Healthy skin begins with clean skin. Washing your face may seem like a simple task, but there’s more to it than basic wet-lather-rinse. Daily life exposes your face to pollution, dirt, sweat, sunscreen and makeup so your cleansing routine needs to gently remove that dirt, while nourishing your skin. This is where Double Cleansing comes in. This two-step routine involves using a cleansing oil to break down make-up, SPF and excess sebum, then following it with a deeper water-based cleanse.
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What Is Double Cleansing?
Double cleansing involves using two different cleansers to clean your face — one made with oil, then another made with water. This practice was established in Asia and dates back to ancient Geishas who used it to remove their makeup. While the practice is ancient, modern science shows that “like dissolves like” and an oil cleanser will remove excess oil and oil-based product residue, while a water-based cleanser will get rid of other water-soluble dirt that remains on your skin.
Double cleansing provides so many benefits to clear your skin, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. All you need is an oil-based cleanser to use as the first step, and then a different, water-based facial cleanser to get rid of any of oily residue and water-soluble debris.
If you have oily skin, you don’t have to worry that an oil cleanser will make you break out. An oil-based cleanser dissolves excess sebum on your face without harsh cleansers. It then rinses away leaving your skin prepared for the water-based cleanser to penetrate the pores more deeply.
If you have sensitive or dry skin, you may be concerned because many cleansers use harsh chemicals that also irritate and dehydrate your skin. Double cleansing uses an oil cleanser to help maintain the integrity of your acid mantle, the natural phospholipid barrier that helps protect the skin. When paired with a gentle, pH balanced water-based cleanser this is a gentle, yet thorough, approach to cleansing that protects your skin from irritation.
Overall, double cleansing works to clean your skin as thoroughly as possible by using the two kinds of cleansers to get rid of the different kinds of dirt on your face. Your face is getting cleaner than if you used only one cleanser, and you’re cleaning it in the gentlest way possible.
What to Look For in Double Cleansing Products
While ancient practices for oil cleansers involved using plant-based sources, modern formulas include oils with an added emulsifier to help water rinse away the oil leaving your skin clean and refreshed. The water-based cleanser should be gentle, with no sulphates and should be pH balanced to align with your skin’s natural pH.
As a reminder, pH levels indicate if something is alkaline or acidic. Any pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH above 7 is basic or alkaline. The natural pH of your skin is around 5, which is slightly acidic, and your cleansers should have a similar pH to support your acid mantle – the naturally acidic protective layer of fatty acids on your skin.
How to Double Cleanse
Apply your oil cleanser to dry skin then rinse off. Follow with a water-based cleanser applied to moistened skin and rinse that off. The average person takes just 20 seconds to wash their face with a basic wet-lather-rinse process. It is worth taking your time to massage each cleanser into your skin for a full 60 seconds. This gives your cleansers time to fully dissolve the dirt, oil and debris they are removing, and the massage helps work the cleanser into your pores. You do not need special brushes, tools or cloths. Just use your (clean) hands to massage in the cleansers for a gentle clean. We recommend singing the ABC song twice to keep track of timing for a full 60 second wash.
The final step in cleansing your skin is to use a pH balanced toner. Keep in mind that plain water is neutral with a pH of 7. However, this is more alkaline than your skin’s natural pH of 5. So, after washing with water, you need a toner that calms your skin and returns it to its natural acidic pH levels. This also prepares your skin to better absorb ingredients often found in skin serums and moisturizers.
In summary, the steps for double cleansing are as follows:
- Use an oil-based cleanser on dry skin, massage in for 60 seconds
- Use a water-based cleanser on wet skin, massage in for 60 seconds
- Dry your skin
- Apply a pH balanced toner