Everything To Know About Double Cleansing – And Which Products To Use

by | May 28, 2024 | Skincare

At the core of the double cleansing philosophy, one idea stands out: cleaning your face at the end of the day takes commitment. While you might lazily sit with a pack of wipes and slough off make-up while watching House Of The Dragon, we have some uncomfortable news for you: it’s not enough. Here’s why you should consider double cleansing, and how to do it, with double cleansing products for your skin type.

What is double cleansing?

A double cleanse is exactly what it sounds like — cleaning your face twice. “However, this normally refers to using an oil-based cleanser as your first step followed by a water cleanser as your second step,” explains Dr Alek Nikolic, a medical doctor in aesthetic medicine and owner of online skincare store SkinMiles. “The double cleanse approach allows one to thoroughly remove makeup, sebum and more heavy-based topical products without excess scrubbing or using harsh scrubs.” If you’re wondering about oil to clean your face, don’t. It won’t ramp up extra oil production in your skin, but rather evens it out. It’s also a very gentle way to cleanse.

And micellar water? Yep, that can be part of the routine, too. “There are some variations to the above like using micellar water to remove all makeup and dirt off the skin as the first step followed by a water-based cleanser as the second step,” Dr Nikolic explains.

Why should I double cleanse my skin?

Throughout the day, pollution and airborne bacteria are attracted to your skin. At night, your skin is primed to repair itself from the damage done during the day. The overnight renewal session tackles things like sun exposure, pollution, stress and mitigating the damage from those icky bacteria particles. By double cleansing, this process can be boosted. Dr Nikolic shares a few benefits of double cleansing:

  • Removes makeup effectively
  • Remove excess sebum and oil buildup on the skin
  • Improves the effectiveness of your skincare products, especially moisturisers and active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, glycolic acid, etc.
  • Cleanses without damaging the vital skin barrier
  • Helps to brighten dull or lacklustre skin

READ MORE: What Is Oil Gritting? Experts Break Down The TikTok Beauty Hack

Should you double cleanse every day?

Hmm… this depends. “Double cleansing is not necessarily for everyone,” explains Dr Nikolic. “This depends on one skin type, the amount of makeup one wears, and how resistant one’s SPF is.” If you’ve been make-up free all day and have been lounging around the couch, you might not need a double cleanse come nighttime.

But if you’ve got oily skin, you might benefit from double cleansing with two gentler face washes as opposed to one harsh cleanser that could leave your skin too dry, says Dr Nikolic. “Similarly, acne-prone skin will also benefit and respond better to a double cleanse as more of the bacteria will be removed. Those who wear heavy difficult-to-remove makeup will also benefit from a double cleanse,” he adds.

Is double cleansing for everyone?

If your skin’s not particularly grimy, you might not need it. On the other hand, says Nikolic, “if your skin is highly reactive or has an inflamed rash then I would stay away from the double cleanse approach till the reaction has completely healed.”

READ MORE: Dry Skin? Try These 3 Hydrating, Nourishing and Brightening Face Masks You Can Make In Your Kitchen

How do I double cleanse?

Your first cleanser is usually oil-based. This could be a cleansing oil, balm or micellar water to break down makeup, SPF and sebum on the surface level on the skin. Simply scoop/pump your oil cleanser then apply to dry skin in a circular motion. Then add water to your face and massage into skin to emulsify the product – it should turn milky. Lastly, rinse with warm water.

Your next step is to then follow up with a water-based or cream cleanser; this gets deeper into your pores to remove sweat, bacteria and impurities. After the oil cleanser is thoroughly rinsed off, add cleanser to your face, with gentle upward circular motions. Rinse off with lukewarm water.

Oh, and you don’t have to worry about drying your skin out with double-cleansing. Oil-based cleansers don’t strip your skin of lipids and ceramides, which are essential for healthy balanced skin. And if you’re using a cleanser that is suited for your skin type, it’s shouldn’t strip moisture either.

Which products work for double cleansing?

“Oil-based cleansers are specifically indicated for removing sebum and makeup,” explains Dr Nikolic. “As a general rule, the ingredients used tend to be gentle on the skin so even sensitive skin types can use them.” The ingredients to look out for are usually plant-based oils and can include the following:

  • Sodium Palmate
  • Sodium Cocoate
  • Sodium Palm Kernelate
  • Decyl Glucoside
  • Stearic Acid
  • Helianthus Annuus Oil
  • Jojoba Seed Oil
  • Olea Europaea Oil

READ MORE: Is TikTok’s Viral Rice Water Trend Legit? An Expert Weighs In

Double cleansing products for sensitive skin

Finding skincare for sensitive skin can be tricky but luckily, there are tons of options that cater to skin that is easily irritated. These products will effectively clean your skin while leaving it calm and nourished.

Pre-cleansers for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Cleansing Oil double cleansing

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Cleansing Oil

This cleanser, safe for babies and adults alike, soothes itching sensations, contains niacinamide (a skin-evening star) and works for eczema-prone skin.

bioderma sensibio micellar cleansing oil

BIODERMA Sensibio Micellar Oil 

A gentle cleanser that takes care of make-up, pollution and sunscreen, this non-irritating cleanser is great for sensitive skin.

SVR sensifine AR Eau Micellaire

SVR Sensifine AR Eau Micellaire

This cooling blend takes care of redness and hydrates. It also contains niacinamide and is suitable for very sensitive skin, too.

Second cleansers for sensitive skin

DR SCHRAMMEK Super Soft Cleanser

DR SCHRAMMEK Super Soft Cleanser

This cleansing milk formula cleans gently while preventing your skin from drying out. It’s also PH-neutral.

double cleansing SKOON double cleanse heroes

SKOON Double Cleanse Heroes

This duo takes the guesswork out of finding two cleansers for sensitive skin. The second water-based cleanser works to get deeper to nix impurities.

double cleansing avene gentle cleanser

Avène Tolérance Extremely Gentle Cleanser

This rinse-free gel-cream formula soothes while removing dirt and grime. It’s non-irritating and fragrance-free.

READ MORE: Here’s Why It’s Time To Add Algae To Your Skincare Routine. Plus, The Algae Skincare Products You’ll Need

Pre-cleansers for oily skin

dermalogica precleanse

Dermalogica Precleanse

Great for melting away facial dirt, this pre-cleanse is packed with skin-fortifying Borage Seed, Kukui and Apricot oils to help you achieve that lasting glowing skin.

double cleansing skin creamery oil-milk cleanser

Skin Creamery Oil-Milk Cleanser

A blend of plant-based oils like sesame, shea and jojoba come together in luxury milk that gently draws out imperfections while maintaining your skin’s integrity.

clarins total cleansing oil

Clarins Total Cleansing Oil

Yellow gentian and lemon balm extracts soothe and soften the skin while providing a gentle first cleanse.

Second cleansers for oily skin

Skin Functional 2% Amino Acid Blend Gentle Gel Cleanser

Skin Functional 2% Amino Acid Blend Gentle Gel Cleanser

A unique amino acid mix maintains the skin microbiome and repairs damaged skin. Beta-glucan provides deep hydration.

lelive rooibos & aloe jelly splash cleanser

Lelive. Rooibos & Aloe Jelly Splash Cleanser

This sustainably sourced plant-based cleanser is perfect for oily or acne-prone skin. Aloe, rooibos green tea and rose water soothe the skin. Salicylic acid, niacinamide and lactic acid rejuvenate.

double cleansing clinique blemish solutions cleansing gel

Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Cleansing Gel

A lightweight foamy cleanser clears blemishes with pimple-busting salicylic acid to unclog pores and leave you feeling fresh.

READ MORE: This Collagen Facelift Facial Promises To Boost Your Skin Within Minutes

Pre-cleansers for combination skin

lamelle essential cleansing oil double cleansing

Lamelle Essential Cleansing Oil

With natural oils like avocado, sweet almond and soybean, this cleanser maintains your skin barrier while protecting from oxidative stress, thanks to vitamins C and E.

the ordinary squalane cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

This incredibly balmy and gentle cleanser very carefully lifts dirt and supports the skin barrier. It’s intensely moisturising, helping to balance out dry and oily skin at once.

sisley paris rebalancing lotion double cleansing

Sisley Paris Purifying Re-balancing Lotion

Rich in Benzoin, Incense and Myrrh, known for their astringent and purifying actions, it helps eliminate impurities and excess sebum.

Second cleansers for combination skin

skin republic PHA cleanser double cleansing

Skin Republic PHA 3% Cleanser

Works for sensitive skins who want help with dark marks, this acid-based cleanser exfoliates and hydrates.

iS clinical cleansing complex

iS CLINICAL Cleansing Complex

A balance of bio-nutrients and antioxidants work to thoroughly cleanse while injecting some much-needed love back.

double cleansing bioderma sebium gel foaming face wash


This purifying cleanser is gentle on skin and perfect for a double cleanse. Zinc sulphate and copper sulphate clean the epidermis, reduce the number of blemishes, and limit sebum secretion.

READ MORE: Here’s How To Get Rid Of Facial Redness, According To Dermatologists

Pre-cleansers for dry skin

Lush ultrabland double cleansing

Lush Ultrabland

This product has been a cult favourite for years. Tiny beads of beeswax work to very gently lift dirt and imperfections while the creamy texture gets everything off.

ISDIN Micellar Solution double cleansing

ISDIN Micellar Solution

A powerful yet gentle tool in your cleansing arsenal. This solution cleans, removes make-up, tones and moisturises.

Fundamentals Skincare 58% Grape Seed Oil Cleanser

Fundamentals Skincare 58% Grape Seed Oil Cleanser

Grapeseed oil is safe, plays well with other ingredients and hydrates the skin without stripping it. Plus, this is safe to use when pregnant.

Second cleansers for dry skin

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser

This refreshing cleanser takes care of dirt while leaving your skin feeling good, without that tight, too-dry feeling.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser

A gentle foaming cleanser, this one also has squalane, vitamin E, apricot kernel oil and avocado oil to hydrate and moisturise.

DERMALOGICA Intensive Moisture Cleanser

DERMALOGICA Intensive Moisture Cleanser

This emollient, lipid-enriched formula cleanses skin while helping to minimize damage of vital proteins and lipids that defend against dryness.

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