need to double cleanse

You’d think washing your face would be easy…

When I was a kid, my mom told me to use plain old soap and water. It made my face squeaky clean… and dry as a bone.

In my teens, I graduated to foaming cleansers. That worked better. I got clean skin without the dryness. Until I finally started wearing makeup. I needed something I could use all over, eyes included. Most foaming cleansers sting them like crazy.

That’s when I discovered oil-based cleansers. They take EVERYTHING off without the sting. They catch? They have the annoying tendency to leave a greasy residue behind… *sighs*

I was about to give up all hopes of ever finding the perfect cleanser when I learned about double cleansing.

What Is Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing is just that: you cleanse your face twice. First, with an oil-based cleanser. Then, with a water-based one.

The theory is that you need different types of cleansers to attract (and remove) different kinds of impurities.

Oil-based cleansers work according to the “like attracts like” principle. Their oils attract, and bind to, the oils in your suncreeen, makeup and excess sebum, washing them away from your face.

You then follow up with a water-based cleanser that removes whatever other watery-based (yes, that’s the scientific term 🙂 ) impurities (think dirt), are still left on your skin.

In case you’re wondering, yes, this is something you only do at night. Unless you sleep with your makeup and sunscreen on. But you DON’T, right?

Related: What’s The Oil-Cleansing Method And Should You Try It?

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You’re Probably Already Double Cleansing

I know what you’re thinking: “I can barely bother to remove my makeup before I go to sleep and you want me to use two cleansers, Gio? Are you nuts?!”

I’ve got good news for you. You’re probably double cleansing already.


Here’s the deal: Very few cleansers are either oil- or water-based. Most are either oil-in water or water-in-oil emulsions.

An example of an oil-in-water emulsion is Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel With Marula Oil. Its oil droplets are dispersed in water with a little helping hand from emulsifiers. As the oil is surrounded by so much water, it disappears quickly into the skin, removing ALL impurities from it. This type of cleanser works well even for oily and acne prone skin.

Cold creams, such as the old classic Pond’s Cold Cream, are usually “water-in-oil” emulsions. This time, the water is encapsulated within the oil droplets. The oil reaches your skin first, creating a thicker barrier that both cleanses and moisturizes. Water in oil cleansers are better for dry or mature skin types.

Related: How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

Should You Double Cleanse (As In Use Two Separate Cleansers)?

If most cleansers can double cleanse, why are Korean women using two cleansers? Is the double cleanse craze from the East a fad?

Yes and no.

If you ask me (and I guess you are, if you’re reading this blog), Korean women are too quick to embrace whatever fad marketers throw at them. The secret to their glowing skin has more to do with their obsession for sun protection and a healthy diet rich in fermented foods than the use of 300 skincare products.

But, there’s no doubt that you need to thoroughly cleanse your skin every night. Even the best skincare products won’t be able to do their magic if they have to fight through layers of dirt to reach your skin. Plus, if you let all that dirt build up in your pores, pimples are going to be your new BFFs. I know, don’t let that happen to you.

But do you need two cleansers? It depends:

  • If your current cleanser is already doing an excellent job at cleansing your skin, you don’t need to change anything. Just keep doing what you’re doing every night. You’re on the right track.
  • If your cleanser is still leaving traces of makeup and sunscreen behind, it’s time to up your game and invest in an oil-and-water-based cleanser.
  • If your cleanser is doing a great job at cleansing your skin but is leaving a greasy residue behind, then it’s time to double cleanse. Use an oil-based cleanser to remove your makeup and a water-based cleanser to get rid of the residue.

Related: Did You Know That Triple Cleansing Is A Thing? Here’s Why You Should Not Do It

The Bottom Line

I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again. You need to thoroughly cleanse your skin every night. But, how you don’t need to use two separate cleansers to do that. Most cleansers are already double cleansing!