Cleansing Oil vs. Cleansing Wipes: What is the best way to double cleanse?

One of the recent skincare trends is double cleansing.  While it’s not absolutely necessary to double cleanse every night—in fact, some people choose not to do it because it can be time-consuming—but many dermatologists recommend doing so for optimal skin health.

“Removing your makeup at the end of a long day is one of those ‘I wish I had done that’ moments.” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and clinical professor in dermatology at George Washington University Medical Center. And as skin doctor Paula Begoun said, “If you wear sunscreen daily—and even if you don’t but live in an environment where UV damage is a concern—you should be using a cleansing product designed to thoroughly cleanse away all sunscreens.”

Double cleansing also helps gently exfoliate your skin. Two of the most common ways to do this is through cleansing oil and cleansing wipes.

Cleansing Oil

Cleansing oil is a non-drying, hypoallergenic facial cleanser that works by breaking down dirt and makeup. “They work with the help of tiny oil molecules called lipid molecules, which are able to break up all types of debris—including waterproof mascara.” says Dr. Tanzi.

How to use cleansing oil:

Before applying cleansing oil, wet your face and hands with lukewarm water.

Next massage the oil into your skin for 1-2 minutes. (People usually recommend massaging it on your dry skin and then rinsing off, but if you have especially sensitive skin, you may want to skip this step.) Then rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove all traces of oil. Make sure to use the same temperature of water as the cleanser—cold or hot can irritate your eyes or strip away too much of your natural oils.

Cleansing Wipes

Cleansing wipes are pre-moistened cloths that cleanse away makeup quickly—even waterproof mascara! They contain a lotion designed to break down dirt, oil, and  makeup.  Cleansing wipes remove makeup and dirt through both physical and chemical means: “They physically wipe away dead skin cells and oil, as well as chemicals that break down oil and dirt.” says Dr. Tanzi.

How to use cleansing wipes:

Gently wipe the cloth over your face (a little more pressure than swiping a tissue). Avoid getting the cloth too close to your eyes—you may want to hold the wipe in your hand first—and repeat until you’ve wiped off all of your makeup. There’s no need for rinsing after using these wipes!

Choosing between cleansing oils and cleansing wipes

The choice will therefore largely depend on the type of skincare routine and type of skin that you have. While we personally would want to stay away from cleansing wipes due to unnecessary waste, it should also be recognized that some skin cannot simply tolerate oil as the first cleansing step. Let’s see the main considerations below:

Skin type

Dry to normal skin will definitely benefit from cleansing oils. It feels gentle and moisturizing on the skin, but actually works extra hard in removing huge amount of dirt and make-up on your face. If you wear make-up often, it’s best to choose cleansing oils specifically formulated to work on waterproof make-ups and sunscreens. For oily skin though,  it can be a different story. Wipes do not provide any nourishment for the skin, and may even make oily skin condition worse by stripping away all of the natural oils off your face. But if you want to save time in cleansing your face before bedtime, choose wipes that are formulated with soothing ingredients such as chamomile and aloe vera that won’t clog pores.


When it comes to portability, nothing beats cleansing wipes. It’s your reliable travel companion, ensuring you don’t sleep with stubborn eye make-up at the end of the day. It is also less messy to use and bring around compared to cleansing oils.  But if you want to remove heavy make-up, cleansing wipes may not do the trick since make-ups are formulated to be more resilient. On the other hand, cleansing oils are great for lazy evenings at home where you need less effort in your skincare routine.


Both types of cleansing products contain surfactants that act like magnets, attracting dirt and oil particles together before rinsing it off with water. However, cleansing oils also contain fatty acids that help moisturize the skin while the surfactant action cleanses away makeup and dirt. Meanwhile, cleansing wipes typically come packed with fragrant ingredients such as alcohol which can irritate sensitive skin—for example reducing redness or cause stinging sensation on broken skin.

Whatever method of cleansing you choose, make sure to introduce it to your skin gradually to avoid irritation.  Cleansing wipes may be useful for removing heavy-duty makeup, but it’s best to use them only 2-3 times a week. And for those with very sensitive skin, cleansing oils might just be the perfect fit!

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