Should You Be Triple Cleansing Your Skin? Experts Weigh In

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Should You Be Triple Cleansing Your Skin? Experts Weigh In featured image
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The stateside introduction of the “double cleanse” exemplified the age-old lesson of not judging a book by its cover.

On its surface, the K Beauty–inspired practice appeared to be nothing more than a few extra minutes in front of the sink and a surefire way to run through our cleansers quicker than ever. Fast-forward to present day, virtually every skin-care enthusiast swears by the oil-then-foam cleansing ritual, an extra step which allows for every speck of makeup and oil to be removed, and making way for the better absorption—and boosted efficacy—of our beloved skin-care products.

More is more, so it was about time that double cleansing naturally gave way to triple cleansing, a practice celebrity aesthetician Candace Marino preaches to each of her clients. Similar to double cleansing, triple cleansing follows the same order—oil cleanser, then gel or foam—but closes with an additional exfoliating step.

While the three-step practice definitely gets deeper into pores, all but promising clearer, more radiant skin, does all that cleansing hurt the skin more than it helps, or should we really be incorporating a trio of cleansers into our daily routines? The short answer: It depends. The longer answer, below.

What is triple cleansing?
If you’re familiar with double cleansing, triple cleansing won’t seem all that foreign. The Cliff’s Notes: After removing makeup and SPF with an oil-based cleanser (apply this on dry skin), continue with a true cleanse, “where you’re cleaning the skin now that it’s free of makeup and debris,” adds Marino. A gentle gel, foam or milky cleanser is best for this step, she notes.

The next and final step: Wash with an exfoliating cleanser—”something gentle that will encourage cell turnover without stripping the skin or overdoing it,” says Marino, who recommends an enzymatic or chemical cleanser, such as the Skinbetter Science Oxygen Infusion Wash, which is made for daily use.

Is triple cleansing safe for skin?
The triple cleanse sounds like a no-brainer—double cleansing is a must for truly cleaning the skin, and as Marino notes, exfoliation is always the ticket for glowing, hydrated skin—but, like with any skin-care trend, there’s one major thing to remember before diving in: “Each person’s skin is unique and must be treated that way,” contends Richland, WA dermatologist Sidney B. Smith, MD.

With the delicate skin barrier in mind, Dr. Smith offers up a timely reminder: “Be aware that over-washing your face can have deleterious effects, such as rashes, acne and dryness,” he adds. In general, Dr. Smith says he doesn’t recommend triple cleansing on a daily basis, but notes there are a few exceptions, such as when there is excessive dirt, oils, makeup or sunscreen on the skin, when the “occasional triple cleanse would be justified.”

The Bottom Line
In short, if heavy makeup or sunscreen is part of your daily routine—and find that your skin is pretty resilient—take the triple cleanse for a spin and listen to what your complexion tells you. If your skin is often red, irritated or easily stressed, pare it back and try a double cleanse, instead, folding in a gentle weekly exfoliation, as needed, to slough off dead, dull layers of skin.

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