Double cleansing is an extra skincare step that’s worth it – a dermatologist explains

We’re calling it: 2023 is the year we go back to basics. If you are also tired of the microtrend cycle, you might want to get back into shape. Some beauty hacks we keep forever – some we already regret. But if 2022 was about taking risks, trends of the year point to pair back and find what really works for you. One thing I have learned in my years as beauty editor? All the creams and serums in the world can’t help if you wash your face incorrectly. So start the year—and your skin care routine—leave a clean slate by investing in dual cleansers and cutting back on everything else.

At first glance, double cleansing may seem excessive. But if there’s makeup residue on your towel after washing your face, it’s time to reconsider. Ditto if you have oily or acne-prone skin (although all skin types can benefit from double cleansing products).

It turns out that makeup wipes are full of harsh chemicals. Plus, scrubbing a disposable cloth around your face pulls at your skin and can speed up aging. But with waterproof, long-lasting makeup and mineral sunscreens, how do you make sure you’re squeaky clean? Easy answer: the best double cleansing products.

Selected image of Catherine McCord by Blue-green Thomsen.

Photo by Michelle Nash

Therefore, you should use double cleansing products in 2023

Double cleansing is more than a fad. It is dermatologist-approved. I spoke with Rachael Gallo, esthetician and COO of Silver mirror face bar, and Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAADa Miami-based board-certified derm and founder of Dr. Loretta skin careabout the benefits of double cleansing and the best double cleansing products.

“The method has become more popular because there are more ‘waterproof’ and long-lasting makeup products on the market, and these are often difficult to remove with regular non-soap cleansing formulas,” says Dr. Loretta.

According to Gallo, each step of your double cleanse has different benefits. “The first is to remove the top layer of makeup and dirt from environmental causes. The second cleansing is to brighten and hydrate the skin.

Your second cleansing cream must be tailored to your skin type and needs. But for your first cleanser, the best double cleansers might be a cleansing oil, conditioner or micellar water. Read on to find out which products to use and how to double cleanse the right way for a fresh face and softer skin.

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How to double cleanse

“When double cleansing, make sure to remove all residue from the first cleanser before moving on to the second cleansing step,” says Gallo. “Choose a brightening, hydrating cleanser for your second step to address any skin concerns.”

Adding double cleansing to your skincare routine

“Many women are starting to double cleanse,” says Dr. Loretta. “First use a product that contains oil to wipe away makeup, then a cleanser to cleanse the skin.”

Gallo recommends double cleansing for your evening routine. “This step is often missed after a busy long day, but it is the most important since cellular turnover occurs when we are at rest.”

Who should double clean

“Women who wear makeup and men with facial hair should double cleanse,” says Gallo. “Men often neglect the skin under their beards and it’s important to prevent ingrown hairs and keep their follicles clean and soft.”

Who should avoid double cleansing

Gallo says that anyone “with sensitive skin should use a gentle cleanser as their first option to make sure they’re not applying too many exfoliating ingredients to their skin. A conditioner would be the best option in this case.”

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What is the difference between a cleansing balm and oil?

“A cleansing conditioner usually has a thicker, heavier texture,” notes Gallo. “We recommend using a conditioner for heavier makeup removal and more sensitive skin. Oil is great for dehydrated skin, and someone whose makeup doesn’t last all day will benefit from a rich, oil-based cleanser.”

Dr. Loretta echoes this and also suggests using a conditioner if your skin leans on the dry side of things. “The balm tends to moisturize more than an oil,” she says.

The best double cleansing products

“The double cleanse is, as the name suggests, a two-step process,” says Dr. Loretta. “First, you would use an oil, micellar water (which has oil suspended in water), or an ointment-like conditioner. All of these will remove silicone-based and waterproof makeup. Then you use a soap-free cleanser.”

“For the initial cleanse, we use anything that contains micellar water, which attracts dirt from the top layer of the skin and absorbs the oils,” says Gallo. “Using an oil conditioner is great for makeup removal as it’s gentle on the skin but effective at removing even waterproof mascara. Depending on your skin type, we recommend using a gel or cream cleanser for your second cleanse.”

Photo by Michelle Nash

Ingredients to look for in your first cleanse

Dr. Loretta recommends hyaluronic acid or aloe for their moisturizing properties. She considers any ingredients that “help hydrate and protect skin without stripping,” her go-tos. Bonus: these hard-hitting ingredients are known to help reduce redness, too. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for antioxidants and anti-inflammatory products.

Other double cleansing ingredients include:

  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba oil
  • Moringa oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Rose oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Green tea
  • Tea tree oil

The best cleansing oils to add to your routine

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The best cleansing balms for healthy, moisturized skin

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The best micellar water for double cleansing

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