Double Cleansing 101: Ultimate Guide

There are a ton of horror stories related to sleeping with an unwashed face. Skin issues like breakouts and prematurely aging skin are just some of the consequences of letting dirt, grime, and unwashed makeup settle on your face.

Cleansing is one of the most essential steps in a skincare routine. But letting soap and water deal with the build-up of makeup, skincare products, dirt, and oil is not enough.

Enter double cleansing - a skincare ritual that proves that you have to take your cleansing routine up a notch if you want youthful, glowing skin.

What You'll Learn in This Blog

What is Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing is the process of cleaning the skin twice - starting with an oil-based cleanser and followed by a water-based cleanser. The double cleansing method became famous after being introduced as a HUGE step in the Korean skincare method. 

The double cleansing process includes two steps:

  • Step One: Using oil to specifically remove the build-up of makeup, skincare products, and oil-based impurities like sebum.
  • Step Two: The second step comprises using gel-based or water-based cleansers to deal with other skin irritants like sweat, grime, dirt, and skincare residue.

Think of double cleansing as a back-up plan that will keep your skin cleansed to a T.


Why Cleansing the Skin Once is Not Enough

The art of double cleansing highlights that makeup, and skincare products that have settled on your skin are a tougher beast to deal with. A classic cleanser alone may not completely eliminate makeup and skincare residue...and in the long run, it could have serious consequences.

Dr. Sejal Shah, in an interview with Allure commented that not thoroughly cleaning the skin can lead to a “build-up [that] can potentially clog the pores resulting in dry, irritated skin, and even acne.”

Starting with oil-based cleansers also allows your other cleansers to do what they need to do for your skin. When you offer your classic cleansers a clean facade, you can utilise their other benefits - hydrating, moisturising, brightening - better.


Double Cleansing Checklist: Should You Clean Your Face Twice?

As more and more people are incorporating the double cleansing method to their night time skin routine, one can’t help but wonder “Wait, are you sure double cleansing is for everyone?”

Although double cleansing has obvious benefits, taking note of a little caveat can stop you from doing double cleansing the wrong way, and ultimately damaging your skin.

Here's a three-point checklist to consider before jumping in the double cleansing craze. 


First, are you using heavy makeup daily? 

Makeup is good, until you sleep with old makeup still sticking on your face. There’s nothing wrong with using makeup daily and looking good, just make sure you’re removing it each day before bed. The effects of not cleaning makeup off your face can range from acne to full-blown infection. Yikes. Double cleansing is ideal if you’re using makeup daily since a typical foam cleanser can’t always take clogged makeup out your pores.

On days where you’re not using makeup, you can skip the double cleansing process to prevent washing away your skin’s natural oils.


Second, are you prone to producing more sebum?

If you’re having a hard time stripping off dirt and oil from your face, there’s a high chance you’ll use more harsh cleansers to get the job done. However, doing so can strip your face off its natural oils causing your skin to produce more sebum.

Double cleansing helps with sebum problems by making you switch to a gentle way of cleansing. With oil cleansers doing the intense job of breaking down makeup and grime, you don’t have to resort to strong cleansers anymore.


Third, are you using harsh products?

Everyone’s dealing with different skin types. If you’re dealing with skin issues that require a stronger cleanser, you can skip double cleansing to prevent over cleansing side effects.


Double Cleansing Basics: What Cleansers to Start With


Step 1: Oil Cleansers

Mission number 1 -- remove all the build up of makeup and skincare residue. A good old oil cleanser clings onto makeup and oil quickly to leave you with a skin free from harmful creams and makeup that can damage, harm, and age your skin.

How to Clean the Face with Oil Cleansers

  • Start with a dry face.
  • Add two to three drops of oil cleanser to your fingertips.
  • Use your fingertips to clean away makeup.
  • Massage the face gently.
  • Remove melted makeup and creams using a wipe, or a warm towel.


We Recommend:
double cleansing cleanser
Start the cleansing process in a gentle way with La Mer Cleansing Lotion. Packed with nourishing, make-up busting ingredients like Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, and Glycerin, this cleanser will melt away the gunk without damaging your skin.
Indulge your face in a creamy, cleansing goodness of Ga-De French Rose gentle cleansing cream. This lightweight cleanser is an oil-based cream with rosehip seed oil and shea butter that melts away makeup and skincare residue in just a few minutes.



Step 2: Water-based Cleansers

The final step to the double cleansing method is giving the face a good wash using a water-based cleanser. A water-based cleanser is attracted to water-based impurities like sweat, dirt, and grime. If you have dirt residue that wasn’t covered by your oil cleanser, the water-based cleanser will do the follow-up clean-up. 

How to Use Water-based Cleansers

  • Add a pump of water-based cleanser on your palm.
  • Apply the cleanser on a wet face.
  • Gently massage the cleanser all over your face.
  • Wash with warm water, and dry with a towel.
We Recommend:

double cleansing cleanser

This alcohol and paraben-free cleanser features two powerful cleansing ingredients - Gypsophila and Tamarin - that help renew and exfoliate the skin, and strip off dirt and oil off your skin.
cleansers double cleansing
If you’re ditching harsh cleansers for milder ones, consider Declare Gentle cleansing milk. This milk cleanser includes linden extract which removes makeup and excess sebum without disrupting the skin’s natural balance.
Featuring a lightweight, gentle combination of water, glycerin, and citrus extracts, L’occitane’s Immortelle Cleansing Foam will leave your skin refreshed and citrusy fresh. Skin feeling fragrant after double cleansing? Yes, please!


Double cleansing is the next big thing you can do to help your skin achieve its optimum glow. Add double cleansing to your skin regimen and get ready to see the wonderful effects on your skin.


Need some help putting together the best skincare routine for your skin type? Try our skin quiz!

Beauty Affairs Skin Quiz Image


Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published