Vichy ‘NormaDerm Micellar Solution’ (trial & review)


It’s true that I have been a fan of beauty products & cosmetics since probably before I was born (I’m fairly certain that it all began then!), but I haven’t always been as vigilant with my skin care as I should have. As I got older and began noticing changes happening to my “canvas” ie: my face, I began my frantic search to try and reverse some of these telltale signs and realized that I have to start from the beginning: clean skin. Even knowing that I have to ensure my skin is thoroughly cleansed each and every day, I still have my lazy days/nights and it’s at those times where a product like Vichy’s ‘NormaDerm Micellar Solution’ comes in handy.  That, and the fact that I’ve been hearing the terms “micellar waters/solution” for quite some time now, and my curiosity needed to be satisfied.


‘NormaDerm Micellar Solution’ from renown French skincare laboratories, is a watery, soap-free cleanser, that is designed to be used as a makeup remover for both face and eyes, and which does not need to be rinsed off. According to the company:

The Micellar Solution is a cleanser that is specifically adapted to sensitive skin with imperfections. It is ultra-efficient and acts quickly. Thanks to its micellar technology combined with Zinc PCA, an antibacterial agent, it removes makeup, sebum and impurities without rubbing or rinsing the skin, while gently purifying it. Easy to use and extremely practical.
Its efficiency as a cleanser and a makeup remover for eyes, even sensitive ones, has been clinically proven. Its tolerability has been proven under dermatological and ophthalmological control.
Efficacy proven under dermatological and ophthalmological control.
The ideal cleanser to remove makeup while soothing the skin:
1- Cleanses all impurities. 
2- Balances skin’s pH.
3- Purifies the skin without the need to rinse

I found this excerpt from BeautyGeeks to be quite helpful for us non-sciency types:

In simple-ish terms, a micelle is a type of molecule cluster. One end of each molecule loves water (hydrophilic); the other hates it (hydrophobic). In a water solution, they group to form a spherical shape with a water-loving exterior and a water-hating interior. When gently applied to a surface — the skin, let’s say — the micelle spheres split open against that surface. When the application pressure lifts, the molecule cluster closes up again, and in the process grabs whatever isn’t water from that surface.

Essentially, micelles are kind of like mute Pac-Man types that wokka-wokka-wokka-wokka up all the makeup and dirt off your face in a jiffy. Regular makeup remover doesn’t gobble. It dissolves the bond between cosmetic pigments and your skin so you can wipe it off. Doesn’t sound all that different, but if you think about it, when you’re wiping stuff off something, a fair amount of smearing goes on, and maybe you need toner, or sudsing cleanser and rinsing, before it all comes off. Basically, you have to work a bit harder, which takes more time and can be a challenge for sensitive skin. Gobble-up molecules require less pressure and less work, the way a vacuum suction cleans a floor faster than sweeping with a broom.

My skin type: Combination, normal with an oily t-zone, some fine lines around the eyes

My experience: After having read numerous online reviews on these types of cleansers, I felt forewarned not to expect any miracles … and I didn’t experience any either! To properly test how effectively ‘NormaDerm’ worked, I used it at the end of the day to remove my fully made-up face, excluding any eye makeup. The reason I left out my eyes, is because I have had a few scary experiences with other removers, and didn’t feel it was worth taking a chance here — especially since I’m more than happy with my regular eye makeup remover. That being said, had I not been wearing mascara, I would have given it a try – something to keep in mind for the future.

As you can see in fig. 1 below, I needed both sides of 3 cotton squares (I’m using Shisheido’s ‘Facial Cotton’ pads) to fully remove all evident traces of makeup. This solution really does dispense like water and you need to be careful not to pump the spout too vigorously, or you’ll splash it all over. I found it useful to tilt the bottle forward with the pump nozzle touching the cotton; 2 quick pumps thoroughly saturated the pad. After finishing, my skin felt clean, although I did experience a slight dry/tight feeling; as I was going to be following up with moisturizer, I wasn’t that concerned, but it’s something to note. The next morning, I used one more cotton square and was not that pleased to see that I was able to pick up even more traces of makeup (see fig. 2).

simple directions on the back – written in several languages

clear & short ingredients list

Once more according to the company:

– Alcohol-free
– Colorant-free
– Hypoallergenic
– Paraben-free
– Tested on sensitive skin 
– Soap-free
– With soothing and fortifying Vichy thermal spa water

pump dispenser – great for one-handed use

fig. 1 – the 3 cotton squares needed to remove al makeup

fig. 2 – the residue picked up the following morning


Final thoughts: Will Vichy’s ‘NormaDerm Micellar Solution’ replace my regular cleansing regimen? No … but it will definitely enhance it. I have to say that I love the watery feel of this product; I’m not always crazy about smearing my fingers with more emollient type cleansers, even if they do work well. If you’ll be wearing the barest minimum of makeup and no mascara, then this cleanser should be more than sufficient for a full removal, but I think I prefer using it more in a toner/after cleansing capacity to completely eliminate any last lingering traces. I also found it quite refreshing in the morning, before I applied my regular skincare – made me feel like I was thoroughly prepping my face. Apart from knowing the excellent reputation that Vichy Laboratoires enjoys, I was able to pick up this product for CAD $10.00 off (I believe the regular retail price at Shopper’s Drugmart/Pharmaprix is CAD $24.50), and for its large economic size of 400 ml, that just sweetened the deal!

Do let me know what other types of micellar cleansers/waters you’ve tried and what you thought … I’d love to know!

24 Responses to Vichy ‘NormaDerm Micellar Solution’ (trial & review)

  1. Ulmiel says:

    I was hoping to read a review on this … frankly, I can’t decide whether to buy it or now. I read so much good and not so good reviews, I’m not sure about it at all. And I’d use it only for my eye make up which is usually stronger, so I’m not sure if this would do the job. If I remember correctly, you use a Korres product to remove your eye make up? I’m tempted to buy it, I’m still on the look-out for my perfect eye make up remover …

    • Eugenia says:

      Ok…this product isn’t bad; as a facial cleanser, I prefer others that not only work faster & more thoroughly, but that leave my skin feeling hydrated (I don’t like that tight, dry-skin feeling…but that’s just me). I prefer to use this instead as either a toner or to enhance my existing cleanser – then, it works great. I have even used it to pick up any traces of makeup on my eyes (after I’ve used my regular eye makeup remover), and have not had any irritation.
      For eye makeup removal, my favourite product is Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover….that takes everything off, even waterproof mascara, easily, quickly & gently. The Korres I use is a facial cleanser that doesn’t need any rinsing.
      Hope this helps you out!

  2. olivia says:

    I don’t think this is sold here in the states, if it is I am living under a rock and have to say for the summer it provides nice shade!

    Great review! I would try this if I found it but still would rinse my face even though it says no rinse. However, great for those quick make up changes like for blog pictures! 😉

  3. I’m just not a fan of micellar cleansing waters period. I have the jumbo size of Bioderma because everyone raved about it but it takes forever to get all the makeup off and I’m still not convinced that it took everything off (which it hasn’t because I wear a crap load of foundation). At best these are like extra cleansing toners to me and like you said good for a last step in a diligent skincare routine. The cotton pads begin to feel like a waste as well and I just prefer to bend over the sink and wash my face the old fashioned way. :s

    • Eugenia says:

      Honestly, I think I was caught up in a lot of the hype as well, and curiosity definitely got the best of me. I’m not saying it’s not a good cleanser, but it will never replace a more emollient type of cleanser, that’s for sure – at least not for me. I do like using it as a last step, and really like seeing it pick up the last bit of gunk left over on my face!

  4. Steph P says:

    My make up remover recipe is in a notebook at my parent’s house. I have plenty to last me while I’m away at uni.

    From memory, it was about three parts baby oil to one part glycerol (aka glycerin) and five parts distilled water. It is pretty heavy and oily so I hold it against my eye on a cotton pad for a while (to soften/dissolve the make up rather than rubbing) before washing it off with a bit of light everyday facial cleanser and warm water. This is to dissolve the water-proof eye make up so its easy to clean. Cold water is less effective than warm water.

    I buy cheap bottles from the $2 shop to store my homemade remover in. You must shake the bottle before you use it to disperse the layers of oil and water. The glycerol holds them together long enough for use.

    The basic priciple of the remover is “like dissolves like”. Water-proof make up is non-polar/hydrophillic/water-hating. So anything that is also hydrophillic, such as oil based products, will dissolve make up for removal. There are lots of other recipes on the internet for homemade make up remover.

    If you understand this then you can get creative and invent your own recipes. Once I wore my favourite turquiose liquid eyeliner out, only to realise afterwards I was out of remover and the liner was stubbornly water-proof. In desperation I used Vaseline (white petroleum jelly) to clean it off as its oil based and wouldn’t hurt my eyes. It was sticky but it worked!

    This can even be applied beyond make up! Anything that can’t be cleaned in water and seems water resistant probably needs to be cleaned with something oil based. I’ve been known to clean sticky varnish off my hands, left over wax on my legs after a beauty session and melted road tar from my feet after a hot day, all with olive oil! (followed by soap and hot water to remove the oil).

    Hope that’s useful. :)

    • Eugenia says:

      Useful? It’s more than useful Steph…thank you so very much! I really appreciate you taking the time to write back with all this info and you even included some other useful tips! I have a feeling that I’m not the only person reading this who can benefit!

  5. midnightplue says:

    i love Vichy, but too bad it pulled out from my country :(

  6. Hey Big Sis!! Great review! I’ve tried this one and wasn’t impressed either, but I like the bottle. So what I do is buy the Bioderma and put it in the Vichy bottle. I use Bidoerma, and then I still cleanse my skin with a cleanser. And if it’s a no makeup day, I just use it. The BIoderma is the only one that doesn’t sting my eyes-almost all of the other ones still do, including the Marcelle one.

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks Lil Sis…and that’s a great tip! I love the dispenser pump that this bottle comes with and it struck me that when I saw the Bioderma at the store, how inconvenient the opening seemed — will have to try that! Didn’t try this one my eyes like I mentioned; too chicken, lol!

  7. tomate farcie says:

    great post as usual. I’m not a big fan of Vichy in general. I prefer the Bioderma, even less ingredients: water,PEG-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, cucumis sativus (cucumber fruit extract) mannitol, xylitol, rhamnose, fructoolicosaccharides, propylene glycol, disodium edta, cetrimoium bromide. I mainly use on eye makeup and lipstick and then oil cleanser and then cream cleanser et voila skin like a baby! I also like the Embryolisse one!

    • Eugenia says:

      Thank you! And thanks for such great info … seems like Bioderma is a fan favourite; now I definitely have to try it! I’ve heard of the Embryolisse line but not sure if I’ve come across it – need to look into that too. And by the way, congratulations on your skin cleansing regimen – you’re a hero to take all those steps! I could learn from you, that’s for sure!

  8. Jacqui says:

    I love Bioderma Sensibio H2O micellar solution (the pink cap one for sensitive skin). I can even use it around the eyes with no problems. I use it as my eye makeup remover, and on lazy days to remove full face makeup :) I believe it’s CAD $22 for 250mL at Shoppers, but sometimes they have sales and it’s $18-something. Sometimes they also have the 500mL size for $30. Also I’ve seen the mini 100mL size at Murale for under $10. I definitely recommend the Bioderma! :)

    • Eugenia says:

      Thanks for all this great info, Jacqui! Actually, I originally went for the Bioderma, then decided to try the Vichy first. I even saw the Bioderma version for people with combination skin like me….I’ll definitely give that one a try too, as I’ve heard tons of good things about it!

      • Jacqui says:

        Update: Went to Murale, the 100mL size ones for $6.95…aka more affordable per mL than the regular size! They have both the pink and blue ones. Fyi I have oily-combo skin and the pink one works for me
        I’ve never tried the blue one though 😛

      • Eugenia says:

        Thanks for the updated info, Jacqui! This is why I love my readers: they’re not only well-informed, but totally savvy shoppers!! Hugs!

  9. Jessica Ng says:

    Hi Eugenia,
    I just purchased this the other day and was surprised to see that in my email notifications you did a review on this product! I agree with you that it didn’t totally remove all my makeup. Do you think that using it as a toner could be good or that might be too drying?

    • Eugenia says:

      Hey Jess! Great minds think alike, huh?! I’ve actually been using is as a combination cleanser/toner — sort of a boost to my regular cleansing routine, as well as a “pick-me-up” during the day (when I’m not wearing makeup, that is) and haven’t had any issues; that being said, I do follow up with moisturizer though. As it’s not designed to be a toner, I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t be as effective in that capacity. For someone with oilier skin than mine, they might appreciate the after-feel of this product.

  10. mamifi says:

    I have tried Bioderma mic.water, LaRoche-Posay, Vichy and Eucerin. They all irritated my skin and let a burning sensation on my skin. The only one that I had no reaction to was Lancome mic.water. Pity it’s so pricey.

    • Eugenia says:

      Ouch! Nothing worse than that feeling, especially when the product is supposed to do the opposite. Luckily, I experienced none of the symptoms you described, but it’s good to pass the info along…thanks for sharing!

    • Steph P says:

      I’m a pharmacy student and I’m very skeptical of this “micelle” technology. Molecules that have these water loving and water hating (amphiphillic) properties are called surfactants and we are taught to use as little surfactant as possible while making pharmaceutical formulations.

      This is because the phospholipids that make up your cell membranes are also amphiphillic and surfactants can insert themselves into your cell membranes. This is why surfactants are irritants. I had a quick glance at the ingredients and indeed, hexylene glycol is a surfactant and a known irritant. See here:

      Ordinary soap is amphiphillic also (made from broken down fats) and works by exactly the same mechanism. It seems to me like this product is a very expensive and dilute soap substitute.

      Micelles are not a wonder pac-man molecule. If you take any surfactant at a high enough concentration the molecules will aggregate into micelles. This hasn’t been engineered, it’s a basic chemistry phenomenon. Pharmacists use surfactant micelles to dissolve insoluble drugs.

      Now, I don’t mean to tell anyone not to buy this. It just makes me angry when marketing takes advantage of the lack of scientific knowledge in the general public to sell their products. Personally, I make my own make up remover with glycerol (a common non-toxic sweetener available at the supermarket), baby oil (so I can use it on my eyes) and water. It’s very easy and cheap (so I have leftover money for make up and other treats). I encourage you all to be informed consumers!

      • Eugenia says:

        Steph, I want to thank you for not only the valuable knowledge you imparted here, but for putting it in terms that we can all understand. I agree with you about how even reputable companies can take advantage of consumers’ lack of scientific knowledge to market a product that may not necessarily be to our advantage; that being said, your breakdown of the ingredients shows why some people may have found this product irritating, and while I love your “home-made” version (and also want to try it myself – maybe you can provide the recipe? :) ), it’s also nice to know that this product is available for anyone who just wants an effective & quick cleanser — or is too lazy to make up their own, lol!

What are your thoughts, beautiful?