Double cleansing: In a battle of cleansing oils, cleansing balms, and micellar water, who would win?

Expect a plot twist and some handy tips.

Harper's Bazaar India

It's summer and an oil-free and clean face will be on the top of your mind. Here's a regimen to try. Double cleansing, the popular skincare technique within the beauty community, involves washing your face twice. Once with an oil-based cleanser to remove stubborn make-up, sunscreen, and dirt, and then with your regular face wash to remove any traces of residual oil.

If you have oily skin, you might wonder how fighting oil with more oil makes sense, but the Koreans were actually onto something when they thought of this. The logic is: oil attracts oil, meaning any waterproof make-up or SPF will not wash away with a simple face cleanser.

It's a whole new world out there when it comes to cleansing products. A quick search online will show results and terms that might confuse you—you’ll find a mix of cleansing balms, cleansing oils, and micellar water, all promising the same results. We researched and took the guesswork out of the three, so you know which one to use when.

What is a cleansing oil?

Cleansing oils are fortified with nourishing ingredients like grapeseed, sunflower, or rice bran oils that moisturise and clean the skin in one go. They effectively remove waterproof make-up, sunscreen, and aid in unclogging pores during the first cleanse. Here are a few formulas that will not leave a greasy film behind, worsening your skin condition

Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil

DHC Beauty Deep Cleansing Oil

Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil

What is a cleansing balm?

Cleansing balms need to be gently massaged onto your skin, so they melt and transform into an oil that breaks down build-up, sunscreen, and water-resistent products. Here are some of our favourite buttery formulas

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Farmacy Beauty Green Clean Cleansing Balm

Wishful Clean Genie Cleansing Butter 

Cleansing oil v/s cleansing balm

When it comes to their ultimate purpose, cleansing oils and balms are peas of the same pod—both are oil-based cleansers—but the difference comes down to the texture and packaging. Cleansing balms are in a solid form and available in handy tubs, usually with a spatula to help scoop the product, making them travel-friendly. However, they require you to warm them up between your palms before applying for emulsification, making the oils a relatively more convenient option as they come in liquid form in pump bottles.

Where does micellar water stand?

Before oil-based cleansers were popularised by K-beauty, micellar water was the go-to option for a first cleanse, and continues to be a convenient, fuss-free method to remove dirt and make-up. Though micellar water deceptively looks like regular water, it is made up of tiny lipid molecules (micelles) suspended in the liquid, which attract all the grease and grime off your skin, leaving it refreshed. 

It is a life-saver, especially for those nights when you’re too tired or tipsy to do a multiple-step skincare routine, and will help you get your make-up off in just a few dabs and swipes. 

Here are some we love.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

Givenchy Skin Ressource Micel Water

What should you use? 

Unless you are acne-prone, an oil-based cleanser is a good option for you, irrespective of your skin type. Those who wear chemical, water-proof sunscreens or heavy make-up will benefit from cleansing oils and balms that are gentle yet effective. 

Those with extremely sensitive or acne-prone skin would be best off using micellar water as the long process of massaging and emulsifying oils or balms can be too harsh for some. Plus, if you use minimal make-up or none at all, then micellar water is enough to get rid of grime.

If you’re still confused, it is ideal to chat with your dermatologist to understand which formula would work best for your skin. 

Lead image: Ananya Panday/Instagram