Why You Should Consider Double Cleansing, Even If You're Only Wearing Sunscreen

Aside from moisturizing and putting on sunscreen, the most important part of your skincare routine is cleansing. Getting rid of the grime and dirt from your face lets your skin breathe and keeps it clean and healthy. If you forego this critical step, you're risking allowing bacteria to pool on your skin, making you more prone to breakouts, irritation, dehydration, and even premature aging.

But while cleansing may seem as simple as using a facial wash and calling it a day, experts note that there's merit to double cleansing. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like — cleansing your face twice. Found in the famed 10-step Korean skincare routine, double cleansing often entails using an oil-based cleanser and a water-based cleanser to zap away any trace of makeup and sunscreen left on your face. It seems like overkill, sure, but when performed correctly, double cleansing is found to nourish the skin, all while remaining gentle enough not to strip natural oils away.

The concept of double cleansing makes sense if you've had a long day outside and feel the need to wash off grime or when you have a full face of makeup to remove. But as it turns out, even if you're wearing nothing on your face but sunscreen, double cleansing is still recommended.

Double cleansing helps remove stubborn product

Considering how sunscreen is technically invisible when applied to the skin, you may not feel the need to scrub it away from your face entirely when you're cleansing at the end of the day. But it's important to remember that sunscreen is composed of ingredients that create a thin layer of film to protect your skin, and more often than not, they're hydrophobic, aka resistant to water.

"Silicones such as dimethicone, amodimethicone and cyclomethicone are commonly included in sunscreen because they create a barrier on the skin's top layer to protect against environmental stressors such as wind and water," explained dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades to PureWow. "This increases their overall efficacy but can also cause the formula to clump together on your skin."

It's also worth noting that since sunscreen is oil-based, it also needs an oil-based cleanser to remove. Experts recommend following it up with a water-based cleanser to draw out any residue and ensure that your face is completely free of impurities. "The first step of double cleansing is using an oil-based cleanser to wash away oil-based impurities such as makeup, sunscreen, and pollution," Charlotte Cho, licensed aesthetician and founder of Soko Glam, shared with Glamour. "The second step is using a water-based cleanser to ensure that the remaining impurities are removed from your skin. It's a gentle way to clean your face and ensure that everything from the day is removed."

How to double cleanse properly

Double cleansing may seem straightforward enough, but there are things you should keep in mind to avoid disrupting your skin's pH balance or worse, destroying your skin barrier. According to cosmetic formulator Dr. Vanita Rattan, double cleansing should only be done before bed. "In the morning you haven't worn sunscreen or foundation and any actives you applied overnight will come off with only one cleanse," she told Glamour U.K. It's also recommended that you start with dry skin since oil and water don't mix. "Oil is attracted to oil, so when applied to dry skin, it works to eliminate excess oil and can help to gently but effectively remove makeup and buildup," dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick told mbg.

And while it seems fun and therapeutic to perform this two-step routine, experts also note that you should be mindful about not washing your face for far too long. "Anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes is optimal washing time," Dr. Dendy Engelman, a cosmetic dermatologist, explained to Everyday Health. Washing and scrubbing beyond that might only lead to dryness and irritation.