What Is Double Cleansing, and Should You Be Doing It?

Patricia Shannon
·3-min read
Woman Washing Face
Woman Washing Face

Getty/CoffeeandMilk

If you wash your face at night but never manage to have the feeling of perfectly clean skin unless you use a harsh cleanser that leaves your skin feeling tight and irritated, then you might be the ideal candidate for the double-cleansing method. You’ll be adding a second step to your skin-care regimen, but it could be the solution for less breakouts and more effective antiaging.

What Is Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing is a buzzy skin-care trend that started in South Korea and Japan before making its way stateside. The idea is that you give derma a one-two punch with a duo of cleansers. The first is meant to melt away makeup and buildup, while the second purges pores and removes every last impurity, fully prepping skin for the serums and moisturizers to follow. It’s a completely customizable process, but typically involves starting with a micellar or oil-based cleanser or balm, wiping or washing clean, then following up with a lighter, water-soluble cleansing gel or milk that’s formulated for your specific skin type. After that, you continue on with your skin-care regimen with maximum results thanks to skin that’s fully prepped to absorb all the good stuff.

How To Double Cleanse

When looking for the first of your two cleansers, many of the best options are oil-based—but don’t let that intimidate you. Oil helps remove long-wear makeup, SPF residue, and other stubborn layers by dissolving even the most spackle-like formulas. Most cleansing oils and balms are designed with emulsifiers that result in a milky lather when mixed with water. This metamorphosis enables them to rinse off without leaving a greasy layer—meaning they can work for those with naturally oily, or breakout-prone skin too. In fact, double cleansing can be a game changer for easily clogged skin by eliminating excessive oil and purging pores of impurities. After the first step wipes away the top layer of makeup, leftover product, and oils, your traditional cleanser can really get to work.

Below we’ve rounded up the products to help you master the double cleanse. Choose the route that’s best for your skin type, texture, and skin-care regimen.

Pond’s Cleansing Balm

Work a pearl-sized scoop of balm onto skin. As it melts into an oil, it will dissolve makeup, dirt, and grime—all without the need for aggressive scrubbing. Wash away with warm water or a damp cloth.

Buy It: $9.94; amazon.com

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

If you’re intimidated by a balm, a cleansing water can still get the job done, wiping away even the most stubborn of waterproof or long-wear makeup. You can use this one as a cleanser in the morning and to kick-off your double cleanse in the evening. Apply to a cotton pad then gently swipe across the face.

Buy It: $6.34; amazon.com

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Over 10,000 five-star reviews confirm this cleanser is the gold standard. The mild formula effectively cleanses without leaving skin feeling dry, irritated, or tight, providing a skin-nourishing finish to your two-step clean.

Buy It: $11.90; amazon.com

La Roche-Posay Purifying Foaming Cleanser

For those who prefer suds, use this as the second step in your lineup. The foam helps protect skin’s natural moisture barrier and pH levels, but it won’t skimp on removing any remaining impurities while it’s at it.

Buy It: $14.99; amazon.com