It may be the first step in your skin care regimen—but for most of us, putting serious thought into a daily face wash is something of a last priority. If you’re lucky enough to have booked a facial with New York City skin guru Georgia Louise, however, one 60-minute treatment could be all it takes to make you rethink exactly how, why, and when you use a favorite cleanser.
“Our skin can’t function properly at night—repair and regenerate itself—if it’s swimming in toxic chemicals,” she says of the importance of removing every last trace of makeup, sunscreen, and pollutant at the end of the day through a methodical cleansing ritual. At her Upper West Side studio, she starts every session with her signature “triple cleanse,” beginning with a gentle oil massage to lift off superficial dirt. A clay cleanser follows to dislodge deeper impurities; then a layer of alpha hydroxy acids loosens dead cells and blackheads, making for easy extractions.
Louise isn’t the first to swear by carefully choreographed, consecutive washes. The Asian skin-care phenomenon known as double-cleansing—which involves the practice of using a cleansing oil in tandem with a water-based face wash—originated in Japan or Korea, or possibly even further east, in China, as far back as the fourteenth century, according to Alicia Yoon. Historical texts reference Korean women using plant-derived oils both to smooth on face powders—creating their own sort of oil-based foundations—and to remove them from the skin. Rice water, or ground mung beans, were then applied to flush out underlying impurities. In Japan, double-cleansing was born of necessity, as cleansing oils were the only means of removing the white paint-like base that women traditionally wore as a sign of beauty; they followed with a foaming cleanser to refresh the skin and remove oil residue.
By leaving a layer of smoother, healthier, younger skin cells on the surface, the ritual also allows the active ingredients in a good face serum or night cream to penetrate more deeply. And for those looking to incorporate double-cleansing into their routine, here’s how to do it right: Smooth an oil-based formula onto dry skin, circling it over face and eyes for about a minute before removing it with a warm cloth. Next, apply a water-based cleanser that suits your complexion—a gel or foam (like Mizon Egg White Bubble Cleanser) for normal to oily types, a milky emulsion (such as Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2) for dry or sensitive types. Work it into your skin, then rinse or wipe away for immaculate pores—and a perfectly clean canvas before bed.
Eve Lom Cleanser: Apply cleanser to the face using circular movements. Dip the muslin cloth in hot water and wring out. Press onto the face and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Rinse the cloths in warm water and remove all traces of make-up and cleanser making circular movements to exfoliate. Rinse cloth in cold water and re-apply to the face for 5 seconds to close the pores. Gently pat skin dry with a towel.
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2 cleanser: Apply with fingers to face, neck, and decollete, using light circular movements to emulsify oil and makeup. Remove cleanser with a warm, wet washcloth. Repeat steps to complete a second cleansing. Follow with P50 “1970” and the appropriate serums and cream.