Can Double Cleansing Remove Blackheads? An Expert Breaks Down The Two-Steps

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Cleansing is arguably the most important and well-known skincare step. To the point, you should even do it twice. “Double cleansing is exactly how it sounds,” skin therapist at Brooklyn Face & Eye Samantha Mims tells ESSENCE. “It involves cleansing the skin twice before moving onto the next steps of your routine.” 

Most skincare routines require just three steps: cleansing, moisturizing, and sunscreen (unless you’re into 10-step Korean style skin rituals). In fact, using an oil-based cleanser then a deep cleanser is a traditional practice in Korea; removing makeup, SPF buildup and clearing skin– including blackheads

Below, Mims breaks down the two-step process behind double cleansing– and its effect on pore-clogging comedonal acne.

What are the benefits of double cleansing?

“Double cleansing allows you to effectively remove any makeup, debris, and product buildup that exists on the skin,” Mims says, especially beneficial if you wear sunscreen. This season, with skin more prone to oil, clogged pores, and comedonal acne, double cleansing can help unclog your skin and remove excess sebum. Other than delivering a thorough cleanse, washing your face twice effectively preps your skin for the rest of your routine. 

What is a blackhead?

When dead skin and oil buildup sticks to a hair follicle, it causes a bump on the skin. If the skin covering the bump opens, it forms an “open comedone” and appears as a blackhead. Although sebaceous glands are all over your body, blackheads often appear on the nose and chin. They are more visible if you have enlarged pores (which is associated with acne). 

Can double cleansing remove blackheads?

“Double cleansing helps to loosen up the sebum in the skin which encourages blackheads to be removed easier,” Mims says. “However [double cleansing] won’t completely remove them.”  In addition to double cleansing, using a benzoyl peroxide wash and retinoid can help, according to the AAD. Meanwhile, clearing clogged and compacted pores with expert-performed extractions is a more long term solution to blackheads.

How do I double cleanse? 

Step one: First, “start with an oil cleanser that’s packed with skin-compatible ingredients, breaking down the dirt on the skin,” she says. Cleansing oils like In Groov’s Every Mood and Skin Regimen’s Ginger Cleansing Oil are two of Mims’ favorites. “They are equally rich in texture and give off such a lovely, silky glow after each cleanse.” 

Step two: Then, “follow up with a water-based cleanser for the final removal.” For this step, she recommends a good gel-based cleanser, high in humectants. “[This] is perfect for the second cleanse to prepare the skin for those next steps,” she says. Products like the Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam and epi.logic Clean Reveal use both botanical, sensitive skin-conscious ingredients while also delivering a deeper cleanse.  

How often should I double cleanse?

Unlike other skincare routines which recommend cleansing once in the morning and again at night, you can double cleanse on an “as needed” basis. “There’s really no right or wrong way,” Mims says. “My advice is that you double cleanse when your skin feels parched, stressed, heavy from products or pollution.” Just like retinol or face masks, “consider double cleansing as a special treat to your regimen.”

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