It Takes Two – Double Cleansing

Double cleansing is often overlooked and misunderstood, Professional Beauty chats to International Dermal Institute education manager Emma Hobson about the importance of double-cleansing and how to educate your client to action!

Image: Belovodchenko Anton 2013 via
Image: Belovodchenko Anton 2013 via

What is double cleansing?

Double cleansing means you cleanse your skin twice in the morning and then repeat the same process in the evening.

The different options are: if a pre-cleaning oil is not used then often an initial step is to use an make-up remover that is specially formulated to use around the delicate eye area verses a general cleansing product.

What purpose does the first and second cleanse serve?

First cleanse: use a pre-cleansing oil which is fantastic for your first cleanse as they power through and remove the initial surface makeup, debris and oils. They work on the principle that like attracts like, the oil in the product attracts and ‘grabs’ the oil as well as the dirt, make-up and debris on the skin surface. Therefore, when you wash off the cleansing oil you will thoroughly wash it all off the skin surface. Using a cleansing oil ensures your second cleanse with your normal cleanser can work to its full potential leaving the skin ‘squeaky clean’. The great thing about this type of product is that it’s very good at removing sun screens, stubborn lipsticks and waterproof mascara.

Second cleanse: this cleanser needs to match your skin type. If you have oily skin you need a cleanser with a stronger surfactant (degreasing agent) and one that does not strip the skin of oils (i.e. soap). These normally come in the form of a clay based cleanser or a gel facial wash. If you have an oil dry skin you will need to use a milder cleanser with less surfactant, they often come in the form of a milky, creamy cleanser. For a combination skin the cleanser sits in the middle of the cleansing spectrum (regarding surfactant) and can be a light milky cleanser or a gel facial wash. If you experience sensitivity, choose a cleanser ensuring it has no known skin irritants (free from artificial colours and fragrance) and has calming, anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients. These are often free of water, between a milk and a gel consistency and can, for very sensitive skin challenged by water, be removed with a tissue.

It’s important to cleanse in the morning as skin collects dirt, debris and grime (especially off our pillows) during our sleep as well as removing last night’s residue of moisturiser. By cleansing the skin you ensure the skin remains healthy, clean and smooth and you have a fresh ‘pallet’ to apply your skin care products. Cleansing in the evening removes the dirt and grime the skin collects throughout the day as well as the residue of dead skin cells the skin naturally sheds this is often combined with the excess oil the skin secretes throughout the day, this cleanse importantly also removes sun screen and any make up you applied that morning.

Emma Hobson
Emma Hobson

Oil or micellar water? What is the difference?

The oil in micellar water works on the same principle as a cleansing oil, like attracts like, the difference between the product choice is often very personal, those with sensitivity may opt for a micellar water, whereas those with oily skin or people who wear a heavier make up (evening/fashion) would probably feel more comfortable with the results they get from a cleansing oil.

Why is double cleansing important?

We tend to spend only seconds on cleaning our skin, a quick rub round with your cleanser and a splash off with water and that’s it. Cleansing is a hugely important step in your skin’s health so dedicating a minute or two on your cleansing routine will be of great benefit. Cleansing removes the dirt, grime, dead skin cells and importantly any sun screen off the surface of the skin, preventing congestion, breakouts, dull, rough textured skin and even in the long term, premature ageing. Remember to cleanse into the hair line and around the ears and down the neck focus on areas of congestion.

How can a therapist educate her client on double cleansing?

Remembering to coach clients on the following:
1) There is no need to change your cleanser during the seasons as your skin type does not change winter to summer, what does change is your skin condition, being perhaps more sensitive and dehydrated. If the skin is environmentally sensitised (disregarding your skin type) they may want to choose a cleanser specifically for this skin condition. These cleansers are formulated to be gentle and help repair the barrier function of the skin and are great for people who are so sensitised they can’t even tolerate water on their skin, as they can be completely removed with soft tissues instead.

2) They need to apply the correct amount of product (re manufacturer’s instructions) to the skin with clean hands, many clients apply too much product especially cleansing gels which can be quite concentrated.

3) If using a gel ensure they foam the gel up with sufficient water, a mini demo is always good as a form for ‘show and tell’

4) Facilitate their cleansing routine and improve its effectiveness by using an exfoliating facial brush

5) Advise them to spend at least 1 to two full minutes on their cleansing routine advising them to use their fingers to work the cleanser into the skin in light circular motions from top to bottom or vice versa. Paying special attention to the areas where they have congestion such as the nose, forehead, neck or chin.

6) You can use the analogy that double cleansing the skin is similar to how we shampoo our hair twice and how clean and great the hair feels afterwards.

7) Effective removal is as important as the cleanse itself for healthy skin. To remove the cleanser use tepid water and splash away all traces of cleanser, using a facial cloth will also ensure they get every last bit. Remind them to was the cleanser off around the hair line, under the chin and behind the ears, if not they’ll probably end up with breakouts and or congestion.

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