Whenever people ask me about double cleansing, I find that they often come at the subject already holding on to a lot of preconceived notions about what it means. They think that they have to use an oil cleanser, or they must use two different cleansers, or they’re supposed to do it every day. If you’ve ever felt hesitant about double cleansing, my major piece of advice would be to not get so caught up in the rules. Rules, after all, are meant to be broken.
Take double cleansing at face value. The name simply means “cleansing twice.” You can use whatever cleansers you like, just as long as you do it twice. The idea is that the first cleanse will help remove dirt and makeup at the end of the day. With that first layer of surface grime out of the way, the second cleanse is able to more effectively cleanse your skin. Most people consider the traditional double-cleansing method to include an oil or balm cleanser followed by a water-soluble cleanser, such as a gel or milk cleanser. This is just one option to consider. There are several different interpretations of double cleansing that you can tailor to suit your individual needs.
For example, if you have oily and congestion-prone skin, or if you have yet to find an oil or balm cleanser that works for you, feel free to use a water-soluble cleanser twice. Likewise, dry and dehydrated skin that feels uncomfortably tight after gel cleansing may benefit from using two balm or cream cleansers instead. They can even be the same product! I could absolutely see someone with dry skin using my After Show Treatment Cleanser for both the first and second cleanse; you don’t necessarily need two different cleansers.
Another concern that I frequently hear about double cleansing comes from people worried about over-cleansing and stripping away their protective acid mantle. If you have a compromised skin barrier, you can always use a micellar water as a light first cleanse and follow it with any gentle non-foaming cleanser that’s appropriate for your skin type. Even a micellar water can count as a first cleanse! Additionally, this is not something you need to do every day. Double cleansing one or two nights a week is perfectly sufficient. There’s no need to double cleanse in the morning, since the whole idea is to remove debris that has built up on the skin throughout the daytime.
While I’m generally anti-rules, I do have some suggestions for how to improve your double cleanse experience. I strongly recommend using a washcloth with your first cleanser. It doesn’t need to be too gritty or textured, but some kind of soft facial cloth will be more effective than just using your hands when it comes to removing SPF, makeup, dirt and grime. And above all, check in with your skin. It will let you know if you’re doing something to aggravate it, so pay attention to how your skin responds to your cleansing routine. If you notice changes in your level of hydration or irritation, you can always adjust your routine accordingly.
Double cleansing offers some great benefits for all skin types, so if you’ve been apprehensive about it in the past I’d encourage you to give it a try! The only “rule” you need to keep in mind is to do what feels right for your skin.