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NOW READING The Morning Cleanse: 3 Ways to Do It (+ One Method You May Not Have Thought of)
June 25, 2019

The Morning Cleanse: 3 Ways to Do It (+ One Method You May Not Have Thought of)

We all know we should be double cleansing at night, but what about morning cleansing? Is it really necessary? And what’s the best method? Let’s discuss.


I recently had a discussion with my SO’s mom and her sister, who was visiting from out of town, about skincare (what a shocker, I know), and I had another one of those moments where I realized how my level of interest in skincare is wayyy beyond that of the average person. I feel like I’m so deep in the wave of K-beauty that most people are floating along on a comfortable inner tube and I’m 10 leagues down and have morphed into a mermaid. This really hit me when I was trying to persuade them to stop using makeup wipes at night, and they looked at me like I had two heads when I mentioned cleansing oil. And I totally understand why. If you’re used to using wipes and face wash, the idea of slathering an oil all over your face sounds terrifying.


This spawned a whole series of external and internal discussions (I have many, many conversations with myself) that made me want to talk a bit more about basics and help bridge the gap between the skincare island I live on — where I’m planning out my skincare through 2020 — and the rest of civilization that isn’t measuring out their products with literal measuring teaspoons. I know, I have a problem.


The best place to start really is from the very beginning, so let’s talk cleansing, in particular morning cleansing.


morning cleansing


Why cleansing


Cleansing is legitimately my favorite part of my skincare. I think way too many people rush through it so they can do all this patting with toners and serums, and while that’s fun, it’s all a waste of time if you don’t cleanse your skin properly. I can go to the most prominent influencers’ Instagram pages and YouTube channels where they talk about how much they love skincare, and 85% to 90% of the time, they inevitably use a toner on a cotton pad after doing a double cleanse to really “make sure all the makeup is off.” And every time that happens, I internally scream. If you’re doing a double cleanse properly, there should be nothing left.


I know some parts of the world have a lot of pollution and humidity like Korea (look up “yellow microdust” if you want to give yourself nightmares), so some extra steps may be needed to remove all the environmental pollutants that are quite literally lodging themselves into your pores in certain places. But for the vast majority of us, a double cleanse at night should be sufficient if done properly, which I’ll touch on in a following article in this series. The morning cleanse, however, can vary a lot more.


I don’t really see a need to use any type of double cleanse in the morning for just general day-to-day life, and what your morning cleanse looks like can really vary depending on what your skin type and condition is. There’s quite a lot of debate online about how you should wash your face in the morning, and but out of everything that floats around, I find one of the following three methods will cover most of the general population.


The Water Rinse


Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Just splash your face with some lukewarm water and gently pat off the excess water. I’ve found that a lot of people with dry skin or thin skin really enjoy this method, and I can absolutely understand why. For the most part, we’re not doing a ton in our sleep that’s going to to get a lot of dirt and grime on our faces. You probably have some excess oil and/or sweat a bit (or a lot depending on the weather) while you’re sleeping, but other than that, there’s not really much else going on, especially if you do your skincare first thing in the morning.


beauty home remedies morning cleansing


I’ve seen some variations of the water rinse where people fill their sinks up and toss in some green tea powder or “splash masks,” where you’re instructed to dump a capful of solution into a sink filled with water before splashing your face clean, but that whole idea kinda grosses me out. I don’t know about you, but I clean my bathroom once a week, and that includes my sink; I have no interest in loosening up any toothpaste residue or anything else building up during the week by filling it with water and then splashing that on my face. Just stick to running water, folks.


The Toner Wipe


If just splashing with water isn’t sitting well with you, you could opt in for a good old cotton pad soaked with some toner and wiping your face down with that. You’ll get all the benefits of your toner and clean your skin in one step.


I’ve seen some variations of this where people want to use some type of micellar or cleansing water, but I’d advise against that. Those types of products have ingredients in them that act as mild detergents, and while they’re gentle, I don’t want to leave any type of surfactant behind on my skin. I know, I know, the bottles always say you don’t need to rinse, but screw the directions, I’m not doing that, and I don’t recommend you do it either. Trust me, I have a friend who gave themselves contact dermatitis from not rinsing off cleansing water. I don’t want to scare you, but I also do a little bit lol. Just don’t do it.



Also, make sure you’re being methodical with how you’re wiping if you choose to adopt this approach. Get all the areas of your face, and work in one direction, i.e. from your forehead down to your chin, or from your T-zone and outwards. Like I said previously, you may not have a ton to clean off your skin in the morning, but I also feel like wiping around with no rhyme or reason won’t help remove any excess oil and sweat from skin very well.


The Traditional Cleanse


So if neither of those cleansing methods appeals to you (I have combo/oily skin, and I usually am cleansing post-gym in the mornings so I get it), a more traditional cleanser may work best for you. However, if you find that you’re feeling a little drier on a particular morning or you lean more dry in general, I would say that this might not be the time to break out your foaming cleanser. If you’ve already got some cleansing oil or balm around (which you should if you wear sunscreen or makeup, which should include everyone), I would try swapping out your normal cleanser and use the cleansing oil/balm instead in the morning.


morning cleansing


I accidentally adopted this approach when I was gone for the weekend about an hour and a half away from my place and realized that I had completely forgotten to pack my cleanser. I love cleansing, but not enough for a three-hour drive. So I just used my cleansing balm for everything — I used it twice at night for a double cleanse and once in the morning, and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. If you’ve got your products, use them as you see fit, as there isn’t a ton of “rules” that are musts in skincare. More to come on that soon.


Well, that was probably more discussion about morning cleansing than I’m sure most of you have ever had, but like I said, it’s my favorite part of my skincare, and I’d argue one of the most important. I’ll tackle evening cleansing in the next installment, but until then, please leave any cleansing questions you’ve got down below!




Born in Korea and raised in Washington, Leo is another 20-something member of the K-Beauty Squad that is as committed to his love of skincare as he is to wine and cheese covered snack foods. After working as an educator and trainer in the beauty industry, he joined the team at Beautytap to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for skincare and all things chok-chok. During his free time, he’s been spotted in the wild bingeing Netflix shows, blasting K-pop while playing video games, or (much more rarely) leaving his hovel to venture forth in search of cocktails and Korean BBQ.




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I’m usually just a splash of water kinda girl, but I like the cleansing oil in the morning idea!! Love this info!! 🧚🏽‍♂️🤓


LOL at the idea of splash masks -- I've had that exact same thought when I see they suggest you fill up your sink. Nope, no way, I want to be nicer to my skin than that! And I don't want to clean my sink first thing every day (then I'd be worried about cleaner residue anyway).


In the morning I like to use a micellar/cleansing water (S&P Beauty Water or CeraVe Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water) to remove whatever products are on my face from the night before (retinol, facial oil, sleeping mask, etc) & then rinse with lukewarm water. I've been doing this every morning for well over 2 years & it works for me. My skin is clean but not dried out nor do I ever experience any irritation. At night I do the traditional double cleanse (cleansing oil & low pH cleanser) to remove sunscreen, sweat, dirt, pollution, etc.


I'm curious what your skin type is! I'd love to just use a cleansing water in the AM, but since I get super oily in the summer, I may have to try it in the winter when my skin gets really dry.


My skin is normal/dry (warmer months it's leans more towards normal & dry during the colder months). Make P:rem makes a black cleansing water that's formulated with peat which is great for getting rid of oil without stripping the skin & Biore has a charcoal infused micellar water which is for oily skin. I came across a little travel sized bottle in CVS & bough it bc it was so cute (I'm a sucker for pretty packaging & minis). It's actually a really great cleansing water!


LOL i LOOOOVE cute minis and cute packaging, too! I'll have to try the Make P:rem cleansing water because I love their sunscreen anyway. Thanks for the tip!


"If you’re doing a double cleanse properly, there should be nothing left." THANK YOU. God, watching all those Harper's Bazaar and Vogue videos where these folks are using makeup wipes AND wiping away leftover makeup with toner make me want to scream. You may enjoy Susan Yara's skincare reaction videos on mixed makeup, 'cause trust me, she has some words for them LOL.

I personally use the wiping method in the morning. It feels light enough to not dry out my skin, but cleans enough to where I don't feel like a complete greaseball.


I'm definitely gonna have to try that in the AM once winter comes around and my skin gets extra dry. Do you have any specific toners (or types of toners) that work well for you?


Hmmm, well since my skin is oily year round, the cosrx AC calming liquid works well, but the Etude House soonjung toner is a clean hydrating choice!


How did cleansing with a balm in the morning make your oily skin feel @leolouie? I'd love to try it but wonder if it'll be too much for my T-zone in the summer.