Beauty 101: What Is Double Cleansing + Why You Should Try It

I met Julie in 2002. I was planning my wedding for July of 2004. Julie was an Aesthetician and a pretty darn good one. I struggled with Cystic acne on my face and back and was determined to walk down the aisle with clear skin. That hot day in July 2002 was the first time I heard about double cleansing, dermaplaning [more about dermaplaning in another article], and the importance of SPF. And today, I will share what I learned about double cleansing and why you may want to try double cleansing.

Cleansing is the first step in any skincare regimen, but it is the least thought about step in the cleansing process. Most of us clean our skin without much thought and do a poor job of cleansing effectively. As a result, many of us do not wash our faces properly [or our bodies, but that is for another day]. In addition, most of us have never been taught the right way to wash our faces, and yes, there is one.

In 2002 when I started double cleansing, I did not begin with a facial balm or oil; I started with good old coconut oil—followed by SK-II products, a Japanese-based skincare brand launched in the 1980s. The regiment did wonders for my skin. However, while double cleansing has been around for a long time, it has only become trendy lately.

Julie explained double cleansing as a method used by Japanese women. She said Japanese women used oil to remove the white paint like makeup, dirt, and environmental debris from their skin before following up with a second cleanser, hydration [essence], and a moisturizer. I loved the concept, and seeing results kept me consistent. It is a practice I still do today. I did not wear makeup then but had active acne breakouts and very oily skin [still do]. The coconut oil mixed with my natural oil did something extraordinary for my skin, and the SK-II Gentle face wash, Masks, Essence, and Moisturizer was heavenly. Pair that with monthly facials and bimonthly peels I fell in love with the thing I hated the most about myself, my skin. And I developed healthy habits when it came to caring for my skin.

So, where exactly did The Double Cleansing Method originate?

While we can not pinpoint exactly where it originated, we know it originated in the East. Julie told Japan all those years ago, but since becoming popular in the United States, I have read many articles that it may have originated in Korea or China and goes as far back as the fourteenth century.

What is double cleansing?

Double cleansing is a two-step method of performing two consecutive washes using an oil cleanser in tandem with a water-based cleanser in your skin routine. First, an oil-based cleanser is used to break up oil, makeup, dirt, and debris, followed immediately by a water-based cleaner.

Should everyone double cleanse?

I do not believe everyone needs to double cleanse. However, I think it is helpful for those who wear makeup and those with very oily skin [like me].

However, I think people can benefit significantly by simply learning how to wash their faces well—I do believe many people do not know how to wash their faces properly.

The benefits of Double Cleansing.

There are many benefits to double cleansing. But as I have always preached on this site—do your research, try it out and see if it works for you.

I have oily skin prone to acne breakouts, but using an oil cleanser or balm as the first step in my cleansing process has helped me. However, I know of other oily skin acne-prone gals who used oil cleansers which resulted in acne breakouts. While I believe double cleansing is highly effective—the most exciting part of the method is the type of cleansers you use. It is:

  • Effective in removing waterproof makeup and sunscreen
  • For us oily skin gals, it is the first step to remove excess oil or sebum from the skin
  • It helps the water-based cleansers to work better
  • It also allows your other skin care products to penetrate your skin better[serums, moisturizers, sunscreen, night creams].


Never use an oil cleanser alone.

Do not use harsh or excessive drying or cleaners with fragrance.

So, Nat, how do I double cleanse?

Step one

Apply an oil-based formula onto dry skin, massaging it in a circular motion over your entire face, including the eyes area, for about a minute or two to break down makeup, sebum, and sunscreen residue. Then remove it with a lukewarm washcloth or your hands.


Use a clean face cloth each time you wash your face, and use gentle motions to remove the oil-based Cleanser.

Ensure the water is not too hot because it can cause skin dryness.

Do not dry your skin—keep it damp for the next step.

Step two

Next, apply a water-based cleanser formulated for your skin type in a gel or foam formula to dampen skin. Massage into your skin, rinse with lukewarm water, and allow the face to air dry. Follow up with the rest of your skincare.


Towel dry if you prefer—be sure to use a soft clean towel.

When massaging the second cleaner into the skin, ensure you work it into your hairline, under the chin, etc., places many tend to miss.

The best practice would be to include your neck in your cleansing ritual.

How to pick the best Cleanser for your skin type?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Oil-Based Cleansers

  • Farmacy Green Clean
  • Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil
  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
  • Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil
  • dermalogica precleanse cleansing oil
  • Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil
  • Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleanser
  • Peach & Lilly Ginger Melt Oil Cleanser

Water-Based Cleansers

  • Avene Antirougeurs CLEAN Redness-relief Refreshing Cleansing Lotion
  • Peach & Lilly Power Calm cleanser
  • SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser - Daily Foaming Wash
  • dermalogica ultracalming cleanser
  • Aveeno Calm + Restore™ Nourishing Oat Cleanser, For Sensitive Skin
  • Mizon Egg White Bubble Cleanser

Of course, you will need two types of cleansers—each offering its own benefits.

Oil-based cleansers help to remove oil impurities and excess sebum on the skin, while water-based cleansers remove impurities like sweat and dirt.

Dry, sensitive skin requires a gentle, unscented water-based cleanser.

While oily, acne-prone skin will benefit from water-based foaming cleansers with active ingredients. I always look for one with Salicylic acid.

But for combination skin that is a combination of oily and dry. A water-based foaming cleanser is the best choice.

And finally, for normal skin, you can use a gentle, unscented water-based cleanser.

What several dermatologists did not help me to achieve, Julie did in eight months. And everything She taught me still lives with me today. Developing good skin care habits, I believe, is essential for healthy skin. While I still struggle with acne, it never gets to where it once was.

Comment below: Have you tried double cleansing?

P. S.

If I am ever out of my oil cleanser or balm, I reach for my Coconut oil. Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet B [UVB] rays. It is also antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, prevents aging, and helps wounds heal faster.

Nat C.


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply