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The double cleansing face method: Experts explain how to do it

Say hello to your best skin ever.
Double Cleansing
Here's why some experts wash their face twice every night.Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Audrey Noble

By now you know how important it is to wash your face, especially at night. According to studies, washing your face regularly decreases the appearance of acne and improves your skin’s complexion. But can you have too much of a good thing? How effective is "double cleansing," aka washing your face twice each time, and how often should you do it?

TODAY Style spoke with the experts to learn more.

What is the double-cleansing method?

Just like its name suggests, double cleansing is a two-step process of washing your face. It was made popular by Korean skin care routines that traditionally start with an oil-based cleanser followed by a gentler, water-based cleanser.

“It helps cleanse down to the pores without being harsh on skin,” said Alicia Yoon, founder of Korean beauty site Peach & Lily.

Double-cleansing benefits

So why spend all that extra time washing your face? All three experts agree that this two-step process will give you the cleanest, most radiant skin.

“It really focuses on cleansing at a deeper level, but it doesn't do so by being tough on the skin with excessive rubbing and tugging to remove makeup,” said Yoon. “(It) helps to keep skin 'baggage-free' while still respecting the skin's natural ecosystem, including the protective skin barrier.”

How do you double cleanse your skin?

Dermatologist Dr. Lamees Hamdan, who founded the skin care line Shiffa, agrees with Yoon that it's beneficial to double cleanse at night, especially if you wear makeup during the day.

Yoon adds that while some people double cleanse in the morning as well, it's better for most skin types to skip an oil-based cleanser at the start of the day.

If you’re new to the process, British makeup artist Arabella Preston, founder of Votary skin care, recommends picking a night when you have extra time to try it and gradually easing it into your routine regularly after that.

Step 1: Cleanse with an oil-based cleanser

Since oil attracts oil, this type of cleanser will draw out oil-based impurities, such as makeup and excess sebum, to clean skin down to the pores.

Preston suggests taking the time to slowly massage the oil cleanser into the skin to help dissolve all the impurities. Afterward, use a warm, damp washcloth to exfoliate and wipe the cleanser off of your face.

Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil, $30, Amazon

Vicky Lee, a South Korean entrepreneur and founder of Sorabelle, a luxury beauty blog, recommended this cleansing oil that she originally found at Whole Foods. Formulated with organic ingredients and botanical oils, it declogs pores and helps deep clean skin while removing makeup.

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil, $32, Amazon

Jude Chao, a Korean beauty blogger at Fifty Shades of Snail and the digital marketing director of indie skin care line Holy Snails, called this cleansing oil her favorite.

"It smells like herbal heaven and feels like satin on my skin," she said. "Even more importantly, it easily breaks up even very heavy makeup and waterproof sunscreen effortlessly, and rinses away perfectly."

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm, $17, Amazon

Frequent travelers might want a cleanser that doesn't run the risk of spilling, which is where cleansing balms come in. Chao swears by them, especially this bestselling one from Banila Co. (According to Allure, one of these balms is sold every three seconds!) When rubbed into the skin, the balm melts into a luxurious-feeling oil.

Oil doesn't have to be a scary word for skin care!Getty Images

Step 2: Cleanse again with a water-based cleanser

Use a gentle, water-based cleanser (more like a traditional foaming cleanser) to remove residue and water-based impurities, such as sweat and dirt. Yoon recommends finding a product that is sulfate-free with a low pH level so that it won't dry out your skin.

Instead of massaging this type of cleanser into your skin, as you would with an oil-based product, Yoon says to do light and quick motions from the inside of the face, moving outward. “Place sides of palms lightly on center of your face near the nose and sweep out and down,” she said. “Just a few times will suffice, but be sure to (use) a gentle cleanser for this step.”

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX, $29, Amazon

"This is one of my longtime favorites for its mild but thorough cleansing abilities and luxurious ginseng scent," said Chao. It gently removes dead skin cells and leaves behind a level of moisture for a clean, smooth base, and the botanical ingredients are kind to your skin.

Make P:Rem Safe Me Relief Moisture Cleansing Foam, $20, Amazon

This mild, low-irritant foam is great for deep cleansing, and a little friendlier on your budget. With a low pH level, it's gentle on skin and is free of synthetic dyes or parabens.

CORSX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, $9, Amazon

This cleanser works on all skin types. Tea tree oil helps soothe irritated skin, and the betaine saliclyate helps wash away any impurities. It's gentle enough to be used both in the morning and at night and, according to Chao, it provides a great deep clean for oily or acne-prone skin.

You can use the same cleanser twice

For those who find a foam cleanser too harsh or want to avoid an oil-based cleanser all together, it’s possible to use the same product twice in a double cleanse.

“People usually associate it with cleansing the first time with an oil, then a second time with a foam cleanser,” said Hamdan. “I find that the oil cleanse is too oily (for me) and that’s why a harsh foam cleanser is needed to take away the excess oil.”

To do this, Hamdan uses a pH-balanced, cream-based cleanser accompanied with a muslin cloth to remove makeup and draw out impurities. She massages the cleanser onto wet skin and uses the wet cloth to wipe it off. The second cleanse repeats the same steps, but with additional exfoliation to really clean out pores.