We could spend a billion dollars on all the expensive makeup in the world, but if you don’t start out with a fresh palette, it’ll all be for nothing. That’s right, not even five layers of foundation can hide dull skin—which is why the majority of our beauty dollars should be invested in the best skin brightening products available. We’re talking sheet masks, serums and oils galore.
Honestly though, good skin is where it’s at. Not all of us live under the Swiss Alps or near majestic hot springs that naturally impart a regional glow to our faces, but we can take measures into our hands and glow-up, as it were. Here are some of the best skin brightening products currently in our arsenal—some old favorites, some fresh out of the lab.
Updated by Sarah Long on 9/18/2017.
Boscia's peel-off masks
Boscia's peel-off masks are like a dream team for pore-tightening and "luminizing." Boscia Sake Bright White Mask has sea fern algae extract and Stay-C 50, which reduces melanin production to minimize hyper-pigmentation and maximize collagen production, allowing for bright shiny new skin cells to turn over. The Luminizing Black Mask also has vitamin C for brightening and Calcium Montmorillonite Clay, which absorbs excess oil and impurities while exfoliating dead skin cells.
Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
The Strawberry Fruit Extract in this brightening face cleanser from Indie Lee is the agent that clears pores and naturally exfoliates dead skin to reveal your brightest skin underneath. You can even leave it on your face for 5-10 minutes to use it as an exfoliating mask. Versatility is always appreciated.
Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Mario Badescu is the facial king in NYC, with a line of popular and affordable skincare products to boot. This vitamin C serum is the pretty much the ONE thing that is made exclusively for brightening—vitamin C is a fruit acid that has tons of antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals (which age your skin, BTW). This serum has 7.5% of it, which doesn't seem like a lot but consider that this is acid here. It also has hyaluronic acid for hydrating and collagen for that youthful plump.
Shiseido White Lucent All Day Brightener
This daytime moisturizer targets dark spots and evens them out, as well as minimizing signs of sun damage all dang day. It also has SPF and micro-flecks of shimmer to boot, giving your face a literal glow as it's doing its thing.
Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Mask
Sheet masks are a terrific way to get skincare ingredients to sink into your skin, wasting no drop of what can sometimes be an expensive treatment. This would be one of those treatments. Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Masks contain the brand's trademarked Snowise Tri-White Complex as well as Korean herbs—each mask is fermented for two weeks in white ginseng to bring out its most potent brightening powers. The mask itself is made from compressed plant pulp and is much more delicate that your run-of-the-mill sheet mask. All of this stuff boosts circulation in your skin, imparts instant brightening appearance, and minimizes age spots.
Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil
Tata Harper is known for her face oils which primarily synthesize natural plant-derived ingredients into their most effective skin-beneficial forms. The Beautifying Face Oil uses brown algae extract to boost radiance in the skin. Camellia flower extract is a superb moisturizer with plenty of essential fatty acids to give your skin that plump glow. Massaged into your face every night, you'll be glowing in no time.