What exactly is double cleansing and how often should you be doing it?

If you’re a certain age then you will have been brought up on the premise of cleanse, tone and moisturise; three products customised to your skin type. These days things have got a lot more complicated, there’s such a variety of cleansers, different types of toners, serums, acids, oils, day creams and night creams. However, there is one basic truth that has always been the case, if you don’t cleanse properly then you may as well not bother with the rest of your regime as the products will be sitting on top of a load of muck, sebum and old makeup. The trend for double cleansing has really taken hold, so do you need to double cleanse, what is it and should you do it every day?

Double cleansing probably originated in Japan or South Korea in the fourteenth century, so it’s taken a while to move into the West! There are two steps to the process. Step 1 – an oil based cleanser is applied to dissolve old skin cells, makeup, sunscreen and sweat. Step 2 – a water based cleanser is usually applied, however, you may prefer to use a lotion or a cleansing milk according to your skin type. This second cleanse clears the pores of any remaining dirt and oil ready for your toners and serums. Please note that your toner isn’t part of your cleansing regime, there shouldn’t be any makeup remains or grime on your cotton wool pad with your toner. Also, If you wear heavy eye makeup then remove this first with your preferred product before starting the double cleanse.

You start by using an oil based cleanser as ‘like removes like’ and many of our makeup products are oil based, also it won’t destroy the skin’s barrier. I tend to use an oil based micellar water. Do this until there isn’t a trace of makeup on your cotton wool pad, it can take a few goes! Once the surface grime is removed you can move onto step 2. Use the best cleanser you can afford for the second phase, this is the one you are going to really massage and work into the skin; ensure it’s sulphate free to avoid stripping the skin of natural oils. (If money is tight then you can use the same cleanser for both steps, this is better than not double cleansing at all.) Spend a couple of minutes working and massaging the cleanser into your skin, just wiping the product on and then washing it straight off is pointless and a waste of money. Then I prefer to use a flannel rather than a muslin cloth to to take the cleanser off, I don’t use a cleansing brush as I find them too harsh for my skin and I’m wary of them becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure the water is lukewarm though as too hot water can irritate the skin.

How often should you double cleanse? This really depends on your lifestyle. If you live and work in a city and wear makeup everyday then you probably need to do it every evening. If you’re having an at home day with no makeup, or if you have extremely sensitive skin, then you don’t need to double cleanse every day. Double cleansing on an evening leaves the skin perfectly prepared for nighttime leave-on products, for example retinol, to penetrate and work effectively. There’s no need to do it on a morning as none of us would ever go to bed without cleansing thoroughly would we!! Use a water or lotion based cleanser on a morning to prepare your skin for any serums and your moisturiser, not micellar water and absolutely not makeup wipes unless it’s an emergency.

There haven’t really been any rigorous scientific studies yet regarding the anti-ageing benefits of double cleansing but there are definitely indirect benefits, including helping your anti-ageing products to work correctly. Also, it is accepted that pollutants and environmental toxins can accelerate the ageing process, so cleansing these out of your skin can only be a good thing.


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