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Image / Beauty

Double Cleansing: Do I REALLY need to do it?


By Aisling Keenan
23rd Jan 2019
Double Cleansing: Do I REALLY need to do it?

What does the concept of ‘double cleansing’ even mean? Are we really expected to put yet another step into an already jammers skin routine? Well, yes. And with very good reason.


There’s really only one person to ask when you want an honest skin answer (that’s backed up with science-y knowledge. I tell the truth, but I’m no Skin Nerd). Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin Nerd, gave me the low down.

“My analogy is this. Would you wax and polish up your car without cleaning it first? No! Proper cleansing is integral for skin health, and it enables effective penetration of serum and other products into the skin,” Jenn told me. But won’t one cleanse do that? Get us clean right quick and prep our bonnets for a wax and polish? Unfortunately not.

“To non-beauty-professionals, I can see why the double-cleanse may seem like a fad or a marketing ploy to sell two cleansing products rather than one. But there is method to the madness,” Jenn explained. It genuinely never occurred to me that the notion of a double cleanse was me being marketed to – thank you Jenn! Eyes. Open.

Anyway, back to it.

THE TWO CLEANSES AND WHAT THEY DO

“Cleanse number one should remove the majority of makeup and grime from the skin. Cleanse number two will pick up cleanse number one’s slack and get rid of any residual oils, pollution or traces of makeup. Cleanse number two is usually also the “treat” step, the cleanser that includes active or “working” ingredients such as salicylic acid or lactic/glycolic acid. My go-to double-cleanse consists of the Cleanse Off Mitt ( biased much!) and then my cleansers-du-jour dependent on whether it is morning or night. I remove my (mineral) makeup with one side of the COM, apply cleanser and then flip to the other side to remove the cleanser.”

Image Skincare Ageless Total Facial Cleanser, €35

So, with cleanse one you take the day off. With cleanse two you make doubly sure everything is gone AND you bring in the big boys, chemical exfoliants and gentle acids, to resurface and decongest.

Now, please don’t come at me with your ‘micellar water and done’ routine – micellar water is fine but still needs to be removed, my dudes, and unless you’re 16 and genetically blessed with acne-free skin (if that’s you, hello, I’m jealous), just using it alone will break you the hell out. No, no, no.

What I personally do, and find very effective, is I use an oil-based cleanser to remove my makeup (the Kiehls one below will take ANYTHING off your face; lashes, liquid lipstick, your very features if you’re not careful) and then I alternate a foaming glycolic wash and a gel textured hydrating cleanser for my second cleanse. I always rinse with warm (but not too hot –  broken capillary city) water and a face cloth or muslin cloth.

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Botanical Facial Cleanser, €35

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin, €11

Elequra Pure Balancing Cleanser, €38.55 (available at Arnotts)

So, while you might spend a little extra investing in a second cleanser, your face – and bank balance – will thank you. In all likelihood, you’ve spent a bomb on the latest and greatest serum/moisturiser/facial oil but haven’t seen the results you want.  This could very well be because the products aren’t being given the chance to penetrate fully because they’re being applied to dead skin cells on a badly cleansed face. Not ideal, really.

Jennifer Rock’s book, The Skin Nerd, is €19.99 and available now from all good bookshops.