Skin Care Questions: To Double Cleanse or Not?

Author Team Essentialist

We at Essentialist are all about simplicity so you know we would never introduce an extra step for no reason.  The general idea is that a single cleanse doesn't quite do the trick and we tend to agree.  If you wear a full face of make-up, a mineral based sunscreen, or are simply an urban dweller, chances are that's true.  Fact check?  Do a swipe with a white cotton pad or white face cloth after a single wash and you’ll probably see some reside. 

Typical cleansers are not designed to break through all the added layers of stuff we put on.  Sunscreen formulas and make-up have been designed to really stick so, to get them off completely, you need to do a bit of work. That being said, just because we're fans of the double cleanse it doesn't mean it's necessarily the right choice for you. We’ll give you the reasons, and best practice tips, then let you decide for yourself.

We’re fans of the double cleanse for a few reasons.  It’s an effective way to remove make-up, SPF, and the days grime/pollution/junk in a more nourishing way than the average make-up remover.  You get a chance to incorporate a quick 30-45 second facial massage (always a win). It provides a better starting point for your cleanser to target actually cleaning the skin (a novel concept we know).  Side note, you’ll be able to use gentle cleansers and find they are effective. If you require a treatment cleanser the same principles still apply, you’ll be providing a clean slate for your cleanser to do its job.  Just as with the cleansers being more primed for success, your other products will also work better because you’ve provided a cleaner and healthier surface to penetrate.  

People who tend to be afraid of the oil cleanse have either oily or acne prone skin. Word to the wise, oil breaks down oil; an oil-based cleanser can actually help eliminate excess sebum and congestion (whiteheads and blackheads) better than a regular cleanser.  Also, remember that the super harsh formulas typically marketed to oily and acne prone skin are often stripping and over drying.  Adding the oil cleansing step may help balance your skin and break the cycle of excess oil production.  

Here are a couple rules of thumb if you’re going to give it a go:

  • Look for a quality oil-based cleanser that contains an emulsifying agent. This is key as it will ensure that the oils will rinse off with warm water without leaving a film or residue. We warn against straight oil cleansers, mineral oils, or any product containing fragrance, dyes, or synthetic chemicals. 
  • It’s only necessary once per day and that is at night.  You do not need to double cleanse in the morning.
  • Skip the make-up remover altogether.  Look at it like trading in one step for another but, you'll get the added bonus of nourishment from the oils that make-up remover doesn't provide.
  • Apply your oil-based cleanser with dry hands to dry skin.
  • Massage the product over your face with your fingertips using gentle circular motions. We like to go upward and outward (following the lymph channels). You should massage it in for 30-45 seconds, do it with intention and make it a ritual.  
  • Add a bit of warm water to emulsify (it should turn milky), then rinse the product off thoroughly with warm water and a washcloth. So long as the washcloth is super soft and clean (never re-use cloths between laundering) it helps get everything off.
  • After cleansing proceed with the next steps in your routine as usual. Your skin will probably feel softer and more supple after the double cleanse but, don't be fooled, you will still need to hydrate.

Remember, there is no such thing as an immediate fix, be patient. In about 3 weeks you should start noticing results. Whiteheads suddenly forming?  Don’t freak out, it’s your skin detoxifying itself by expelling reside and pore buildup.  Keep calm and resist going on the attack.

Happy cleansing! 

(Photo via Pinterest from Parsley Health)