The lead up to your wedding features a never-ending to-do list, especially for the bride. Pre-wedding skin care, hair, makeup, nails — the prep is substantial (depending on your bridal style), and last year’s extensive safety measures made the process even more complicated. Sure, you may have already handled everything in the dress and accessories department, and you hopefully already decided on your hair and makeup looks, but what about your skin? A flawless complexion takes time — right?
No one will blame you if you waited until the last minute to start treating your skin, but as long as you have a week... or a few days... okay, even just the *day* before your wedding, there is still plenty that you (and your trusted esthetician) can do to help you achieve that otherworldly bridal glow.
Getting your complexion in shape is all about using the time you have left before walking down the aisle effectively. Esthetician and co-founder of Glo Spa, Sai Demirovic, starts to work with brides-to-be almost a year before their big day to ensure flawlessness is achieved (don’t panic if you’re well beyond that point). “We usually start with the aggressive treatments like microneedling in the beginning and then taper off to hydrating as we get closer to the actual wedding,” she says. “And we usually begin using radiofrequency technology about three months before the wedding to ensure a more youthful appearance.”
If you’re worried that your skin won’t appear the way you want it to in person and in photos, don’t worry — there is still plenty you can do in the days before your wedding. Here, some of the world’s go-to estheticians and skin experts share their advice on the skin treatments you should invest in if you’re a procrastinating bride who wants to look like magic in a pinch.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: One Week To Go
A Facial To Boost Your Glow
Think of a facial as a deep clean for your skin — it can clear your pores of any lingering gunk and provide you with an even canvas for your eventual makeup look on the big day.
“I always recommend the Instant Glow Facial as my ideal treatment for brides-to-be,” says cult-favorite brand founder Dr. Barbara Sturm. “It is unique and was created around my skin care philosophy — to deliver hydration, boost your skin barrier function, soothe signs of irritation, and improve your overall skin health and skin matrix.” She explains that this facial incorporates techniques created in her German clinic for cleansing, exfoliating, extraction, lymphatic, and firming massage. “It leaves you with an instant, dewy glow for your big day.” If you want an extra smooth complexion, Dr. Sturm recommends adding microdermabrasion, but be forewarned — you’ll look red for a few hours afterward, so make sure you don’t ask for this unless you have plenty of time (a week to be safe) before the wedding.
This is one of facialist Shani Darden’s favorite treatments before any major event to lift, tighten, and tone the skin, because it can be done at home or by a professional. She recently launched her Facial Sculpting Wand for this very purpose, which is a vibration therapy device that transmits acoustic sound waves up to 2.4 inches below the skin’s surface. “It provides deep muscle stimulation to target crow’s feet, eyebrow furrows, and nasolabial lines under the surface at the source, which helps to achieve immediate benefits that last long-term,” she says. “The vibrations also boost circulation to increase the skin’s oxygen uptake, which result in glowing, youthful skin. Overall, it helps skin to appear firmer, more contoured, and radiant with regular use.” It’s also safe to use everyday, so if you’re short on time, add it to your morning routine.
Full Body Hydration
While you might be concentrating primarily on your face, the skin on the rest of your body deserves some attention as well (especially if you have a dress that shows off your arms, back, and/or décolletage). “We love doing a Double Happiness treatment, which is a full body microdermabrasion followed by a full body oxygen treatment,” says celebrity facialist, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care, and author of “Glow From Within”, Joanna Vargas. “It really helps resurface the skin, stimulates collagen production and makes the skin hydrated and glowing.”
Another kind of facial you should invest in for your big day is one that includes microcurrent technology. “Microcurrent will make you look de-puffed and it will lift the appearance of your cheekbones, jaw, and neck, which is perfect for pictures,” says Vargas. It’s why she has incorporated microcurrent into her coveted Triple Crown Facial, which is her favorite facial to give her clients before their wedding ceremonies.
If you can’t make it into the salon for professional microcurrent treatment (there is a lot to do after all) an at-home device like NuFace or ZIIP can give you similar results. Just be sure to use it everyday leading up to the wedding.
Customize Your Skin Care
Skin care is personal, so it’s always a good idea to work with your esthetician to figure out exactly what your skin needs that particular week based on your wedding skin goals. If you’re in New York, a custom facial with Christine Chin includes analysis of your skin and any issues you’re having, potential solutions and treatments, and product recommendations that will work specifically for your skin and any concerns you’re having. Reach out to your dermatologist or esthetician for their recommendations or if you’re having a rogue breakout.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: 5 Days To Go
At-Home Hydration Masks
“I think at this stage relaxation is key,” says Dr. Sturm. So she recommends a soothing, moisture-boosting mask that will keep the skin hydrated and bouncy as you gear up for the big day. Vargas suggests the same, especially if it contains epidermal growth factor sourced from plants and fruits. Her Twilight Face Mask is the key to instantly refreshed skin. Hydration masks are also safe to use everyday, so don’t be afraid to marinate to your heart’s content each night.
LED Light Therapy
“It’s one of my favorite treatments that I incorporate into my facials to make skin glow before an event,” says Darden of LED light therapy. “LED light helps to boost collagen in the skin and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, for smoother, more plump skin. It can also help to boost circulation which will give your skin a nice glow.” She suggests The Déesse Mask as a great at-home option if you can’t visit a professional.
Vargas also likes to use LED light therapy in the form of her patented RevitaLight LED Light Bed to help reduce any remaining inflammation and increase collagen production. “We use my bed after every service at the salon because it helps heal and promotes wellness,” she says. “With this treatment, the more you do, the better your skin looks.” She recommends LED light therapy once a week, four weeks before your wedding — but if you’re short on time, a session a few days before can give your skin a boost.
A Serum Infusion + Collagen-Boosting Facial
Most brides-to-be are looking for super smooth texture and hydration to match, which a JetPeel facial and radio frequency combo at Demirovic’s spa delivers. “The JetPeel is a deep infusion of serums that are delivered by way of pressurized air,” Demirovic says. “This insures a proper infusion of exfoliating and hydrating serums. The radio frequency part helps to promote collagen production and tighten skin.” Results for this facial can last from one to three weeks, so your skin will still be healthy and glowing even after your wedding.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: 3 Days To Go
Vitamin C Serums To Target Discoloration
If you’re not already working those vitamin C products into your routine, this is the perfect moment to start. Vargas suggests it as it will “help brighten, reduce the appearance of inflammation, and increase the glow,” which every bride-to-be wants for such a momentous day.
Double Cleanse To Remove Buildup
“Make sure that you really focus on taking your makeup off every day, and don't skip any steps in your regular skincare routine,” says founder of Trish McEvoy Beauty, Trish McEvoy. Double cleansing at night is an essential step for her, which she recommends doing using micellar water and a cleansing balm. This will keep your pores clear and ward off any breakouts.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: The Day Before
Take A Milk Bath & Relax
When you’re stressed, it can show up in your skin by way of acne, dark circles, and lack of radiance, so now is the time to prioritize calming rituals. Dr. Sturm suggests going beyond your average bathing ritual with a soothing milk bath. “Simply add some whole milk and dark honey (darker honey has higher antioxidant properties) to hot water, close your eyes and listen to a sound bath — it’s highly meditative and relaxing,” she says.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: The Morning Of The Wedding
Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen
SPF is non-negotiable, even on your wedding day. A chemical sunscreen will feel more lightweight on the skin and not give you any white cast. “I recommend that everyone use sunscreen everyday, but if you're not in the habit, this is definitely the time to ensure you're using it,” says McEvoy. She recommends investing in a multi-use product long before your wedding day, but that will allow you to get maximum coverage in a single application, so you don’t have to apply to many layers. Her favorite SPF has a built-in primer, moisturizer, oil controller, and sun protection.
Keep Your Skin Care Simple
McEvoy suggests an easy and effortless cleanse, gentle exfoliation, hydrator, and moisturizer to get you all ready for the makeup bells and whistles. Give yourself plenty of time to apply so all the ingredients can soak into your skin — bonus points if you give yourself a soothing and sculpting facial massage while you blend it all in.
Pre-Wedding Skin Treatments: Things To Avoid
Harsh Ingredients & Treatments
“Using quick fix anti-aging approaches like acid peels and harsh lasers can cause inflammation and harm rather than heal your skin,” says Dr. Sturm. Opt for these six to eight weeks before your big day, though Demirovic recommends starting these kinds of treatments at least six months before your ceremony, so you have a better idea of how your skin will respond. “Even if they are ‘gentle’, they can trigger a breakout afterward,” she says. “Or you may not heal in time, which may lead to dry skin on your wedding day and your makeup looking caked on.”
Darden recommends that brides-to-be never start using a retinol in the weeks leading up to their big day. “Retinol Reform is great to include in your routine, but only if you’re adding it in at least six months prior and not right before your wedding,” she advises. “This allows your skin time to acclimate and ensure you get the most benefit from it. It’s important to build up slowly with any retinol, starting with one night a week and adding in a day each week, building up to as often as your skin can tolerate.”
Fillers & Injectables
If Botox is your jam, then you should be going in for your pre-wedding appointment about four to six weeks before your big days. As fillers last anywhere from three to six months, this will be more than enough time to let your skin settle, while still looking amazing. Getting an injectable too close to your wedding doesn’t give you enough time to adjust if anything looks not quite to your liking.
Though microneedling is great for repairing and restoring your skin, it also leaves you with significant redness — not great in the few days before the ceremony. Darden suggests that you avoid it in the days leading up to your wedding just to be safe. If you do want to indulge in some microneedling before your ceremony, Vargas recommends her Twilight Facial which includes microneedling and radio frequency, a month beforehand.
Skip New Products
“I always recommend brides-to-be to avoid trying any new skin care the week before your wedding,” says Dr. Sturm. “When you zig zag in-between products and brands, self-curating your skin care, the ingredients may work at cross purposes. Avoid products that contain dehydrating ingredients, such as mineral oils, fragrance and alcohol, and aggressive ingredients.” If your skin has a reaction to a new product, it can take days or weeks to calm it back down, so stick to the products you know and trust.
No Booze Until The Reception
Now this may be a tough one, but achieving the complexion that you want on your big day is worth it, right? “Drinking will make you puffy and tired looking so try and skip it,” says Vargas. “Alcohol is horribly drying for skin and also inhibits the digestive system. It causes people to breakout after a weekend of partying and makes people look super dry.” So keep it minimal at best, so you look every bit like a glowing, flawless bride.
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