Ever since I started learning about skincare in general and Asian skincare in particular, few common practices have made me cringe as hard as the practice of not removing one’s makeup at night. If you want your skin to be as clear, healthy, and radiant as possible, then consistent cleansing is a must. If you wear sunscreen and/or makeup during the day, then cleansing alone may not be enough. To get your skin truly clean and ready for your evening actives without destroying its natural lipid barrier, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to make double cleansing one of your healthy skin habits. And to double cleanse, you’ll need some type of oil-based first cleanser, such as Innisfree’s Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil.
What is double cleansing, and do I have to do it?
(I mean, obviously you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, but for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re willing to adopt any practice that’s necessary to improve your complexion.)
Double cleansing is one of the foundational components of the East Asian skincare philosophy that I’ve adopted. In fact, in my opinion double cleansing is the most important and non-negotiable skincare step in my routine. I do all my acids at night so that I don’t have to deal with wait times in the morning, and my acids won’t be able to deliver their maximum effects if my skin isn’t properly cleansed first.
To double cleanse, you start with an emulsifying, oil-based “first cleanser” to break up and lift off sunscreen, makeup, and whatever grime your face has picked up during the day, then wash away any oil and makeup residue with a “second cleanser,” typically a water-based foaming one.
I don’t need to do that, you might be thinking. My cleanser gets all my sunscreen and makeup off just fine on its own.
Maybe it does. If you aren’t suffering from any breakouts or other skin troubles and your current evening cleansing routine is enough to get your skin so clean that a cotton pad soaked in toner won’t pick up any leftover grime afterwards, yet gentle enough that your skin doesn’t feel tight, dry, or otherwise uncomfortable afterwards, then you’ve found some kind of unicorn cleanser, and I’d like to hear about it right now.
But if you swipe a toner-soaked cotton pad over your “cleansed” face and the cotton pad comes away dirty, then you haven’t cleansed thoroughly enough. Conversely, if your cleansing routine really does get your face clean but also leaves it stripped and dehydrated, then your cleanser is too strong for your face.
It’s a delicate balance. That’s where double cleansing comes in. Oil-based cleansers are second to none when it comes to loosening up even the most stubborn, waterproof makeup and sunscreen. In addition, if left to soak on your face for a few minutes, oil-based cleansers can also get down into your pores and lubricate any hardened clogs, allowing the clogs to pop out as you massage your skin clean. Then the oil residue serves as a buffer between your skin and your foaming cleanser so that the cleanser can finish the job without robbing your face of the moisture and hydration it needs to retain. With the right products, double cleansing is a win-win proposition.
Of course, finding the right products, especially when double cleansing is a new and perhaps still strange concept to you, can be a daunting task. Let’s take a look at one of the many cleansing oils I’ve tried and see if it does the job.
Review: Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil
Innisfree’s Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil was one of the first Korean skincare products I ever tried, and when the time came to overhaul my skincare routine for the impending summer weather, I decided to invite this old friend back into my life. Also, I think I was trying to hit a free shipping threshold on Innisfreeworld.
Purpose: Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil is an emulsifying, oil-based first cleanser, intended to loosen and remove sunscreen and makeup prior to a second, foaming cleanser.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to isopropyl palmitate, botanical extracts, fragrance, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: As the first step in your evening skincare routine, dispense one to two pumps of Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil onto palms and spread over your dry face.
- Double cleansing tip: Cleansing oils must be applied to dry skin, not wet. Applying to wet skin will dramatically reduce the oils’ ability to break up and loosen sunscreen and makeup.
- Another double cleansing tip: If you want to thoroughly clean out your pores, allow your cleansing oil to sit on your skin for 5-15 minutes before massaging. The oil will lubricate the sebum plugs, which may then pop out in the form of “grits” as you massage. Yuck. AWESOME.
Massage onto skin for 1-2 minutes maximum, then wet hands and massage again. The cleansing oil will emulsify into a thin, milky lather. Rinse off thoroughly and proceed to your second cleansing step.
Ingredients list: C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cetyl ethylhexanoate, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate, octyldodecyl myristate, hydrogenated polyisobutene, PEG-8 isostearate, hydrogenated poly(C6-14 olefin), isopropyl palmitate, *The Green Tea Extract(0.01%), camellia leaf extract, orchid extract, tangerine peel extract, prickly pear extract, macadamia integrifolia seed oil, dextrin palmitate/ethylhexanoate, fragrance
Notable ingredients: If the name Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil (and Innisfree’s pretty insistent eco-branding) led you to expect a short ingredients list with green tea oil near the top, then the tangle of long science words you just skimmed probably came as an off-putting surprise. Don’t let it. The main ingredient in this product, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, is an ester derived from naturally occuring oils and is known as an excellent emollient. Only one ingredient triggered a warning on CosDNA: Isopropyl palmitate is derived from palm oil and may cause breakouts in those who are sensitive to coconut oil. CosDNA rates isopropyl palmitate a 4 as a potential acne trigger and a 1 as a potential irritant. If you suspect that you’re sensitive to this ingredient, patch test it for at least a few days before using all over your face.
Disappointingly, despite the name of the product, Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil contains only 0.01% green tea extract, and that means that all the rest of the antioxidant-rich signature Innisfree botanical extracts below it in the ingredients list are present only in the tiniest, tiniest quantities. Tiny enough that they don’t really count. This is a wash-off product, however, so don’t be too concerned about the absence of actives.
Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil is a fairly thin, very slippy and silky oil with a crisp and fresh tea-and-citrus fragrance. It spreads easily over skin and lubricates enough to allow for thorough massaging without rubbing, tugging, stretching, or otherwise overworking the skin.
Since this product has a very clear purpose, and its results can be evaluated immediately after use, I put it to the test. Let’s see if it can remove some of my most stubborn makeup.
For the picture above, I busted out my Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick, which stays on all day, through fried chicken meals and copious beverages; an Etude House Play 101 pencil capable of withstanding watery eyes and oily lids without smudging from morning to night; and Memebox I’m Lip and Cheek, which layers into an intense coat of color that strongly resists wiping and washing.
I massaged a pump of Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil onto the back of my hand for about one minute, timed with a stopwatch. As you can see, the oil has effectively broken up and lifted the makeup from my skin, allowing me to smear it around.
The oil took off almost all of the makeup, as you can see, and based on my experience using the product on a daily basis, if I had massaged it in for another 30 seconds or so, the rest of that Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick heart would have come off, too. Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil works just fine for most types of makeup, struggling only with the most waterproof and removal-resistant products, like liquid lipsticks and certain mascaras. My daily mascara is Heroine Make, which is notorious for being difficult to remove (hell, Isehan offers its own Heroine Make remover for the task). Taking it off with Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil does require some extra thorough and lengthy massaging. The oil is silky enough to accomplish this without pulling at the skin, but takes some elbow grease. That pun was not intended. I’m very sorry. But I’m also very lazy and don’t feel like looking for a different cliche, so we’re all just stuck with my bad pun.
Whether a cleansing oil rinses clean is another important consideration, as Fanserviced pointed out in her truly epic review of 15 different Korean first cleansers. You can tell whether a cleansing oil has rinsed off by whether the water beads on top of your skin. In this case, there is very little beading. The oil rinses off cleanly enough for me to feel comfortable following it up with a very gentle Hada Labo cleanser.
Conclusion: Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil is a serviceable, though not spectacular, first cleanser. If you primarily use normal-wear, non-waterproof makeup and sunscreen, this product should work just fine for you. If you use very long-wearing makeup and/or waterproof sunscreen, however, you may want to look for a cleansing oil or balm with heavier-duty makeup removal powers. (And if you check back here in about a week, I’ll have a pretty impressive one to review for you.)
Where can I buy Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil?
At present, Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cleansing Oil appears to be out of stock just about everywhere, including on Innisfree’s official website. If you want to try it out, however, you can find a pack of 10 samples for 2000 won (about $1.79USD) from TesterKorea.
What’s your favorite cleansing oil?