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Article: What is Double Cleansing and How to Double Cleanse | ellé derm

What is Double Cleansing and How to Double Cleanse | ellé derm

What is Double Cleansing and How to Double Cleanse | ellé derm

You may have heard of the term double cleansing come up during conversations and wonder what it actually means. In this article, we explain the Who, What, When, Where and How to double cleanse. 


Who should double cleanse?

Double cleansing is not for everyone but it is recommended if you wear heavy foundation and lots of SPF.


What is double cleansing?

This Korean beauty trend involves using two different types of cleansers - first an oil cleanser or cleansing balm to remove oil-based products such as makeup and sunscreen followed by a water-based cleanser suitable for your skin type. 


Doesn't my cleanser remove makeup, dirt and sebum? 

Not necessarily. Cleansers require strong surfactants to fully dissolve oil and oil-based products - think of dishwashing liquid. This can really dry out our skin. If you wear heavy foundation, particularly non-transferable foundation and SPF, cleansing twice using your normal facial cleanser may do trick. However, it is best to remove this layer with a suitable cleansing balm before using your normal face cleanser. 


What are the benefits of double cleansing?

Double cleansing prevents the build up of dirt, makeup and sebum which can lead to blocked pores, trap bacteria and cause acne. 

Interestingly, a recent study from the Journal of Cosmetic Journal of Dermatology published on November 18, 2020 revealed that there was a higher incidence of persistent acne symptoms and treatment failure in patients who double cleanse and used cosmetics regularly, compared to treatment naive patients (38.1% vs 26.3%).

The researchers noted further study will be conducted in this area to find a correlation between the type of cosmetic product causing acne.

We believe over cleansing and disrupting the skin barrier may also play a role, from the perspective of skin science. In addition, not thoroughly removing the oil cleanser or cleansing balm can be an issue, especially if you have oily skin. This can irritate the skin as noted by the American Academy of Dermatology Association and cause acne breakout.

Double cleansing also ensures that your skin is thoroughly clean and is ready to absorb all the goodness from your serums and moisturisers. 


How to double cleanse

The first step of double cleansing involves a cleansing oil, balm, or micellar water (note: not all micellar water is created equal). Apply the product onto the face and rub in circular motion until all the makeup etc "melt" off. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Continue the second step with your normal face cleanser. 

You may find double cleansing with the same facial cleanser is sufficient (for our non makeup wearers). We also recommend double cleansing with your normal face cleanser if you have very oily skin. 

If your skin feels tight and dry immediately after cleansing, this may be a sign you may be over cleansing or using the wrong cleanser for your skin type. 



 Author: Helen Huynh (B Pharm) MPS



1. Suh DH, Oh H, Lee SJ, Kim HJ, Ryu HJ. Relationship between acne and the use of cosmetics: Results of a questionnaire study in 539 Korean individuals. Published online November 18, 2020. J Cosmet Dermatol. doi:10.1111/jocd.13853


2. How to Control Oily Skin (2021). American Academy of Dermatology Association. Published online: