Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD
Written by Annie Lam
Last updated 4/1/2022
When the 10-step Korean skincare routine grew in popularity, so did the concept of double cleansing. According to popular K-beauty retailer Soko Glam, double cleansing ensures that you are removing all makeup, sunscreen, and pollutants from the day. We know that the idea of cleansing your face twice a day can be daunting, so today we’re breaking down if you really need to double cleanse.
The name says it all - double cleansing is just cleansing your face two times. The most popular double cleanse duo is a cleansing oil or balm and a water-based cleanser. Many claim that using a cleansing oil or balm helps to break down oil-based impurities, makeup, and sunscreen on the skin.
Using an oil or balm cleanser can be beneficial for your skin too! According to dermatologist Dr. Luke Maxfield, DO, “Oil-based cleansers often contain antioxidants, hydrating oils, or even active ingredients.” Following with a gentle water-based cleanser helps to remove any other impurities from the skin.
Regular makeup-wearers swear by double cleansing to ensure all makeup is removed without excessive pulling or tugging. However, some say that you need to double cleanse every day, even when you’re not wearing makeup. The idea is that a double cleanse is necessary in order to thoroughly remove sunscreen - but is this really true?
The short answer is no, you don’t. Generally, you don’t need to double cleanse unless you’re wearing heavy makeup or waterproof sunscreen. A recent study showed that a regular cleanser removed non-waterproof sunscreen as effectively as a cleansing oil.
Additionally, over-cleansing can do more harm than good. “Double cleansing can be overly stripping because it very efficiently removes oils from the skin, and this includes your natural oils,” says Dr. Maxfield. “If you are using lightweight or mineral makeup, using a standard and gentle cleanser should be enough.” The surfactants (cleansing agents) in regular cleansers can effectively remove light makeup and non-waterproof sunscreen.
That being said, if double cleansing works for you, that’s great! Our dermatologists approve it for days you’re wearing heavy makeup or waterproof sunscreen, but it’s not a necessity.
Be gentle. Over-cleansing can damage your skin barrier, so it’s important to choose gentle products for your double cleanse.
Follow with a gentle cleanser. Regardless of how you choose to remove your makeup and waterproof sunscreen, it’s important to use a gentle cleanser to remove any leftover residue on the skin.
It doesn’t have to be daily. You don’t need to double cleanse every night! You can keep your trusty “first cleanser” on hand for heavier makeup days and use your gentle cleansers on days you’re just wearing SPF. It’s all about finding what works best for you.
Overall, double cleansing is a great way to melt down makeup and waterproof sunscreen, but isn’t as necessary as some claim. If you don’t typically wear heavy makeup, you can just use your regular cleanser and go to bed knowing your face is clean. Happy cleansing!
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