How to Double Cleanse Correctly, According to DermatologistsMay 08, 2023
There’s no denying our love for all things Korean beauty — from innovative products to trendy skincare techniques, we simply can’t get enough. And one of our favorite K-beauty skincare trends to date is double cleansing — AKA the best way to wash your face if you have oily skin.
Double cleansing is a method of washing your face that incorporates the use of both an oil cleanser and a water-based cleanser to help thoroughly lift away dirt and debris from the surface of your skin.
Ahead, we break down what double cleansing is and how to try it for yourself. We also rounded up our editors’ favorite cleansers to mix, match and try. If you have oily skin or have trouble removing all of your makeup, you’re guaranteed to love this method.
What Is Double Cleansing?
As mentioned above, double cleansing involves using two different types of cleansers to thoroughly remove any and all impurities from your skin. “Double cleansing is a two-step cleansing method that typically consists of an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser,” explains dermatology resident physician Dr. Joyce Kim. “If you use oil-based products or have oily skin, an oil cleanser is necessary to melt the oil away.” This is typically followed up with a water-based cleanser to get rid of any residual debris left on the skin after your oil cleanse.
“It’s important to note that double cleansing should consist of using two different types of cleansers offering different results or benefits,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldfaden. “For example, if you are removing a full face of makeup, an oil-based cleanser should be used first and then a gentle gel or milky cleanser for the second cleanse.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that double cleansing may not be suitable for everyone and whether or not it’s right for you depends on your skin type and skincare concerns. If you have dry or sensitive skin, or are prone to conditions like eczema, it’s probably not the best option for you, says Dr. Goldfaden.
What Are the Benefits of Double Cleansing?
“While double cleansing is not necessary for healthy skin, it may be beneficial if you wear a lot of makeup, live in a polluted city or have very oily skin,” notes Dr. Goldfaden. Ultimately, the main benefit is serving as an extra measure to ensure that your skin is fully cleansed of any pore-clogging debris, makeup, sweat, dirt or oil. Clogged pores can cause breakouts to form and your pores to look more enlarged.
“Double cleansing is a great way to remove as much debris as possible to keep our skin clean and healthy,” says Dr. Kim. “Clean skin also improves the absorption of our moisturizers and serums, which helps maximize the benefits of the products that we invest in.”
How Often Should You Double Cleanse?
There’s no right answer to how often you should double cleanse — again, it all comes down to your particular skin type. “If you have oily skin or skin that can withstand a lot, a few times a week might be okay,” explains Dr. Goldfaden. “But if you have more sensitive skin, skin prone to redness, eczema, rosacea, acne or dry skin, you may want to skip this trend together.”
How to Double Cleanse
Step 1: Apply an Oil-Based Cleanser
The first step in double cleansing is to apply an oil cleanser. Oil-based cleansers can be used to help wash away oil-based impurities (such as sunscreen and sebum) and reveal a softer-looking complexion. To wash your face with an oil-based cleanser, simply apply one pump of cleanser to dry skin and massage in upward circular motions. If you’re wearing eye makeup, you may want to try applying the cleanser to a cotton pad to help gently remove any mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow first.
Step 2: Emulsify Your Cleanser With Water and Rinse
After about 30 to 40 seconds, wet your hands with lukewarm water and continue to massage in upward circular motions for another 30 to 40 seconds. At this point, you should notice the oil-based cleanser start to emulsify. Next, rinse your face with lukewarm water. Don’t forget to be extra thorough with your rinsing to ensure that the product is completely removed.
Step 3: Apply a Water-Based Cleanser
Water-based cleansers are attracted to water-based impurities including sweat and dirt, and can help lift away debris that may still be lingering on your complexion after your oil-based cleanse. To wash your face with a water-based cleanser, simply wet your skin with lukewarm water and lather the cleanser into your palms. Then, apply the lather to your skin and massage in upward circular motions for about 30 seconds. Rinse with lukewarm water and follow up with the rest of your skincare routine.
Step 4: Moisturize
Remember to always use a hydrating moisturizer after double cleansing — you don’t want your skin to feel stripped or dry.
Oil-Based Cleansers to Try
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil
Dissolve makeup and impurities with Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. Formulated with an aromatic blend of botanical oils, this lightweight oil cleanser can gently — yet effectively — cleanse your complexion and leave it looking replenished.
Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil
If you’re looking for a cleanser that will remove every last drop of your makeup, try the Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil, a skin-calming formula with a floral, herbaceous fragrance. You’ll love the comforting feel of the milky emulsion it forms when mixed with water.
THE FACE SHOP Rice Water Bright Rich Cleansing Oil
THE FACE SHOP Rice Water Bright Rich Cleansing Oil is Dr. Kim’s pick for an oil-based cleanser that leaves your skin feeling soft and looking bright. The fluid, non-sticky formula glides effortlessly across your skin and melts away makeup.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
The DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is a cult-favorite makeup remover with over 2,000 five-star customer reviews celebrating how it easily washes away makeup without leaving skin feeling stripped, dry or tight. Olive oil, rosemary oil and vitamin E make up a nourishing, moisturizing formula.
Mario Badescu Cleansing Oil
Even your most stubborn makeup is no match for the Mario Badescu Cleansing Oil. The best thing about this cleanser-slash-makeup-remover is how lightweight it is — it never feels overly heavy or greasy.
Water-Based Cleansers to Try
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Gel Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin
The Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Gel Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin acts as a magnet that lifts away dirt, oil and makeup — no harsh rubbing required. The gentle oil-free formula is powerful and effective without drying or irritating the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types (including sensitive), but it’s especially ideal for oily skin types.
Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash
This gel formula from Kiehl’s activates with water to create a creamy, foaming lather that thoroughly rinses away dirt and debris. The result? Skin that feels cleansed but not stripped of its natural oils.
Thayers pH Balancing Gentle Face Wash With Aloe Vera
Clinically tested to help balance skin’s pH levels, the Thayers pH Balancing Gentle Face Wash With Aloe Vera is your key to achieving a soft, refreshed complexion. Sodium hyaluronate and aloe vera soften, soothe and protect the skin’s moisture barrier.
Vichy Pureté Thermale Gel Cleanser
Formulated with Vichy volcanic water, the Vichy Pureté Thermale Gel Cleanser is one of the most refreshing cleansers we’ve tried. You don’t have to worry about your skin feeling tight, dry or sticky after using this luxurious lathering gel cleanser. It effectively cleanses away impurities and counteracts the skin-damaging effects of hard water, giving you softer, brighter skin.
Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser
Give your skin a boost of nutrients with this cult-favorite gel cleanser. Like a green juice for your face, it’s powered by antioxidant-rich kale, soothing spinach and anti-inflammatory green tea to remove buildup and give your skin a deep clean.
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
The CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is a great option for normal to oily skin, since it removes dirt, excess oil, makeup and more without disrupting your skin’s moisture barrier. It has a refreshing gel texture that lathers into a foam and it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid to keep your skin feeling hydrated.
Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser
This delightful-smelling blueberry cleanser is gentle, hydrating and contains AHAs for a mild exfoliating effect. In other words, it’s perfect for unclogging pores and erasing dead skin cell buildup.
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser
Between the luscious creamy texture and the adorable purple packaging, we don’t know what we like most about the Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser. Dr. Kim recommends using this as the second step in a double cleansing routine. “It’s very gentle, and won’t strip the skin,” she says.