Double cleansing is a practice that many of us (especially those who wear makeup) have been doing knowingly or unknowingly for years. Originally, this post was going to be exclusively about oil cleansing which has gained a lot of popularity in last couple of years. However, there are other first cleansers like cleansing milks, micellar water and wet wipes which I will also highlight.

Oil cleansing

Oil cleansing is a natural and effective way to cleanse the skin and balance out the skin’s natural oils. It works on the principle of ‘like dissolves like’ .

If you remember your high school chemistry, to dissolve non polar solvents you must use other non polar solvents of similar composition. Therefore, oil is able to somewhat attract and take out dirt, sebum build up , harmful bacteria and whatever other product residue that may be on your skin because most of these things either have an oil base or dissolve in oil.

Some people use it in place of traditional soap and detergent cleansers but I consider it a supplement and not a substitute to your ideal cleansing routine.

Benefits of oil cleansing

  • Oil cleansing helps to break down dirt, makeup, sunscreen( especially water-resistant sunscreen).
  • It is believed to help with clogged pores in the skin since it breaks down sebum.
  • Oil cleansing is gentle on the skin . It does not strip the skin nor does it destroy the mantle layer of the skin preserving the skin barrier. This is a major advantage over some harsh cleansers in the market.

How to oil cleanse

  1. Starting on dry skin: Massage a small amount of oil/balm into your skin in gentle circular motions for at least 1 minute. If you have make up on, take some time to let the oil saturate your face and soak up all the dirt.
  2. If you’re wearing make-up, Take a face towel and soak it in warm water then wipe the makeup off first. If you aren’t wearing make-up or once the make-up is off, place the warm face towel over your face allowing the steam to work its magic . 
  3. After another minute or so, use the face cloth to wipe off the excess oil.

Afterwards, go in with your gentle second cleanser of choice. I will address second cleansing in a follow up post.

What oils/balm to use for oil cleansing

This will depend on your skin type, budget and personal preference. Some people choose to use natural oils while some use store bought products. 

The key difference is that store bought oil cleansers rinse off cleanly because they contain ingredients that emulsify (‘lather’) upon contact. This is advantageous because they thoroughly cleanse the skin and rinse off the skin without leaving any residue. 

On the other hand, natural oils need to be wiped off your skin afterwards and some residue may remain. However, this is okay since you ideally follow up with a second cleanser.

If you are looking for natural oil recommendations, I have a detailed post on that. I have only used one store bought oil cleansing product-Clinique ‘take off the day’ cleansing balm– which is a cult favourite. It was worth the coin and will last you a lifetime. Sadly, it is not fungal acne safe, so I gave it to a relative.

My sister and mom use the Clinique cleansing oil or the Estee Lauder cleansing balm respectively and they love them.

I am currently using The Ordinary’s Squalane oil and will have a full review up very soon.

Cold cream

This is one of the OG cleansers for cosmetic removal and mild facial cleansing invented by Theron T. Pond in 1846 and is still popular today. Cold cream has beeswax and mineral oil that combine with the detergent action of borax to cleanse the face. The formulation also contains fragrance and ingredients to thicken the cream . The cold cream is wiped on with the fingers, wiped off with a tissue, and may be rinsed or left on the face. It may be beneficial for dry skin.

Cleansing milks

A thinner variant of cleansing cream is a cleansing milk designed for normal to combination skin. Cleansing milk contains water and lightweight oils, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, or sesame seed oil, and ingredients, such as glycerin, making it less likely to leave a facial residue. 

Cleansing milks are commonly used for the removal of eye cosmetics; as they are non-irritating and do not readily blur vision with an oily residue. Usually, they don’t need to be rinsed off, you just wipe the residue with a damp cloth or tissue. They tend to work great for drier skin types.

Micellar/cleansing water

Micellar water cleansers contain water and a very mild surfactant representing a dilute cleansing solution. A micelle is a molecular cluster with a water loving (hydrophilic) and a water hating (hydrophobic end), in this case, dissolved in a water solution. The hydrophobic end attaches to the skin dirt, dissolving it water through the hydrophilic end and allowing water rinsing to cleanse the face.

Makeup wipes

Saving the worst for last. Makeup wipes are loathed in the skincare community for a few reasons:

  • They don’t really do a great job at cleansing. They often just move the dirt around leaving a lot of dirt on the face. It never takes one makeup wipe to do the trick.
  • It’s a lazy way out of cleansing your skin. Before, many people would use this as their only cleanser and call it a night. Thankfully, this is changing since more people are learning about proper skincare techniques.
  • They are not environmentally friendly.

When to do your first cleanse

Is first cleansing mandatory?

The short answer is no. Traditionally soap and detergent cleansers are formulated to remove all kind of dirt including make-up and sunscreen. However, it may take two or three washes to get all the dirt out which can be detrimental to your skin barrier. This is where first cleansing comes in handy because it is gentle and effective in getting that first layer of dirt off.

That said , I highly recommend double cleansing for everyone . It does a great job to remove sunscreens and their associated filters plus any stubborn dirt and waterproof makeup.

When should you double cleanse?

You do not need to double cleanse both morning and night. Double cleansing in the evenings is good enough. Honestly, I don’t always double cleanse. I reach for my oil cleanser whenever I reapply my sunscreen diligently or on the rare occasions when I wear make-up.

Pro Tips

  • Always rinse out your first cleanser even if the instructions claim its unnecessary and follow up with a gentle second cleanser. This is because residue of cleansing agents on your skin can dry it out and damage your skin barrier over time.
  • Use a microfiber face cloth. These are gentler on your skin than regular face towels. I use the ones from the cleaning tools and detergents aisle in most supermarkets.
  • If you like to use cotton pads during your first cleanse, I recommend looking into reusable ones. You can find some from GreenthingKenya.
  • Always use a spatula to scoop out your cleansing balm. It is more hygienic than scooping the product out with your hands. You can get cute spatulas from BeautySquareKe.

Question of the day: Do you double cleanse? Let me know why/why not and what you use. Please drop a comment down below and share it with someone who will find it beneficial.

Thank you so much for stopping by !

Always remember that your hair is your crown and your body is a temple; embrace it, love it and take care of it.

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Comments (2)

This is very helpful Sharon❤️
I just started double cleansing using the Clean it Zero cleansing balm and I love it

Yay I’m so glad that it was ! I’ve heard great things about the Clean It Zero balm . Thanks for sharing 😊❤️

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