A blogger recently told me the secret to impressively glossy skin was to triple cleanse. Double cleansing, the two-step regime made famous by the rise of K-Beauty, is so 2018, apparently.
This may sound excessive, but skin specialists will tell you that cleansing is one of, if not the most sacred step in your skincare regime, closely followed by moisturising of course – so it’s worth getting it right.
“Cleansing is the most fundamental step in any skincare regime,” says Emma Brown, celebrity facialist and Time Bomb Skincare expert. “Simply changing the way you cleanse can change your skin.”
“Every day our skin comes into contact with bacteria, pollutants, sebum and makeup and without properly cleansing, these particles build up on the skin and can cause a myriad of issues such as congestion, breakouts, irritation, sensitivity, pigmentation and premature ageing,” Brown continues.
And it’s pointless splurging on the latest ‘wonder’ serums if you don’t have an effective cleansing routine in place first, she adds, “the fancy products don’t stand a chance if there’s residue on the skin as it acts as a physical barrier to absorption. Our skin is constantly regenerating, with new skin cells pushing their way through to the surface, without cleansing these dead cells sit on the surface causing your complexion to look dull and dry.”
So what is triple cleansing?
My triple cleansing source in question, fashion and beauty blogger Aisha Master, of the @masteramas Instagram account, tells me her three-step routine consists of an oil-based cleanser first, followed by a facial wash, then either a micellar gel or water.
“I always avoid using hot towels after the first lot of cleansing – the product is still very much on your face and all the hot towel does is open pores allowing gunk to get in,” she adds.
The truth is there are varying orders to the so-called triple cleanse. For example, Yujin Jung, managing director of Nature Republic, a K-Beauty brand which just opened its first standalone store in London, says she would recommend beginning with the brand’s Forest Garden Argan Cleansing Oil (£18.50), followed by a cream cleanser such as the Aloe Vera Gel Cream Cleanser (£6.50) and finished with a foaming cleanser like the Ginseng Royal Silk Foam (£27).
Others like to begin with a micellar water or cleansing wipe. Put simply, as the term would suggest, the practice involves cleansing three times.
Who can benefit from triple cleansing?
“I don’t think everyone necessarily needs to triple cleanse,” says Brown. “If you’re someone who wears a lot of makeup during the day or you work in a hot, sweaty environment then you can really benefit from triple cleansing to fully remove the surface makeup, bacteria, sweat and pollution that double cleansing might not be able to do.”
Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, says: “Ageing skin can benefit from triple cleansing as evidence suggests that pollution and environmental toxins can accelerate the ageing process. Also, those with acne-prone skin may see benefits from using the right cleansers to prevent and reduce breakouts.”
However, she adds that you should also be wary of overwashing your face. “Your skin should be cleansed twice a day, but if you feel that more is needed on occasion then that is up to you. We need to be sensible about cleansing as over-washing can lead to dryness, sensitivity and irritation.”
When to triple cleanse
Triple cleansing isn’t something you do first thing in the morning, this is when you want your cleanse to be light and gentle, explains Brown. “It should remove residue from your evening skincare and sebum build up overnight but you don’t want to interfere with your barrier function, so a light cream or gel cleanse is enough.”
Spend more time on your cleanse in the evening, she suggests. “For your second cleanse take a good few minutes to deeply massage in your cleanser. Work in circular motions with a decent amount of pressure working from your neck upwards and outwards. By massaging your face, you will stimulate your blood flow and circulation, relieve any muscle tension and deeply cleanse the skin. I like to spend a good three to four minutes on my evening cleanse to get my skin squeaky clean and ready for my evening skincare,” she says, adding that it’s very important to properly rinse any cleanser off your face when you’ve finish.
And Brown doesn’t bother with cleansing brushes, “your hands can do just a good of a job and brushes and tools can be very harsh, damaging the barrier function causing sensitivity and inflammation.”
Pick your cleanser to match your skin type
Whether you cleanse, double cleanse or triple cleanse, Dr Mahto says the most important thing is to pick a cleanser that suits your skin type, and opt for one that’s sulphate-free while you’re at it, “to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils and avoid rubbing the skin too harshly.”
For acne, Dr Mahto recommends Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser (£35), which contains glycolic, an alpha hydroxy (AHA) acid, in the evening and La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel (£12.50) in the morning. “If your skin is on the dry side, try a moisturising cleanser – whatever your skin type, there is a cleanser for you – so get stuck into a little research,” she says.
Brown agrees, adding: “If you have acne-prone or an oilier skin type, opt for a cleanser with more active ingredients, such as AHA or BHA acids, for your second cleanse to really get your skin and pores clean.” Try CeraVe’s Salicylic acid Cleanser (£12) or Verso’s Acne Deep Cleanse (£35).
Oils are great for drier skin types, she adds, as “they are great at effortlessly breaking up and melting makeup and surface grime.” Her top pick is Time Bomb’s Peace & Quiet Coconut Cleansing Oil (£25). If you’re on a slightly tighter budget, we also love vegan skincare brand Tandem’s Cleansing Hero (£17) or cult J-beauty brand DHC’s best-selling Deep Cleansing Oil (£18).
“If you have dry skin then go in again with your oil cleanser for your second cleanse taking more time to massage the product into the skin,” Brown suggests.
For anyone not keen on the idea of oily cleansers, a nourishing cleansing balm is a good alternative. Try the Jane Scrivner Pro Elastin, Pro Collagen Organic Luxury Cleansing Balm (£46) or Amly Deep Reveal Nourishing Cleansing Balm & Mask, both will instantly melt away make-up and any remnants of your post-work commute.
For mature skin, Brown recommends an exfoliating cleanser like Time Bomb Take Off Time Cleanse & Buff (£16.50), “this works brilliantly as the skin’s ability to slough itself slows down with age so your cleanser will be helping your skin do what it can no longer do for itself.”