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If You Haven’t Been Double Cleansing, Read This For The Sake Of Your Skin.

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Your nightly face-washing routine might not be getting your skin as clean as you think it is, especially if you’re a makeup– and sunscreen-wearer. You could actually be going to bed with pollutants, dirt and bacteria trapped beneath your skin’s surface and under the layer of skin care products that you just applied.

One increasingly popular solution that comes with a dermatologist’s stamp of approval? The double cleanse method.

“Double cleansing can be helpful to eliminate buildup, excess oil and makeup when a traditional cleanser is not sufficient. For heavy makeup-wearers [in particular], it can be helpful to ensure that makeup is completely removed,” said Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.

If you’ve ever run a toner-soaked cotton pad across your face post-cleanse and noticed it came away tinted with makeup, you know how hard it can be to remove everything at the end of the day.

According to San Diego-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, “When you don’t do a thorough job of cleansing makeup and sunscreen, it can cause buildup in our pores and stretch them out over time. Clean skin also allows other products to penetrate better.”

As self-explanatory as double cleansing might sound, Shirazi said it’s actually more involved than simply washing your face twice.

“It’s switching up what you’re washing with, meaning two different types of cleansers that serve different purposes,” she said.

Shirazi said that a first cleanse should involve an oil-based balm or micellar water applied directly to dry skin, which will be most effective in breaking down oil, makeup and sunscreen.

To explain why this works, she used the phrase “like dissolves like,” a general rule of thumb indicating what compounds will dissolve in other compounds. “Makeup and creams are lipophilic, meaning they dissolve in oils,” Shirazi said.

The second cleanse, which is meant to eliminate any non-visible residue and remaining pollutants, should preferably involve a cleanser “that has active [ingredients] that benefit your skin, including anti-aging actives and/or acne fighting ingredients,” according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo.

There are also some double cleansing guidelines you should follow.

“While it is okay to double cleanse every day, if your skin feels dry or stripped, it is best to hold off,” Garshick said, adding that double cleansing should only be a nighttime step, and the first cleansing product you use should be chosen based on your skin type.

“Those with oily skin may prefer a lightweight formulation as part of the first step, while those with dry or sensitive skin may prefer a cream-based hydrating option,” she said.

To see the first-step cleansers recommended by these dermatologists, plus specific suggestions for your unique skin type, keep reading below.