How to double cleanse your skin—and why it’s the only way to clean up.

By Haley Menchel

Perhaps the most important part of anyone’s skincare routine is cleansing. While serums, moisturizers and oils work wonders, there’s no use for them if your skin isn’t completely clean. In the morning, fresh-faced and bright-eyed, quick cleanse is no problem: later on, the process repeats at night. After a long day, your skin’s natural oils, sweat, pollutants and makeup sink deep into your pores and need to be properly cleaned in order for your skin to look plump and replenished.

Here is where the old Japanese tradition of double cleansing comes in. A long time ago, Japanese women would wear thick, white face makeup, which wouldn’t come off in just one step: they began using oils to first break up and clean off their makeup, and then they would go in with a more traditional soap to actually clean the skin. 

Caroline Hirons, a renown facialist based in the UK swears by the double cleansing method. She explains its importance remarking how the “first cleanse removes most of the product, gunk and grime and the second cleanse ensures that everything is removed and makes sure your skin is soft and comfortable.” Essentially, you aren’t really cleaning your skin until you’ve properly removed your makeup. 

So how does one double cleanse properly? This is, of course, dependent upon your skin type, but there are some pretty general rules that are easy to follow—and your skin will thank you. We can break it down into two easy steps:


First things first…

To get all this grime off, oils typically work best as they’re able to solubilize. Oils come in different shapes and sizes; for example, many people prefer a proper oil—we recommend Una Brennan’s Superfacialist Oil Cleanser. It smells good, won’t irritate your eyes and also does a good job at plumping up your skin, making it appear glowing and youthful. Others like to get their oils through balms, and Emma Hardie has created the perfect one that melts into oil once it’s massaged into the warmth of your skin. Her Moringa Cleansing Balm takes off waterproof mascara and lip stains alike, leaving skin hydrated and ready for the second cleanse.  

While oils aren’t for everyone, there exist good, simple cleansers that also do a great job of getting everything off so that you can actually get to your skin. Aesop’s Parsley Seed Cleanser is a more natural option that doesn’t strip your face of any valuable moisture. For a first cleanse, it’s more about the quality of the cleanse you’ll get and less about the expensive ingredients. The second cleanse is where you want to focus on what’s going to give you results. 



If you’re struggling with dark marks or acne, Peter Thomas Roth’s Glycolic Acid 3% Facial Wash will help. Since it is an acid, it exfoliates the first layers of skin to reveal fresh skin underneath. This can be harsh and should not be used every night, so interchanging this with a gentler rinsing cleanser is essential. 

Relatively new to the world of skincare, facialist Sunday Riley is taking the world by storm with her Ceramic Slip Cleanser. It’s clay-based, so it’ll help draw out impurities (but since it’s sulfate-free, your skin won’t be left feeling tight and stripped). Another good cleanser follow-up is one that utilizes probiotics to help your skin harness its natural defense system. Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser smells like a spa and uses all-natural ingredients to leave skin primed and moisturized. Not convinced? Try it tonight—you’ll never feel cleaner. 


Next up—how to achieve effortlessly chic hair via Sally Hershberger. Read more here.