What Is Double Cleansing and Does It Really Work? - Dr. Axe

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What Is Double Cleansing and Does It Really Work?



Double cleansing - Dr. Axe

Double cleansing is exactly what it sounds like, and you may wonder if it’s actually necessary.

How many things touch your face in one day? First it’s your moisturizer and makeup, and then it’s all the little things that make contact with your skin throughout the day.

It can add up, and if it’s not removed, can lead to serious breakouts. Enter double cleansing: the act of cleansing your face twice in the evening to make sure it’s really, really clean.

It’s a natural skin care practice often used in Korea, and it has gained popularly in the U.S. because of its potential for leaving your skin looking cleaner, clearer and younger.


Is it all hype, or is there something behind the double cleansing method?

What Is Double Cleansing?

Double cleaning is when you wash your face twice before bed. The first time is to lift the makeup, sunscreen, dirt and buildup of pollutants that sit on the surface of your face, and the second cleaning is to wash it all away so your pores are left clear.

Using two types of cleansers for each phase of double washing, you’re able to get a much deeper clean. The idea is to reduce the buildup of pollutants and particles that can cause breakouts.


1. Cleans Dirt, Grime and Makeup

Double cleansing prevents the buildup of dirt, pollutants and bacteria on the skin’s surface. If this grime was left on your skin overnight and over time, it would lead to sebum buildup, breakouts and possibly even infections.

A randomized, controlled trial evaluating the effect of face washing on acne found that cleansing the face twice daily with a mild cleanser reduced acne and inflammatory lesions compared to those who washed one daily. This is because of the removal of buildup that could lead to skin irritations.

Although over-washing isn’t recommended, the key to the Korean method of double cleansing is to use a gentle cleanser to avoid irritation.

For people who wear makeup, double cleansing works to wash it away completely so residue doesn’t sit on your skin overnight.

2. Supports Skin Moisture

When you clean your skin twice, your pores are clear and open. This allows your gentle moisturizer to absorb more easily.

It also promotes skin hydration and boosts the effects of your skin serum, oil or cream.

Whatever products you use regularly will have a greater impact after double cleansing because they better absorb into your clean skin.

3. Removes Sunscreen

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that using a cleansing oil was effective for removing waterproof sunscreen. For people who apply sunscreen regularly or wear a moisturizer that’s made with sunscreen, it’s important to remove it at the end of the day to avoid buildup and adverse reactions.

Starting your skincare routine by washing your face with a cleansing oil to lift the sunscreen and other grime buildup throughout the day and then washing again to remove it helps avoid the irritation that can come with sunscreen and bacteria buildup.

4. Improve Overall Skin Health

What happens when you leave makeup, sunscreen and environmental pollutants on your skin overnight? It can lead to bacterial growth and even oxidative damage.

Over time, this can cause skin damage, increase the appearance of wrinkles and potentially cause inflammatory reactions.

Double cleansing at home is a gentle and natural way to promote skin health and give you a more youthful appearance.


How to Do It

Step One

The first step of double cleansing at home is to use a gentle cleanser to get rid of the buildup on the skin’s surface. Apply micellar water or a cleansing oil to dry skin, and massage it into your face for about one minute. Then rinse your face with warm later.

Micellar water is much gentler on the skin than standard soap products. It’s made up of water and very small particles called micelles, which trap dirt, makeup and other impurities and lift them off the skin.

Double cleansing with micellar water won’t dry out your skin, even though you wash it twice.

The same goes for using a natural cleansing oil. You may think that an oil cleansing method would make your skin more oily, but it’s actually a great option for removing dirt and buildup on the skin without drying it out.

Plus, cleansing oils are soothing and hydrating, so they typically don’t irritate even sensitive skin.

Step Two

The second step of double cleansing involves washing your face (again) with a gentle lathering cleanser. The first round was able to lift the particles from your skin, and this round is to get deeper into your pores, removing any excess grime that was left behind.

Other Questions

What are the best double cleansing products?

The best cleansers are gentle on the skin and naturally made. You can made your own using a homemade face wash or purchase from a reputable company.

For step one of double cleansing, choose either a micellar water product or oil cleanser, which can be made with jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil or any other gentle ingredients. If the product dries out your skin and causes irritation, it’s too harsh and will only make your complexion worse.

Does double cleansing work for oily skin?

Although it seems counterintuitive, cleansing with an oil can actually improve oily skin. Oils are able to lift away buildup on the face, which unclogs pores and balances sebum production.

Plus, when you use an oil like jojoba on your face, it mimics sebum and reduces your body’s natural production of oil.

Related: Homemade Makeup Remover

Risks and Side Effects

If your skin becomes dry or irritated after double cleansing, then re-examine your face wash products. They may be too harsh or made with ingredients that are irritating to your skin.


  • Double cleansing involves washing your face twice in the evening in order to fully remove the buildup of makeup, sunscreen and pollutants and clean your pores thoroughly.
  • This is a Korean method of face washing that is gaining popularity because of its potential benefits, which include cleansing your face more deeply, enhancing the efficacy of skin care products, and improving the health and appearance of your skin.

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