The Double Cleanse: the what, why, and how

The double cleansing method has been discussed more frequently among beauty influencers lately as the topic of Korean skincare rituals have become a more popular subject in the US recently.

In Asia, the double cleansing method is near ubiquitous, but this is hardly an Asian skincare ritual. Dermatologists, estheticians and skincare-savvy women worldwide understand and practice this absolutely critical step for an effective skincare regimen. In fact, proper cleansing is arguably the most important step to a skincare routine that will keep skin healthy and preserve youthfulness.

We’ll discuss 3 things today:

  1. What is double cleansing?
  2. Why is double cleansing important?
  3. How do you double cleanse?

What is it?

In short, it’s a two-step process that includes first, an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser. The oil-based cleanser can be in solid or liquid form, and depending on the cleanser can be washed off or wiped off. The oil-based cleanser is used to remove oil-based impurities, including sebum, sunscreen and makeup. A water-based cleanser can be either foaming or non-foaming and is used to remove water-based impurities, including sweat and dirt. 

Onto the most important question - why is this necessary?

Simply put, oil and water don’t mix and you need both to gently and thoroughly draw out and remove both the oil and water-based impurities that build up naturally on your face throughout the day. 

Did you know makeup and sunscreen residue could cause bacterial infections and even lead to discoloration? And excess sebum can lead to congested pores as the sebum is like a glue trap for pollutants. Enter the oil-based cleanser that will draw out these impurities. Sweat and dirt can also cling to the skin, especially deep in the pores, and a water-based cleanser is key in casting out these impurities.

Skin that isn’t properly cleansed can be the root of many skincare woes. Everything from acne to discoloration to serums not working well to slow skin turnover to enlarged pores to excessive dryness. 

Let’s do ourselves a favor and get this incredibly foundational skincare step right.

That leaves us with the last question - how do you get the double cleanse right for your skin type?

First, every skin type would benefit from the double cleanse tremendously, including oily or acne-prone or sensitive skin types. In fact, oily skin types will benefit significantly from using an oil-based cleanser first because it will gently remove excess sebum without stripping your face dry to go into overcompensation mode (read: more excess oil production).  

So, how do you find the right oil-based cleanser and water-based cleanser that works for you? Your best bet is to take a careful look through the ingredients as not all cleansers are created equal. Needless to say, stay away from ingredients that you’re allergic to. Avoid heavy artificial fragrances as that can be irritating on the skin. It’s also best to avoid super alkaline face washes that will disrupt your skin’s natural acid mantle (a thin viscous fluid that sits atop the skin that protects it); in other words, cleansers that will nourish the skin while cleansing it versus stripping it of all its natural oils. We do the legwork for you and take all this into consideration when selecting our cleansers. 


After extensive curating on-the-ground in Seoul and Tokyo (including interviews with brand R&D teams, consumer-shop-alongs, formulation and ingredient testing), we focus group test every brand and product state-side for 3+ weeks. The double cleansing method was hands-down the key part of their skincare regimen that had the most profound results in helping to achieve healthy, radiant skin.

Stay tuned!

We’ll be doing an entry soon on our favorite oil and water-based cleansers and comparing results!

-Alicia Yoon 

Tags: hydration
Posted on July 01, 2015
by Peach & Lily