triple cleansing

Triple cleansing is gaining popularity on TikTok but dermatologists aren’t so keen

Triple cleansing can strip the skin and exacerbate certain skin concerns. Here’s how to know if it’s right for you.

As humans, we like to riff off of the basics. For example, when the stretch limousine morphed into the hummer limousine – the muscle-tee of all long-car travel. Unsurprisingly, the beauty and skincare world is no different. There are basic steps that are taken and made better, bigger and often longer. (Remember those extensive double-digit step skincare routines that gained traction during the pandemic?)

Recently, the trend of more is more has reached the world of cleansing, with TikTok users sharing their triple cleanse routines. Yes, two years after we all became experts in the double cleanse, another cleansing step has come along. Ever the skin-sleuth, I asked an expert all about triple cleansing: when it’s necessary and which skin types should stay well away. Here’s his advice.

What is a triple cleanse?

A triple cleanse refers to using three cleansers or performing three cleansing cycles (apply cleanser, massage, rinse). It can be done using liquid, foam, balm, oil or waterless cleansers – basically, any cleanser. The main thrust is that they are used three times. 

Some believe micellar water should be excluded from the cleansing process (you can use it but it shouldn’t count as a cleansing “step”) but others find it necessary to remove remnants of stubborn make-up and dirt. In my opinion, it’s the dealer’s choice.

Is a triple cleanse necessary?

“A good cleanse will help get rid of dirt, make-up and impurities built up during the day,” says Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics. “I advise doing a nightly double cleanse for most skin types as make-up, dirt and impurities will have been sitting on the skin all day. A single cleanse will barely touch the surface of the skin.

“If you have relatively ‘normal’ skin and wear lots of product, SPF and make-up daily, and are more exposed to environmental damage, then a third cleanse isn’t going to hurt – but make sure you’re using a gentle cleanser and it’s used sparingly.”

Which skin types should and should not triple cleanse?

“For those with sensitive skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, a triple cleanse can actually do more harm than good,” says Dr Perry. “Firstly, the excess cleansing can cause irritation and make problem areas sorer, red-looking and dry. For those with acne-prone skin, it can actually encourage the skin to produce more oil and in turn produce more acne. Ageing skin, however, can benefit from triple cleansing as evidence suggests that pollution and environmental toxins can accelerate the ageing process.”

“Whether you choose to double cleanse or triple cleanse, it’s about finding the products which work for you and suits your skin type. Avoid anything sulphate based as it will only strip the skin and don’t over rub which will only cause irritation.”

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