Triple Cleansing: Should You Do It?

by Gio

do you need triple cleansing

I sometimes think Korean women add new steps to their skincare routine just for the sake of it.

Like, it wasn’t enough to double cleanse their skin every night. Now, they have to triple cleanse it.

No wonder they have to apply 12 hydrating products afterwards. There’s cleansing your skin and there’s stripping it bare.

I’m sure they don’t see it that way. They’ll tell you triple cleansing is the gentlest cleansing method ever. 🙄

I think it’s just a ploy to get you to buy cleansing wipes (because who would ever turn to them otherwise?).

What The Heck Is Triple Cleansing?

A 3-step cleansing routine.

First cleanse: use a cleansing wipe (they call it cleansing tissue to make it sound more effective + gentler) to remove stubborn impurities on the skin, like waterproof mascara and longlasting foundation.

Second cleanse: massage an oil-based cleanser to remove oil-based impurities, such as makeup and excess sebum. Rinse off.

Third cleanse: when your face is still wet, massage a water-based cleansing foam to remove water-based impurities. Rinse it off.

Pay your face dry.

In a nutshell, triple cleansing is double cleansing with a twist: you use a cleansing wipe first to dislodge some of the most stubborn impurities.

The Problem With Triple Cleansing

My problem with triple cleansing? It’s the same as with cleansing wipes. They don’t work that well.

We’ve all been there, ladies. You’ve just come home at 3:00 am after a night of partying with your girlfriends. You’re too tired to remove your makeup, so you grab a cleansing wipe instead. Ten minutes and 3 wipes later, you’re wondering why you’ve bothered. Using your usual cleanser would have been faster.

The worst part? All that rubbing has irritated your eyes. Now they’re all red and sore.

It’s true triple cleansing is a bit different. You don’t use the wipe to remove ALL your makeup. You just rub it over your eyes and face to remove some of it and then finish the job with the other two cleansers.

But, why not get a couple of cleansers that do a better job in the first place? Oil-based cleansers are the most powerful, yet gentlest, type of cleanser out there. If yours needs the extra help, then you’re stuck with a dud, my friend.

I just don’t see the point of rubbing something that doesn’t work that well all over my eyes and face to remove a bit of extra makeup when my usual cleanser takes everything off in one go. Do you?

The Problem With Double Cleansing

Double cleansing works.

There’s nothing better than an oil to remove another oil. It’s the “like attracts like” principle. The oils in your makeup remover attach to the oils in your makeup, sunscreen and skin and rinse them all away.

The catch? They can leave a greasy film on your skin. A water-based cleanser gets rid of that, plus any other water-based impurities, such as sweat, that are left on your skin.

But, you don’t need to use two separate cleansers. Very few cleansers are either oil- or water-based. Most are either oil-in water or water-in-oil emulsions.

Take The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Wash:

Aqua/Water, Glycine Soja Oil/Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside, Triticum Vulgare Germ Oil/Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Parfum/Fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxycitronellal, Disodium EDTA, Limonene, Geraniol, Tocopherol, Linalool, Citronellol, Cinnamyl Alcohol, CI 17200/Red 33, CI 14700/Red 4.

A quick look shows it’s both oil AND water based. Sure, you can keep using two separate cleansers if you want to, but why go to all that trouble when one is more than enough?

Related: Do You Really Need To Double Cleanse?

The Bottom Line

Double cleanse may sometimes make sense. Triple cleansing is just a silly fad created to sell more cleansing wipes. Save yourself precious time and money and get just ONE cleanser that does the job (click here for my fave cleansers for all skin types).

Have you ever tried double cleansing? Share your experience in the comments below.

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Christopher July 17, 2017 - 2:20 pm

I’m using Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil and it also is both water and oil soluble. However it most definitely leaves a film on my face which I can’t stand. So I absolutely have to follow up with a water based cleanser, even if I technically don’t have to. But if people find one that doesn’t leave a film, it will probably save them a step!

Gio July 21, 2017 - 12:11 pm

Christopher, I agree. It’s best to find one or two cleansers that work well for you, then just adding additional steps. I believe that the more you do to the skin, the worse it gets.

JD July 18, 2017 - 10:29 am

I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one who is not impressed with the triple cleansing trend or the use of as many products as possible on the face.

I double cleanse (usually at night) when I use makeup or sunscreen. This is one of the first things I learned from my Japanese friends (the other important thing I learned is the habit of massaging my face). I use oil or gel cleansing products which cleanse everything in one go (including waterproof makeup). But I like using foaming face washes, so I still use one even if my cleansing products remove all traces of makeup. If I’m using waterproof mascara, which I am doing lately due to the summer heat, I use an eye makeup remover because it makes removing mascara a lot easier. But I don’t call it triple cleansing. I asked a Japanese friend about this, and for her removing mascara with an eye makeup remover is part of the first cleanse. She also couldn’t understand why one would use wipes.

Gio July 21, 2017 - 11:54 am

JD, I sometimes use a separate eye makeup remover but I don’t consider that triple cleansing either. You’re not cleansing the same area three times. That’s going way overboard. I wonder what they’ll come up with next? The 5-step cleanse followed by 12 creams to replenish all the moisture we stupidly stripped away?

kaido July 18, 2017 - 5:56 pm

Can we use The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Wash as a substitute for double cleansing during very lazy nights?

I think triple cleansing is overdoing it too. Some beauty vloggers use cleanser with those rotating cleansing brushes during their 2nd wash, and that’s already quite harsh imo.

Gio July 21, 2017 - 12:08 pm

Kaido, if it removes all makeup well for you, yes.

I agree. Those brushes also exfoliate skin. That’s something better done in moderation.

Barbara August 10, 2017 - 9:18 am

Ditto on the wipes. I´m a one cleanser, unless I´m wearing make up (which um…. doesn´t last till 3AM haha) and then I´ll double clean, but with the same “cleanser”. The oil cleansing method! I mix my own oils so I know which was great for removing make up and others just for cleansing.

Gio August 12, 2017 - 7:47 am

Barbara, I love the oil cleansing method. Works like a breeze and removes everything! It’s much gentler on the skin than using 300 cleansers, too.


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