Japanese Skincare Routine: Double Cleansing

Have you given much thought to how you cleanse your skin every night? Do you remove makeup and cleanse skin in one step? Do you place closer attention to one area on your face than other? Which area do you start first? Are you massaging your face when you’re removing makeup?

I can’t stress enough the importance of good cleansing every night, especially if you have problem-prone skin. Not just a quick once-over but a proper cleanse that leaves skin perfectly clean, but not stripped and dried out — or leave a residue behind. It’s all about gentle but very thorough cleansing.

One of the most important, if not the most important, step in a Japanese skincare routine is known as “double cleansing”. (Do read my post on Japanese skincare routine if you haven’t done so.) Not washing your face twice with the same product — as the name suggests — but rather, removing makeup and cleansing skin (to wash away sebum, bacteria, and residue) in two separate steps. Rubbing, massaging, and wiping with cotton wool pads or wash cloths are all a big no-no. You want to let the products do all the work. (Facial massage is done only on clean skin.)

Lifting makeup from skin so that impurities can be easily wash away is the motto for step 1 in Double Cleansing. In Japan, removing makeup is called “cleansing” — and cleansing skin is referred as “washing”. Products like cleansing oils are a makeup removers and they’re not meant to be used alone. It’s generally recommended to start with the sides of the face as it is the largest surface area with makeup on, and continue on to the T-zone, then finish with rest of the face. If your eye area is sensitive, it’s best to use a separate eye makeup remover as some can cause irritation.

On the other hand, step 2 (or “washing”), should start with (and focus on) the oiliness part of the face (T-zone) and end with the driest, which is generally the cheek area. The reason is that the main point of the second step is to wash off excess sebum and dirt from the skin, while ensuring residue of loosened makeup from previous step is removed. If you do it reverse, the drier areas can become even more dried out, eventually leading to a whole slew other problems.

120 JPY Foaming net from MUJI

Facial cleansers, or face washes, in Japan are the foaming variety. Unlike Western counterparts, these cleansing foams are sulphate-free and work to an ultra-dense foamy lather that resembles whipped marshmallow. The idea is that the there should be absolutely no friction and minimal skin-to-skin contact when washing the skin. These Japanese foaming cleansers should never be directly applied to wet face (unless they’re the self-foaming variety)! The correct way is to work product into a rich foamy lather using your hands, then use fingertips to glide foam to wash face without making direct skin-to-skin contact. If you find you can’t do so with yours, you’re either not using enough product, not lathering properly, or you just have a poorly formulated cleansing foam.

I highly recommend getting a foaming net. You use it to work into a foamy lather in lieu of your hands — it enhances the lather, saves time, and saves product! It’s included with some (newer) cleansers, but you can buy one for about 105 JPY. There’re some “fancier” ones that resemble a mini body wash puff  or have sponge pieces attached, but I personally find plain washing net (like the one pictured to the left) works best.

Your skin will not be happy with if you rub it with facial cleanser, trying to remove the layers sunscreen and long-wearing foundation. Haphazard or over zealous cleansing works against skin, often leading to a seemingly endless cycle of problems. If you have oiliness, dry patches, continuous breakouts, or skin congestion and nothing seems to be able to help at it, I recommend taking a close look at how you cleanse your skin every night.

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RocMarci
RocMarci

Is cleansing recommended only for sunscreen/make-up removal or does it also benefit oily skin? Thank you!

Rowena
Rowena

Hello there 🙂 With so much negativity over foaming/soapy cleansers, I was wondering if you think the second step cleansing should still be done with a foam? I generally find that foaming cleansers can make my skin feel tight, although so many Japanese women have gorgeous skin and all these companies that make foaming cleansers can’t be wrong?!

Anne
Anne

I’ve been using Cetaphil products. Either the bar/facial cleanser/foam wash will do. Definitely worked/works wonders for me. 🙂

I don’t do a “double cleansing” but I honestly want to give it a try. Quite torn about the “cleansing oil” as I do have an acne-prone skin until I was advised to take accutane. I was acne-free for years but early this year, I had to re-take it again. Currently on my 3rd month now. Hopefully, done by next month. Anyway, I’m quite afraid to give cleansing oils a try since it might break me out…

Rachel Lim
Rachel Lim

Hi, if i use the banila co oil cleanser followed by bifesta cleansing water lotion, is it consider double cleansing? or is both step 1?

Joan Craw
Joan Craw

Washing your face with bar soap is the worst thing you could do! Unfortunately my mom was raised old school and I grew up washing my face with bar soap, and it left my face a mess. I ONLY use natural milky face cleansers now that are super gentle. Now I have been obsessed with the Made from Earth Green Tea Cleanser – because it is EXCELLENT at removing foundation. I am also VERY sensitive around my eyes, and this Made from Earth Cleanser is so gentle when I remove my eye make – my eyes dont water at all.… Read more »

NIX
NIX

Hello Ratzilla, from my understanding double cleansing is when you have makeup on or if your sunblock is tenacious ( does that mean it clogs pores?) I see you have done reviews on the biore sunscreen series and I’m wondering if I use the biore face milk (the white one) is there need for double cleansing?

sally
sally

Hi, the only chemical I described as my daily make-up is a sun block, do you think I still need this “double cleansing”? I only do the “water” foaming facial wash, without cleansing it before. Sorry for such a basic question. Thanks

Jozi Medeiros
Jozi Medeiros

Delivery in Brazil?

and how do I buy?

accepts international dollar card?

Anne
Anne

Hi, I stumbled upon your site about a month ago and have been reading religiously since. Thanks so much for all the information and tips. I’m approaching 30 and only recently realized that I have neglected taking care of my skin. Cannot believe how I could be so ignorant!!! Anyway, after reading your site, I have started double cleansing (Shu Uemura cleansing oil + Shiseido Perfect Whip) + SK II Facial Treatment Essence for about 3 weeks and have started to see some improvement, which is a great encouragement. I’ll be visiting Japan soon and plan to stock-up on some… Read more »

Trish
Trish

Thank you so much for your posts! I’m trying out new routines for my dry but acne prone skin and this could not be more helpful! I was very confused about which order to use these types of products. Now it’s clear!

enoeno
enoeno

I’m using Shu Uemura cleansing oil, and as their recommendation I don’t use soap/second step after that, and everything is just fine. This one step makes me choose this product, though more expensive I still don’t need to buy soap/second step and I can finish my cleansing routine faster. Do you know why this product doesn’t need the second step? Is there any drugstore cleansing oil that doesn’t need second step? And is there any kind of cleansing oil for body/shower? My skin is getting drier, and most moisturizing soap like Dove don’t help much to me. Thanking you in… Read more »

Nerolowe
Nerolowe

Hi ratzillacosme, I want to ask, do I need to double cleanse if im only using loose Powder? (im wearing chanel poudre libre and it’s very light) Im also wondering , can I use only cleansing oil and finish there? (not continuing the second step) As I double cleansing, if done everyday, has made my skin dry and tight.

Judy
Judy

hello there!! i am currently using the hadalabo cleansing oil. however, it makes my vision cloudy. =( is that normal, let alone safe? what would you recommend a cleansing oil that does my vision blurry and is inexpensive?

p.s. i LOVE your website!!!! so informative!

Owen
Owen

Hi there, I’ve been stalking your blog lately and i’m just wondering do I need to use a cleansing oil if im only using Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen ( I reapply 3 times a day anyway, a dilligent apprentiece of yours right here!) Do you think I can clean BB cream with normal foam cleanser ( I use seba med) as some people said bb creams are easy to clean yet there is this other side who stated the opposite. And the last, If i’m not wearing any bb cream nor sunscreen (Sorry! but you know those days when you… Read more »

Anna
Anna

I love your post about Japanese Skincare Routine 🙂 I would like know more about anti-age Japanese Skincare Routine – please write post about it 🙂 Thx so much 🙂 regards from Poland 🙂

Nuria
Nuria

Hi, I’m from Brasil and I do not speak english very well, but I’ll try to explane my doubt. I realy would like to find 1 (only one) product to make the Double Cleansing, something convenient/pratical/faster and whith a friendly price. Could you suggest something? Tks a lot! Greetings from Brasil!

Lam
Lam

You want something, cheap, use olive oil or avocado oil or macadamia oil as makeup remover and use foam cleanser as your second step :))

mariana
mariana

Olá Nuria, tambem sou brasileira e por isso estou falando em portugues ( rs) acredito que os oleos ( perfect oil) fazem isso que vc quer ou seja, derretem a maquiagem e saem com agua não necessitando utilizar o passo 2 ( sabonete ou espuma de limpeza) eu te recomendo o da biore ou o da shiseido . São maravilhosos eu uso no meu dia a dia e não me arrependo. caso queira comprar no brasil a pronta entrega eu vendo me da um toque por email.Bjs ( [email protected])

Sarah
Sarah

There’s The 3 in 1 cleanser 3.0.1 from Chica y Chico which is a gel that becomes oil and finally bubble foam!! It’s about 20$ so it’s a bit expensive but it’s one product for double cleansing!

minniemin
minniemin

Im a bit confused ; is it the first step_makeup removing process_ that the product must not be applied on wet face or is it the second step??

minniemin
minniemin

Im a bit confused is it in the makeup removing process the product must not be applied on wet face??

Stretch Eriksson
Stretch Eriksson

It’s my first time buying cleanser in Japan and I have been recommended DHC oil to cleanse and Dr Ci Labo to wash. My skin is oily in the t zone but not overly so, and I have very occasional breakouts. I would really value your opinion before I invest.

easttowestskincare
easttowestskincare

Is this washing bar for the face too? (According to the company). TKS.

http://item.rakuten.co.jp/master/s411820h0610/

A
A

Which oil and foaming cleanser do you recommend for double cleansing?

J
J

Where can you purchase the foaming net online?

L
L

How do you use a foaming net? I don’t understand…

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