A Complete Guide to Double Cleansing

by Emily Linehan on January 19, 2023

Of all of the skincare trends to hit the internet, Double Cleansing is by far one of my favorites. In fact, if you’re a client of mine you’ve likely grown tired of hearing me stress the importance of double cleansing throughout the years. But, you might be surprised to learn that there is a pretty big part of the viral “double cleansing” method that I don’t agree with. 

As with most skincare advice online, you can’t trust it 100%, so I’m here to give you a complete #EmmeApproved guide to double cleansing.

What is Double Cleansing

Although it’s gained popularity online in recent years, as with most viral skincare trends, it’s actually a method that’s been around for quite some time. Online the technique is often linked to Korean Beauty or “K-Beauty Skincare Routines” but it’s appropriate for almost any skin type and should be a component of most skincare routines. 

The technique is as simple as the name suggests - you wash your face twice. Typically done at night, the first cleanse removes makeup and sunscreen, while the second cleanse is focused on cleansing the skin itself and removing any impurities that may not be obvious to the naked eye.

Although it may sound a little daunting to add an extra step to your routine, double cleansing is actually fairly simple and is extremely important for healthy skin. Not only does it effectively clean the skin, but it also sets up the other products in your routine (like treatment serums and moisturizers) for success, allowing you to get the maximum benefit. 

Common Misconceptions

The double cleansing method is often promoted online as requiring two different types of cleansers to be effective, but this isn’t entirely true. 

The first cleanse is often recommended to be completed using an oil-based cleanser or the “oil cleansing method’, and a gentle water-based cleanser is recommended for the second cleanse. However, using two separate cleansers is not necessary, and when it comes to oil-based cleansers, can often cause more harm than good. 

Although oil-based cleansers may appear to remove makeup effortlessly, they leave behind a residue that is extremely difficult to remove, even when followed with a water-based cleanser. 

The problem with the remaining layer of oil is that it prevents your serums and moisturizers from actually penetrating the skin. Oil molecules are very large, whereas the molecules in your serum and treatment products are very small. This means the larger oil molecules create a barrier that prevents the smaller molecules in your serums from penetrating your skin. In the end, your treatment serums and moisturizers will literally sit on the top of your skin and offer zero benefits, which is a massive waste of time and money.

Our Gentle Cleanser is extremely effective at removing impurities, excess oil, and makeup without stripping or drying the skin, so it’s a great option for most skin types to use for both cleanses. However, for heavy makeup wearers or those with oily skin types, our Foaming Cleanser may be a more appropriate option for your first cleanse.

When and How to Double Cleanse

Double cleansing is most often done during your PM skincare routine to remove makeup and sunscreen. However, if you accidentally slept in your makeup or skipped your nighttime routine, be sure to complete a double cleanse the following morning.

Step 1: Complete your first cleanse to remove makeup/sunscreen from the skin. As mentioned above, our Gentle Cleanser is generally pretty effective for this step. However, I personally love using the Foaming Cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen as the gentle lather helps to effortlessly dissolve makeup off the skin. Regardless of which cleanser you use, the key is to massage it onto the skin for 30-60 seconds to ensure you are really breaking down and removing all makeup, sunscreen, and impurities from the skin. Then follow by thoroughly rinsing with lukewarm water.

#EmmeTip: To ensure you’re cleansing for the proper amount of time, think about how you learned to sing the birthday song 3 times in your head while washing your hands after using the bathroom as a child. Then, do the same when cleansing your face!

Step 2: Complete your second cleanse to remove any impurities that may not be visible to the naked eye. For this step, I use our Gentle Cleanser and once again, massage it on the skin for a full 30-60 seconds, then rinse with lukewarm water.

#EmmeTip: Rinsing with lukewarm water is extremely important! Water that is too hot can damage the skin or lead to dryness, while water that is too cold can result in your pores tightening up and potentially trapping unwanted debris.

.Step 3: Pat away dripping water (but don’t completely pat dry) with a clean towel, then follow with your toner and the rest of your customized skincare routine! 

Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Gentle Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane

Gentle Cleanser

Foaming Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Foaming Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Foaming Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Foaming Cleanser Cleanser Emme Diane
Foaming Cleanser

Foaming Cleanser


Who Should Double Cleanse?

To put it simply, you should always double cleanse when wearing makeup or sunscreen. This ensures that you not only effectively remove the products, but also cleanse the skin of any other impurities to reap maximum benefits from the other steps in your skincare routine. 

For those with oily or combination skin, you likely won’t experience any issues with double cleansing. Even extremely sensitive or dry skin types, or those struggling with rosacea or eczema, should be able to enjoy the benefits without irritating or drying the skin, as long as the correct cleansers are used. In addition, it’s vital to ensure that you have powerful humectants and moisturizers incorporated into your skincare routine to quickly replenish moisture and avoid any excessive dryness. 

What About Makeup Wipes for the First Cleanse?

Cleansing wipes have become popular in recent years as a convenient way to cleanse the skin quickly on the go, but the truth is a wipe can never thoroughly and effectively clean the skin. In fact, they tend to just smear makeup, bacteria, and oil around your face. Plus, the friction of a face wipe can increase irritation, causing inflammation.

In order to clean the skin on your face, a cleansing agent (the technical term is surfactant) is needed to dissolve makeup and oil from your skin. Then, you must apply water to rinse it off. 

Some cleansing or makeup-removing wipes do contain a surfactant, however, they are missing the water used to wash them away. Without water to rinse, the residue from the cleansing agent remains on your skin among residual makeup, bacteria, and oil, which can be irritating and drying to the skin. 

Instead of using cleansing wipes as a replacement for a cleanse, think of them more as a ‘skin tool’ to help with the cleansing process. For example, since I have lash extensions I don’t want to get them wet every time I wash my face, so I use fragrance-free baby wipes as disposable “washcloths”. So, after massaging the cleanser on the skin, I will take a baby wipe, get it wet, wring it out and wipe the cleanser away. Then rinse the baby wipe and repeat! This is also a great method for getting your skincare done when a sink isn’t readily available, such as when hiking or traveling. 

#EmmeTip: Please keep in mind that makeup-removing wipes and facial cleansing cloths do have pore-clogging ingredients so stick with fragrance-free baby wipes!

As with any skincare technique or product, nothing is one-size-fits-all! If you’re new here and have questions about whether double cleansing is right for you, I highly recommend starting with my free online consultation. Or, if you’re an existing client, complete an online check-in so that we can touch base - I’m always here for you! 

 xoxo, Emme

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