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What Is Double Cleansing?

As the name suggests, double cleansing is the Korean process of cleaning the face twice before proceeding with the remainder of the evening skincare routine. 

Cleansing works on the logic that like attracts like.  An oil based first step cleanser will dissolve oil based skin impurities and can include makeup, excess sebum, bacteria and sunscreen which accumulate throughout the day.  Oils are effective at penetrating the pore to loosen and flush out stale sebum.  As such, they’re great for combating blackheads/whiteheads and helping control breakouts.  Additionally, natural oils boast a high fatty acid content which ensures skin remains nourished and moisturised.  The second cleanse is water based and picks up what the first missed which may include dead cell debris, sweat and dirt.  This process prepares the skin for deeper penetration and hence effectiveness of the layers that follow. 

Why Double Cleanse?

When skin isn’t properly cleaned, the surface layer retains impurities plus dead or flaking skin cells which can prevent active ingredients from working properly.  This is because they don’t penetrate sufficiently to deliver maximum benefits.  Additionally, harsh or poor cleaning can result in blocked pores, irritation or damage of the stratum corneum.  These outcomes can make skin susceptible to inflammation and acne causing bacteria. This can result when a cleanser is formulated inadequately or is simply ineffective.  Incorrect application can also have detrimental impacts.

Choosing The Right Cleanser

Skincare is a personal experience so product choices come down to preference.  The key is to ensure both steps remain gentle.  When a cleanser works well, it should leave skin feeling clean, fresh and hydrated not oily, irritated, dry or tight. 

Price doesn’t always reflect quality either.  Budget cleansers will often do a comparable job to high end equivalents. It’s a good idea to browse reviews and additionally, examine ingredients to help you decide which to choose. Resources like CosDNA and EWG scrutinise product formulations to provide reliable safety ratings so these sites would be worth checking out.

What To Look For

Oil Cleansers

First step oil cleansers typically include cleansing oils, cleansing waters, balms and micellar waters.  A balm’s solid form will liquefy when rubbed into the skin.   It is less messy and more appropriate for travel compared to its liquid counterparts.  Oils and balms are usually applied directly to the skin while waters are soaked into a cotton pad for swipe application.  However, all are designed to perform the same task.  

Some of our favourite oil cleansers are Banila Co. Clean It Zero Original, Heimish All Clean Balm and iUNIK Calendula Complete Cleansing Oil

Double cleanse: oil cleansers. Korean Skincare Australia. April & Ko

Water-Based Cleansers

Water based cleansers may include gel, foam, powder and cream varieties.  It’s best to avoid alkaline cleansers (pH 7+) which can expose the skin to bacteria and pollutants.  An ideal acidic pH of 5- 6 will preserve essential lipids and ceramides, therefore keeping the stratum corneum intact.  Also, look for sulphate-free products that won’t strip the skin of natural oils.

Our best-selling water cleansers include COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser and NEOGEN Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser

The Right Way To Cleanse

Just as it’s critical to choose a gentle cleanser, it’s also important to cleanse correctly.  Don’t over cleanse. Double cleansing is only really required to start your evening skincare routine.  It’s important to do this daily even if you’re not wearing makeup or sunscreen in order to effectively combat blocked pores. Since skin is not exposed to pollutants, sunscreen and makeup overnight, a light clean with a water based product or even just a splash of water is often sufficient to prepare for the morning routine.

‘Be Gentle when Cleansing’

Additionally, minimise the amount of time water based cleansers remain on the skin.  Any cleanser, no matter how gentle, can compromise the moisture barrier if applied incorrectly, too frequently or for too long.  For those with over-productive oil glands, as tempting as it might be to scrub in order to control surface oils, avoid cleansers that give you that squeaky clean feeling.  If skin feels tight, it’s stripping the moisture barrier.  This will eventually become even more problematic than an oily complexion.  Just remember, the gentle approach is always best. 

Read the full review by Denise at CLAY + essence here.

You can find more blog posts with skincare tips below

Check out the full analysis of combating dry skin by Denise at CLAY + essence here and here.

Read ‘Tips to reduce the recurrence of blackheads’ by Katrina at April & Ko here.

All you need to know about Acne can be found here.

How to achieve glass skin can be found here.

You can check out the review of the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick here.

An in-depth post detailing all 10 steps of the Korean skincare routine can be found here.


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