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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a dual-board-certified dermatologist with over 90 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

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Best Double Cleansing Products for Acne Prone Skin

Updated: 4 days ago

Double cleansing, a skincare method popularized by Korean beauty routines, involves using two different types of cleansers to achieve a thoroughly clean and clear complexion. For those with acne-prone skin, double cleansing can be particularly beneficial. It helps to remove impurities and prevent the buildup of oils and bacteria that lead to acne. This article explores the best double cleansing products tailored for acne-prone skin.

A woman double-cleansing her skin

Does Your Skin Really Need Double Cleansing?

Double cleansing isn't necessary for everyone, but it can be really beneficial for those with oil, combination and acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin tends to produce excess sebum, which can mix with dead skin cells and pollutants, clogging pores and triggering acne. Apart from super oily skin, consider double cleansing if you fall into one of these categories:

  1. Sunscreen Users: If you regularly apply sunscreen, double cleansing will remove all traces of sunscreen. Sunscreens can be tenacious and may clog pores if not properly cleansed.

  2. Makeup Users: Makeup can trap dirt and oil, and using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser ensures that all makeup residue is effectively removed, preventing potential breakouts and skin irritation.

  3. Acne Treatment Users: For those applying topical acne treatments, double cleansing will ensure that your skin is perfectly clean before application is crucial. Residue from these products can also be thoroughly removed through double cleansing, ensuring they don't contribute to further skin irritation or clog pores.

  4. Users of Oil-Based Products: If you are slugging your moisturizer or using products like essential oils, anhydrous oil serums, and thick moisturizers double cleansing is meant for you. All these products can be comedogenic or interfere with the efficacy of other skincare products.

  5. Those Exposed to Pollution and Dust: Living in urban environments or places with high pollution levels exposes your skin to a variety of pollutants and particulates. Double cleansing removes these microscopic particles, which might otherwise contribute to skin dullness, aging, and inflammation.


How to Double Cleanse?

The first step in double cleansing uses an oil-based cleanser to dissolve sebum-based debris such as sunscreen, makeup, and excess oils. The second step involves a water-based cleanser that addresses dirt, sweat, and environmental pollutants. This two-step process ensures a deeper clean than a single wash, helping to prevent breakouts and maintain pore health.


Best Oil-Based Cleansers for Double Cleansing (Step 1)

  1. Balm Cleansers: These are excellent for gently dissolving stubborn makeup without stripping the skin. I recommend Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm and the CeraVe Cleansing Balm. Both are thick, rich cleansers perfect for the initial step of double cleansing. They break down make-up, SPF, and pollutants without stripping the skin, containing soothing agents that are gentle on acne-prone skin.

  2. Liquid Cleansers: Lighter than balms, these oil based cleansers glide smoothly over the skin. They are ideal for those who can't tolerate cleansing balms or find them too heavy. Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Cleansing Oil is a cult-favourite for anyone with oily-acne prone skin.


Best Water-Based Cleansers for Double Cleansing (Step 2)

  1. Foaming Cleansers: Ideal for removing water-based impurities, foaming cleansers can help clear out pores without being overly drying. Ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid can aid in reducing acne and preventing future breakouts. The Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is one of the best cleansers, for double cleansing, especially designed for oily acne-prone skin and acne scars. However, if you are looking for a budget-friendly alternative, you should CeraVe SA Cleanser, infused with salicylic acid, is great for further removing any leftover impurities for acne-prone skin.

  2. Gel Cleansers: Gel cleansers are great for a gentle yet effective cleanse. They are less stripping than foaming options perfect for calming irritated skin. I would recommend the CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser and the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.


Application Tips

  • Be Gentle: Use soft, circular motions when applying both types of cleansers. Avoid harsh scrubbing, which can irritate acne-prone skin.

  • Temperature Matters: Rinse with lukewarm water. Hot water can exacerbate acne by increasing inflammation, while cold water may not effectively remove oils.

  • Pat Dry: Always pat your skin dry with a clean towel to prevent irritation and the spread of bacteria.


Final Thoughts

For anyone struggling with acne, incorporating double cleansing into your evening routine might just be the game-changer you need. Remember, every skin is unique, so it may take some experimenting with different products to find your perfect match.


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