Ah, the famous double cleanse.
If you know, you know.
And if you don’t know, you’ve probably heard of it.
And if you’ve never heard of it, then you’re about to.
Some women swear by it day and night.
I’m not nearly as hardcore, but if I wear makeup or sunscreen during the day, you couldn’t PAY me to skip out on my double-cleanse.
Let me break it down for you and answer some questions...
Q: So do I just wash my face twice with the same cleanser?
A: NO! Hard no. A double cleanse uses two specific TYPES of cleansers and in a specific ORDER.
Step One: The Oil Cleanser
Cleansing oil, cleansing balm, or any other OIL based cleanser
1) Massage a small amount of oil/balm into areas with the most makeup (i.e. mascara, liquid liner, lipstick) until mostly dissolved
2) Wipe away the gross mess (and it will be gross) of liquified makeup with toilet paper, cotton pad or reusable round. Wipe your fingers too, while you’re at it.
3) Massage a larger amount of oil/balm all over the face, revisiting the places you’ve already gone over once. And don’t be shy, really massage it. Don’t PULL your skin, but the friction of the massage will help emulsify the makeup into the cleanser, which is what you want.
4) Rinse off with warm water
Why This Works:
Makeup and most sunscreens are traditionally OIL based products. It’s how they stay on your skin all day long. Even oil-free formulations have tough-to-break-down bases to keep them in place. To REALLY disrupt and remove these products from your face, you must use an oil based cleanser.
Like attracts like. The oil in the cleanser, when massaged into the skin, will begin to blend, break up and lift up the other oil-based products.
(P.S. if you have oily or acne prone skin and you’re afraid of oil-based products, please read this blog on that very topic and put yourself at ease)
Q: Sounds great. Why can’t I just stop there?
A: Oil is HYDROPHOBIC which means it’s repels water (which you already know, hence the oil-and-water analogy we all use) so when you rinse your face with water, you might get some of it off, but there’s no way to remove it ALL with water alone. And remember, it's not just oil cleanser, it's all the gunk you just blended INTO the oil cleanser, so you really want it all gone.
“Well then how the heck do I get it all off?!” you ask?
I’ll tell you how.
ENTER THE DOUBLE-CLEANSE!
Step Two: The Surfactant Cleanser
Product: Gel cleanser, cleansing milk or any other SURFACTANT cleanser (see our blog post on Cleansers for how to tell if a cleanser contains surfactants)
1) Wet your face and massage a quarter sized amount of cleanser all over
2) Be thorough in your massage, and focus especially on breakout-prone areas and places on your face that needed extra oil cleanser
3) Rinse face clean with warm water
4) Gently towel dry
Why This Works:
A surfactant is essentially a fancy word for a compound that FORCES oil to bond to or dissolve in water. It’s found in soaps and detergents, but much milder versions are used in skincare. At least they should be. If drugstore cleansers are leaving your face stripped, tight, irritated or dry, it’s because they use cheaper and harsher surfactants and you should look to invest in a better quality cleanser. (Nudges you again to our blog on Cleansers)
The surfactant cleanser will grab ahold of what’s left behind of the oil cleanser (and the melted makeup emulsion) and when it’s rinsed away, you’ll be left with a TRULY clean face.
Q: If surfactants get rid of oil, why can’t I just use that to remove my makeup?
A: You can. And it will...kind of work? But never as well, and never as thoroughly. Like I said, nothing breaks down oil-based products like oil-based cleansers. And if you’re someone with sensitive or breakout prone skin, you should always be looking for the most thorough clean possible.
The two pillars of skin health are CLEAN skin and HYDRATED skin.
Every regimen is built on top of that foundation, so don’t be skimpy!
Mind you, if you’re not wearing makeup or sunscreen, and unless you have DESPERATELY oily skin, the double-cleanse isn’t necessary every night. If you don’t have a lot of oil to break down, you don’t need the oil cleanser.
On a normal, makeup-free day, feel free to only use your surfactant cleanser (another reason to invest in a good one, because it’s the one you’ll use most often).
If you use a super heavy overnight mask you may want to double-cleanse in the morning as well, but I’ll leave that up to you.
Otherwise, my verdict on the Double Cleanse: WORTH THE HYPE!
Shop Our Oil-Based Cleansers:
- Milky Meltaway Balm (VO Beauty) $45
- Cleansing Balm (Midnight Paloma) $49
- NOURISH Oil (Niu Body) $20
- CLARIFY Oil (Niu Body) $20
Shop Our Surfactant Cleansers:
- Purify Gel Cleanser (Three Ships Beauty) $
- Refresh Gel Cleanser (Three Ships Beauty) $
- Seas The Day Gel Cleanser (Wyld Beauty) $35
- Detox Charcoal Soap (Bare Skin Bar) $9
- Pink Exfoliating Soap (Bare Skin Bar) $9
- Creamy Mild Soap (Bare Skin Bar) $9