indie lee brightening cleanser

Reviewed by Becky on July 21, 2014


Finally! No raccoon eyes in the morning!

I'm in my 40s, and after trying many bottles of eye makeup remover yet always waking up with leftover mascara rimming my eyes, I have now met my holy grail of makeup removers. And I only thought I was reviewing a facial cleanser. What a bonus!

The Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser ($32) is a wonderful find and a product that will now become a permanent part of my beauty arsenal. It is a light, mildly foaming cleanser that worked very well whether I used it simply with a washcloth or with my Ultra Clear Facial Cleansing System ($86 ). It rinses clean and leaves my combination skin (that can be dry in the winter) in a comfortable but slightly dry state. I have read that many people use this cleanser to help resolve acne and thus others with that condition may appreciate the drying effect on oily skin. My skin still needs moisture to closely follow cleaning. I would typically use a small amount of the Indie Lee cleanser on my fingers to clean off eye makeup first and then finish the rest of my face manually or with the brush. The one time I tried removing eye makeup as recommended with a cotton pad, it left a strange and tight film around my eyes that I didn't like. Sticking to the gentle finger rub got everything off for me with no morning residue.

This is a simple formula with no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, artificial fragrances or animal testing. What it does clearly have, however, is strawberry oil .There is a very strong strawberry smell during and after cleaning with this product — so much so that I almost stopped using it at first. For me, that effect diminished over time, and I just didn't notice it anymore. Anyone with smell sensitivities should take note, however.

I’ve never used strawberries as an external beauty enhancer (though have been tempted by the many recipes of crushed strawberry DIY masks dotting fashion magazines). Looking into it further, I found some interesting effects, most notably an Italian study proving that strawberry extract protects against damage from UV rays. I doubt the impact of washing skin with the Indie Lee cleanser would do much here because it gets washed off the skin. In fact, the study methodology injected cells with the extract and measured photo protective properties after exposure to the equivalent of 90 minutes of midday sun in the Riveria. The magic ingredient in strawberry extracts? “Scientists suspect that it could be the anthocyanins, which are pigments that give leaves, flowers and fruits their red color. The antioxidant ellagic acid strawberries contain is also known as a UV-B protectant as well as wrinkle preventer. I’d like to see more serums and face creams with this ingredient — maybe even sunscreens?  A better known impact of including strawberry extract in skin care (and the one likely contributing to the “brightening” claim in the cleanser) is using strawberries to lighten skin, especially dark marks from breakouts. The salicylic acid contained in strawberries is a natural exfoliant and treatment for acne. No wonder there are so many strawberry mask recipes floating around!

I’ve always loved fruit, especially strawberries. The Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser will now occupy an honorary spot on the top of my “beauty pyramid.”