Double-Cleansing: The Beauty Trend Explained

Double-Cleansing: The Beauty Trend Explained(Source: Thinkstock; Art by Tanya Leigh Washington)You might have heard of a new trend to hit the skincare world: Double cleansing. It might sound weird, but the idea behind it is simple: use two different cleansers to remove makeup and cleanse skin. If you're like us, you probably were skeptical at first. Why would you need to wash and re-wash your face? As it turns out, the double-duty wash might be more beneficial than you think. We did some digging to learn once and for all, what's up with double cleansing?

The Process
With double cleansing, the key is to pair your two cleansers together, so they work in tandem to provide maximum benefits. Shiseido skincare's vice president of education and sale development Maree Lavo recommends beginning with an oil-based cleanser on dry hands and massaging it into the face. The oil not only removes makeup (sans facial wipes, which can tug and pull delicate skin) but offers a great slip for cleansing skin. 

The next step in the cleansing process is to rinse off the oil with warm water and move onto the water-based cleanser. Lavo uses a brush to add foam for a really good cleanse, but it's not necessary. Once the second cleanser is massaged into the skin, she recommends rinsing it off and applying a softener and moisturizer. 

Double-Cleansing: The Beauty Trend Explained(Source: Thinkstock; Art by Tanya Leigh Washington)The Science
That all sounds pretty straightforward. Wash face, wash it again. But what's the big deal? The tradition dates back to Japan, where it was used for centuries. "It started as the only means of cleansing the white metallic makeup that women wore," says Lavo. Although this makeup was a sign of beauty, it was very harsh on the skin, and cleansing oils were the only product that could remove the foundation. Because this process was so intense, a second water-based cleanser was needed to refresh the skin and remove any residual oil.

And the science behind the ritual makes sense. Cleansing oils are able to lift makeup and other oil-based products off your face and out of your pores. (Oil fights oil and is actually good for combating oily skin and acne.) A second cleanser is needed to remove any leftover oil because plain water simply won't do the trick. (Think back to chemistry—oil and water don't play well.) So a water-based, lathering cleanser is key to removing oil and not just pushing it around on top of the skin.

The Benefits
The benefits of double cleansing really lie in the oil step. Despite what many believe, using an oil-based cleanser won't cause more oil production or breakouts. In reality, scrubbing skin with an exfoliator—although it is a good thing sometimes—can actually dry out skin and cause it to go into oil-production overload, thus causing more skin troubles. Oil, on the other hand, fights oil-based makeup like mascara and foundation, and actually lifts away gunk and grime from the face when emulsified with water, leaving skin fresh and ready to absorb your second cleanser.

Ready to give double cleansing a try yourself? We have! A pair of cleansers we've found to be particularly gentle and refreshing come from all-natural brand Tata Harper. Pair the Nourishing Oil Cleanser ($64)—a silky smooth oil enriched with vitamins A, C and E, Omega 3 and Beta Carotene—with the Purifying Cleanser ($58), a blend of broccoli extract and fruit enzymes, for a one-two punch of makeup removal and deep cleansing. Plus, they're both all-natural, cruelty-free and absent of gluten, GMOs and artificial fragrances.

Double-Cleansing: The Beauty Trend Explained(Source: Tata Harper)Tell us, would you give double cleansing a go?
Poll: Would you try double cleansing?
Click to vote:
  • Absolutely. Twice is nice.
  • I'll stick to one wash.
Former Senior Associate Beauty Editor at StyleBistro. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @CaitlinSMiller Follow me: Google