Cleansing is arguably one of the most important yet underrated steps in your skincare routine, as it provides the jump-off point for the rest of your skincare products. No amount of active ingredients can work their magic effectively if the canvas is not clean and receptive. Recently, the term ‘double-cleansing’ has been thrown into the endless mix of skincare trends and jargon that are infiltrating our senses and pores every day, some of which are ineffective, or even harmful. But what actually is double-cleansing and is it just as simple as washing your face twice?
Well yes, and no. Double-cleansing, as the name suggests, does mean cleansing your face twice in the same round, but crucially – with two different kinds of products. In skincare, the term refers to using an oil-based cleanser to first dislodge makeup, dirt, and residual SPF from the deep crevices and pores on your skin, before following up with a foaming water-based cleanser to wash everything away.
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Why the need for two products?
Basic chemistry (admittedly, not my strongest suit) dictates that oil and water do not mix. Therefore, your everyday water-based cleanser cannot effectively dissolve and lift the oily impurities on your skin that an oil cleanser would be able to melt away. Once these impurities have been dislodged and brought to the surface, washing them off gives your skin a much deeper clean. If you’re wondering how important the first step is, the impurities and pollutants that build up on your skin and in your pores lead not only to pimples and acne, but they also cause oxidative damage, which contributes to the breakdown of collagen and speeds up the development of wrinkles and sunspots.
In addition, oil-based cleansers are amazing at breaking down hard-to-remove makeup like liquid lipstick and waterproof mascara, resulting in a much gentler makeup removal experience. No more harsh tugging or rubbing at your lips or lash line, which as many know, is one of the leading causes of premature wrinkles.
Dry, wet and wash
Whether you choose a cleansing oil or a cleansing balm (a solid form of oil-based cleanser that can be warmed up between your fingers and is great for traveling with), the steps remain largely the same.
First, use clean and dry fingers to massage the cleansing oil or balm onto your face, breaking down the day’s makeup and dirt on every inch of your face. Next, dampen your fingers and run over the oil or balm already on your face. This essential step serves to emulsify the oil-based cleanser, which decreases its greasy texture and makes it infinitely easier to rinse off with your water-based cleanser. If it sounds a tiny bit complicated, it’s probably because you haven’t experienced the magic of emulsification yet. Once you do, the process will become second nature.
Keep plant oils at bay
Most of us are no strangers to the benefits of plant oils as moisturisers for our brows, lashes, and lips, but when it comes to cleansing your skin, they’re a big no-no. Since plant oils don’t emulsify and rinse off as oil-based cleansers do, they can sit in your pores and clog them, doing the exact opposite of what an oil cleanse is meant to do.
Take a minute
We’ve all been there – it’s the end of a very long night and just the fact that you managed to drag yourself to the bathroom seems praiseworthy. Unfortunately, a quick rinse-and-go does a disservice to our skin in many ways. Many aestheticians say that one of their top tips for clients who want smoother, plumper skin is taking 60 seconds or longer to wash their face. Not only is that the minimum amount of time you need to allow for the active ingredients in your cleanser to actually work, but the careful massaging also allows you to get into crevices and corners of your face you would normally neglect. The repeated massaging motions you would do during a double cleanse include all of those benefits and one more: an oil massage greatly increases blood flow under your skin and accelerates skin rejuvenation.
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There’s no way this is good for my oily skin… right?
I’ve been oily-skinned since the tender age of 11, and I’m here to tell you: Wrong! Most skincare junkies know by now that the instinct to deprive your oily skin of moisturising ingredients does way more harm than good by sending your sebum glands into overdrive, ultimately producing more oil.
The truth is as long as you’re emulsifying and rinsing the oil-based cleanser completely off your face, you’re good to go. In many cases, oil cleansers can even achieve a positive effect by helping your sebum glands self-regulate and in the long run, reduce shine.
For anyone who wears foundation, setting spray, or even SPF (as you should) on a daily basis, double cleansing can become an indispensable part of your skincare routine. To reiterate, not one of your army of serums, tonics and moisturisers can benefit your skin if you don’t first deep clean your pores.
When it comes to different skin types, choosing the right kind of oil-based and water-based cleanser can make double-cleansing work perfectly for you. The other products in your rotation can also play a part. For oily skin, try switching out your cream moisturiser for a gel-based one to avoid over-hydration.
Who does double-cleansing not work for?
For acne-prone or sensitive skin, the golden rule generally is: less is more. Adding another step into your routine may not always be the best choice, but if you are wearing heavy makeup on a regular basis, picking out gentler cleansers recommended by a dermatologist can help you make double-cleansing a part of your routine.
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