Even though I know much better, I admittedly wash my face in the shower. To my credit, I use actual facewash (not regular soap), but I’m pretty sure a little extra skincare TLC wouldn’t hurt. Hence my fascination with double cleansing—a relatively newish skincare phenomenon that’s commonplace in the East. It seems the U.S. market has caught wind and embraced the system.
What is it exactly? First, cleansing oil is applied to dissolve makeup, sunscreen, and excess sebum or oil on the surface of the skin. Next, a water-based face wash is used to thoroughly cleanse the skin, removing daily encountered environmental toxins. We tapped into a few experts to help us find out if it takes two to make a thing go right.
(Related: What Is a Face Essence?)
The Method Behind The Madness
We get it; washing your face twice sounds excessive. “Double cleansing is the process of using both oil and a cleanser to wash your skin,” shares Glenn Dellimore, co-founder of GLAMGLOW. “It’s very popular in Asia where women are known for their beautiful, radiant, and youthful complexions. Many women wash their skin with oil first to remove the initial layer of dirt and makeup and follow with a foaming cleanser to remove impurities.
Create The Perfect Pair
It takes two to make a thing go right, but how do you create the perfect pair? “Companies that understand the double cleansing process usually suggest pairings based on skin type, so that is a great place to start,” shares Suzanne LeRoux, President, and Award-Winning Formulator, One Love Organics. “Look for an oil-based cleanser made with nourishing plant oils. Next, find a foaming cleanser that’s gentle and mild—never stripping.”
Wait… Excess Oil on My Face?
It sounds bananas, but hear us out! “Oils can assist in removing oil-based makeup, waterproof sunscreens, and pollutants that mix with natural lipids that settle in the pores,” explains Dr. Sandra Kopp of Schweiger Dermatology Group. “Sunscreens, dirt, and dead skin cells can also accumulate throughout the day, so double cleansing is great for those who don’t necessarily use heavy makeup.”
Make It Bedtime Ritual
Over-cleansing can dry and irritate the skin—don’t aim for squeaky-cleanness. “[You should double cleanse] only in the evening to remove excess makeup, sunscreen, and dirt from the day,” advises Donna Bilu Martin, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist at Premier Dermatology, MD in Aventura, Florida and Consulting Dermatologist for Clark’s Botanicals. “If the skin seems dry after cleansing, applying a gentle moisturizer or serum post-cleanse will help to hydrate skin.”
Customize Your Cleansing
“Even without wearing makeup, your skin must be cleansed of dirt, oil, and pollution, or pores can become clogged, which leads to breakouts and dull-looking skin,” explains Dellimore. “Our POWERCLEANSE Daily Dual Cleansers combines the mud and 4 oils (prickly pear-tangerine, pine, frankincense, and myrrh oils) together in one easy step for a multi-sensory, double cleansing experience that clarifies and nourishes.”
Have A Moment to Yourself
The best part about this cleansing method is honestly that it’s tough to rush through. “Take these few minutes to relax and release stress-to enjoy the ritual,” advises LeRoux. “As you’re massaging, let your mind drift off to something calming and breathe deeply. Give the oil enough time (1-2 minutes) to dissolve the impurities in your pores and give yourself enough time to unwind.”
Create A Method That Works
One size doesn’t fit all, but a few key players should be in the mix. “An effective skin regimen should include sunscreen, antioxidants (such as vitamin C and E), retinol use (unless pregnant or nursing), and gentle cleansing,” explains Dr. Bilu Martin. “Adhering to this over time will result in brighter, beautiful skin.”
A Double Take on the Double Cleanse
If you’re a K-beauty believer, you likely need all ten fingers, and perhaps some toes, to count off all the steps in your skincare regimen. While each step is so important to radiant, age-defying skin, the first two steps, popularly known collectively as the double cleanse, lay the solid foundation upon which all the other steps can be built. In other words, if you skimp on the double dose of oil cleanser then foaming cleanser, you won’t be enjoying the fruits of your multi-step skincare labor to the max. Devastating, right? So here’s a why and not-so-intimidating how on this two-part method to get you pumped for tonight’s cleansing!
Why double the trouble?
Throughout the day, all sorts of gunk accumulate on your face, clogging your pores. Some are water-based: old skin cells, dust, bacteria, and sweat. Others are oil-based: excess sebum, sunscreen, and makeup. This build-up results in premature aging, namely wrinkles, blackheads, dullness of skin, and breakouts. It sounds like the making of our worst nightmares!
While a simple face wash does not remove all these impurities, a proper double cleansing does! An oil cleanser dislodges the oil-based pollutants from your skin, and a foaming cleanser gently removes the water-based debris. What’s more, the resulting clean canvas of fresh skin cells allows all the goodies you faithfully put on your skin in steps 3 and beyond to penetrate more deeply and effectively.
As if that’s not reason enough, the double cleanse has been a tried and true method in Asian countries throughout history. In Korea, women used plant-derived oils to remove their oil-based foundation. In Japan, cleansing oils were used to remove the thick white paint women wore as a status of beauty.
Do it right!
Sold? Then, as our ambitious Korean parents would say, “If you’re going to do it, do it right!”
- Step 1: With that said, we recommend using an eye makeup remover to remove, well, your eye makeup. Yes, this technically makes it a triple cleanse, but your eye area is super sensitive, so we recommend using a remover made specifically for the eyes or a very effective wipe that doesn’t require aggressive rubbing and tugging.
- Step 2: Once your eye makeup is removed, smooth an oil cleanser onto dry skin and gently massage in circular motions. Then splash water onto your face and massage again. The lather will turn milky white. Thoroughly rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Step 3: Squeeze/pump foaming cleanser onto the palm of your clean, wet hand and lather it up. Then dab the foam onto your face and lightly massage in circles, especially concentrating on the T-zone or oily areas. Creating the foam in your hands, as opposed to directly on your face, helps decrease the formation of wrinkles and rough spots caused by hand-to-face friction. Thoroughly rinse off with lukewarm water, gently pat with a towel to dry, and immediately proceed to the next steps of your beauty regimen while your skin is in an absorbent mood!