The Beauty of Double Cleansing

Cleansing your skin every day is obviously an important step in your day but if you aren't doing it properly you may not be reaping the benefits of your skin care routine. At the end of every day you have accumulated dirt, oil, and pollution in your pores and your makeup has been settling in for hours. Its imperative to remove all these impurities completely to allow for sufficient cleansing and treatment.

Let's first learn how cleaners work. Cleansers are made up of many ingredients. One of the main ingredients that aids in cleaning the surface of your skin is a surfactant. Surfactants, surface active agents, function by breaking down the interface between water and oils. The lipophilic heads are attracted to oil which surround dirt and oil allowing the water molecules to rinse them away. Some common surfactants used in skin care are Sodium lauryl sulfate or Cocoamidopropyl betaine. There are four types of surfactants: Anionic, Cationic, Amphoteric, and Nonionic.

  • Anionic: Surfactants containing anionic (negatively charged ions) functionality mean they are insoluble at low temperature levels and have hydrophobic anion effects when dissolved in warmer water. Common uses for anionic surfactants include soaps, silicones and alkyl sulfonates. Anionic surfactants are most commonly used in the manufacturing of cleaning and detergent products but are also used in other industries such as textiles, agriculture and construction for applications such as dyeing, bleaching, demulsifying, corrosion prevention and as a fuel additive.
  • Cationic: Cationic surfactants are manufactured in smaller quantities than other surfactants but they are the ideal surfactant for products such as fabric softeners, as when they are combined with anionic surfactants they help to break down stains and dirt.
  • Amphoteric: A surfactant that combines the properties of both anionic and cationic surfactants. These types of surfactants are fairly new to the market and are still undergoing development, and over the past few years they have become surfactants that have a number of beneficial qualities including:
    • - Biodegradable
    • - Resistant to hard water
    • - Emulsifier

These qualities amongst many others make amphoteric surfactants suitable for use in shampoos, dyes, pharmaceuticals and many more.

  • Non-ionic: A surfactant which has no ionization when dissolved in water is a non-ionic surfactant and is therefore highly stable and has a limited reaction to acids and strong electrolytes. Non-ionic surfactants make up almost 50% of surfactant production and have better emulsifying qualities than anionic surfactant which makes them great for removing both oily and organic dirt.*

The first time you cleanse your skin you are surrounding and removing the oil and dirt. If you just stop there you aren't cleaning off the residue then cleansing your actual skin. That first cleanse removes everything from the surface but you want your cleansers to come into total  contact with your skin so they can finish the job.

So how do I double cleanse?

Because facial cleansers already include surfactants in the ingredients you could simply cleanse first with your favorite product to remove all the impurities on your skin. After rinsing thoroughly with clean water, dispense more product and cleanse your skin once again. Then rinse. That's it. There isn't much to it!

Are there specific products I could use for double cleansing?

A pre-cleanser has a similar viscosity to your typical face wash but were designed specially to remove makeup, dirt, and oil without over drying your skin. The oil in them attract the oils on your face helping to rinse it all away. These products are great for removing makeup and most are gentle for use on the eyes. There are also cleansing oils and cleansing water which are used in a similar way, just formulated differently. You apply these products to you skin damp or dry and use a circular motion to break down all the dirt and grime. Once you have applied it everywhere, rinse it off with water. Then move on to the second cleanse using your choice of facial wash.

Are there any products I should not use for double cleansing?

The first step should always be with an oil, water, pre-cleanse, creamy, or even gel cleanser. Using a scrub, exfoliant or enzyme twice could irritate or over dry your skin. The idea is to remove the day's grime so you can cleanse your skin properly. Using a product that is too harsh will not accomplish that task. Exfoliating should be done on prepped, clean skin.

After your pre-cleanse and second cleanse are finished, now is the time to exfoliate if you need it. If you don't, move on to your next step. For some people this is toning. If you don't tone, go ahead with your serums, moisturizers and finally SPF if its day time, followed by makeup.

Its best to only use your fingertips when double cleansing because using a brush, like a Clarisonic, or a washcloth can actually work against you by scrubbing the impurities into your skin further.

If you start this new regimen of double cleansing you will likely start noticing a difference in your skin's hydration, brightness and overall health. Removing all impurities with double cleansing allows your cleanser to do what it was intended to do – clean your actual skin!

You can do the double cleanse anytime you feel you have an excess build up of sebum or toxins on your face or want to thoroughly remove your makeup. It may not be needed every day and you might not need to do it in the morning right when you have woken up. Its benefits will shine when removing a full face of makeup, after a work out, after a long day outside, or any other time you have accumulated a lot of environmental damages from the day. Some one who has ultra sensitive skin may not benefit from the double cleanse. Skin conditions like rosacea or cystic acne may not benefit as the double cleanse may overstimulate and aggravate the issue.

As with all regimens, not everything will work for everyone. So try it out and see how your skin reacts. Adjust the products you're using to try this new method if you're noticing irritation or dryness. Your skin will absorb serums easier, maintain hydration better and feel healthier all around.

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