To double cleanse or Not to double cleanse?

by Rayna van Aalst February 04, 2018

To double cleanse or Not to double cleanse?

There are a lot of people in my circles who are firm believers of double cleansing, every day, both morning and evening.

For the ones of you who aren’t familiar with it, double cleansing is a technique which involves two different types of cleansers. Each cleanser targets different type of “dirt” on the skin. The first cleanser is an oil or a cleansing balm (oil-based) and the next one is water-based cleanser.

So yes, you wash your face twice to cleanse your skin more thoroughly.

Apparently I want glowing skin and all the beautiful adjectives that describe it but as a person who just got to enjoy cleansing (a little less than two years ago counts as “just”, right?), has way too many things on her hands and who regularly gets less sleep than needed, you can imagine that anything that stands in my way when I’m headed to bed, should be absolutely worth it to get my attention and time.

I can’t however help but wonder is a double cleanse needed on a daily basis anyway?

I guess what’s troubling me is the question whether double cleansing is necessary since skincare has advanced so much?

I know that double cleansing is a tradition which has been around for centuries and I’m all for traditions but are our skincare products the same as the ones the Asian women used back then?

Haven’t cleansers not evolved enough to be able remove sweat, pollution, dirt, impurities, makeup, sunscreen, excess sebum, etc from the face with one product?

What is the balance between a tradition from centuries ago and a tradition we draw inspiration from and adjust to our modern lives?

Isn’t double cleansing working for so many people because for a first time in their life they spend more than 10 seconds on cleansing?

When I find myself in such a situation - with a lot of questions that is and not many answers, I turn to people whose opinion I respect deeply. My questions for them were the same – “Is double cleansing necessary and why? If yes, should everyone double cleanse? When should you double cleanse – only evening, every evening, etc?”

So here’s what the experts say about double cleansing

Josh Rosebrook, founder of Josh Rosebrook Skin and Hair Care

If you do not wear make up, there is no need to double cleanse.

Double cleansing is only necessary in the evening, when removing make up from the day. My recommendation for the first cleanse is a make up removing cleanser, the Herbal Infusion Oil is a dual oil cleanser and make up remover that destroys all make up quickly without redness or stinging the eye area. Next, a water based cleanser, the Complete Moisture Cleanse emulsifies with water to purify using light foaming action to cleanse the skin of dirt and imbalanced oil. The double cleanse is necessary to fully remove make up, cleanse, balance complexion and set the skin up layer the next products.  

Cleansing needs differ for each person, season and skin. 

Laurel Shaffer, founder of Laurel Whole Plant Organics

There are 2 circumstances where I double cleanse. When I am wearing make-up, I always double cleanse - so that would be in the evenings. I consider the first cleanse just to remove the make up, and the second cleanse to be more about the massage, movement and detoxing. I rarely wear make-up though, so that is not something I often have to worry about.

My second circumstance in which I double cleanse is if I use our richer Clarity Cleansing Oil, and that heavy richness isn't a desirable feeling for me.  Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, so I just trust my own senses and do what feels good. The Clarity Cleansing Oil is more of a deep cleansing oil, which is meant to be massaged for quite a while to encourage muscle tension release, blood circulation, and lymph circulation. Then I remove it with 3 rounds of warm towels. However, if I'm rushing that massage and/or removal step, then that is when I feel I need to do a quick 2nd cleanse with one of our cream cleansers in order to remove excess oil. But again, I don't usually do that... because I enjoy taking my time to massage the Cleansing Oil and remove it fully with warm compresses.

Honestly, apart from wearing make up, I wouldn't imagine the second cleanse to ever be necessary for anyone! In the morning, sometimes I don't even wash my face at all. Sometimes just a warm compress cloth feels sufficient, or I start my day with our gentle Honey Berry Enzyme Mask.  Other times I enjoy my morning Cleanser with a massage to reduce puffiness.

Julie Longyear, founder of Blissoma

I think doing a double cleanse depends on the person's skin, the products used, and *why* the person is double cleansing.

I will give an example - I double cleanse first with Free and then with Fresh when I have been doing especially dirty renovation work on the house where I have gotten soot, plaster dust, paint dust, etc on me and the skin has had these truly irritating compounds on it in dust form for a while that day. I want to make sure and get ALL of that off and then soothe the skin.  So I will usually cleanse first with Free and a washcloth to remove the worst of the dirt.  Then I will apply Fresh and really massage it into the skin and then let it sit on the skin basically like a mask while I do the rest of my shower.  That way I replace the irritants with soothing compounds and really give my already cleansed skin a chance to absorb some extra nutrition and hydration.

If people are wearing a lot of makeup, such as for a stage performance or photo shoot, then a double cleanse of this sort would be great as the products used might also be irritating.

I don't really think double cleansing is necessary on a daily basis, though, for most people.  I think if people simply spent more time on the initial cleanse and did some facial massage instead of rushing through it they would see a better benefit for a lower cost.  Using two products means twice the cost.  You also want to make extra sure to be using gentle, Ph correct products that are a really good fit for your skin type for double cleansing because otherwise cleansing twice just could mean irritating the skin even more.  More is not always necessarily better!

Victoria Fantauzzi, co-founder of La Bella Figura

Double cleansing is one of those things that is a personal preference, but not necessarily necessary.

My opinion borders on unnecessary simply because I feel we over cleanse our skin on any good day. Either we use cleansers that contain harsh detergents leaving the skin “squeaky” clean, which many believe is an indicator that your skin is well cleansed or we double cleanse incorrectly. I believe removing makeup and buildup and allowing your skin’s natural oils to protect and nourish your lipid layer is key to cleansing. We want to avoid moisture loss and over cleansing is often a contributing factor to dry skin, premature wrinkles and believe it or not acne breakouts. That said, if you’re an Opera singer and wear costume makeup it would probably benefit you to double cleanse it all off. Otherwise you just need a good cleanser that doesn’t contain water as its first ingredient and removes your makeup off well. (No one likes residue leftover on their towels.) I personally enjoy the cleansing process, but many people just want to cleanse and go to the next step. That is a mistake as a proper cleansing allows serums, treatments, face oils and active mists to penetrate better. I also believe cleansing is the most beneficial step to clear skin. 

Currently, I’m using our new The Clean Slate balm concentrate daily. If I’m wearing makeup I “warm” up the balm in my hands and first apply it to my eye area to remove mascara and eye makeup, then I warm up a bit more and start on my forehead in circular motion and then down to my nose, cheeks and chin. This looks a tad scary with intense raccoon eyes, but after you’ve applied the cleanser in circular motion all over your face I like adding a tiny bit of water to “dislodge” the mascara clump and finally I splash all the cleanser off with lukewarm water. My face is cleansed, massaged and there is no water loss to the lipid layer. I love this effect of cleansing. One easy step and that’s it! 


I’d love to hear your thoughts on cleansing – do you double cleanse? Daily or “when needed”? Share your answers in the comments below so we can all learn from each other’s knowledge and experience.

And as always, please do share this article, if you found it useful. 

Rayna van Aalst
Rayna van Aalst