How to Double Cleanse Effectively

Have you ever struggled to remove your waterproof mascara, or have you rubbed at your liquid lipstick for what feels like hours without it budging? If this is you, or you find that you use a mountain of makeup wipes to remove your makeup every day, double cleansing might be for you!

In essence, double cleansing is just washing your face twice, instead of just once. Cleansers that are good to use on the first cleanse are cleansing oils, cleansing balms and micellar water. If the word ‘oil’ just made you fear for pimples, don’t worry! These are synthetic oils carefully designed for use on all skin types. They remove fully with water and leave no traces of oil, or makeup on the skin!

Although makeup wipes are loved by many, I don’t consider them a first cleanse as they don’t really get in there and remove all of your product. Instead, the remove the visible part, but don’t effectively clean your skin. We’ve all tried to remove waterproof mascara with makeup wipes… It just doesn’t work.

Double cleansing might sound kind of pointless (and long winded!) but it has many benefits when done using the right cleansers, apart from just helping you remove your makeup. Here are some benefits that I find double cleansing provides, which might help you see the value of a double cleanse!

Top 5 benefits of double cleansing

1) Double cleansing removes makeup completely

Double cleansing can remove all of your makeup (depending on what you use). Effective double cleansing can remove foundation, primer, powder products, eyebrow products, eyeliner, mascara (including waterproof mascara!), and even eyelash glue. I personally love using a good first cleanser to melt down my liquid lipsticks or lip tints!

This might sound too good to be true, but the first cleanse breaks down and removes the makeup, while the second cleanse properly cleanses your face and removes any traces of makeup that could still be lurking on the skin!

2) It breaks down SPF too!

If you’re a regular SPF wearer, double cleansing is a really good way to keep your skin clear. Mineral sunscreens aren’t absorbed into the skin, unlike chemical sunscreens. This means the SPF sits on top of your skin, which keeps you safe, but it also means that if you wash your face at night just the once, the sunscreen isn’t being broken down and effectively removed.

Over time, this can lead to a build up on the skin. If you wear sunscreen on a daily basis, and you’ve noticed your skin becoming congested or spotty, it could be because of this! I would recommend trying a double cleanse (read below how to effectively double cleanse), to see if things clear up.

3) Double cleansing is gentler on the skin

When double cleansing, cleansing balms and cleansing oils are gentle on the skin. These will just require you to gently massage your skin, and then you will just add some water to emulsify your cleanser and then rinse. This is far gentler than makeup wipes as they are a highly ineffective way to remove makeup. Because makeup wipes don’t easily break down the products on your skin (especially waterproof formulas), you have to rub quite hard to effectively remove it all.

4) Double cleansing is faster

Because of the fact that cleansing balms and oils are extremely effective at breaking down your makeup, it is a much faster way to wash your face at night (especially when removing things like waterproof mascara). The time it takes to massage the cleanser into your skin and rinse it off is much faster than trying to remove all your makeup in one cleanse, or using makeup wipes to cleanse your skin.

It is tempting to rub too hard and tug at the skin when using makeup wipes, so if you’re trying to be careful to be gentle with your skin it can take even longer to wash your face!

5) Double cleansing is less wasteful

Although many cleansing oils and balms come in plastic tubs or bottles which may not be fully recyclable, the waste produced by these is far less than the waste produced by daily cleanses using makeup wipes. You can go through so many makeup wipes when removing your makeup as they don’t melt the makeup down, which produces an incredible amount of waste, every day. Most makeup wipes are not biodegradable or compostable, meaning they just go straight to landfill. Also, as they get used up so quickly, you have to buy new packs very often; think of how quickly that plastic packaging adds up!

There are some cleansing oils and cleansing balms that come in glass jars or bottles, which are a fantastic way to make your skin care routine a little bit greener.

Wipes are just not worth it!

How to effectively double cleanse

So, if you’re now sold on the idea of a double cleanse you might be wondering how exactly you should do it.

The best products for the first cleanse of a double cleanse are cleansing oils and cleansing balms. Micellar water is good too, but slightly less effective than these two.

Cleansing oil and cleansing balm

Cleansing oils and balms are oils (either natural or synthesised oils) combined with an emulsifying ingredient. These are designed to wash off the face with ease once emulsified with water.

Cleansing balms and cleansing oils shouldn’t leave oil on your skin, which makes them good for all skin types, including oily or acne-prone skin.

Cleansing balms are essentially the same as cleansing oils; the only difference is the texture is thicker. Because of this, before using a cleansing balm, allow it to warm up for a moment on your fingertips before working it on your skin.

Here’s a pump of cleansing oil

Please do not confuse cleansing oils with natural oils such as coconut oil or olive oil. These are not cleansing oils, as they will not emulsify when mixed with water, meaning they will stay on your skin and may even block your pores and cause spots.

Cleansing oils and balms are applied to the skin when it is dry. Massage them into the skin, all over your face (especially if you wear makeup or SPF daily, too). Focus gently on the eyes, where you may have applied mascara and eyeliner. Cleansing oils can also be used to remove a liquid lipstick or a lip tint. Just rub it into your lips as you would the rest of your face.

You will look quite a mess at this point as the makeup is smeared all over your face LOL. But this is good! You want the makeup to almost look like it has melted.

At this point, you should add a little bit of water to your face to emulsify the cleanser, and massage a little more, before fully rinsing off the mask. You will find that upon contact with water, the oil/balm will become watery and milky-looking, and some may become foamy. This is good! This means the oils (and the makeup), have emulsified with the water, and are rinsing off your face.

You are now ready for your second cleanser! This could be a gel cleanser, a cream cleanser, a foaming cleanser or a facial bar soap.

Micellar water

Micellar water I find to be slightly less effective than a cleansing balm or oil, but a million times better than face wipes.

With micellar water you have the same issue of waste as you have with face wipes, but at least you can use reusable cotton rounds instead of single use cotton pads. This helps to cut down on waste, but it does mean that you have to do quite a bit of wiping, and you will produce quite a bit of washing if you use micellar water to remove a whole face of makeup.

Although you can definitely use cleansing oils and balms to remove eye makeup, I enjoy using micellar water as a first cleanse on my eyes. I have sensitive eyes and the thought of getting the oil and makeup mixture in eyes terrifies me. However, every time I have used a cleansing balm on my eyes it has gone well, without any stinging.

To remove your makeup with micellar water, saturate a cotton pad or reusable cotton round with the water. Hold it on the area you would like to cleanse for about 5 seconds to allow the cleanser to start to break down your makeup, so that when you wipe the cotton pad it comes off more easily. This is especially important when doing your eye makeup, so you don’t irritate your eyes or yank out any eyelashes.

Side note: Although micellar waters are no-rinse formulas, I wouldn’t trust this too much as if you shake a bottle of micellar water you can see how foamy it becomes. This is because the effective ingredients in these cleansers are surfactants, which is what makes soaps and facial cleansers effective. Although they are safe to not rinse-off, your skin won’t be completely clean until all traces of makeup, SPF and cleanser are gone.

After a micellar water first cleanse, you should go in for your second cleanse.

Micellar water is a good bridge cleanser for those who are looking to ditch makeup wipes, but I recommend an oil or balm cleanser as the most effective first cleanse, as I find they work deeper.


I hope that this post has proven useful to those wanting to learn more about double cleansing! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below.

For more beauty related tips and tricks, be sure to follow my Instagram.

Bye for now,



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