Double Cleansing: What It Is, How to Do It, Benefits and Side Effects

Celebrity dermatologist, Dr Jaishree Sharad tells you everything you need to know about this sworn-by K-beauty technique. 

13 April, 2021
Double Cleansing: What It Is, How to Do It, Benefits and Side Effects

Over the past decade or so, Korean products and skincare trends have become front runners in the realm of beauty. From the rise of retinol to the shift towards vegan, chemical-free and plant-based ingredients, it's time to say hello to science-backed formulas that promote a bare, minimalist approach to skincare. 

Double cleansing—the apparent backbone of K-beauty routines—happens to be one of the many revered techniques that has garnered immense popularity over the years. As the name suggests, it involves a two-step method of cleansing; first, with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser. 

To divulge details about this go-to beauty technique, we got Dr Jaishree Sharad—a Mumbai-based celebrity dermatologist—to reveal whether it's really worth your time.  


What is double cleansing?


"Double cleansing refers to the method of cleansing your face twice: first, with an oil-based cleanser, and again with a water-based cleanser. The oil-based cleanser is designed to remove oil-based impurities including makeup, sunscreen, sebum and pollution. While the water-based cleanser can work its way into your skin, getting rid of the day's dirt, grime and sweat," informs Dr Jaishree.

Besides offering a thorough cleanse, double cleansing can also revitalize dull, tired skin, and allows for beauty products to penetrate into your skin more effectively. This technique is ideal for those who tend to apply heavy makeup.


Why is it important?


While double cleansing isn’t necessary, it can serve to be more beneficial for certain skin types, as compared to others. "For instance, it seems to be worthwhile for those with oily, acne-prone skin. Two gentle formulas—such as a BHA cleanser followed by an essence, toner or micellar water—offer a guaranteed route to combat excess oil, than solely relying on a single formula. Besides, a single strong formula can leave your skin feeling way too dry," explains Dr Jaishree.


What is the method to double cleanse?


Whether you opt for a cleansing oil or an oil-based balm followed by a gel, lotion or cream, the method remains the same.

Begin by applying the oil-based cleanser to your palm, and use your fingertips to gently massage it into your skin in circular motions, for around a minute. Don’t forget the area around your eyes and the hairline! Oil-based cleansers go far in getting rid of eye makeup, as long as they’re free from fragrance. The ones that contain an emulsifier are typically easier to remove, as the oil combines with the water to create a milky substance. 

For the second cleanser, use just a dollop. Wash your face with luke warm water and pat skin dry with soft towel. "When it comes to rinsing, use either a washcloth or your hands and lukewarm water to avoid dehydration," recommends Dr Jaishree.


How often should one do it? 


You may choose to double cleanse either at night before hitting the bed, or in the morning as sebum may be produced during your sleep. Pick a frequency that best suits your lifestyle and try to follow it regularly, for desired results.


How to pick the right cleanser?


Combination skin types will benefit from using a cleanser that contains ceramides to retain moisture, as well as a lightweight formula that boosts hydration while being non-greasy. If you have sensitive or dry skin, double cleansing is not recommended. Double cleansing can dry the protected lipids in your skin's barrier, and further lead to breakouts. Hence, acne-prone skin types must avoid using oil-based cleansers; instead, they must opt for toners or an essence.


What are the benefits of double cleansing?


If you wear a full face of makeup, double cleansing is the right way to ensure that your skin is free from any unwanted residual. Following this method in the evening will also brighten any dullness, ultimately lifting your complexion. It also allows serums, moisturisers and nighttime leave-on products such as retinol to deeply penetrate into your skin and do their magic overnight. 

Double cleansing is especially important if you are a city dweller who is repeatedly exposed to pollutants—the first cleanser breaks down the makeup, dirt and excess oil, while the second one addresses your specific skin concern to hydrate, smoothen and exfoliate.


Are there any side effects of double cleansing?


An excess of anything can lead to side effects including skin dryness, sensitivity and irritation. It's important that you make sure that you're using the correct products—such as an ideal, sulphate-free cleanser to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils. Besides, if you suffer from acne and end up over-cleansing, you may trigger the formation of more breakouts. 


What are the do's and don'ts of double cleansing? 



1) Do a thorough check of the ingredients present in your skincare products before use. Ensure that the product suits your skin type and opt for formulas that don't irritate the skin or make it excessively dry. 

2) Make sure that you massage in your first cleanser.

3) Apply a serum post your double cleanse.



1) Ensure that you don't use a face wipe as your first cleanse.

2) Avoid using cleansers that contain sulphate.

3) Avoid double cleansing both in the morning as well as in the evening; it will strip your skin of its natural oils.