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Double Cleansing: What Is It and Why You Should Try It

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You would think that washing your face one time at night should be enough to take off all your makeup, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes one wash won’t get rid of the traces of your long-lasting liquid lipstick or waterproof eyeliner. So while it might sound excessive, it might be worth double-cleansing your face to make sure every speck of makeup, dirt and grime is off your skin.

What is double cleansing?

Double cleansing is exactly what you think it is: You’re washing your face twice. This face-washing method was popularized by geishas in Japan who would double-cleanse their skin to remove their heavy makeup. “They would use an oil-based mix to remove the makeup then use another wash right after,” says Dr. Debbie Palmer, board-certified dermatologist, medical director of the Dermatology Associates of New York and author of Beyond Beauty.

Why cleanse twice?

While you’re probably not always wearing heavy concealing makeup quite like geishas, washing your face twice ensures you’re getting not just the gunk your makeup leaves behind, but also pollutants, excess oil and dead skin cells. “Your skin sheds 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every minute,” explains Brad Caswell of Erno Laszlo, one of the first brands to introduce double cleansing to the market years ago. “These dead skin cells don’t all fall off. If you are not cleansing correctly, all of this is being left behind.”

How to double cleanse

So what cleansers work best for double cleansing? For best results, Caswell recommends washing your face with an oil-based cleanser to remove oil and makeup or sunscreen, then follow it up with a second cleanser that’s designed specifically for your skin type. “Oil breaks up the dirt and impurities in your skin. The second cleanser works like a magnet, which attaches to the oil and pulls it out of your skin,” he says.

Who should double cleanse?

While the double cleansing method is meant to work on all skin types, Palmer suggests that those with acne-prone and sensitive skin should be mindful of what products they’re using. “You need to be careful because over-cleansing your skin could result in sensitivity, acne or dryness,” says Palmer. “You have to make sure that your oil-based cleanser is hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and great for sensitive skin.”

READERS—Ready to start double cleansing? Not sure what products will work? Below are a few products to get you started.


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