12 Cleansers That Brighten and Even Your Skin Tone Better Than Any Others

brightening cleansers

Cleansers are the first line of defense in your skincare routine. Not only do they slough away any dirt, sweat, makeup, or pollution that your skin has accumulated throughout the day, but they also provide essential vitamins and nutrients, along with buzzy skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, charcoal, and glycolic acid to hydrate, detoxify, or exfoliate. Of course, it all depends on what kind of cleanser you're using. 

Like true beauty editors, we love all kinds of cleansers, although it's true that lately we've been favoring brightening formulas. These products do everything that an effective cleanser is supposed to do with the added benefit of evening our skin tones and giving us that lit-from-within radiance we like to refer to as "the glow factor." (This is especially necessary now that we're coming to the end of a sun-drenched summer.) While there are many on the market, there are only a few that are beloved by both the Byrdie team and the good people of the internet. Keep scrolling to see the 12 best brightening cleansers money can buy. 

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser $34

Indie Lee is one of my personal favorite beauty brands. Its products, like this brightening cleanser, are the reason. You see, each product is clean and natural, with plenty of healthy, skin-loving ingredients in each bottle. In this cleanser, there are vitamin C, antioxidants, and various plant extracts to illuminate and even the complexion.

Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water 10.1 oz/ 300 mL
Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water $24

Behold: a brightening micellar water. When's the last time you've seen that? This Laneige cleanser melts away makeup while maintaining the skin's natural hydration levels, which is why it's a good option for people with dry and dehydrated skin. The secret is in berry extracts and an antioxidant blend of vitamins B and C.

IS Clinical Cleansing Complex $42

This is a cleanser that has a cult following, and for good reason. It's formulated with vitamins A, C, and E; antioxidants; and salicylic acid to cleanse the skin, clear it of potential blemishes, and illuminate it from the inside out.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Cleanser $28

Shout-out to this cleanser for being particularly effective in combating the effects of sun damage. That's never more necessary than this time of year, when we're approaching the end of summer. It's all thanks to organic lemon, apple and sugar cane hydroxy-acids, which exfoliate, refine, and brighten. There's also algae to calm skin and dandelion and sage to purify it. This cleanser is glow-giving. That's for sure. 

Acure Organics Brightening Cleansing Gel $10

Acure is an organic drugstore beauty brand that just underwent a major makeover (these bright, minimalist bottles are what you can now expect to see lining the beauty aisle). This gel cleanser uses blackberry and pomegranate to simultaneously provide brightening effects and antioxidant protection. It's also 100% cruelty-free and vegan. Yep, we're sold.

Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser 5.07 oz/ 150 mL
Korres Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser $28

Korres is a Greek brand responsible for some of the loveliest-scented products on the market, like this Exfoliating Cleanser. Yes, it gently sloughs away dead skin, makeup, and impurities, but it does so while also brightening the skin with fruit extracts. My favorite part is the soft, floral fragrance. Every time you use it, it smells like a rose bush suddenly sprang up in your bathroom sink. It's like the Disney princess of brightening cleansers.

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Foaming Face Cream Cleanser $25

La Roche-Posay is one of those brands that feels extremely luxurious on your skin, but not your wallet (all hail French pharmacy brands!). This cream cleanser uses chemical exfoliants to target dark spots and hyper-pigmentation, unveiling newer, brighter skin underneath. 

Kaplan MD Purifying Foam Cleanser $25

Kaplan MD's cleanser contains 22 organic extracts. It exfoliates the skin for a more radiant complexion while maintaining moisture levels and providing an effective cleanse. It even keeps future damage at bay with ginger root, which acts as a powerful antioxidant against aging free radicals. Basically, it's one of those good-for-anything cleansers you can use all year round to improve the health of your skin.

truth juice daily cleanser
Ole Henriksen Truth Juice™ Daily Cleanser $28

Ole Henriksen's Truth skincare line is jam-packed with brightening ingredients—including one of the best and most effective of them all, vitamin C. This product is particularly unique since it contains PHAs, a very gentle form of acids, to resurface the skin. It also contains orange fruit water and all of the other goodness that comes with the Truth line. Sephora customers give it rave reviews.

White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam 4.7 oz/ 139 mL
Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam $38

Shiseido's White Lucent Cleanser uses ultra-fine micro particles to boost clarity and radiance. While it's definitely illuminating, some Sephora reviewers even say it helped alleviate some of their acne.

Glytone Mild Cream Cleanser $33

Glytone's name has to do with the brand's number one skincare ingredient: glycolic acid. This skin-exfoliating and radiance-lending acid encourages cellular turnover for a more radiant complexion (which is why it's the main ingredient in so many chemical peels). Because of this and its smoothing and anti-aging effects, it's one of team Byrdie's all-time favorite ingredients. 

aha/bha exfoliating cleanser
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser $40

Murad are an acne-care favorite, and this cleanser can clear acne and more. Instead of microbeads, it's formulated with beads of jojoba—which are more environmentally friendly and better for your face. Its main draw, though, is the combination of three acids (salicylic, lactic, and glycolic) that will eliminate any dead skin or hyperpigmentation in a flash.

Now that you know of our (and the internet's) favorite skin-brightening cleansers, be sure to check out the 16 face masks Byrdie editors swear by for getting glowing skin ASAP.

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