How to double cleanse

Is the way you wash your face doing more harm than good? We reveal the secret to doubling up without damaging your skin


With ever-rising levels of pollution, double cleansing has become an important step in our skincare regime, ensuring that every trace of smog, dirt, makeup and excess sebum is removed. But anecdotally, dermatologists are reporting an increase in dry, damaged skin as a result.

Is double cleansing right for you?

“It all comes down to your skin type,” explains Dr Nick Lowe, a dermatologist based between LA and London. “There is nothing wrong with double cleansing, but it may not be right for you. The problem is that double cleansing is in fact over-cleansing for some skin types. It can strip away the skin’s barrier, removing all of the bad (makeup and pollution) along with some of the good.” If your skin feels tight, dry and dull afterwards, it’s because the skin’s protective barrier has been broken, letting irritants in and making it vulnerable to pollution, sun and environmental damage.

How should you double cleanse?

Those with dry, sensitive, reactive or eczema-prone skin shouldn’t double cleanse regularly, but instead do one great cleanse so skin isn’t stripped of moisture. “You’re better off having mostly clean skin with slight traces of makeup and a good, strong barrier rather than totally clean skin that has an impaired barrier,” says Dr Lowe.

If you are double cleansing, use an oil-based cleanser first (even oily skins will find this helps regulate oil production and dissolve build-up in pores). Massage it in to aid lymphatic drainage and remove any surface dirt, then use a foam or gel cleanser afterwards, avoiding harsh ingredients such as enzymes or acids like AHA or BHA. “Overall, the best advice is to do what works for your skin, and whether that’s one good cleanse or two, always use something gentle,” advises Dr Lowe.


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