Cleansing and cleansing thoroughly are two very different things. Splashing water on your face and rubbing it with a towel is not cleansing at all (CC: our boyfriends and husbands). This is why Korean women have adopted the double cleansing method.
They are obsessed with how to properly cleanse their skin because they know it’s the first step towards their final form: a dewy dumpling. In fact, neglecting their cleansing routine would be blasphemous. If you want to know why the double cleanse is so popular, how to do it, and which products to use based on your skin type, keep scrolling.
What is double cleansing?
The double cleanse involves washing your face in two steps: first by using an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based cleanser. If you’re someone who sleeps in your makeup or skips cleansing because you aren’t wearing makeup, you’re probably thinking, “Not only do I have to wash my face at night, but I have to use two products to get it done?”
Unfortunately for the sloths out there, the answer is yes. It’s incredibly important to remove makeup, dirt, and pollutants that have accumulated on your skin throughout the day before heading to bed. Otherwise, it can lead to blackheads, bumpy skin texture, surprise breakouts, and even painful cysts.
The first cleanse during double cleansing: oil cleanser
Oil cleansers are the first step in double cleansing and unfortunately they are incredibly misunderstood. We’re often taught to shy away from products with the word “oil” in it for fear of clogged pores and acne, but cleansing oils and balms actually do the opposite for our skin.
Oil attracts oil, so an oil cleanser can help break down and remove excess sebum and oil-based impurities like makeup, sebum, and sunscreen. Once you splash your face with water, the oil cleanser should emulsify into a milky consistency and rinse off clean.
Cleansing oils and balms often feel silky once you’ve worked them onto your skin, so you can also add in a minute of facial massage to take the benefits of cleansing even deeper. Massaging your face promotes blood circulation, which can give you a healthier glow. It can drain puffiness for a slimmer face too. Not to mention, it feels oh-so relaxing.
If you’re wearing an SPF, you need to go with an oil cleanser first. A lot of people think they’re allergic to sunscreen because it breaks them out, but it’s usually because you’re not taking the time to wash it off properly.
The second cleanse during double cleansing: water-based cleanser
This step is probably more familiar to you. After you’ve washed away your oil cleanser, go in with a water-based one to cleanse off any dirt and debris that may still be hanging around. Its job is to make sure your skin is clean, balanced, comfortable, and ready for every other product in your skincare routine.
Your second cleanser during double cleansing should contain ingredients that address your skin type and concerns. For instance, if you have oily skin and you’re struggling with acne, you may want to opt for a gel cleanser that contains salicylic acid. For those with dry or sensitive skin, a milky cleanser with hydrating plant oils would be a gentler, more moisturising option.
When to do double cleansing
Doing double duty twice a day isn’t necessary. Most of us only need to tag-team an oil and water-based cleanser at night to wash away makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and pollutants. However, if you have oily skin, you can use an oil cleanser in the morning to get rid of the sebum and sweat that built up overnight.
For those with dry or sensitive skin, using your second cleanser in the morning will suffice. If you strip too much of your natural oils, your body can respond by producing more oil that can lead to breakouts and irritation.
Ready to commit to a double cleanse? Read on for our first and second cleanser recommendations for each skin type. These will make sure you get the most out of your routine.
Double cleansing for normal skin
First cleansers during double cleansing for normal skin
1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original
Makeup removal can be tedious, but Banila Co.’s iconic Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm makes it a breeze. The silky cleansing balm melts away dirt, impurities, and long-wear makeup, so when you hit it with water, it emulsifies and washes off without leaving a greasy residue. It’s a must-have first cleanser that will keep your skin looking fresh and supple.
Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm (Original) retails for RM75 at Althea.
2. Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
If you’re a K-beauty enthusiast, you’re probably familiar with Dear, Klairs’ Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil. Some of the star ingredients you’ll find in this one include black sesame oil, black currant seed oil, and jojoba seed oil. Mild yet effective, this nourishing, anti-inflammatory blend draws out impurities from the skin to keep it looking soft and plump.
It’s made without alcohol, artificial colouring, and fragrances, so it’s also safe for those with sensitive, reactive skin.
Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil (150ml) retails for RM93 at Althea.
3. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
A nourishing cleansing balm, Farmacy’s Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm gently lifts off makeup and impurities. The formula contains sunflower oil and ginger root oil to cleanse and moisturise the skin, so your skin will feel clean yet hydrated. Moringa tree extract clarifies and refreshes while papaya extract refines the skin texture. This balm is packed with antioxidants to bless you with a radiant, even-toned complexion.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm (100ml) retails for RM154 at Sephora.
Second cleansers during double cleansing for normal skin
1. Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam
A gentle but mighty cleanser, Pyunkang Yul’s Cleansing Foam is made with Korean herbal extracts that soothe the skin as it cleanses. The stretchy consistency of the cleansing foam adheres to dirt and oil trapped in pores, removing them to leave your skin feeling clean and fresh.
Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam (150ml) retails for RM46 at Althea.
2. First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser
If you like cleansers with a whipped texture, you’ll love First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser. This creamy formula is infused with a botanical blend that’s rich in antioxidants, which work hard to rid your skin of damaging free radicals. On top of that, it calms redness and balances out your skin’s pH, so you’ll notice more resilient skin with continued used.
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser (236ml) retails for RM160 at Sephora.
3. WEI Five Sacred Grains Even Brighter Silky Cleansing Milk
An ultra-gentle facial wash that produces a soft lather, WEI’s cleansing milk removes makeup and impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils. The mixture of rice, millet, sorghum, Job’s tears, and black soybean (a.k.a. the ‘Five Sacred Grains’) nourish your complexion to leave it smooth and glowing.
WEI Five Sacred Grains Even Brighter Silky Cleansing Milk (200ml) retails for RM160 at Sephora.
Double cleansing for dry skin
First cleansers during double cleansing for dry skin
1. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
Waterproof mascara, liquid eyeliner, and stubborn liquid lipstick don’t stand a chance against this cleansing oil. DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil contains antioxidant-rich olive oil that removes makeup gently and thoroughly, as well as a hint of rosemary oil to decongest oily skin. Your skin will be left clean, but neither tender nor taut. No wonder a bottle of it is sold every 10 seconds worldwide.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (150ml) retails for RM98 at Hermo Malaysia.
2. Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil
Kose’s Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil is an effective, affordable option if you’re on a tight budget. It contains olive oil, jojoba oil, sesame oil, and safflower oil to break up stubborn makeup and excess dirt.
There’s an added touch of shea butter in the formula to keep your skin moisturised and supple without leaving any oily residue behind. This gentle cleansing oil is particularly ideal for those with dry skin as it nourishes and protects.
Kose Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil (230ml) retails for RM42.90 at Hermo Malaysia.
3. Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser
Lifting even the heaviest stage makeup off, Jordan Samuel Skin’s The After Show Treatment Cleanser uses a nourishing blend of oils to give you a thorough first cleanse. Great for dry skin, this luxurious gel-to-oil formula melts away makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and grime that threaten to clog your pores.
It also contains sugar cane extract, a natural fruit acid, to gently exfoliate and smooth out parched, flaky areas. When you rinse this off, your skin will feel thoroughly cleansed but soft and hydrated.
Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser (94ml) retails for £20 (RM107.60) at Cult Beauty.
Second cleansers during double cleansing for dry skin
1. Holifrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash
A mild product in the morning is key to preserving moisture for dry skin types. HoliFrog’s Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash contains water lily root and lotus flower, both of which help to lock in moisture as it cleanses. There’s also soothing aloe vera in the formula to calm inflammation and keep your skin happy.
Holifrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash (148ml) retails for US$38 (RM162.09) at Beautylish.
2. Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser
Looking for a gentle, non-drying cleanser that gets the job done? Try Paula’s Choice’s RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser. This lotion-like cleanser washes away dirt and impurities without leaving your skin tight or dehydrated. In fact, it replenishes and preserves your skin’s moisture barrier for healthier, more youthful-looking skin.
Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser (190ml) retails for RM125 at Paula’s Choice Malaysia.
3. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Caring Wash
Soft and mild, La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Caring Wash cleanses delicate, dry skin with one surfactant. It’s enriched with four comforting skincare ingredients to nourishing and soothe the skin while you’re cleansing.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Caring Wash (200ml) retails for RM79.90 at Watsons.
Double cleansing for oily skin
First cleansers during double cleansing for oily skin
1. THEFACESHOP Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil
A product that’s been highly raved about in Korea for years now, THEFACESHOP’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil is a refreshing one at the end of a long, humid day. It has a water-based formula that’s made up of mooring oil and rice water. Together, they cut through grease and dirt to purify and detox the skin without leaving a sticky, heavy feeling behind.
If you’re looking to remove blackheads fast, this formula can help you with that. Be sure to concentrate on congested areas like your T-zone when you massage your skin with it. This Light version is perfect for those with combination or oily skin.
THEFACESHOP Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil (150ml) retails for RM38 at Althea.
2. Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Oil
A lightweight oil cleanser, Innisfree’s Green Tea Cleansing Oil melts away stubborn makeup and impurities without drying the skin. Green tea is rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols called catechins, which can help reduce skin irritation and redness. It’s also an antibacterial agent for treating acne and unclogging pores. If you like a cleansing oil that smells crisp and citrusy, this one’s for you.
Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Oil (150ml) retails for RM70 at Althea.
3. Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead (BHA)
Fight blackheads and unclog pores with Hanskin’s Cleansing Oil & Blackhead (BHA). It contains a blend of citrus oils such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit to clarify the skin, while olive and jojoba oils deeply cleanse the pores.
The cleansing oil has a touch of salicylic acid (BHA) for a bit of gentle exfoliation too. This helps to prevent the re-occurrence of blackheads and blemishes – perfect for those with combination or oily skin.
Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead (BHA) (300ml) retails for RM89 at Shopee.
Second cleansers during double cleansing for oily skin
1. Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam
Sometimes, we need a little extra help to dislodge dirt from clogged pores. Innisfree’s Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam is infused with volcanic scoria, which has skin purifying properties to absorb and reduce excess sebum production. This cleanser leaves your skin fresh and clean without drying it out.
Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam (300ml) retails for RM34 at Althea.
2. Some By Mi Bye Bye Blackhead 30 Days Miracle Green Tea Tox Bubble Cleanser
Like a refreshing cup of green tea in the middle of the day, Some By Mi’s Green Tea Tox Bubble Cleanser is packed with antioxidants to restore your skin’s radiance. It contains green tea water, tea extracts, as well as salicylic acid (BHA) to slough away dead skin cells and keep your skin balanced.
Some By Mi Green Tea Bubble Cleanser (120ml) retails for RM79 at Watsons.
3. Benton Honest Cleansing Foam
A rich cream cleanser that transforms into a luxurious foam, Benton’s Honest Cleansing Foam uses a prized K-beauty ingredient to provide a deep, but gentle cleanse. Camellia Japonica seed oil keeps the skin hydrated and supple as it washes away dirt and impurities. It balances out an oily complexion, so your skin will look less greasy throughout the day.
Benton Honest Cleansing Foam (150ml) retails for RM50 at Althea.
Double cleansing for sensitive skin
First cleansers during double cleansing for sensitive skin
1. Purito From Green Cleansing Oil
Purito’s From Green Cleansing Oil is a gentle, fragrance-free one that removes every last trace of sunscreen and makeup without causing irritation. It’s made with olive oil, sunflower seed oil, jojoba seed oil, sweet almond oil, and grape seed oil to moisturise the skin. Once you emulsify and rinse it off, your skin will feel soft and smooth like a baby’s bottom.
Purito From Green Cleansing Oil (200ml) retails for RM$95.90 at Hermo Malaysia.
2. Nature Republic Forest Garden Chamomile Cleansing Oil
Chamomile tea is known to soothe our senses and help us unwind, but it also does a great job at calming down any skin inflammation. The Forest Garden Chamomile Cleansing Oil is a convenient, one-step oil cleanser that melts away heavy makeup as well as dirt and impurities.
The lightweight formula is infused with jojoba extract that’s kind to your skin, so your face won’t feel tight and zapped of its natural moisture.
Nature Republic Forest Garden Chamomile Cleansing Oil (200ml) retails for RM46 at Althea.
3. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
From balm to oil and then to milk, Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm literally takes a whole day of makeup and impurities off your skin. It dissolves grime and sunscreen effortlessly, leaving no trace behind. It may be a balm, but this fragrance-free formula nourishes the skin and rinses off thoroughly, so you’re left with a fresh, dewy glow.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (125ml) retails for RM154 at Sephora.
Second cleansers during double cleansing for sensitive skin
1. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser has attained a cult-favourite status for a reason. Packed with soy proteins, this pH-balanced gel cleanser removes makeup and dirt from the day effectively, but not essential moisture. Cucumber extract and rosewater soothe and balance sensitive skin. It even has a light cucumber scent that smells refreshing.
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser (150ml) retails for RM177 at Sephora.
2. Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser
An antioxidant-rich cleanser that doesn’t mess with your skin’s moisture barrier, Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser is kind to sensitive complexions. It lifts aways everything your skin doesn’t want while leaving what it needs. With continued use, your skin will start to feel healthier and less easily aggravated.
Matcha and hemp seeds feed your skin with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, while vitamin B5 strengthens your skin and replenishes hydration levels.
Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser (120ml) retails for RM100 at KBeauty Agent.
3. Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
From the moment Alexa Chung was introduced to Dr. Loretta’s Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, she was hooked. This sulfate-free gel cleanser gently removes pollution, debris, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Marine peptides provide a boost of moisture, while chamomile essential oil soothes redness and irritation. It’s so gentle that it’s even suitable for post-procedure skin.
Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (198ml) retails for RM149 at Revolve.