Being blessed with sensitive skin comes with its fair share of problems to navigate. Will this serum make my skin turn red? Does this sensitive cleanser actually clean my skin? Am I going to break out in eczema if I don't sleep with my humidifier on? You get my point. But for a product junkie like myself, one of the most frustrating problems is hearing people rave about skincare products that you can't use. Seriously, having someone tell you the secret to their glowing complexion is a product you know for certain will do the exact opposite to your skin (read: cause redness, dryness, and inflammation) is not ideal. This is especially true when it comes to brightening products.
Since most brightening products contain some form of vitamin C, which is known for its glowing-skin superpowers, people with sensitive skin probably can't use them. See, as great as vitamin C is for skin, it's actually too powerful and potent for those with ultra-sensitive skin, so instead of brightening your complexion, it actually ends up irritating it. But being the beauty guinea pig that I am, I was determined to find a few products that I could use despite my touchy skin. After much trial and error, I discovered there are actually quite a few brightening products that give me the glow I'm looking for with no irritation (and some even contain vitamin C!). Obviously, everyone's skin is a bit different, but I thought it could be helpful to share the ones that worked for me, so below are the 24 best brightening products for sensitive skin.
Caudalie's cult-favorite radiance serum has reached that status for a reason—it works. Every time I wear this with no makeup I get compliments about how good my skin looks, which is a good sign in my book. The clean formula helps with both eliminating dark spots and brightening the skin thanks to its key ingredient: Viniferine. This natural ingredient (which is derived from grapevines) is said to be over 60 times more effective at brightening skin than vitamin C.
This is one of my all-time favorite products. There's a reason everyone raves about IS Clinical. This science-backed skincare line is made up of highly effective ingredients that visibly change your skin. I had always heard rave reviews about its Active Serum, but because I have sensitive skin, I was recommended to try the Pro-Heal Serum instead. Like the Active Serum, the Pro-Heal Serum contains a potent form of vitamin C, but it also contains olive leaf extract and vitamins E and A to balance out the vitamin C so it doesn't irritate your skin. After using it consistently for over a year now, it has earned a permanent spot in my medicine cabinet.
Another vitamin C product from a fan-favorite skincare line is SkinCeuticals' C E Ferulic. Similar to the above Pro-Heal Serum, this product contains a powerful form of vitamin C along with key calming ingredients like vitamin E and antioxidants so your skin gets all the brightening benefits with none of the irritation.
My amazing facialist and skin savior Vanessa Hernandez actually turned me on to these, and I'll be forever grateful. These peel pads are soaked in glycolic acid, which is an amazing chemical exfoliant to slough off dead skin. Typically, those with sensitive skin can't utilize glycolic acid's magical powers because it ends up irritating the skin, but these pads are also soaked in vitamin K and chamomile to counteract the harsh nature of the chemical exfoliant. Simply swipe these over your entire face and neck once a week before bed, and wake up with smooth, glowing skin.
Biossance is one of the buzziest new skincare brands around thanks to its ultra-clean formulas. (It even has the EWG stamp of approval.) This Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil serum provides all the skin-brightening benefits of vitamin C plus squalane to lock in the skin's moisture.
One of the products I was most nervous to try and most pleasantly surprised by is the Sukari Babyfacial. It's another chemical exfoliant, this one using AHA to gently slough off dead skin and promote cell turnover to visibly brighten skin. I only use this one every other week to be safe, and I do experience a bit of tingling during the 20 minutes you have to leave it on, but once I wash it off, my skin calms down immediately and feels like new.
Okay, so this one also might be cheating a bit, but this is the best makeup primer I've ever used. It goes on before your foundation to give your skin an even, lit-from-within glow. One easy step and your makeup ends up looking 10 times better.