Ask Grace: What Is Double Cleansing & How Do You Do It?

Hi Grace, 

I keep seeing influencers talk about double cleansing but I’m not really sure what it is or what products I should use for it, or if it’s even right for my skin (I break out very easily). Please can you explain the basics? 

Neish, 27 

You’re right, double cleansing is something that beauty influencers, estheticians, skincare obsessives and us beauty editors love to go on about. And of course, like all things that become a daily habit, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what it is or how to do it. For yourself and anyone else who’s new to the concept of double cleansing, I’ve answered what I can imagine are your most pressing questions below… 

What is double cleansing?

Double cleansing is a two-step cleansing process which basically allows you to give your skin a really thorough cleanse to ensure that not only is makeup and SPF removed, but you’ve been able to remove any stubborn buildup and prevent anything from clogging your pores. Essentially, you’re repeating the cleansing process – you can use the same cleanser to do so, but in order to efficiently double cleanse, use an oil-based cleanser (such as a cleansing balm) followed by a water-based one (like a cleansing gel). 

How do you double cleanse?

Think about cleaning a floor – first you sweep or vacuum it, then you mop it. This two-step process is basically what double cleansing is – removing the surface dirt/buildup/residue, and then going in for the deep clean. 

Which skin types can double cleanse?

All skin types can benefit from a double cleanse since all skin benefits from being clean and free from potential pore-cloggers or irritants like makeup and pollution. What’s more, clean skin is better prepped to properly absorb the ingredients in the serums and creams you apply after cleansing. Oily and breakout prone skin in particular benefits from double cleansing as using an oil or balm cleanser helps to break down and remove excess oil. Dry skin types may need to be a little careful when it comes to choosing a second cleanser to ensure it’s not stripping (and therefore further drying out) their skin, but really as long as you choose products appropriate to your skin type, you’ll be fine. 

Do I need to double cleanse?

While cleansing is a fundamental part of any skincare routine, you don’t necessarily need to double cleanse. For example, there’s no need to double cleanse in the morning, when you (hopefully) don’t have any makeup or SPF on your face, and on days where you’ve worn minimal makeup, you may not feel the need to double cleanse. Likewise, if you have dry skin and it’s feeling a little dry or tight, then it’s probably best to skip your second cleanse. Ultimately, do what feels right for your skin. 

What should you use for your first cleanse?

Use oil-based products such as cleansing balms, oils, and creams for your first cleanse. These will help to loosen and break down oil-based products on your skin (most makeup is oil-based) and melt it away without you needing to aggressively scrub your skin. Spend time massaging these cleansers in to benefit from a little face massage and ensure that even stubborn waterproof makeup is removed. Use a warm flannel to remove the cleanser from your skin. 

What should you use for your second cleanse?

Your first cleanse has removed everything from the surface of the skin, so now’s the time to give your skin a deeper cleanse that will help to target your individual skin concerns. Use a water-based cleanser (typically gels, clays, and foams) and again, spend time massaging the product into your skin – you may want to use a cleansing device to aid this step. Again, rinse product away with a warm flannel. By this point the flannel should come away totally clean, with no makeup residue. 

If you have a question for our resident beauty editor and esthetician Grace Day, tweet us at @beautybay using the hashtag #AskGrace for a chance to be featured. 

This story was previously published at an earlier date and has since been updated.