What is the one thing that has helped improve the condition of my skin? Easy. The Korean Double Cleanse. Growing up and learning how to look after my skin, I was always taught to use some sort of cleanser, usually a face wash, twice a day, morning and evening. I think most people do this to some extent. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Korea that I realised – we’ve been doing it wrong!
Now I know the thought of extending your daily skincare regime sounds like a faff and I definitely do have my lazy days where I skip it but double cleansing is the only sure fire way to remove all your make up, suncream, and excess sebum efficiently. I think back to my teens when I would use a face wash and then rub the stubborn leftover eye make up around my eyes furiously with a toner-drenched cotton pad and I cringe inside. Not only would that not clean my skin properly, but left my face feeling irritated and stripped of moisture.
So what is the Korean double cleanse method?
The first step is using an oil based cleanser. These come in either liquid oils, creams or balms and should be placed directly on to dry skin. Here in Korea, cleansing oils have been popular for yonks. The majority of women will double cleanse in the evening, sometimes even in the morning as well. Oil cleansers hit the Western beauty market a while ago with Bobbi Brown and Mac varieties proving to be popular among skincare enthusiasts. But some people were sceptical – mainly those with combination / oily skin. More oil on my already oily skin?! Are you mad?! But the reality is that these cleansers, containing good oils, are highly effective at removing all the bad oils that accumulate on your face throughout the day. Cleansing oils don’t sink in to your pores – they work hard to draw out all the impurities and then, when mixed with water, wash it all away without leaving your skin dry and stripped of essential moisture. Hooray!
My favourite cleansing oils are the DHC Cleansing Oil, Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser and The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil. The Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser is actually more like a gel, it doesn’t contain any oil but works just as effectively; it’s very gentle and great for sensitive or acne prone skin.
More recently cleansing balms have become very popular after the huge success of Banila Co Clean it Zero. Although this launched a few years back, it is still considered the holy grail balm among the K beauty community. Cleansing balms melt in your palms to become oils and when mixed with water create a milky emulsion that removes all impurities away from your skin. Like cleansing oils, they should go on to your face dry – a sensation that most people find strange but trust me, it is so satisfying seeing all your eye make up wash off so easily! My favourite oil cleansing balms are the original Banila Co Clean It Zero and the Heimish All Clean Balm. The Heimish All Clean balm has a more neutral scent compared to the Banila Co one and has a more natural ingredient list. Both are highly effective.
The second cleanse
So if cleansing oils are so amazing at getting rid of make up and the like, then why do we need to go in again for a second cleanse? Whilst the cleansing oils effectively remove excess sebum, make up and suncream, a foaming cleanser will help remove any water-based substances like bacteria, perspiration or dead skin cells leaving your face feeling super clean! For this second step you will want to choose a good foaming cleanser that lathers up well and does not leaving your skin feeling tight or stripped of moisture. My personal favourites are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam.
Foaming cleansers now come in a wide variety here in Korea. Tools such as a foaming net, sponge or ‘whip maker’ can turn any old face wash in to a luxurious lather. Cleansing sticks are also becoming increasingly popular. I am currently loving the Belif Chamomile Cleansing Stick. I simply swipe it a few times on my wet face and lather up making it the ideal face wash to take travelling.
The double cleanse method may seem high maintenance but honestly it has helped my skin improve so much, reducing redness, evening out my skin tone and causing fewer breakouts. In typical Korean fashion, the double cleanse method keeps evolving. Brands are now coming out with formulas that go from oil to foam making the double step cleanse quicker and only requiring one product. Conversely, I am now a covert of the triple cleanse. Yeah, you heard me. I will use an eye make up remover or a face wipe to gently remove stubborn make up before going in for my double cleanse. Or, following my double cleanse will use a cleansing water like Son & Park Beauty Water to remove any excess residue. Two months in this country and I am sooo Korean.