How and when we wash our face is integral to our daily skincare routine and affects our skin’s overall look and health. This article examines a Korean-originated face-cleansing technique called double cleansing. Topics include defining the method and its double cleansing benefits, an overview of ingredients, and a how-to video of this type of cleansing. Also shared are a few of my personal favorite products and recommendations.
For a primer on basic skincare steps, you can read my post here.
Double Cleansing Benefits
South Korea’s influence has been felt in skincare, particularly over the last 10-20 years. While hidden from plain view, the shifts to a new Korean skin ethos are seismically subtle and have set off a chain reaction here in the U.S. much like tectonic plates moving after many undetectable earthquakes.
Take, for example, double cleansing, a classic South Korean method of face washing. Arguably, for many here in the U.S., no skincare routine step is more mundane or non-nuanced than cleansing the skin. So ordinary, in fact, that many women don’t bother to wash their faces on the regular. Skincare steps like exfoliation, moisturizing, etc are perceived as more impactful, important, and dare I say, sexy.
South Korea, on the other hand, thought face-washing was worthy enough to deconstruct. They then reconstructed it with only one small edit. A second step was inserted or more specifically a pre-step (before the existing face wash step) with the very unlikeliest of ingredients: oil (spoiler alert).
The end result is a veritable face-cleaning transformation. With the double cleanse, we not only have a more effective skincare step, but we also have a more effective and gentle skin routine as a whole. Face cleaning becomes impactful.
I also believe that for those of us with more mature, sensitive, and/or fragile skin, this method is a worthy consideration.
Let’s get into the specifics.
What Does Double Cleansing Mean
Double cleansing is a method of cleaning one’s face not just once but twice with back-to-back washes. This technique entails using 2 different types of cleansers and formulas: one for each of the washes. The cleansers serve different skin goals.
The first cleanser is oil-based and used expressly to remove dirt, grime, makeup, sunscreen, and anything else that has accumulated on the skin and in the pores from the day.
For the second cleanse, a “water-based” cleanser is used. Depending on the ingredients in the cleanser, that second wash not only cleans but can also exfoliate, smooth, hydrate, brighten, etc. the skin.
Most traditional face cleansers (that aren’t oils) are water-based. Chances are if you clean your face, you are already using this type of cleanser. If uncertain, look at the list of ingredients. You have a water-based cleanser if water is the first or second ingredient.
To be clear, the big change in this double cleanse method is the addition of an oil-based cleanser and possibly the ramifications that oil-based cleanser may bring in terms of your choice of a water-based cleanser.
Nightime or Daytime?
Given the oil’s ability to rid the skin of grime, pollution, makeup etc., unsurprisingly, this technique is typically and optimally performed at night although there are no hard and fast rules. Many do it twice a day depending on the condition of the skin.
Oil Based Cleansers
The label “oil-based” cleanser may conjure images of cooking oil on the skin. However, the best cleansers in this category are oils with natural plant-based ingredients targeted to specific skin issues. Some oils for instance have the benefit of anti-microbial properties and some are better for dry skin and others for oily skin.
Furthermore, these cleansers arrive in the form of not just a liquid, but also balms, and/or butters (a bit harder in consistency than a balm). Both balms and butters once warmed by the hands and spread on the face result in a liquid on the skin.
Below is a quick non-exhaustive list of some good ingredients and their benefits.
5 Double Cleansing Benefits
It took time and experience for me to believe that oils are unparalleled cleaners. The right ingredients will not cause breakouts (as one might suspect) and can leave your skin in better condition.
The reason for this is chemistry. Like attracts like and oil attaches itself to the oils and dirt on your skin and in your pores.
With that said, oil cleansing alone is not as mighty or powerful as the double cleanse. The second water-based wash is a necessary and important adjunct to the first wash. Cleanse 1 and 2 work together as a team.
Here are its 5 main benefits:
- The oil in oil-based cleansers attracts and draws out oils from the skin and pores thus making it an effective cleaner for most any type of skin, and therefore #2
- Easy, gentle, and effective removal of most anything on top of the skin with no irritation
- The skin barrier remains intact
- Ability to more effectively customize skin cleansing; choices are many for each of the 2 steps and specific skin challenges can be addressed
- Daily skincare routine is more effective overall
- Better and deeper cleansing with oil allows the water-based cleanser to work more deeply and specifically
- Both steps together prep and ready the skin for better absorption of any follow-on active ingredients (serums, retinol, etc.)
Facial Cleansing Oil Recommendations
Assuming most of us have one or more water-based cleansers in our skincare arsenal, I am focusing my recommendations on oil-based cleansers. This category has no shortage of good options at all price points with many new product rollouts recently.
When choosing, be sure to look at the ingredients on the product label and in the chart above while also understanding your skincare goals. For instance, if you have very dry skin, perhaps choose an oil that has olive oil or some type of hydrating oleic acid. Conversely, with oily skin, consider ingredients higher in linoleic acid such as safflower oil or rosehip oil.
Farmacy Green Clean
This is a natural makeup removal and cleansing balm. Mildly scented and very effective. Farmacy has another great product called Clearly Clean with a stronger fragrance but the same wonderful result.
ELF Holy hydration Makeup Melting Cleansing balm
The most economical of the recommendations, it is still a winner.
DHC Deep cleansing oil
This product is from Japan, is high in Olive Oil (Oleic Acid) and great for dry skin.
may lindstrom pendulum potion
This is an all-natural luxurious and luxe oil and the most expensive of the bunch. But it’s wonderful. Part of a woman-owned small-batch skincare line.
How to Double Cleanse
Click on this video link to watch a demonstration of the Double Cleanse Method.
It is surprising how one small change to a long-time “one size fits all” face-washing technique can make such a difference to the health, feel, and look of our skin. Double cleansing is gentle but effective and subtle but seismic.
I look forward to seeing and experiencing more new skincare and beauty perspectives, influences, and innovations from all around the globe in the years to come.
This post discussed a Korean-originated face-washing technique called double cleansing. We defined it, explored its benefits, highlighted some effective ingredients, and discussed how to implement it. Finally, I recommended a few of my favorite oil-cleanser products.
Thank you for reading!
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