Double cleansing sounds self-explanatory; it involves washing your face twice. But, this cleansing method involves two different types of facial cleansers, one before the other. So, what is double cleansing exactly and why is it all over social media? Originating from Korean beauty routines, the benefits of this practice are plenty.

If you already have a lengthy skin care routine, you may be hesitant to add yet another step. But if you wear makeup regularly, have oily skin, or are prone to acne, you may be especially interested in trying the double cleansing technique for yourself.

What Is Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing is an easy and effective way to ensure your skin is squeaky clean. Put simply, double cleansing is the Korean beauty technique of washing your face back-to-back with two facial cleansers.

The first step involves an oil-based cleanser or makeup remover to break down stubborn makeup and sunscreen. It also helps wipe away oil-based impurities like sebum, or natural facial oils. Next, you'll use a water-based face wash. This second step really ensures your face is clean, getting rid of any leftover dirt, pollutants, or buildup of cosmetics that accumulate throughout the day.

Double cleansing is usually performed as part of one's evening skin care routine because layers of makeup and skin care products can be difficult to remove. In the morning, you don't have to double cleanse as you don't want to overdo it and risk stripping your skin of good oils.

This technique does require spending a few extra minutes out of your evening, but it may be worth it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your face washing technique can affect the way your skin looks. While double cleansing is optional, it's proven to be an effective way to remove unwanted contaminants on the skin that can lead to clogged pores, dull skin, and excessive oiliness.

Benefits of Double Cleansing

The main benefits of double cleansing include getting a deeper clean and increasing the effectiveness of your skin care products.

If you've ever applied a toner with a cotton pad after washing your face, you may have noticed dirt and makeup on the cotton pad. This is a sign that your skin hasn't been thoroughly cleansed even after washing it once. Breaking up your facial cleansing routine into two steps using oil-based and water-based cleansers targets oil- and water-based impurities on the skin. If you use one or the other type of cleanser, it may not be effective enough to break down and cleanse away everything built up on your skin.

Once thoroughly cleansed, your skin care products are much more effective on your skin. For example, you wouldn't apply your moisturizer over makeup because it won't actually hydrate your skin; makeup forms a layer over your skin that prevents moisture from soaking in. This layering can cause congestion. When your skin is thoroughly cleansed, it's like a blank canvas ready to make the most of the rest of your skin care regimen. Double cleansing gives your serums and moisturizers the best chance at penetrating deep into your skin.

Who Should Double Cleanse?

While anyone can double cleanse, it's most beneficial for people who regularly wear makeup and sunscreen products. You've likely heard that you should never sleep with makeup on, and the same goes for sunscreen.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone wear sunscreen daily. While sunscreen has an important job of protecting your skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, it can leave a thick residue at the end of the day. If not cleaned properly, this can clog your pores. After a long day of wearing sun protection products, washing them away is a step you shouldn't skip. To ensure product buildup is fully broken down, enlist the help of the double cleansing technique.

The method of double cleansing is also beneficial for people with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. Face washing is recommended at least once per day for people of all skin types, but those who experience excessive oiliness will benefit from washing their face twice per day. During the second wash, double cleansing helps break down excess sebum and remove some of the natural oils in your pores that could lead to breakouts.

This technique is usually not recommended for those with dry skin because it can remove too much of their natural oils. When performed gently, double cleansing is suitable for sensitive skin. However, you should stop double cleansing if you notice an increase in dryness and irritation.

How to Double Cleanse

Seeing as double cleansing only requires two steps, learning how is simple. Melt the day away with your evening cleanse by doing the following: 

  1. Apply an oil-based cleanser like the EltaMD Oil-in-Gel Cleanser to your skin while dry to gently cleanse away impurities like environmental pollutants, worn makeup, water-resistant sunscreens, and sweat. The Oil-in-Gel cleanser begins as a rich gel which melts into a silky oil as it is applied via your fingertips and, when exposed to water after application, transitions to a milky emulsion that can be washed away. 
  2. Use a water-based cleanser like the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser to finish the job. This cleanser works to gently provide additional cleansing to your skin that prepares your skin to better absorb your serums and moisturizers and provides enzymes that work to reduce inflammation.  

Once your skin is thoroughly cleansed, your skin care products are more likely to penetrate deeper, giving you a smooth, glowing look. For a simple but restorative skin care routine, follow up double cleansings with the EltaMD Skin Recovery System. In just three steps, this system repairs damage, reduces redness, and increases hydration.

Double cleansing is just one step in your journey toward healthy skin, and it doesn't have to be complicated. Try double cleansing for yourself—it may just be the missing piece in your skin care regimen.


  • Lacey Muinos

    Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.

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