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 may also provide essential vitamins and nutrients, along with buzzy skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, charcoal, and glycolic acid meany 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 leveling 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

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser $36.00

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 meant to illuminate and even the complexion.

Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water

Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water 10.1 oz/ 300 mL
Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water $24.00

Behold brightening micellar water. When's the last time you've seen that? This Laneige cleanser promises to melt 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

IS Clinical Cleansing Complex $45.00

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 meant to cleanse the skin, clear it of potential blemishes, and illuminate it from the inside out.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Cleanser

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Cleanser $28.00

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

Acure Organics Brightening Cleansing Gel

Acure Organics Brightening Cleansing Gel $10.00

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 meant to simultaneously provide brightening effects and antioxidant protection. It's also 100% cruelty-free and vegan. Yep, we're sold.

Korres Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser

Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser 5.07 oz/ 150 mL
Korres Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser $19.00

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, according to the brand. 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

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Foaming Face Cream Cleanser $25.00

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 meant to target dark spots and hyper-pigmentation, unveiling newer, brighter skin underneath. 

Kaplan MD Purifying Foam Cleanser

Kaplan MD Purifying Foam Cleanser $25.00

Kaplan MD's cleanser contains 22 organic extracts. It promises to exfoliate 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.

Ole Henriksen Truth Juice Daily Cleanser

truth juice daily cleanser
Ole Henriksen Truth Juice Daily Cleanser $30.00

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, meant 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.

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam

White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam 4.7 oz/ 139 mL
Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam $38.00

Shiseido's White Lucent Cleanser uses ultra-fine microparticles meant 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

Glytone Mild Cream Cleanser $33.00

Glytone's name has to do with the brand's number one skincare ingredient: glycolic acid. This skin-exfoliating and radiance-lending acid encourage 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. 

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

aha/bha exfoliating cleanser
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser $42.00

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

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Sreedhar A, Li J, Zhao Y. Next-gen therapeutics for skin cancer: nutraceuticalsNutr Cancer. 2018;70(5):697-709. doi:10.1080/01635581.2018.1470651

  2. Sanadi RM, Deshmukh RS. The effect of Vitamin C on melanin pigmentation - a systematic reviewJ Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2020;24(2):374-382. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_207_20

  3. Sharad J. Glycolic acid peel therapy - a current reviewClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013;6:281-288. doi:10.2147/CCID.S34029

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