What Exactly Is Double Cleansing, and Should You Do It?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), daily face cleansing is essential for maintaining healthy skin. But what about double cleaning, one of the most popular social media skin-care trends? Is it as useful as they claim?

The double-cleansing procedure, which originated in Korea and has been adopted by Korean women for years, has lately risen in popularity abroad, hawked by beauty bloggers and celebrities alike. It’s marketed as a method for removing all traces of grime, makeup, sunscreen, and pollutants for an extra-deep clean.

And it’s no stranger to social media: the hashtag #doublecleansing has amassed enormous popularity on TikTok, with 385 million views and climbing. This statistic reflects a large number of individuals interested in learning more about the approach and exploring how people personalize it to meet their own requirements.

Among the hundreds of double-cleansing TikTok videos, the one created by beauty blogger and Em Cosmetics founder Michele Phan stands out. With over 700,000 likes, the double-cleansing video has piqued the interest of many curious viewers, eliciting a rush of comments and follow-up queries.

The face-washing method has received accolades from cosmetics enthusiasts as well as individuals who have oily or acne-prone skin that generates excess sebum, a material produced by the sebaceous glands that may cause undesired shininess and follicle-blocking outbreaks.

But, is it really necessary to wash your face twice? This question is answered here, along with everything else you need to know about double cleaning, including how it originated, its advantages, pitfalls, and more.

Double Cleansing Definition
Double cleansing is exactly what it sounds like cleaning your face twice with two separate washes. The method “removes oils and the buildup of oily products on the skin,” according to Karan Lal, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Single-cleansing, especially with a non-oil-based cleanser, doesn’t remove 100 percent of skin oils, secretions, or makeup,” he claims.

The History of Double Cleansing
Double cleaning has become a hot issue in the United States in recent years as social media content providers have adopted the approach. However, the technique of twice cleaning is not wholly new; it has been used for many years. “While I can’t say with certainty that Korea invented the double-cleanse technique, their dedication to their multistep routine certainly popularized it,” says Charlotte Cho, a qualified aesthetician and the creator of the Korean beauty-product marketplace Soko Glam.

Potential Advantages of Double Cleansing
Double washing has received a considerable reputation as a technique for providing a deeper cleaning to the skin, which may help various people based on their skin type and issues. It’s worth noting that significant dermatological organizations, such as the AAD, have yet to examine the potential advantages of culturally inspired skin-care procedures like this one. Nonetheless, Dr. Lal recommends the twofold washing approach for the following individuals:

People who put on a full face of makeup every day
Individuals with oily or acne-prone skin
Residents in cities that are regularly exposed to air pollution
People who have facial hair

Cons of Double Cleansing
When it comes to double cleansing, our specialists highlight that there are no significant disadvantages. However, you must use caution while selecting items. “Find ingredients that work best for what you’re trying to achieve with your skin,” Corey L. Hartman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama, advises. The result of utilizing the incorrect chemicals is that you may “exacerbate existing problems,” he says. For example, if you want to moisturize dry skin, he advises avoiding using a face cleanser that contains an ingredient like oil-reducing benzoyl peroxide, which is more suited for acne sufferers.

Who Should Try (or Avoid) Double Cleansing?
While there is no clear benefit to twice cleaning, it is not essential for everyone. Those with sensitive skin or underlying skin diseases such as rosacea or eczema, for example, should avoid double washing during intense flare-ups, according to Dr. Hartman.

Otherwise, it boils down to the products you use and your skin problem. According to Hartman, “It’s a good technique for anyone who enjoys skincare as a hobby or is fighting to control problematic skin,” such as acne or pimples.

But don’t feel obligated to double cleanse just because everyone else is. “It’s certainly something that can benefit one’s skin, but it’s not something that everybody has to do all the time,” he adds.

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When and How Should You Do a Double Cleanse?
The double-cleansing procedure will help your skin the most in the evening when there is “accumulated grime from the day,” according to Hartman. He considers it a sensible “nighttime reset” and a good strategy to “give your nighttime active ingredients (such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, or your preferred formulation of choice) good access to your skin’s surface.”

According to Lal, here’s how you double cleanse:

To remove makeup, use an oil-based cleaning oil, balm, or micellar water. Apply the product to clean, dry skin, massaging it in circular movements.
Pour in enough water to “spread the balm and evenly remove the product.”
Apply an unscented water-based cleanser to your skin and massage it in before rinsing with lukewarm water.
Pat your skin dry gently with a face cloth before continuing with your skin-care routine.

Products Recommend by Dermatologists for Double Cleansing
For the Initial Cleanser
CeraVe Makeup Removing Balm (Amazon.com) and Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm (Sephora.com) are two oil-based, makeup-removing formulations that are ideal for the first step in your double-cleansing process, according to Lal. According to randomized controlled research published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology in April 2021, the former is “affordable, gentle enough for all skin types, and contains moisture-boosting ceramides,” which may increase skin hydration. He recommends the latter for something a bit more luxurious, as it contains safflower oil, which is an anti-inflammatory that is great for sensitive skin, according to previous research.

In preparation for the Second Cleanser
It is essential to select a face cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type. Consider the drugstore-priced Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (Amazon.com) for normal, dry, or sensitive skin. Lal refers to it as an “OG” since it has been in use since 1947 and is considered to be both effective and mild. “It has nothing in it that could do your skin harm,” he explains, citing skin-strengthening niacinamide (according to one research), moisturizing glycerin, and soothing panthenol (according to an article).

Hartman suggests using one with a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) if you have oily skin. Both Cetaphil Gentle Clear Cleanser (Amazon.com) and Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash (Amazon.com) serve double duty to eliminate excess oil. Those with extra-dry skin, on the other hand, should search for a face cleanser containing moisturizing glycerin; La Roche-Posay Toleriane (Amazon.com) is a popular choice.

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When their skin is not inflamed, people with eczema and rosacea may benefit from twice washing with a face cleanser containing calming niacinamide. Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelée (Amazon.com) and E.L.F. SuperClarify Cleanse (Amazon.com) are two highly rated formulations to consider.

People with specific skin types may benefit from double cleaning, but it is not essential for everyone. Following AAD’s guideline to wash your face twice daily is sufficient to maintain good skin. Those who use a lot of makeup or have oily or acne-prone skin may see advantages that a single cleansing cannot provide.

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