What is Double Cleansing and How Does it Benefit Your Skin?

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While it’s true that some K-beauty trends can seem a little wacky, there are others that have the potential to truly transform your skin. Double cleansing is one of them. Although an ancient technique in Asia, the concept has only been around for a few years in western skincare, but skin care enthusiasts have been raving about its benefits. Could double cleansing be what your skin has been waiting for? Let’s find out…

What is Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing is exactly what it sounds like – washing your face twice instead of just once. Although you could technically use the same cleanser twice, double cleansing offers the best results when two separate cleansers are used.

Ideally, to double cleanse as effectively as possible, you would start with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, sebum, and pollutants. You would then follow this up with a water-based cleanser to clear away dirt, sweat, and any residue from your first cleanser.

The Benefits of Double Cleansing

Wondering why you would bother adding an extra cleansing step to your skincare routine? It all comes down to the benefits that this two-step process can offer:

Gives Your Skin a Deeper Clean

The first thing that you need to know about double cleansing is that it will give your skin a much more thorough cleanse. Oil-based cleansers are better than water-based cleansers at dissolving oil-based impurities, thanks to the fact that they contain powerful emulsifiers. This makes them useful for removing makeup and sebum.

Pretty woman after a bath touching her face

On the other hand, water-based cleansers, which have been formulated with surfactants, are better for clearing away sweat and dirt. Use just one cleanser and you’ll be left with some impurities on your face. However, use two products and you’ll be giving your skin a deep cleansing, leaving your pores clearer than they would have been with just one cleanse.

Helps to Prevent Acne Breakouts

If you have oily skin or combination skin, then you’ll be happy to know that double cleansing is a great way to prevent acne breakouts from developing. This is all down to how the technique thoroughly clears out the pores, preventing excess oil and dirt from building up.

Enables Other Skincare Products to Penetrate More Efficiently

Whether the next step in your skincare routine is a toner, a serum, or a cream, double cleansing makes it much easier for other skincare products to penetrate into your pores. This is simply because of the lack of sebum, dirt, and other impurities blocking the way, giving the rest of your formulas a clear path into your skin cells.

A Gentler Way to Cleanse Dry or Sensitive Skin

You may think that double cleansing would be too harsh on certain skin types, especially sensitive or dry skin, but the opposite is actually true. Using one strong formula to wash your face can actually cause more irritation and sensitivities than if you were to use two gentle cleansers. Rather than leaving your face feeling overly dry or tight, your skin should feel soft and refreshed.

Cheerful black woman with healthy skin

Should You Be Double Cleansing?

Although suitable for all skin types, double cleansing would benefit some people more than others. If you can relate to any of the following, then this K-beauty technique is definitely worth trying:

  • You have oily skin and regularly experience acne breakouts
  • You live in a polluted area
  • You wear makeup
  • You wear a mineral-based sunscreen

How to Double Cleanse Your Skin

Double cleansing involves two main steps. The first is to apply an oil-based cleanser to your skin. There are many cleansing oils out there, but you could also pick a cleansing balm or a micellar water. A foaming cleanser works well at removing oil-based dirt and heavy makeup too. Gently massage your oil cleanser into your skin for a minute or so, before giving your face a quick wash with lukewarm water.

Then, apply your second cleanser onto your damp skin. Cleanse as normal and rinse well to ensure skin is free of any cleanser residue. Next, pat your clean skin dry with a soft towel. You can then move on to the next stage of your skin care routine.

If you’d like to enhance your double cleansing experience even more, consider adding in a cleansing brush or device. You can use this at any stage of the two-step cleansing process. Research shows that a cleansing brush would be especially beneficial for those suffering from acne [1].

Choosing the Right Cleansers for a Double Cleanse

With so many different cleansers out there, it can be difficult to narrow down your options. The key is to pick cleanser formulas that have been designed for your skin type.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, then a gentle cleanser is a must. This applies to both your oil and water cleansers. Look for a formula that contains natural plant oils to hydrate and protect your skin at the same time.

If you have oily or combination skin, then you need a cleanser that’s able to effectively remove excess sebum. Look for one that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients – this will help to treat and prevent breakouts.

Of course, whatever your skin type may be, don’t forget to also keep the pH of your cleansers in mind. This should be as close to 5 as possible – anything higher or lower will end up disrupting your skin’s natural pH level.

Fresh morning wash


Should you double cleanse every day?

It depends on your skin type. Those with combination skin or oily skin can usually double cleanse daily without any issues. However, if you have sensitive or dry skin, you should only double cleanse a couple of times a week to preserve your skin’s protective natural oils.

Can you double cleanse with the same product?

Yes, you can double cleanse with the same product, although this means that you won’t be benefiting from both oil-based and water-based cleansers.

Is cleansing oil better than micellar water?

The main difference between a cleansing oil and a micellar water is that micellar water tends to be gentler, making it great for use around the eye area. That said, a cleansing oil can be very gentle too – it all depends on the ingredients that have been used in the formula.


From Tokyo to New York City, dermatologists all over the world are constantly stressing the importance of thoroughly cleansing your skin. In fact, many would say that cleansing is, without a doubt, the most important step of any skin care routine.

Well, double cleansing takes this even further. It will leave your skin cleaner and clearer than any single cleanse would have done, giving you a blank canvas that will then be highly receptive to any other skincare formulas you apply.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31741359/

Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.