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How The Double Cleansing Method Transformed My Skin

Hey guys! Becca here to clear up any confusion you might have about double cleansing.

Double cleansing has become HUGE over the past few years. And I can personally say that the benefits of double cleansing truly live up to the hype – it’s personally the method of cleansing that has made the biggest difference in my skin!

So what is it?

Double cleansing is a Korean beauty method that involves cleansing your skin twice:

First, with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and dirt, and then again with a traditional water-based cleanser.

What are the benefits of double cleansing?

Double cleansing is one of the gentlest ways to get a thorough cleanse.

The idea is that oil-based cleansers (sometimes referred to as “first cleansers”) are most effective at lifting oil-based makeup, excess sebum (oil), and sunscreen off your skin.

Water-based cleansers in the form of traditional foaming, gel, or cream cleansers (sometimes referred to as “second cleansers”) are best at removing water-based impurities like sweat and dirt.

So using both will give you a thorough-yet-gentle cleanse!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product through these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes toward to costs of running Levitate Beauty. I only recommend products I have personally tried and love, and will always be upfront if I didn’t like a product.

What kind of oil cleanser should I use?

There are 2 most popular kinds of oil cleansers: liquid oil cleansers and cleansing balms.

Liquid oil cleansers are exactly what they sound like – they’re oil-based cleansers in a liquid form that typically come in a pump bottle.

Some popular liquid oil cleansers are:

Cleansing balms are solid oil-based cleansers with a sorbet-like texture that melts into an oil as you massage it into your skin. Balms have the added benefit of being relatively mess-free and easy to use.

My personal favorite type of oil cleanser is a cleansing balm!

Photo description: I photo showing the sorbet-like texture of Then I Met You's Living Cleansing Balm. Packaging is a blue jar containing the yellow mango-sorbet-textured balm with a scoop taken out of it.Then I Met You's Living Cleansing Balm ($28) is an effective first cleanse in the double cleansing method. This balm-to-oil formula melts away dirt, makeup, and SPF.
Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm ($38)

Some of my favorite balms are:

What to look for in a water-based cleanser?

The benefits of double cleansing come from using two different types of cleansers – so after your oil-based cleanser, it’s important to follow it up with a water-based cleanser.

Your water-based second cleanser is going to be the traditional facial wash that you’re used to using. Whether that’s a foaming cleanser, cream cleanser, or (my personal favorite) gel cleanser.

You want your second cleanser to be gentle and hydrating on your skin – the goal here is to avoid that annoying dry/tight squeaky-clean feeling that you tend to get with harsher cleansers.

You can find my full guide to choosing a water-based cleanser here. But here are some general tips to keep in mind when choosing your water-based cleanser:

  1. Avoid harsh surfactant ingredients like SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate)
  2. Stick to cleansers with a low-PH around 4.5-6.0.
  3. Look for cleansers with hydrating ingredients and skin-barrier-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Some of my favorite pH-friendly water-based cleansers are:

Related: KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser Review

Step by step guide to double cleansing

So you’ve got your first cleanser and second cleanser ready to go. How do you start?

Step 1: Pump or scoop your oil cleanser and thoroughly massage it into dry skin.

Savor the moment here! The day is over. Take a deep breath, relax, and gently massage your facial muscles.

Step 2: Wet your hands and continue to massage your skin. As you do this, your oil cleanser will start to emulsify on your skin. If you’re wearing makeup you’ll quite literally see it dissolve.

Step 3: Rinse the oil cleanser off your skin.

Step 4: Follow up with your water-based cleanser. Rinse.

Photo description: A bathroom faucet with running water. Sink is full of several skincare cleansers such as Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser, Bliss, Kate Somerville Exfolikate, Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip, KraveBeauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser, First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser, Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. On the white sink counter top is a lit candle next to Mrs. Meyer's Soap.The second step in double cleansing is to follow your oil cleanser with a traditional water-based cleanser.

Related: How to Layer Your Skincare Products

How often should you double cleanse?

You should double cleanse no more than once a day. Double cleansing is a fantastic way to cleanse your skin and remove makeup and sunscreen before bed; however, if you double cleanse at night, it shouldn’t be necessary in the morning. If you choose to wash your face in the morning, use your water-based cleanser on its own.

Do you NEED to double cleanse?

After reading this you might be asking “do I need to double cleanse?”

The answer is – it depends! Like with anything in skincare, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. It’s totally dependent on your personal preferences and the effectiveness of the cleanser you currently use.

If you currently don’t double cleanse, I would recommend testing out how well your current cleanser is working for you:

After you wash your face, take some (alcohol-free) toner on a cotton round and swipe it across your skin. If you see that any traces of dirt or makeup are left behind, I’d recommend trying double cleansing.

If you absolutely can’t fathom the idea of using two cleansers that’s completely valid and fine! Whether you’re short on time or just don’t want to buy two different cleansers – I get it. While I find double cleansing to be extremely beneficial, I totally understand that it’s not always a realistic method for everyone.

Photo description: A close up of KraveBeauty's Matche Hemp Hydrating Cleanser being pumped onto a gold reflective surface, displaying the jam-like texture of the product. Behind the cleanser sit 3 other bottles of skincare products from KraveBeauty including: Great Barrier Relief, Kale-Lalu-yAHA, and The Beet Shield.
KraveBeauty’s Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser ($18)

But here’s the good news! Traditional cleaners can do the job of removing makeup, it just may take some time to find one that is both gentle and effective at removing your makeup. Whatever cleanser you decide to go with, just make sure it’s gentle (sans SLS aka Sodium Laurel Sulfate) and has an appropriate pH.

But as for my personal experience with double cleansing…

It’s magic. And I highly recommend it.

It’s one of the gentlest ways to get a “deep clean” and since introducing double cleansing to my routine I’ve noticed clearer skin and less noticeable pores.

I also find the ritual of having an extra step so incredibly relaxing.

Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for daily skincare updates and reviews! 

Double cleansing is one of the key methods in Korean skincare, however, it's often misunderstood. Double cleansing is more than just washing your face twice: it involves cleansing your skin first with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser.

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