It's been around for a few years now, but recently the Asian "double cleansing" routine has gathered speed and is gaining popularity around the world. So what is this "must try" beauty trend, should you be doing it, and what do the experts say?
What is double cleansing, and what's the theory behind it?
There's more behind the double cleanse than simply cleansing your skin twice. Known for their lengthy and intricate beauty routines, Korean and Japanese women often separate cleansing into two steps: one to remove makeup and the other to eliminate impurities and unblock pores. The two steps, performed in sequence, are based on the idea that no one product is able to both remove make-up and cleanse the skin.
The cleanser used first is usually oil-based, and is tasked with removing your makeup and sunscreen. Cleansing oils have become a popular choice for this role. Thanks to their emulsifying agents, they form a milky lather when mixed with water, and are easier to wash off that regular oils.
The second cleanser focuses on removing other impurities such as pollution, a major concern when it comes to the quality of our skin. A 2014 review from the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science* warned that "Although human skin acts as a biological shield [...] the prolonged or repetitive exposure to high levels of pollutants may have profound negative effects on the skin. Exposure of the skin to air pollutants has been associated with skin aging and inflammatory or allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or acne".
This is why the second cleanser can differ in texture to the first. The idea is that, once the first cleanser has removed surface impurities, the second will be able to cleanse the skin more thoroughly.
Double cleansing: not for everyone
While the principle of double cleansing is understandable, there are two important factors to take into consideration. The first is that, these days, it is possible to find cleansers that are effective at removing makeup as well as impurities – they do both!
The second is the risk of aggravating any skin concerns by removing too much natural oil through over-washing. For dry skin types, this risks tightness, pulling and flakes, while for oily and combination skin you may find yourself with more breakouts due to the skin overcompensating to reproduce the lost oils. Skin might feel clean in the short run, but may become greasier and more unbalanced over time. Those with acne-prone skin in particular should be careful not to over-wash and provoke inflammation.
Removing eye makeup
That said, when it comes to eye make-up removal, dermatologists do recommend using a separate product to your face cleanser. Why? The oil usually used in eye make-up removers encourages mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow to gently dissolve and be wiped away by a cotton pad. This means you don't then have to scrub and pull at the sensitive skin around the eyes which can cause irritation and weaken the epidermis. Experts at La Roche-Posay recommend using the Respectissime Eye Make-Up Remover, whose gentle, bi-phase formula is suitable for even sensitive skin.
How to choose your face cleanser
Whether or not you are going to use it as part of a two-step process, it's important to choose the right cleanser for your skin type and concerns. A dry complexion that suffers from blotchiness requires different skincare to oily, acne-prone skin, for example. Naturally dry skin will appreciate a hydrating lotion cleanser, while oily and combination skin types may prefer gel-textures.
La Roche-Posay recommends the Effaclar Foaming Wash for oily, blemish-prone skin. It has a neutral pH, and is free from soap, alcohol, parabens and colorants, so won't irritate sensitive complexions, but gently cleanses the skin and removes excess sebum with drying.
For sensitive, dry and uncomfortable skin, we propose the Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser which contains nourishing glycerin in a fluid milk texture. Formulated for those with extra sensitive skin, it doesn't even need to be rinsed off afterwards.
The conclusion: for sensitive eyes, it's a good idea to use a separate cleanser, but otherwise it might not be necessary to use different products, and you might even end up aggravating your skin.