As the name suggests, double cleansing involves cleaning your face twice before proceeding with the remainder of your skincare routine. The first cleanse should be oil based as this is a gentle, ideal and efficient way of removing dirt, makeup, bacteria and layers of sunscreen. This flushes away the majority of the impurities whilst the second cleanse goes deeper, preparing and permitting your face to better absorb the benefits of toner, essence, serum, oil and moisturizer.
According to Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at London’s Cadogan Cosmetics clinic, “Make-up is now formulated for its staying power, so it often needs a double cleanse to remove it thoroughly”. Research shows that when skin isn’t properly cleaned, the surface layer can prevent active ingredients from working effectively as they don’t penetrate the skin sufficiently. Studies conducted by Lancome and Olay indicate that women who cleansed their skin properly saw significantly better results from anti-ageing products compared to those who did not.
Furthermore, Dr Philippa Lowe, dermatologist, confirms that insufficient or ineffective cleansing “can lead to blocked pores, irritation, skin barrier damage and spots”. Blocked skin pores create the perfect conditions for inflammatory acne to develop.
the first cleanse
An ideal choice for a first step is a cleansing oil or balm. A balm is handy for travel and less messy when it comes to practical use but both offer similar benefits.
A balm will liquefy when rubbed into the skin. Most are gentle enough to remove all makeup including mascara and eye liner which tend to be the hardest elements to wash away. However, make sure to read the label carefully before applying any product around the eyes.
Oil based cleansers make an excellent choice for blackhead and breakout control for oily skin types. Since oil attracts oil, the cleanser penetrates the sebum inside the pore to easily flush it clean. Furthermore, dry and sensitive skin types will find it nourishing and soothing respectively.
the second cleanse
The second cleanse should be water based. This may include gel, foaming, powder and creamy cleansers. This step is effective at removing the trace elements left behind from the hard working oil based cleanser.
An acidic cleanser is best, the ideal pH being around 5.5, to protect your skin’s barrier which contains essential lipids. If you have acne or problem prone skin, cleansers with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or niacinamide can be beneficial. As tempting as it might be to over-cleanse or cleanse harshly in an attempt to control surface oils, stripping the skin barrier is even more problematic, so try to use a gentle approach for better long term results.
An oil based cleanser should be applied to dry skin, massaged well, particularly where there might be a build up of sebum or lots of makeup. Once complete, tepid water should be added to emulsify the formula and permit easy rinsing without greasy residue. Depending on the performance of your oil cleanser, you may or may not require a gentle face cloth for optimum results.
Micellar waters help absorb and dissolve dirt, makeup and oil, so are good for makeup removal without irritation. The oil in micellar water works on the same principle as a cleansing oil.
A water based cleanser may be applied on a damp face to form a lather or foam (depending on the type used), massaged gently but thoroughly and then rinsed off. Pat with a towel instead of rubbing to avoid stripping the skin.
Double cleansing is only required to start your evening skincare routine, as makeup, sunscreen, pollutants, oils and debris have collected on your skin throughout the day. As you go to bed with clean skin, it is not necessary to double cleanse in the morning so you can dispense with the oil cleanse altogether. Often, I find that a light cleanse or even just a splash of water is sufficient to prepare me for my morning skincare routine as my face remains clean. If it is particularly humid or hot, it is refreshing to cleanse before layering the morning skincare.
the product selection
As with any skincare product, different skin types will respond better to some cleansers than others. The key is to ensure both steps remain gentle by using sulphate-free products that won’t strip the skin of its natural oils. When a cleanser works well, it should leave your skin feeling clean, fresh and hydrated not oily, irritated or tight. A cleanser may exhibit brilliant properties and be created using an ideal ingredient list but in practice it may not be perfect for you, so try gentle products and decide which best suits your skin. After all, there is a huge range of products out there, many of them great, some of them brilliant and some not so good.
Do your own research, know what’s in the product you’re putting on your skin. A higher price doesn’t necessarily indicate a better product, so check out the ingredients and reviews and decide for yourself. Pharmacy and budget cleansers will often do a comparable job to high end equivalents and if you time it right, there’s always a sale to exploit. If it’s free of harmful additives and irritants and it makes your skin glow and feel clean, it can’t be wrong. Product choice really comes down to personal preference, just keep it gentle.
Examples of first cleansers include:
Whilst second cleanse options include:
Bombarding your face with toners, essences, serums, oils, masks and moisturisers may be a good idea but it may also be a waste of time and money if your skin isn’t properly cleansed. Evidence of impurities and dead or flaking skin cells on the surface won’t allow them to be efficiently absorbed thus their benefits cannot be fully appreciated or experienced. So double cleanse at night and your skin will thank you for it.
Why you should wash your face twice before bed Claire Coleman
The Double Cleanse Method Just About Skin
Double Cleansing: The Secret To Better Skin NetDoctor
Please read in context with my disclaimer.