Interested in double cleansing but have some questions? Below, we explain how the method works and share our favorite cleansing duos for every skin type.
Did you know that double cleansing is at the very heart of the Korean skin care philosophy? It is deemed one of the most important steps in any skin care routine. If you’re hoping to change your skin for the better, this cleansing method is the very first step you should consider incorporating in both your AM or PM skin care routine.
Whether your skin is chronically dry or uncontrollably oily, double cleansing will not only ensure all impurities are effectively removed from your skin, such as makeup, SPF, dirt, and even pollutants, but also help prep your skin and boost product absorption for the remainder of your routine.
What is double cleansing?
The double cleanse consists of two cleansing steps: using an oil cleanser followed by a water cleanser. It is important to use two different cleansing formulas in order to thoroughly cleanse your face of both oil and water-based impurities.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Use an oil cleanser or cleansing balm. Oil cleansers and balms gently cleanse away oil-based debris including sebum, makeup, SPF, and pollutants.
Pump or scoop the oil cleanser into your hand and massage into your skin in gentle upward motions. Add water to emulsify the product and massage again (it should create a milky consistency). Then rinse with lukewarm water.
You can choose to use either an oil cleanser or cleansing balm. The main difference between cleansing oils and cleansing balms is the texture and packaging.
Step 2: Use a water-based cleanser. Also known as a foam or gel cleanser, water-based cleansers draw out water-based impurities like sweat and dirt to fully cleanse the skin and pores.
After you’ve rinsed off your oil cleanser, while the skin is still damp or wet, massage the water cleanser into your skin, using the same gentle upward circular motions, then rinse and gently pat dry.
The best cleansing products go beyond just removing impurities, though. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you might want one that also hydrates, balances or exfoliates too. Below, we’ve shared some options that check those boxes. Read on to find the best cleansing duo for you.
Double cleanse for oily skin:
An oil cleanser is a must if you have oily skin because you need oil to properly break down the excess sebum on your face. But that doesn’t mean you have to make your face an oil slick each time and silently suffer in your bathroom.
The Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil [BHA] ($27) is specially formulated for those with oily skin types. In addition to astringent cleansing oils like lemon and grapefruit oils, it contains salicylic acid to exfoliate pores and help prevent and treat blackheads and acne.
The perfect complement to this cleansing oil is the D’alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Mild Gel Cleanser ($35). If you have oily skin, you might gravitate towards cleansers that leave your skin squeaky clean, but doing so actually dries out your skin, which then forces your skin to produce even more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. The D’alba Piedmont formula is gentle, won’t strip skin, and is packed with white truffle to provide added anti-aging benefits.
Double cleanse for combination skin:
Combination skin feels like your skin is consistently going through seasonal changes – it’s dry in some places but oily in others, and your skin may feel different every single day. In that case, look for hydrating cleansers that don’t leave a greasy residue.
The Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original ($19) has a new and improved formula that is free of mineral oil and instead contains a more skin-friendly natural ester oil, plus vitamin E acetate. Reviewers love it because it rinses off easily and makes skin feel clean, but never dry.
We’d pair it with the Good Skin Days™ A New Leaf Cream Cleanser ($16). This antioxidant-rich probiotics cleanser contains crushed mugwort to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin, while a blend of fermented greens, including green tea, spinach, celery, and broccoli, protect, soothe and hydrate the skin.
If you’ve ever dealt with tightness or greasiness after a cleanse, this double cleansing routine will help keep your combination skin under control.
Double cleanse for sensitive skin:
If your skin is sensitive, you might be hesitant to use too many products in your skin care routine. Luckily, there are many cleansers out there made for sensitive skin types that are free of common skin-irritating ingredients. At the end of the day, you’ll still have to experiment to identify what works for your skin and what doesn’t, but if you’re serious about skin care, using products specifically designed for sensitive skin types is a good way to start.
The E Nature Skin Pot Cleansing Balm ($23) is infused with hemp seed oil and omega-3 fatty acids to help hydrate and repair damaged skin while removing oil-based impurities and soothing the skin. The balm also contains pomegranate fruit extracts to help eliminate unwanted and harmful bacteria in your skin that can clog pores and irritate the skin.
We recommend pairing this soothing cleansing balm with the Commleaf Rice Purifying Foaming Cleanser ($29). As its name implies, the star ingredient is rice water, which helps to soothe, improve skin texture. This hypoallergenic cleansing foam contains other natural ingredients like deep seawater to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin without causing any irritation.
Double cleanse for normal or dry skin:
The Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm ($38) gets its orange color from the formula’s high concentration of sea buckthorn oil, a fatty acid and antioxidant-rich ingredient that hydrates, heals, and protects skin from wrinkle-causing environmental damage. This 8x award-winning, soft, luxurious cleansing balm also contains ingredients like olive oil, grape seed oil, and vitamin E that replenish and nourish skin while melting away impurities sans residue.
The Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel ($36) completes a perfect double cleansing duo for normal skin types. This water-based cleanser contains a sulfate-free formula with antibacterial and gentle cleansing agents, along with hydrating sodium hyaluronate, calming centella asiatica and tea tree leaf, and brightening licorice extract and rice ferment filtrate. While great for normal skin, some dry types may need a more moisturizing formula. If that sounds like you, we recommend pairing the Living Cleansing Balm with a product like the Solved Skincare Coconut Water Cleansing Foam ($23). This nourishing cleansing foam boasts clean EWG green-grade ingredients and is packed with 75% real coconut water to gently remove dirt, sweat and other water-based impurities.
Double cleansing is a universally used practice by dermatologists and estheticians around the world. Why? Because it’s the best and most thorough way to cleanse your skin. A good double cleanse will not only remove makeup, oil-based debris and water-based debris from the skin, but also leave your skin looking and feeling softer, clearer, and more hydrated.