Do You Really Need To Double Cleanse?

EST READING TIME: 7 minutes

We know that cleansing is one of the must-have steps in your skincare routine. I mean, cleaning your face properly is one of the simplest ways to clearer, healthier skin. 

Cleansing your face washes away dirt, dead skin cells, makeup, and anything else that might lead to breakouts, blackheads, clogged pores, and irritated skin. A clean face also ensures that the products you use after will be it’s most effective. 

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But, does properly cleansing your skin include double cleansing? I would say YES. And this blog post will break it all down. 

Let’s talk about:

  • What double cleansing really is
  • How often you should wash your face
  • When you should and shouldn’t double cleanse
  • How to correctly double cleanse, and
  • How to pick the right cleansers for your skin

Plus, I’ve got a FREE CHEAT SHEET for you to download at the end of this post!

So, what is double cleansing?

Double cleansing is just what it sounds like

It’s where you wash your face twice. You’re essentially washing your face with an oil-based cleanser first, then washing it again with a water-based cleanser.

The first step is intended to draw out oil-based impurities like sebum, sunscreen, makeup, and pollutants. And the second step is meant to clean water-based debris like sweat and dirt.

An oil-based cleanser dissolves the makeup and grit on your face. So when you finally use your water-based cleanser, it can get into your pores without any interference. Water-based cleansers aren’t capable of removing oil-based debris because water cannot dissolve oil.

How often should you wash your face?

Ideally, you should wash your face once in the morning, once at night, and after any physical activity where you sweat.

Some people find that using a cleanser twice a day is too much for them. If that’s the case for you, feel free to use micellar water or splash some water on your face in the morning. But, keep in mind that most people sweat at night. So, just make sure your face is clean before proceeding with your morning skincare routine.

And if you’re only cleansing once a day, it should definitely be at night.

When should you double cleanse?

Double cleansing is most beneficial at night when you have makeup and sunscreen to remove.

In the morning, you can wash your face with just your water-based cleanser. And you should double cleanse every evening you wear sunscreen or makeup.

LET ME REPEAT.

If you wear sunscreen, you should double cleanse, and if you wear makeup, you should double cleanse.

But, double cleansing doesn’t mean you have to use an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. If you prefer to use a cream or milk-based cleanser as your first cleanse and second cleanse, that’s fine too.

So, how do you properly double cleanse?

Step 1 – (aka The First Cleanse)

Essentially, you want to first cleanse with something that will dissolve your makeup, sunscreen, and other heavy products. That can include:

  • Eye makeup removers
  • Micellar waters
  • Cream cleansers
  • Oil cleansers
  • Balm cleansers

Cleansing oils and balms are my personal favorite when double cleansing. I massage either of them on dry skin, emulsify it with water and use a warm, damp towel to wipe the cleanser off my face. And I can quickly get everything off (eye makeup included) without irritating my skin barrier. Keep in mind that I have dry skin.

Step 2 – (aka The Second Cleanse)

The second cleanser should get rid of any leftover dirt, so your skin is clean, balanced, and ready for anything you apply afterward. You can use any of these as a second cleanser:

  • Foaming cleansers
  • Gel cleansers
  • Cream cleansers
  • Oil cleansers
  • Balm cleansers

You can also include cleansers with active ingredients, like chemical and physical exfoliants. 

HOW MANY CLEANSERS SHOULD YOU HAVE?

I’d have at least one good oil cleanser and one gel/cream cleanser in rotation. But, if your budget doesn’t allow you to have more than one cleanser, just use the same one twice.

How do you pick the right cleansers for you?

The right cleanser depends on your skin type, skin goals, and the other products you use in your routine. When in doubt, pay attention to your skin before applying any products to your face in the morning. For example, if it’s greasy to the touch, you can safely assume that your skin is oily.

You want to take characteristics like this into account when shopping for a cleanser, so you don’t wind up with a cleanser that isn’t effective, or worse, irritates your skin. Just like any other part of the routine, cleansers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Your needs will vary based on your environment, age, lifestyle, and skin goals and concerns. Mainly, a good cleanser should be gentle and non-stripping. Your face shouldn’t feel stiff, irritated, dry, or tight after you wash your face.

If you have oily or combination skin, gel cleansers can be a great option. They provide a deep clean while being gentle and hydrating. I’d recommend:

  1. Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelée 3% ($) 
  2. Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser ($$)
  3. Klur Gentle Matter Daily Moisture Cleanser ($$$)
Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelee 3%Klur Gentle MatterJordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser

If you have dry or sensitive skin, a cream-based cleanser is about as gentle and moisturizing as you can get, so it works well for people with dry or sensitive skin. Cream-based cleansers are known to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. It can also come in the form of milk or lotion. I’d recommend:

  1. Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($)
  2. Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser ($$)
  3. Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2 ($$$)
CeraVe Hydrating Facial CleanserPaula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream CleanserBiologique Recherche Lait VIP O2

**If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to pay attention to the cleanser’s ingredients, too. Simple is better. The Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser listed above don’t contain any active ingredients that could irritate your skin.

If you wear a lot of makeup, regardless of your skin type, you’ll benefit from an oil-based cleanser. To remove makeup, you need to fight oil with oil. A good oil-based cleanser will get off all traces of makeup and leave your skin feeling nourished. I’d recommend:

  1. AbsoluteJOI Skincare Sunflower & Moringa Fresh Cleanse Oil ($)
  2. The AfterShow Treatment Cleanser for Sensitive Skin ($$)
  3. Deviant Skincare Cleansing Concentrate ($$$)
Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser for Sensitive SkinAbsoluteJOI Sunflower & Moringa Fresh Cleanse OilDeviant Skincare Cleansing Concentrate

FREE CHEAT SHEET

So now you know why, when, and how to double cleanse. Cleansing is the most important step in your skincare routine, so make sure you’re doing it right. 

You can now download my cleansing cheat sheet with tips on how to wash your face for clearer, healthier skin.

And if you’re new to your skincare journey, check out my blog post on How To Build A Skincare Routine first.

Do you double cleanse?
Have you tried any of the products I mentioned?
What cleansers do you use?

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Shop The Double Cleansing Products Mentioned:

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelee 3%
Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser
Klur Gentle Matter
AbsoluteJOI Sunflower & Moringa Fresh Cleanse Oil
Deviant Skincare Cleansing Concentrate
Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelee 3%
Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser
Klur Gentle Matter
AbsoluteJOI Sunflower & Moringa Fresh Cleanse Oil
Deviant Skincare Cleansing Concentrate
Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2
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