Alrighty then, let’s start off this series! I’m a few weeks into product testing now, tangled up in a constant rotation of three different micellar waters. To go through them a bit quicker and avoid them turning rancid, I started using them AM as a first cleanse before using my regular cream cleanser, then obviously PM as a makeup remover, and sometimes even midday to take off masks and stuff like that. I also do use a lot of product each time — one generously soaked cotton pad in the morning, and at least three to take off sunscreen and makeup.

I’ve recently killed a bottle of the Balea product, and I’m so happy I did, because this was one of my least favourite products in the world! I was so happy it was empty that I threw away the bottle before I could remember that I needed to take photos first, so you’ll have to make do with the usual promo pictures…

What I look for in a micellar water

  • pH ~5,5-6,5
    • the pH should neither disturb the alkaline ocular mucosa (pH 7-7,2) [1], nor the acid mantle of the epidermis (pH 5,5-6,0) [2] — the ideal pH of micellar water should be at around 6
      (A British article published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology defines the healthy pH of eye mucosa between 4 and 10, but in praxi, that is far too wide to be of much reliability. [3])

(Keep in mind that the pH scale is a logarithmic one, so pH 4 is 10x more acidic than pH 5!)

  • safe, gentle and, if possible, hydrating ingredients
    • non-ionic surfactant(s) [4][5]
    • if possible, inclusion of glycols to improve solubility of makeup [6]
      (According to a very old study from 1989 on contact dermatitis and its link to hexylene and propylene glycols, irritation occurred in 2,8% (hexylene glycol, concentrated at 50% or 30%) and 3,8% (propylene glycol, concentrated at 30%) respectively, in a total of 823 eczema patients. [7])
    • no alcohol denat. high up the ingredient list
    • no allergenic, sensitising, mutagenic, etc. ingredients
    • if possible, no fragrance
  • overall pleasant sensoric experience
  • easily available

What I will be evaluating

  • price and €/ml
  • availability
  • ingredients
  • pH
  • marketing promises
  • packaging
  • performance
  • comparison to other micellar waters

Balea Mizellen-Reinigungswasser für trockene und sensible Haut

3,45€ for 400ml

available at DM only

Ingredient analysis

CosDNA analysis

tested at pH 4-5
according to manufacturer at pH 4,6-5,0

The main cleansing agent in here is sodium cocoamphoacetate; it’s a rather mild amphoteric surfactant (the next most gentle group of surfactants after non-ionics [8]), and it gets help from two solubilisers (which also happen to be great humectants) — pentylene glycol and propylene glycol. As I already wrote above, I prefer micellar waters with the inclusion of solubilisers like these, as they help to dissolve the makeup, sweat, sebum, etc., which I want to remove from my skin. I’m a little bit concerned, though, whether there’s enough surfactant to remove my makeup properly (sodium cocoamphoacetate is in fifth place).

There is also glycerin present as the fourth ingredient, which is not bad, especially since I’m probably going to leave the product on my face. The inclusion of sodium salicylate is also quite welcome, as it’s an antibacterial ingredient and therefore might give the product the ability to prevent bacterial breakouts. However, I do have a problem with the orange flower water: It’s merely there to make the product smell better, and could be irritating on some skins. Also, I’m not comfortable to use a product with a citrus compound around and on my eyes.

The biggest problem I see in this formula is the combination of sodium benzoate and citric acid, which could, under certain circumstances, lead to the forming of benzene (extremely carcinogenic!).
However! To get that reaction, the formula would need the additional inclusion of ascorbic acid, a low pH of 2,8-4,5 (which is in praxi a very vague definition, but never mind), and it would have to be metal-catalysed, which means that the solution would need to be in contact with metal in order to start the reaction. [9] Since there’s neither ascrobic acid present, nor is the pH low enough, nor is the bottle made from metal, you should be on the safe side. However, I still rate the presence of sodium benzoate in any cosmetic product as a decrease in quality, as there are many other (and safer!) preservatives out there that would do the job just as well (i.e. potassium sorbate).

All in all a quite mediocre ingredient list that even leans toward the lower end of the quality spectrum.

Official product description

Das Balea Mizellen-Reinigungswasser für trockene und sensible Haut vereint drei Produkte in nur einem Schritt: Reinigung, Make-up-Entferner und Gesichtswasser!

  • Die Formulierung mit Mizellen entfernt schonend Make-up und überschüssigen Talg.
  • Klärt, pflegt und bewahrt die Haut vor dem Austrocknen.
  • Kein Reiben und kein Abspülen mit Wasser notwendig.
  • Mit Glycerin und Orangenblütenwasser.
  • Ohne Alkohol.  Parfümfrei.

Anwendung: Mizellen-Reinigungswasser auf ein Wattepad geben und damit je nach Bedarf sanft Gesicht, Lippen und Augenpartie reinigen.

Hautverträglichkeit dermatologisch und augenärztlich bestätigt.

[source: body label]

English translation (don’t use without credit):

Balea Micellar Cleansing Water for dry and sensitive skin combines three products in just one step: Cleansing, makeup remover and toner!

  • The formula with micelles gently removes makeup and excess sebum.
  • Clarifies, pampers and keeps skin from drying out.
  • No rubbing and rinsing required.
  • With glycerin and orange flower water.
  • Alcohol-free. Fragrance-free.

Application: Pour Micellar Cleansing Water onto a cotton pad and gently swipe over face, lips and eyes.

Dermatologically and ophthalmologically tested.

Oh dear… Well, clearly, Balea wants the customer to think this is some kind of wonder product! Describing this as a cleanser, makeup remover and toner in one is… shady, at best. Also, the claim that »no rubbing [is] required« is simply not true — even the softest cotton pads will produce friction on your skin, no matter how gentle and careful you are. To me, these are all your average overinflated marketing claims, the least true being »fragrance-free« (because I can’t think of any other use for orange flower water than to mask the distinct chemical smell that lies underneath).


The packaging is a bit reminiscent of the Garnier micellar waters; it’s a little smaller and broader, and the cap is different. The distribution of the product is easy to control trough the small nozzle, and the bottle itself isn’t prone to leaking. It would be quite convenient for travelling if it wasn’t so bulgy. All in all good packaging, although it does look (and feel) very cheap.


I have used it almost daily for the past two months (which equals two life cycles of a skin cell), mostly to take off my makeup in the afternoon, and for a speedy cleanse in the morning before splashing my face with water (I’m currently a little low on my favourite cream cleanser, so I need to make do with what I have). The cleansing prowess was indeed quite good, although it struggled to take off my waterproof eyeliner. I would have liked it very much if it weren’t for the strange smell and the soapy feeling that it left on my skin — not quite drying, but definitely not comfortable. Moreover, it stung my eyes, probably due to the low pH and the orange flower water, which I should have known beforehand — but then again, why would you make a micellar water that isn’t safe to be used around the eyes??? There’s no sense in that for me.

Similar products

Just google »shitty micellar water« and I’m sure you’ll find loads.


× pH 4,6-5,0

~ only one amphoteric surfactant (sodium cocoamphoacetate) instead of a non-ionic (it’s still a very mild one though)

glycols for better makeup solubility: pentylene gycol, propylene gycol

no alcohol denat.

~ formula includes sodium benzoate and citric acid, but the packaging is plastic, and the inclusion of chelating agent tetrasodium EDTA should inhibit the reaction to benzene [9]

× fragranced with orange flower water (it still smells very strange!)

× soapy feeling, stung in the eyes

 only available at DM, but that is a very big chain in Central Europe, so it’s easy to get

price-size ratio is very good

× price-performance ratio could be better (on the performance side)

Résumé: Although this is not really a bad product, I wouldn’t recommend it due to the bad sensoric experience. If you can’t use a micellar water around the eyes, there’s little point in using it at all (at least in my opinion). If you want a cheap micellar water that does the job properly (and without burning your eyes out), I suggest you try the Garnier or Nivea ones.

Products I didn’t (and won’t) test:

Balea Mizellen-Reinigungswasser für Mischhaut und sensible Haut

3,45€ for 400ml

available at DM only

CosDNA analysis

according to manufacturer at pH 4,6-5,0

Since I disliked the dry skin version so much, I figured that there would be no point in testing the combination skin version as well, especially because it has alcohol and witch hazel. Now, I don’t really mind alcohol in some formulations — it can act as a penetration enhancer (in moderation, of course) —, but I don’t even want my micellar water to penetrate into my skin! And in combination with witch hazel? No, thanks, I don’t hate my face.

As for the rest of the ingredients: We have the same sodium benzoate + citric acid issue as in the other product, but, again, the packaging is made of plastic, and the chelating agent (again, tetrasodium EDTA) will inhibit the reaction to benzene. [9] No problems here.

Still, as I said before, I would rather recommend Garnier’s or Nivea’s micellar waters, even though those are a little more expensive than the Balea ones. You get a much better sensoric experience for your money, and don’t run the risk of destroying your skin.

Well, even though this review series didn’t start off with a very promising product, I’m quite confident that the next review will be quite positive: I’m currently testing the Nivea micellar waters, and all of them are a joy to use. More on that in a few weeks!

P.S.: Since this blog is still a rather new and small one, I don’t want to commit too much time to it yet; I first want to gain some experience (and a few more readers, hopefully!) before I start to post more frequently. Currently, my posting schedule is about once a week; I’ll up it to a post every three days once I’ve hit a certain amount of traffic. The next post is scheduled in nine days, so keep your eyes peeled for it!


This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links. Affiliate links and PR samples on PALE AS F∗CK are always marked with one (∗) and two (∗∗) asterisks, respectively.

[1] Trief, Danielle; Chodosh, James; Colby, Kathryn: Chemical (Alkali and Acid) Injury of the Conjunctiva and Cornea. American Academy of Ophthalmology EyeWiki 2.12.’15

[2] Schmid-Wendtner, Monika-Hildegard; Korting, Hans Christian: pH and Skin Care. ABW Wissenschaftsverlag Berlin 2007, p. 15

[3] Lim, Lik Thai; Ah-kee, Elliott Y.; Collins, Cian E.: Common eye drops and their implications for pH measurements in the management of chemical eye injuries. International Journal of Ophthalmology, Vol. 7 No. 6 2014, p. 1067

[4] Romanowksi, Perry: What Kinds of Surfactants Are Used in Cosmetics? ChemistsCorner.com

[5] Salager, Jean-Louis: Surfactants. Types and Uses. 2002, p. 29-36

[6] Romanowki, Perry; Schueller, Randy: What is Micellar Water? TheBeautyBrains.com 18.1.’15

[7] Kinnunen, Tuula; Hannuksela, Matti: Skin reactions to hexylene glycol. Contact Dermatitis, Vol. 21 No. 3 1989, p. 154-158

[8] Mild Surfactants. Clariant Mild Surfactants for Personal Care Applications, p. 4

[9] David: Benzene from Citric Acid and Sodium Benzoate? ChemistsCorner.com 2014











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