Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser wins points right off the bat for its unique jelly texture that makes for an enjoyable cleansing experience. More importantly, we’re happy to report that the formula gently and effectively removes makeup, oil and debris without stripping skin dry. Not all of the brand’s claims hold strong promise of coming true, but this is still a good cleanser to consider if you keep your expectations in check.
Dispensed via pump, this gelatinous cleanser glides on like silk, producing a light lather as it mixes with water. The mild cleansing agents whisk impurities away, leaving skin feeling clean but not uncomfortably tight. The fragrance-free formula is workable for any skin type and is especially well-balanced for those with combination skin.
Peeking through the frosted bottle, you’ll notice Brightening Cleanser has a sheer yellow-to-orangish tint (the exact hue may vary slightly from batch to batch). This color comes from the lycopene (tomato extract), which Indie Lee claims has antioxidant and exfoliating properties. The antioxidant portion is true—although your skin isn’t getting much time to reap that benefit before it’s rinsed off (regardless, it’s not a bad ingredient to include).
As for their claim of lycopene being able to exfoliate, we haven’t seen research suggesting that’s true. Even if it were, the short amount of time the lycopene in this cleanser has contact with skin wouldn’t likely be enough.
The bottom line: Brightening Cleanser isn’t going to brighten, exfoliate, or do anything else miraculous for skin, but it’s good at its true calling, which is cleansing skin in a gentle (and fun) way. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if the price tag is worth that.
- Gently cleanses skin while effectively removing makeup, oil, and debris.
- Jelly texture works great for any skin type—won’t strip skin dry.
- Fragrance free.
- Won’t “brighten” skin or exfoliate as claimed.
Brightening Cleanser's berry blend lightly foams to gently wash away makeup and impurities. This antioxidant-rich formula doubles as an exfoliator when used as a mask for five minutes before rinsing, helping to smooth uneven texture and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.
Indie Lee positions itself as brand focused on clean and natural skin care products. “Clean” is an unregulated term (there is no standardized definition), so how it’s defined varies from brand to brand, and is completely at their discretion. In this case, they choose to formulate their products to be free from ingredients “that have been questioned over recent years.” As they put it, “we at Indie Lee believe in taking a more cautious approach.”
Some of the ingredients they avoid align with published research attesting to the problems they can cause for skin, but regrettably, others are mislabeled as bad despite current scientific literature proving them to be safe as used in cosmetics. We can agree to disagree on that point—what really matters is whether Indie’s products are effective and non-irritating for skin. Unfortunately, the formulas turn out to be hit-or-miss.
While many of the products feature beneficial ingredients, they are often paired with potently fragrant extracts and essential oils proven to sensitize skin. Even though these ingredients are plant-based, this is a classic example of why natural ingredients aren’t always better for your skin, and how many brands touting “clean beauty” keep missing the research showing that some natural ingredients are actually problematic for skin. Other irritants, such as high amounts of skin-drying alcohol, appear in select Indie products. We’re all for safe, effective products that contain natural ingredients (there are tons of good ones) but to our way of thinking, clean beauty shouldn’t mean risking irritated skin.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Indie Lee has some good products too—you’ll just have to sort through the skin-irritating ones to find them. Luckily, we’ve done the detective work for you. Learn more about this brand at www.indielee.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.