The top products to keep In your skin-brightening arsenal

Nov 5, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Image: Tetra Images/Getty Images

If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a million times—good skin is the foundation for great makeup looks. Honestly though, if the past year was any indication, good skin is pretty much where it’s at, makeup regardless (but we like that too much to give it up, obviously). 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 serious contenders—some old favorites, some fresh out of the lab—in the Glo-lympics (It’s a thing… we just made it a thing).

1. Boscia Bright White Mask and Luminizing Black Mask

Boscia Bright White Mask and Luminizing Black Mask
Image: Sephora

Boscia’s peel-off masks are like a dream team for pore-tightening and “luminizing.” The white one 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 black mask also has vitamin C for brightening and Calcium Montmorillonite Clay, which absorbs excess oil and impurities while exfoliating dead skin cells. (Sephora, $38 - $34)

2. Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser
Image: Indie Lee

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. (Indie Lee, $32)

More: How To Brighten Winter Skin Without Bronzer

3. Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Image: Mario Badescu

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. (Mario Badescu, $45)

4. NUDE Skincare Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash

NUDE Skincare Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash
Image: NUDE Skincare

Nude’s brightening fizzy powder wash is another vitamin C soldier, with scorbic acid, lemon and lime extracts, and Brazilian acerola fruit—all mega-brighteners. The scrubby bits are vanilla orchid and rose hip seeds crushed up. This powder becomes effervescent with water and feels like an energizing fizzy treat for your face in the morning.(NUDE Skincare, $42) 

5. Origins Modern Friction Instant Brightening Pads

Origins Modern Friction Instant Brightening Pads
Image: Origins

Brightening pads are like the express way to exfoliate your skin. With Fruit Acid and Rice Bran Extract, a swipe-session with one of these pads is like a mini Glycolic peel, revealing new bright baby skin. This is one of those thing you ought to use at night since your skin will be extra sensitive/exposed after use. (Origins, $40)

More: Try An At-home Brightening Pad

6. Shiseido White Lucent All Day brightener

Shiseido White Lucent All Day brightener
Image: Shiseido

This daytime moisturizer is a new addition to Shiseido’s White Lucent line (which is amazing for tone-evening/brightening needs, FYI), targeting dark spots and evens them out, as well as minimizing signs of sun damage all dang day. This lightweight moisturizer has SPF and micro-flecks of shimmer to boot, giving your face a literal glow as it’s doing its thing. (Shiseido, $57)

7. Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Mask

Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Mask
Image: Sulwhasoo

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 EX 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. (Sulwhasoo, $130 for box of 10)

8. Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil

Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil
Image: Tata Harper

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. (Tata Harper, $48)

More: Get Glowing Skin in 10 Easy Steps

Originally posted on