Is Double Cleansing Necessary? Experts Weigh In
8 minutes read
If there is one step in our skincare routine that experts recommend doing twice, that is the way we cleanse our face, aka the double cleanse.
This popular practice, which originated in Korea, encourages one to adopt a habit of doubling up the cleansing method with wipe off and wash off steps to achieve a deeper clean.
Double cleansing sounds simple, but there’s a catch: searching for the two different cleansers required for the job. Indeed, a wrong choice could leave your skin dry or dull, quite the opposite of the glow you wanted.
We spoke to skincare experts on the how, why, and who when it comes to double cleansing and if your cleansing efforts are worth that extra minute or two.
What is double cleansing?
In a nutshell, double-cleansing is a method of cleansing your face twice with two different cleansers.
This two-step method ensures your skin is thoroughly cleansed and preps for the next steps in your skincare regime, allowing serums and moisturisers to penetrate deeper into the epidermis.
Remember that the first cleanse is dedicated to removing makeup, SPF, skin oils, and pollutants, while the second cleanse is a follow-up with a deep clean that can go further down into pores.
Who needs to double cleanse?
Experts say double-cleansing is not a necessity for everyone. It is only required when you intend to remove makeup or mineral-based sunscreen, especially those with the active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It ensures you don’t have any residue on the skin that can hinder other products you layer after that.
Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, says, “if you’ve doubled cleansed in the PM, there is no need the following day.
“If your face was clean when you went to bed, you might have had a bit of a sweat in the night or an oil build-up, but one cleanse would suffice. However, in the evening, you probably had more exposure to pollution, and you might be wearing makeup and SPF. These are layers that need to be removed before cleaning the skin,” she explains.
What are the downsides of double cleansing?
Be warned, the actual act of cleansing your face (scrubbing, pulling, and rubbing) and the products you use can either result in youthful skin or accelerate ageing.
“The concern with double cleaning is breaking down the skin barrier and irritating skin or inflaming acne. So we never want to over-exfoliate or strip the skin barrier,” Darren Casey, Dermatologist and CEO at Atlanta Dermatology, tells Beauty Daily.
Dr Rachel Urwin, GMC Speciality Registered Consultant Dermatologist, explains: “The rationale of double cleansing is the use of an oil-based wipe-off cleanser followed by a water-based wash-off cleanser to ensure all traces of dirt and makeup are removed. However, apply that theory to an individual with extremely sensitive skin or eczema, which is likely to result in over-cleansing, dehydration, and consequent worsening of their skin.”
Read Next: How To Layer Your Skincare Products
How do you double cleanse?
The first cleanse is responsible for breaking down makeup and SPF, removing dirt and excess sebum after exposure to all kinds of (indoor and outdoor) pollutants.
Choosing your first cleanser will depend on your texture preference. There are a plethora of oil-based, water-based, and cleansing milk cleansers available on the market. Below are the three commonly used.
Ideal for people who like the texture of cleansing oils and wear waterproof, heavy, long-lasting makeup
Cleansing oil is one of the most versatile skincare products on your beauty shelf. It saves you from using a separate oil-based eye makeup remover. However, better be sure: look for the dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested label.
Cleansing oils work best at melting stubborn waterproof makeup, layers of SPF, and other dirt and debris. Also, it saves you from rubbing your skin by giving you the gliding, smoother movement as you massage the oil on your skin.
Ingredients to look for in a cleansing oil:
Sunflower oil is a non-comedogenic carrier oil that is highly absorbent and won’t clog pores. It’s hydrating, calming and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Casey suggests other oil-based products like coconut oil or petroleum to remove oil-based or waterproof makeup.
Beauty Daily swears by the easy-rinse lightweight Total Cleansing Oil.
It has Clarins’ exclusive Alpine herbs sustainably farmed in Domaine Clarins, which soften and soothe the skin and 47% sunflower oil.
It works best both as a wipe-off or wash-off cleanser. When combined with water, it transforms into a silky, milky emulsion that dissolves the heaviest, long-wearing, and waterproof makeup while ensuring the skin’s microbiota is balanced and healthy.
Add to cart: Total Cleansing Oil £24.00
2. Micellar Water
Perfect for people who like the refreshing effect of micellar water and wear light makeup.
Micellar water is lightweight and refreshing water with tiny micelles that help purge your skin of oil and dirt using a (reusable) cotton pad swipe. It cleanses in one simple step.
“Micellar waters can usually be used by all skin types, although if used as a second cleanser, those with oily skin, skin prone to breakouts, or those who wear heavy makeup may prefer to rinse afterwards to increase their cleansing efficacy. Individuals with sensitive or dry skin types may prefer to simply wipe the product from the skin with a cotton pad or cloth,” Dr Urwin advises.
Ingredients to look for in micellar water:
Glycerin: It increases skin hydration, relieves dryness, and refreshes the skin’s surface.
Add to cart: Cleansing Micellar Water £24.00, Reusable cotton pad
3. Cleansing Milk
Works best for people who wear light makeup and enjoy using cleansing milk.
Cleansing milk has a milky and creamy texture and appearance. It sweeps away any residue from dirt, sweat, grime, sun products and makeup and can be wiped or rinsed away.
Add to cart: Velvet Cleansing Milk £24
A Sustainable Tip:
Use a reusable cotton round like the Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Not only this large cotton round can remove “almost” everything in one gentle swipe but using them as part of your daily routine can reduce waste and environmental impact as they can be reused hundreds of times.
Wash-off foaming cleansers
The second cleanse focuses on addressing your skin type or concern and should have ingredients to hydrate, smooth or exfoliate and treat acne.
Experts recommend using cleansers with active ingredients like salicylic acid. These are a fantastic way to seriously target any skin concerns you might have.
Before purchase, make sure it is tailored to your skin type and skin concerns.
If you have normal to dry skin, try a Hydrating Cleanser
Something like the Hydrating Gentle Foaming Cleanser. This creamy, rinse off-cleanser is also SLS-free (SLS is a known surfactant used as a cleansing and foaming agent that can sometimes irritate the skin).
Research has found that SLS in skincare and cosmetics can irritate the skin and that warm water makes the irritation worse.
All Clarins foaming cleansers are enriched with organic soapwort extract: a plant with natural foaming ability and gently cleanses the skin.
Apart from effectively removing impurities, makeup, and pollution, this hydrating cleanser has moisture-rich organic aloe vera extract that leaves normal to dry skin feeling smooth and hydrated, sans the “tight” feeling after washing face.
Add to cart: Hydrating Gentle Foaming Cleanser £23
If you have an oily and combination skin type, try a Salicylic Cleanser.
“For individuals with oily skin or those prone to blocked pores or breakouts, a wash-off cleanser containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, azelaic acid or benzoyl peroxide is likely to be more effective and help to reduce the risk of acne type lesions developing,” advises Dr Urwin.
Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser is a bacteria, and blemishing-fighting-foaming cleanser is perfect for people with combination or oily skin. Thanks to the pore-cleansing blue granules made with salicylic acid, it gently cleanses, purifies, and mattifies, leaving the skin spotless and squeaky clean.
Add to cart: Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser £23
If you have a sensitive skin type, opt for a creamy, Emollient-Rich cleanser.
Dr Urwin recommends: “For individuals with extremely dry skin or eczema, the use of a non-fragranced, medical-grade emollient soap substitute is recommended to reduce further skin dehydration caused by the detergent properties of water and soap.”
Beauty Daily recommends Soothing Gentle Foaming Cleanser. It is formulated with shea butter, which provides relief from flare-ups and is gentle on sensitive skin and vegetal squalene, which helps protect the skin’s hydrolipidic film from hard water’s drying effects.
Add to cart: Soothing Gentle Foaming Cleanser £23
If you want a cleanser and a toner in one cleansing step, try the One-Step Facial Cleanser with Orange Extract
Final Word: Dr Urwin says: “It’s all about tailoring your regime to your skin and lifestyle needs. I try to avoid using excessive and unnecessary steps with many of my patients just because you may have read that you ‘should’ be using a particular wonder product. With skincare, keeping things simple is often easier to keep up with in terms of time and cost, but it also usually offers a better outcome.”