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Should I Double Cleanse My Skin? Here Are the Benefits

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Should you double cleanse your skin? Here’s what an esthetician says. Plus: the benefits of double cleansing and how to choose the best oil cleanser for your skin type.

When it comes to skincare, it seems like there’s a new trend at any given moment. One day, skin fasting is all the rage. The next, elaborate 10-step regimens reign supreme.

When it comes to the latter trend (which reached peak fame largely thanks to K-beauty pioneers), you typically start with double cleansing. But what exactly does a double cleansing routine entail?

For answers, we spoke to Cielo Ruiz, a holistic esthetician based in Los Angeles. Consider this your complete guide to double cleansing.

What is double cleansing?

True to its name, the double cleansing method entails washing your face twice—yet with two separate cleansers in strategic order.

“Double cleansing starts off with an oil-based cleanser to remove all makeup and oil-based impurities, like pollution and our own excess oil and sweat,” Cielo begins.

As she continues, an oil base is essential as the first cleanse because “like attracts like,” meaning that the oil formulations attract oil impurities on the skin.

From there, the second cleanse involves a gel or cream cleanser of your choice. This round should “fully remove all the product and debris from the first cleanse for a complete and thorough cleansing of the skin,” she explains.

Double Cleansing Benefits

Wondering why you should take the extra step to wash your face twice?

According to Cielo, the benefits of double cleansing include:

Should I Double Cleanse?

By now, you might be asking yourself: Is double cleansing necessary?

When it comes to skincare non-negotiables, arguably, the only true necessity is sunscreen. For a less-is-more approach, you should add at least one cleanser and moisturizer to the mix. That said, the double cleansing method is particularly beneficial for certain people and circumstances.

Above all, double cleansing is best for those who:

  • wear makeup
  • apply thick SPF formulations
  • exercise frequently
  • sweat a lot

As Cielo explains, such individuals may not get all the product, sebum, and grime off their skin with a single cleanse alone.

Further, if you use a gua sha tool, oil-based cleansers create a perfect pairing for a slick scrape— minus any harsh tugging.

Lastly, Cielo says that double cleansing should suit most people just fine. “But if someone has very reactive or sensitive skin, they may just want to do a single cleanse with a hydrating or milky cleanser,” she advises.

Man looking at his complexion in the bathroom mirror

How to Choose the Best Oil Cleanser for You

When it comes to shopping for the first cleanser in your routine, you can choose from the following formulations:

  1. cleansing balms
  2. cleansing oils
  3. micellar water

When *faced* with these options, aim to find the right one for your skin type and concerns.

(As for the second cleanse, oily/combination skin types often prefer a gel or foaming cleanser, whereas dry/sensitive skin types typically benefit most from a gentle cream cleanser.)

Normal/Dry Skin

“For dry to normal skin types, oils, balms, and micellar water are all fine to use,” Cielo explains.

Cleansing balm select: Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, $38

Oily/Acne-Prone Skin

However, if your skin tends to produce excess oil or is prone to breaking out, you may want to limit your choices.

“With oiler skin types, I would avoid balms, as some can be a bit too heavy,” Cielo continues. Erring on the side of caution, she says a cleansing oil is ideal to get the job done.

Cleansing oil select: Boscia MakeUp BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil, $32

Sensitive Skin

For very dry and sensitive skin types, Cielo suggests opting for a micellar water, as it’s super gentle and hydrating. (Micellar water consists of micelles, which are tiny molecules that work to clean and soften the skin.)

Better yet, micellar water is a great multitasking skincare product since it can function as an all-in-one cleanser, toner, and moisturizer.

Micellar water select: Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water, $14-28

The Bottom Line

While double cleansing may not be necessary, Cielo still recommends it for its bevy of benefits—especially for people who are oily-prone, wear makeup, or sweat a lot.

Personally, my combination skin has responded well to double cleansing daily with oils and balms alike. Especially after working out, a double cleanse makes my skin feel soft, supremely fresh, and never stripped—dirt and oil be damned.

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