BULK REVIEW: NIVEA MICELLAR WATERS

Phew, finally through with the Nivea waters! It was actually harder than I expected it to be, although I used it up quite quickly — they’re just so bloody similar! It was difficult to find the right words to describe the differences between them in terms of the effect that they have. Anyways, here we go!


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

Reading through my previous review of Balea’s micellar water again, I get the feeling that I need to clarify how my »constant rotation of three different micellar waters« actually works without my face melting off from the perpetual change of ingredients!

As some might remember from biology class, the life cycle of a human skin cell lasts for about 28 days — or, let’s stretch that to a month, shall we? Technically, that means that I need to use a product constantly for a minimum of four weeks to be able to see any difference in the new layer of skin cells.

With cleansing products, it’s a bit different: If you don’t see results (that is, clean skin) right away, you’re either doing something wrong, or your product is not suited for you (or just straight-up shitty). As with everything, patch test for a week to see whether it irritates your skin, but if it doesn’t, don’t fuss around with it and just put it in your routine. It’s as simple as that.

Now, after having lifted this off my heart, let’s move on to the fun part!


Nivea Sensitive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water

4,25€ for 200ml
0,02125€/ml

widely available

Ingredient analysis

AQUA • PEG-40 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL • VITIS VINIFERA (GRAPE) SEED OIL • PANTHENOL • GLYCERYL GLUCOSIDE • GLYCERIN • SORBITOL • DECYL GLUCOSIDE • POLOXAMER 124 • POLYQUATERNIUM-10 • DISODIUM COCOYL GLUTAMATE • CITRIC ACID • SODIUM CHLORIDE • SODIUM ACETATE • PROPYLENE GLYCOL • 1,2-HEXANEDIOL • TRISODIUM EDTA • PHENOXYETHANOL
CosDNA analysis

tested at pH 6-7
according to manufacturer at pH 7

What it contains: A bunch of surfactants, some grape seed oil (for better makeup solubility, and probably to justify some marketing promises), soothing panthenol, glyceryl glucoside (which is said to have a stimulating effect on aquaporins [8][9]), glycerin and sorbitol, both humectants, polyquaternium-10, which is a low-hazard antistatic (up to 5%, it was only mildly irritating to skin and eyes; no reaction below 2% [10]), propylene glycol, another humectant, 1,2-hexanediol, a humectant that could be irritating to the eyes [11], trisodium EDTA, a chelating agent that is not biohazardous (as opposed to disodium and tetrasodium EDTA), and broad-spectrum preservative phenoxyethanol. Basically, it’s mostly surfactants and humectants.


Official product description

Wollen Sie Ihre Haut gründlich reinigen und beruhigen?

Das Nivea Mizellenwasser Sensitive mit Dexpanthenol und Traubenkernöl:

  • Reinigt das Gesicht und die sensible Augenpartie gründlich und besonders mild.
  • Entfernt Makeup und Mascara sanft — für schöne und gepflegte Wimpern.
  • Pflegt und beruhigt die Haut.

Durch die Mizellentechnologie werden Schmutzpartikel eingeschlossen und können so sanft und ohne Reiben entfernt werden. Kein Abspülen notwendig. Zusammen mit anderen Nivea Sensitive Pflegeprodukten werden die drei Zeichen sensibler Haut aktiv reduziert: Rötungen, Spannungsgefühl, Trockenheit.

  • Ohne Parfum
  • Ohne Silikone
  • Ohne Parabene
  • Ohne Farbstoffe

Anwendung: Tränken Sie ein Wattepad mit dem Mizellenwasser und streichen Sie damit morgens und abends bei geschlossenen Augen sanft über Gesicht, Augen und Dekolleté.

[source: body label]


English translation (don’t use without credit):

Do you want to cleanse and soothe your skin?

Nivea Sensitive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water with panthenol and grape seed oil:

  • Cleanses face and eyes gently but thoroughly.
  • Gently removes makeup and mascara – for beautiful and groomed lashes.
  • Pampers and calms the skin.

Thanks to the micelle technology, dirt particles are encapsulated and can be removed gently and without rubbing. No rinsing required. Together with other Nivea Sensitive products, the three signs of sensitive skin are being actively reduced: Redness, tightness, dryness.

  • Fragrance-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Colourant-free

Application: Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently sweep over closed eyes, face, and décoletté in the morning and evening.


This is one of those micellar waters that tries to be an all-in-one skincare item. Although it does contain many humectants and soothing ingredients, I don’t think it would make a big difference on its own, not to speak of the high pH, which could lead to bacterial breakouts on acne-prone skins, etc. It’s free of a bunch of unnecessary things (fragrance, silicone, colourant; I’m not an enemy of parabens, so I don’t care about that point, but for those who do it’s a nice extra), and also mostly irritant-free, but I still wouldn’t advise to use it around the eyes due to the inclusion of 1,2-hexanediol, which could lead to stinging and irritation.


Packaging

The product comes in a clear plastic bottle with a flip top cap. When you turn the bottle, the micellar water flows quite quickly through the big nozzle, which might annoy some people who want to use their products sparingly. For me, however, it’s actually very handy, as I like to really saturate my cotton pads, and the big nozzle gets it done a lot quicker.

I also personally quite like the bottle design in general; it’s very spartan, yet makes me feel like I bought a product that does exactly what it says on the label.


Performance

During my first week of using this, I started composing a review of shining praise; however, as I continued to use it, I found myself slowly changing my mind. The reason for this is that I have started noticing my skin again becoming prone to closed comedones and whiteheads. My suspicion is that the whiteheads were partly caused by an evening of unrestrained bingeing on salty snacks, and some CCs may be attributed to a few days of not taking off my sunscreen diligently enough (I am currently in the process of moving into another apartment, so that acts as my excuse), but I’m convinced that the high pH of the Nivea micellar waters has also contributed to these developments. As of now, I will only use it if I know that I’ll do a proper cleanser-and-water cleanse afterwards, or in conjunction with my pH-adjusting toner, which I would normally use after cleansing with micellar water and/or my current cream cleanser of choice and before acids to lower my skin’s pH (you don’t need to do this if your cleanser already has a proper pH; I like to do it because it makes my acids work harder, but this comes with a higher risk of over-exfoliating). I really hope this method will work, since I have come to enjoy Nivea’s micellar waters, and would like to continue using them.


Similar products

A classic micellar water with a few (minor) skincare benefits. This one is cleverly formulated, but there are lots of similar products out there.


Conclusion

× pH 7

a big bunch of (mostly nonionic) surfactants: PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (nonionic), decyl glucoside (nonionic), poloxamer 124 (nonionic), disodium cocoyl glutamate (anionic)

~ glycols for better makeup solubility: pentylene glycol (it’s quite low on the INCI, though)

very good cleansing prowess

no alcohol denat.

notable ingredients: PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (surfactant as well as humectant), grape seed oil (emollient), panthenol (vitamin), glyceryl glucoside (humectant; stimulates the aquaporins [8][9]), glycerin (humectant), sorbitol (humectant), 1,2-hexanediol (humectant; could be irritating to the eyes [11])

non-fragranced (also doesn’t really smell of anything)

sometimes slightly tacky — but never soapy! — feeling due to the humectant ingredients (which is good); it also did sting in my eyes if I got too much product on them

√ very widely available

 price-size ratio: fairly good, a bit worse than Garnier for example, but still extremely affordable

price-performance ratio: very good

Résumé: A good, affordable, well-formulated micellar water. It doesn’t irritate the skin, but could sting in the eyes (due to 1,2-hexanediol), and should only be used pre-cleanse as not to leave the skin’s pH raised. All in all, it’s quite good.


Nivea Refreshing Micellar Water for Normal Skin

4,25€ for 200ml
0,02125€/ml

widely available

Ingredient analysis

AQUA • PEG-40 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL • TOCOPHERYL ACETATE • GLYCERIN • SORBITOL • PANTHENOL • POLOXAMER 124 • DECYL GLUCOSIDE • GLYCERYL GLUCOSIDE • DISODIUM COCOYL GLUTAMATE • CITRIC ACID • POLYQUATERNIUM-10 • SODIUM CHLORIDE • SODIUM ACETATE • PROPYLENE GLYCOL • 1,2-HEXANEDIOL • TETRASODIUM EDTA • PHENOXYETHANOL
CosDNA analysis

tested at pH 6-7
according to manufacturer pH 7

This is pretty much the same as the previous product, the only difference being that this contains vitamin E acetate instead of grape seed oil. Therefore, it might have some antioxidant properties, but I wouldn’t rely on it too much.


Official product description

Wollen Sie Ihre Haut gründlich reinigen und erfrischen?

Das neue Nivea Mizellenwasser Erfrischend für normale Haut und Mischhaut mit Vitamin E:

  • Reinigt das Gesicht und die sensible Augenpartie gründlich und belebt die Haut durch seine erfrischende Formel.
  • Entfernt Makeup und Mascara sanft — für schöne und gepflegte Wimpern.
  • Pflegt die Haut, lässt sie atmen und spendet Feuchtigkeit.

Durch die Mizellentechnologie werden Schmutzpartikel eingeschlossen und können so sanft und ohne Reiben entfernt werden. Kein Abspülen notwendig. Für frische und schön aussehende Haut.

Anwendung: Tränken Sie ein Wattepad mit dem Mizellenwasser und streichen Sie damit morgens und abends bei geschlossenen Augen sanft über Gesicht, Augen, Lippen, Hals und Dekolleté.

[source: body label]


English translation (don’t use without credit):

Do you want to cleanse and refresh your skin?

Nivea Refreshing Micellar Water for Normal Skin with vitamin E:

  • Cleanses face and eyes gently but thoroughly, and refreshes the skin.
  • Gently removes makeup and mascara – for beautiful and groomed lashes.
  • Pampers the skin, lets it breathe, and provides moisture.

Thanks to the micelle technology, dirt particles are encapsulated and can be removed gently and without rubbing. No rinsing required. For refreshed and good-looking skin.

Application: Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently sweep over closed eyes, face, and décoletté in the morning and evening.


Same as above. I also noticed that they’re trying to sell it as a »lash beautifier«, whatever that is supposed to mean.


Packaging

The product is housed in the same clear, functional plastic bottle as the product above. The labels are obviously different.


Performance

Actually, I found the normal skin version to be a bit more drying than the sensitive skin version, which is strange, because they share an almost identical formulation — they’ve probably included more surfactant to cleanse more thoroughly, which also means that it’s a bit more stripping. In parallel, I find this version to be a bit more potent at removing makeup and sunscreen.


Similar products

Same as above.


Conclusion

× pH 7

same surfactants as above: PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (nonionic), poloxamer 124 (nonionic), decyl glucoside (nonionic), disodium cocoyl glutamate (anionic)

~ glycols for better makeup solubility: propylene glycol (as above, low on the ingredient list)

no alcohol denat.

notable ingredients: tocopheryl acetate (antioxitant), glycerin (humectant), sorbitol (humectant), panthenol (vitamin), glyceryl glucoside (humectant; stimulates the aquaporins [8][9]), 1,2-hexanediol (humectant; could be irritating to the eyes [11])

non-fragranced

~ did not have a soapy feeling, yet stung in the eyes (I guess because of 1,2-hexanediol?)

very widely available

price-size ratio same as above

price-performance ratio: good

Résumé: A bit more stripping that the sensitive skin version, but still within a reasonable range. It’s a shame that it stings in the eyes despite the mucosa-identical pH, though!


Nivea Gentle Caring Micellar Water for Dry Skin

4,25€ for 200ml
0,02125€/ml

widely available

Ingredient analysis

AQUA • PEG-40 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL • GLYCERIN • PRUNUS AMYGDALUS DULCIS (ALMOND) OIL • PANTHENOL • SORBITOL • DECYL GLUCOSIDE • GLYCERYL GLUCOSIDE • POLOXAMER 124 • PROPYLENE GLYCOL • DISODIUM COCOYL GLUTAMATE • SODIUM CHLORIDE • TRISODIUM EDTA • POLYQUATERNIUM-10 • 1,2-HEXANEDIOL • CITRIC ACID • SODIUM ACETATE • PHENOXYETHANOL
CosDNA analysis

tested at pH 6-7
according to manufacturer pH 7

*sigh* This is getting boring…

The dry skin version contains the exact same ingredients as the sensitive and normal skin versions, with the exception of almond oil.


Official product description

Wollen Sie Ihre Haut gründlich reinigen und beruhigen?

Das Nivea Mizellenwasser Sensitive mit natürlichem Mandelöl:

  • Reinigt das Gesicht und die sensible Augenpartie gründlich und mild.
  • Entfernt Makeup und Mascara sanft — für schöne und gepflegte Wimpern.
  • Pflegt die Haut und spendet Feuchtigkeit.

Durch die Mizellentechnologie werden Schmutzpartikel eingeschlossen und können so sanft und ohne Reiben entfernt werden. Kein Abspülen notwendig. Für zarte und gesund aussehende Haut.

Anwendung: Tränken Sie ein Wattepad mit dem Mizellenwasser und streichen Sie damit morgens und abends bei geschlossenen Augen sanft über Gesicht, Augen und Dekolleté.

[source: body label]


English translation (don’t use without credit):

Do you want to cleanse and gently soothe your skin?

Nivea Caring Micellar Water for Dry Skin with natural almond oil:

  • Cleanses face and eyes gently but thoroughly.
  • Gently removes makeup and mascara – for beautiful and groomed lashes.
  • Pampers the skin and provides moisture.

Thanks to the micelle technology, dirt particles are encapsulated and can be removed gently and without rubbing. No rinsing required. For delicate and healthy-looking skin.

Application: Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently sweep over closed eyes, face, and décoletté in the morning and evening.


Same as above, just that they’re trying to sell it to very dry and sensitive skin types.


Packaging

Same as above.


Performance

I’d say it’s about as effective as the sensitive skin version. The normal skin version is definitely the most potent and the »harshest« (none of them are exactly »harsh«, though), but it’s only minimally better at removing sunscreen and makeup. Interesting enough, this version didn’t seem to irritate my eyes at all.


Similar products

Actually, looking at the ingredients, I feel like I have to say that these three micellar waters are, from a certain point of view, dupes for each other — in the way that they each have one active ingredient that differs from product to product, yet they all use the same base of surfactants, moisturising agents, and preservatives. Choosing one of them is less about what your skin type is than which one of the oils — because oils they are — you prefer — grape seed oil, vitamin E, or almond oil? Personally, I like the thought of having vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, in another one of my daily skincare items, but I find the overall sensoric experience of the normal skin version not as pleasant as that of this one.

TL;DR — They’re basically all the same, but I like the red one.


Conclusion

× pH 7

√ same surfactants as above: PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (nonionic), poloxamer 124 (nonionic), decyl glucoside (nonionic), disodium cocoyl glutamate (anionic)

~ glycols for better makeup solubility: propylene glycol (as above, low on the ingredient list)

no alcohol denat.

notable ingredients: glycerin (humectant), almond oil (emollient), panthenol (vitamin), sorbitol (humectant), glyceryl glucoside (humectant; stimulates the aquaporins [8][9]), 1,2-hexanediol (humectant; could be irritating to the eyes [11])

non-fragranced

didn’t sting in the eyes, nor did it leave a soapy or tacky feeling

~ very widely available, although I get the feeling that this version actually isn’t available everywhere (Boots, for example, don’t even stock it)

price-size same as above

price-performance ratio: very good

Résumé: Just as the other two, this is an affordable and fairly well-formulated makeup remover that is very convenient on the go (but shouldn’t be used that way too often). I personally like this version best because of the pleasant feeling it leaves, but I guess I could do with one of the other two as well if this was sold out.


See you next week!

Minnie


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] Schrader, A.; Siefken, W.; Kueper, T.; Breitenbach, U.; Gatermann, C.; Sperling, G.; Biernoth, T; Scherner, C.; Stäb; F.; Wenck, H.; Wittern, K.-P.; Blatt, T.: Effects of Glyceryl Glucoside on AQP3 Expression, Barrier Function and Hydration of Human Skin. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. Vol. 25 No. 4 2012, p. 192-199

[9] 2-GG Glyceryl Glucoside. incospharm.com

[10] Wohrle, Marta: Polyquaternium-10, Quaternium-19. TruthInAging.com

[11] Wohrle, Marta: Hexanediol, 1,2-hexanediol. TruthInAging.com

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