Korean Skin Care Project- Step One THE DOUBLE CLEANSE


A brief recap for those of you who are new to this project or blog. My daughter Piper and I are exploring Korean Skin Care and documenting it here. If you are interested in how we got to this point, I recommend checking out these posts. Korean Skin Care Project, Korean Multi-Step Routine. In this installment we are going to cover one of the basic tenets of K-beauty, cleansing. Koreans are obsessed with having scrupulously clean skin. What makes their approach different from what we practice in the US is they use two different types of products to wash their faces, this process is cleverly referred to as, the double cleanse.

As you have already surmised, the double cleanse has two steps, first breaking down and dissolving makeup and grime with an oil cleanser, then cleaning the residue and adding moisture with the foam, or water based cleanser. Here’s the catch, you don’t have to use oil or foam if you don’t like them, there are a million cleansing products out there for cleansing, you just need to find two that work for your skin.

The first step, oil cleanser

The first step of the double cleanse accomplishes a variety of things. First, it breaks down makeup and dirt. Second, it adds moisture and hydration to the skin. Third, the massaging action stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system to brighten the complexion and reduce puffiness.

For this step there are two basic categories of cleansers, oils and balms. I am a balm girl, so lets start with those. Balm cleansers are soft solids and come in a jar, much like coconut oil. The cleanser I use is Clean it Zero by Banila Co. and it is my favorite product in the routine. I use the original formula in the pink jar, they also have a version for acne prone (purple jar) and dry (yellow jar) skin.

korean double cleanse

Banila Co. Clean It Zero is in my opinion, and about a million others, the best of the balm cleansers.

You scoop out a small amount, with the adorable little spoon they give you, gently rub it onto your dry skin and it immediately emulsifies into a light oil which dissolves makeup and dirt. It rinses off clean and leaves your skin soft with absolutely no oily residue.

Clean it Zero is a cult favorite in the K-beauty world and I can see why. Two other balm cleansers I found are Enature Moringa Cleansing Balm and Aromatica Orange Cleansing Sherbert which may be worth giving a try, but I plan on sticking with my little pink and white tub of amazingness for the foreseeable future.

You can also use oil cleansers for the first step. Piper originally used The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil. It is a light, watery oil in a pump dispenser. However, after a week she started to break out pretty severely and we think this may have been the culprit. I tried this oil a few times and also got the random pimple afterwards, not exactly proof positive, but enough for us. She has since shifted to Clean It Zero (purify edition) and has had no problems. If oil cleansers intrigue you, here are a couple to try: Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil and Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil.

The second step, foam cleanser

The second product of the double cleanse is the foam cleanser. Once you have rinsed off the oil/balm and before you dry your face, you apply your second cleanser to wash away any left over makeup, dirt or oils. For this step I use the Mizon Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser.

This is another great product. I know I sound evangelistic, but I do really love these two products, we will get to some that were underwhelming, but not these. The amazing thing about this cleanser is how little you need to create the thickest, silkiest foam you have ever seen. Also, I know the snail thing is a little weird, but there is no hint of bad smell or sliminess in this cleanser. It rinses off clean and your skin feels happy and plump. At $7 a tube (which will probably last 3 months) this stuff is a must try.

Piper uses, and likes, Cosrx Low PH Good Morning Cleanser which is probably the most consistently recommended product I researched. It doesn’t foam up as luxuriously as the Mizon product, but she has had good luck with it and would recommend it for someone who has sensitive or acne-prone skin.

A few other cleansers I am interested in trying are Klavuu Pearlization Revitalizing Cleansing Foam and Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam, which is a Japanese product but has been recommended in a lot of my research. However, given how much I love the Mizon product, and how little of it I use each day, I don’t know if I will want, or need, to try anything else in the next few months.

What have we learned?

So the take away from step one, the double cleanse, is that it is definitely well worth trying. If you are not ready to commit to the whole multi-step routine, I would recommend buying a jar of the Clean it Zero balm, and one of the foam cleansers and just giving this step a try. You will see an almost immediate change in how your skin responds which may inspire you to try some of the other steps.

Some helpful tips for the double cleanse technique:

  • Wear a wide terry cloth headband and tie your hair back if it is long.  If you get the oil cleanser in your hairline, it’s going to look greasy unless you wash your hair.
  • Use warm water, cool water will not emulsify the balm cleanser very well.
  • Try putting the balm cleanser on while your shower water heats up, then take the foam cleanser in the shower with you.  I know a lot of sources tell you not to wash your face in the shower, but that’s what us busy people do.
  • Leave your face wet after you rinse off the oil cleanser, just blot your neck to keep the water from running down your shirt, then rub the foam cleanser onto your wet face.
  • Have a clean, fluffy towel within arm’s reach, otherwise you are feeling around blind for a towel which is not cool.  Also, designate a towel as your face towel keep it separate and wash it often, you don’t want to use the same towel people wipe their hands on to dry your clean face.

Next Up: Step Two- Toner, this is nothing like the step we all skip in the US.

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