Jamie Schneider

mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

By Jamie Schneider

mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

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January 5, 2023

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Washing your face sounds pretty self-explanatory (wash, rinse, and go, no?), but us beauty fans know it’s not so simple. When’s the best time to cleanse? How long should you scrub? Which face wash should you snag? All of these factors can affect a glowy end result, and considering a good cleanse is the foundation of any skin care routine, you want to make sure you really nail it. A clean canvas is necessary for all that follows, so if you botch that first step, all your subsequent products won’t work their best. 

So, no, washing your face is not that straightforward. Some people even need to introduce specific methods to really ensure a smooth, supple complexion—like, say, a triple cleanse. 


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What is triple cleansing? 

Perhaps you’ve heard of double cleansing, which involves using an oil-based cleanser to dissolve sunscreen and makeup then following with a gentle water-based cleanser to swipe away the rest of the grime. It’s a K-beauty mainstay, and it’s an effective alternative to using harsh makeup wipes and removers. 

And as you can probably guess, triple cleansing takes it to the next level by adding a third cleansing step to your routine. You can find different variations of the triple cleanse: For example, some use an oil cleanser, cream cleanser, then a gel- or foam-based cleanser to remove all traces of gunk. 

Others, like board-certified dermatologist Alexis Stephens, M.D., recommend folding an exfoliator into the mix—in a recent TikTok video, she uses an oil cleanser, a water-based cleanser, then swipes on an exfoliating toner. As always, find the method that works best for your skin type and concerns. “This three-step approach effectively removes sunscreen, dirt, debris, makeup and solution off of the skin while effectively cleansing the skin and removing it from dead buildup [of] dry flaky skin cells,” she notes.  

How to do it correctly. 

If triple cleansing sounds a bit extra, well, that’s because it is more of a treat—you don’t want to triple cleanse every single day. Especially if you go with Stephens’ route and use an exfoliator of some sort, you definitely want to space it out, lest you risk overwhelming your skin barrier. We’d suggest triple cleansing only on days you choose to exfoliate (like night No. 1 of your skin cycling routine) or on days you wear heavy makeup. 

From there, “You want to be super mindful of the products and ingredients that you’re using and know their roles,” says Stephens. A skin-stripping cleanser (let alone three) is a recipe for dryness, irritation, and even acne. Here’s a sample routine to follow: 

  1. First, melt off your makeup and/or sunscreen using a nourishing oil cleanser. (This Camellia Cleansing Oil from Tatcha leaves your complexion feeling especially supple.) Massage it into your skin with dry hands, then rinse with lukewarm water to emulsify it into a milk. 
  2. Next, use a non-stripping water-based cleanser to ensure a clean canvas—like this Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser from Krave Beauty. Simply work it into your already damp skin in gentle, circular motions before rinsing. 
  3. Then choose an AHA exfoliating solution (like this Youth To The People Kombucha + 10% AHA Power Exfoliant) for your third step. Shake it onto a reusable cotton pad and swipe it over your skin to remove any last traces of makeup, dirt, and grime. 
  4. Finally, don’t forget to moisturize. After all that cleansing, you’ll want to feed the skin with nourishing hydrators, oils, and butters. This Cocokind Resurrection Polypeptide Cream is my go-to for winter. 


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The takeaway. 

Triple cleansing contains more than a few variations, but Stephens prefers a makeup/sunscreen remover, followed by a facial cleanser, then a gentle exfoliator to swipe away gunk and leave you glowing. For optimal results, just make sure to only follow this routine when you need a good, deep cleanse—this shouldn’t be your everyday wash. 


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