Double Cleansing Is the Foolproof Way to Really Get All of Your Makeup Off
Yes, even waterproof mascara.
I'll admit it: I'm really bad at washing my face. Every night I spend minutes meticulously massaging serums and moisturizer into my skin, but when it comes to cleansing, I quickly wipe a cotton round soaked with micellar water across my face to just get it over with. While I always think I get every last bit of mascara and foundation off, when I wash my face the exact same way in the morning, there's always traces of last night's makeup on the cotton round.
After reading time and time again about the horrifying effect sleeping in your makeup has on your skin, I knew I needed to get my act together and started treating cleansing as an important step in my skincare routine, which is how I discovered double cleansing: the method of washing your face not once, but twice.
Although double cleansing is the foundation of every K-beauty skincare routine, it's become common in North American routines because washing your face more than once will get your skin completely clean without drying it out.
Here, three skincare experts breakdown the ritual, including how to properly double cleanse, the skincare benefits of a double cleanse, plus which products to use.
What Is Double Cleansing?
Double cleansing is a two-step method of washing your face. The first step is done with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser. "The idea is that you should remove the makeup, dirt, sebum, and pollution with an oil-based cleanser first to actually lift up the grime and then cleanse with a gentle foaming or water-based cleanser to further cleanse the pores and wash it all away," explains Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
"In Korea, everyone is obsessed with how to properly cleanse their skin because it's the first step to the final goal: dewy, soft skin," says Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam. "A proper cleanse is a double cleanse and neglecting this step would be skin blasphemy! And it’s not just a K-beauty staple, many dermatologists recommend the double cleanse as a way to first lift dirt and grime and then properly wash it all away."
What Are the Benefits of Double Cleansing?
There's two main benefits to double cleansing: First, it ensures every last trace of makeup, dirt, and oil is removed from your skin, plus any skincare products you use afterwards are likely to penetrate the skin deeper. Dr. Nussbaum says that this can make the products more efficient.
How Do You Double Cleanse?
Start off with an oil-based cleanser to wash away impurities like makeup, dirt, oil, and sunscreen. "In Western skincare, we’re often taught to shy away from anything with the word 'oil' for fear it will clog pores or cause acne," says Cho. "However, oil removes oil, so an oil cleanser will help break down and remove excess sebum and oil-based impurities like makeup and sunscreen."
Cho recommends using a balm like The Living Cleansing Balm from her skincare line, Then I Met You. "A balm is my go-to choice — its texture is friendly, less messy, and great to travel with, but texture is purely a personal preference," she says.
Follow up with a water-based cleanser to make sure every last impurity is washed away. Gel or foaming cleansers like are great options, but Dr. Nussbaum says that a micellar water will do the trick, too.
Even though cleansing oils generally won't cause breakouts, if you have acne-prone or extremely oily skin, Dr. Nussbaum suggests using a micellar water emulsion as your first step, followed by a foaming cleanser like CeraVe's Foaming Facial Cleanser.
It's also important to remember to "spend a few minutes working the cleanser into the skin and include the eye area," Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skincare says. "Small circles are the best way to make sure you loosen the makeup and dirt. Splash, then rinse. You can use a wash cloth for the cleanse if you want a gentle exfoliation, but be sure to wash the cloth after every use."
VIDEO: Beauty Now: Face Yoga
Do You Need to Double Cleanse in the Morning and at Night?
The short answer? No. "For most people, double cleansing at night is the perfect balance to avoid over-cleansing and causing irritation, especially as you are not typically removing makeup in the morning," says Dr. Nussbaum. "Those with dry or sensitive skin or even those with rosacea may need to monitor their skin's response and alter their skin routine accordingly, maybe even avoiding double cleansing altogether or only double cleansing a few times a week."
In the morning, water or micellar water is sufficient enough to wash away any oil that your skin has built up overnight.