made in france

This French Micellar Water Made My Skin Happy (When Bioderma Did Not)

A Renoir painting of a young woman — The Strategist reviews a micellar water by French brand Melvina
I absolutely credit Melvita for my calm and bright skin.

Bastille Day is Saturday, July 14, and to celebrate France’s national day, we’re dedicating the week to the very best French things. You may be familiar with stories we’ve done on French pharmacy products and cookbooks, but we’re going even deeper this week, from the best books on Paris and French baking to the greatest French pantry essentials and lesser-known French beauty products. Welcome to Made in France week.

When I moved to Europe I was 29 and my skin-care routine consisted of a nightly face wash, a slap of Differin, and some moisturizer. No 12 steps (11 of them Korean) and no bathroom vanity spilling over with tubes and bottles. My skin was easy and needed very little. But life changes: I became a bicycle-loving expat. I met the love of my life in Berlin, on an app. Also, my forehead exploded, and I suddenly had problematic skin.

So for the first time ever, I went after my skin care. Under duress and budget constraints, it was an unscientific process. I picked up a bottle of micellar water at my local apotheke, going for Bioderma, the much-touted clear-skin fixer of every Parisian I knew. I swiped morning and night, and waited.

Based on what showed up on the cotton pad, my face was obviously cleaner than in its pre-micellar state. It was not, however, any less red and angry, and it was still just as broken out. The Bioderma went under the bathroom sink, and I went down an oligosaccharide-filled rabbit hole of online reviews. Bioderma contains solvent and humectant propylene glycol which, to some people online, is contentious. I’m not sure if that was the source of my problem, but I decided to look for an equally loved, more natural micellar.

Melvita Floral Bouquet Cleansing Micellar Water
$21 at Amazon

Somewhere deep in the internet I found Melvita’s Bouquet Floral Micellar Water. Made in France, the Bouquet Floral ticked all the boxes: It contains clearing, soothing, and dependable witch hazel and rose water, and none of the preservatives or fragrances that can be found in plenty of other micellars.

With the Bouquet Floral, my skin relaxed, and even brightened. The redness of unwisely savaged zits calmed down. After transferring a supply to a travel bottle and using it throughout the day against sweat and street dirt accumulated from biking, I noticed the micellar water was particularly effective as a preventive. I would never ditch my face wash for micellar-only cleansing, as some do, but it’s an essential part of my slightly-more-adult skin-care regimen, and I absolutely credit the Melvita for my skin’s willingness to finally relax and enjoy life in a new city.

$25 at eBay

More skin savers

Bioderma Sensibio H2O
Photo: Michel BONNIER/Home
Bioderma Sensibio H2O
$15 at Dermstore

As stated, Bioderma didn’t work for Susannah. But finding a skin-care routine is always a matter of trial and error, and plenty of people swear by Bioderma — like our own Rio Viera-Newton, who once said, “since I’ve incorporated this Bioderma micellar into my routine (pre-cleanser), my skin has felt even more supple and rejuvenated.”

Cosrx Whitehead Power Liquid
$13 at Amazon

Another Rio favorite, this time from Korea: this Cosrx liquid works wonders on breakouts.

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This French Micellar Water Made My Expat Skin Happy