag :)

  • Rheanna

    The only one I've tried from your lineup is the sensibio and I really like it! I was debating on trying the hydrabio or the sensibio originally but I decided on the classic. I feel like I dodged a bullet because I'm not a fan of fragrances, and since I don't use micellar waters to remove makeup it doesn't matter that the hydrabio is more effective :P

    • Haha, that's true, Rheanna! Although I have to ask… if you're not using micellar water to remove makeup, is it just for cleansing/toning then? (I only ever use mine for removing makeup, but then again, I'm pretty lazy. No makeup = no cleanser for me!)

  • I love the Garnier. I really need to try the waterproof one!
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  • Yay, four hits, that doesn't happen very often, nice!
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    • Right?? I definitely had a favourite from the bunch, but I was so pleased that all 4 really did the job!

  • shireenplatt

    I've tried all except the blue cap Bioderma and I find Garnier and Marcelle to be better than the pink cap Bioderma too! So far I'm sticking to Garnier because I'm a cheapskate and I don't see the point of spending the extra $$$ when Garnier works just as well.
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  • jenna

    great comparison! This was such a helpful post

  • I have to agree with you that the original pink cap Bioderma is not particularly effective at removing eye makeup – I can't understand how so many people say that it removes waterproof mascara easily…
    I like the Bioderma Hydrabio a lot, I find it very gentle. I also have the blue version of the Garnier SkinActive, and while it started very poorly (cap was faulty and I can't close it, it leaked all over my shopping bag after I bought it!)), I have to say that it's really, really good at removing eye makeup quickly.
    Another one of my favorites is the Lierac, and it comes in a pump bottle.
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    • RIGHT??? Like, okay, it removes waterproof mascara way more easily than just water… but there is definitely better out there now.

      I'm glad to hear that you're loving the Bioderma Hydrabio as well! I have yet to try the blue Garnier SkinActive, but I think it'll be the next one I buy. Everyone has such wonderful things to say about it! (Other than that packaging, that is!)

  • For the price, Garnier is really good. I also like the Avene one. and Dirty Works have one too, which is pretty good.

    • Ooh, I didn't know that Avene did one! (I love their eczema care line).

  • Madison


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    Madison from Irresistible Me

  • I could very well be the only one in the beauty world who has not yet tried micellar water XD I have been tempted to buy into the original Bioderma hype (glad I didn't, based on your review), but just haven't.
    Would you say they are a must-have – if you were to never use micellar water again, would it be significant? :)
    Have you tried any of the K-beauty 'cleansing waters' they have started coming out with, which do seem like a take on the micellar water?

    Sorry for the questions :D Just my wallet has me at gun point here….
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    • Honestly, YES. It would be a pretty big (and sad!) change for me if I suddenly had to stop using micellar waters. They work so much better than traditional single-phase makeup removers, and because I wear so many tubing products, switching to oil-based makeup removers isn't an option for me!

      That being said, I don't think I've tried a cleansing water before — I'm not sure how or if they would be different!