The Best Double Cleansing Products to Clear Your Skin


We’re calling it: 2023 is the year we go back to the basics. If you’re also tired of the microtrend cycle, you might be craving a return to form. Some beauty hacks we’re keeping forever—some we already regret. But if 2022 was about taking risks, this year’s trends point to pairing back and finding what truly works for you. One thing I’ve learned in my years as a beauty editor? All the creams and serums in the world can’t help if you’re washing your face wrong. So start the year—and your skincare routine—off with a clean slate by investing in double cleansing products and cutting down on everything else.

At first glance, double cleansing might seem over the top. But if there’s makeup residue on your towel after washing your face, it’s time to reconsider. Ditto if you have oily or acne-prone skin (though all skin types might benefit from double cleansing products).

Turns out, makeup wipes are full of harsh chemicals. Plus, scrubbing a disposable cloth around your face tugs at your skin and could accelerate aging. But with waterproof, long-wear makeup and mineral sunscreens, how do you make sure you’re squeaky clean? Easy answer: the best double cleansing products.

Featured image of Catherine McCord by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Michelle Nash

Why You Should Be Using Double Cleansing Products in 2023

Double cleansing is more than a fad. It’s dermatologist-approved. I spoke to Rachael Gallo, esthetician and COO of Silver Mirror facial bar, and Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAAD, a Miami-based board-certified derm and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, about the benefits of double cleansing and the best double cleansing products.

“The method has become more popular because there are more “waterproof” and long-lasting makeup products on the market and these are often difficult to remove with standard non-soap cleansing formulas,” says Dr. Loretta.

According to Gallo, each step in your double cleanse has different benefits. “The first is to remove the top layer of makeup, and dirt from environmental causes The second cleanse is to brighten and hydrate the skin.

Your second cleanser should be tailored to your skin type and needs. But for your first cleanser, the best double cleansing products might be a cleansing oil, balm, or micellar water. Read on to discover which products to use and how to double cleanse the right way for a fresh face and softer skin.

Image by Belathée Photography

How to Double Cleanse

“When double cleansing, ensure you remove all residue from the first cleanser before moving to the second cleansing step,” says Gallo. “Pick a brightening, hydrating cleanser for your second step to correct any skin concerns.”

Adding Double Cleansing to Your Skincare Routine

“Many women have started to double cleanse,” says Dr. Loretta. “First using a product that features oil to wipe away the makeup and then a cleanser to cleanse the skin.”

Gallo recommends double cleansing for your evening routine. “This step is often missed after a busy long day but it is the most important as cellular turnover happens when we are at rest.”

Who Should Double Cleanse

“Women who wear makeup and men with facial hair should double cleanse,” says Gallo. “Men often neglect the skin under their beards and this is important to prevent ingrown hairs and keep their follicles clean and soft.”

Who Should Avoid Double Cleansing

Gallo says that anyone “with sensitive skin should use a gentle cleaner as their first option to ensure they are not applying too many exfoliating ingredients to their skin. A balm would be the best option in this case.”

Image by Belathée Photography

What is the difference between a cleansing balm and oil?

“A cleansing balm usually has a thicker heavier texture,” notes Gallo. “We recommend using a balm for heavier makeup removal and more sensitive skin. Oil is great for dehydrated skin, and someone whose makeup doesn’t last through the day would benefit from a rich, oil-based cleanser.”

Dr. Loretta echoes this, also suggesting using a balm if your skin leans on the dryer side of things. “The balm tends to hydrate more than an oil,” she says.

The Best Double Cleansing Products

“The double cleanse is, as its name suggests, a two-step process,” says Dr. Loretta. “First you’d use an oil, micellar water (which has oil suspended in water), or an ointment-like balm. All of these will remove silicone-based and waterproof makeup. Then you use a non-soap cleanser.”

“For the initial cleanse, we use anything containing micellar water, which attracts the dirt off the top layer of skin and absorbs the oils,” says Gallo. “Using an oil balm is great for makeup removal as it is gentle on the skin but effective to remove even waterproof mascara. Depending on your skin type, we recommend using a gel or cream cleanser for your second cleanser.”

Image by Michelle Nash

Ingredients to Look For in Your First Cleanse

Dr. Loretta recommends hyaluronic acid or aloe for their hydrating properties. She considers any ingredients that “help hydrate and protect the skin without stripping,” her go-to’s. Bonus: these heavy-hitting ingredients are known to help reduce redness as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for antioxidants and anti-inflammatory products, too.

Other ingredients for double cleansing include:

  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba oil
  • Moringa oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Rose oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Green tea
  • Tea tree oil

The Best Cleansing Oils to Add to Your Routine

Image by Andrea Posadas

The Best Cleansing Balms for Healthy, Hydrated Skin

Image by Teal Thomsen

The Best Micellar Waters for Double Cleansing

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