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My Wedding Day Skin Prep Took As Much Planning As The Ceremony

My first thought post-proposal — besides, you know, yes — was, What am I going to do about my skin? Mine is super sensitive, and bounces between bouts of chronic dermatitis and hormonal acne (both of which leave lovely little spots of hyperpigmentation behind). It’s a rare day when my face is completely clear, and obviously, I needed that rare day to align with The Big Day. So before I even considered planning the ceremony, I began planning my wedding day skin prep.

My strategy wasn’t exactly standard. First, I hired a nutritionist to help me eat my way to clearer skin. (Trust me, it's a thing.) Next, I took control of my hormones — and thus, my hormonal acne — by consulting with my OB/GYN to find a solution. As for the surface-level stuff? Instead of piling on the brightening, tightening, skin-resurfacing products, I pared down my collection to a handful of clean and natural basics. I even eliminated exfoliation from my routine altogether; I was going for “plump and glowing” anyway, so my face didn’t need the extra abrasion. And, of course, I indulged in a luxurious, pre-ceremony facial.

After a few months of this 360 degree approach, my skin looked better than it had in years. My wedding makeup artist told me I had the softest face she’d ever touched. My only regret is that it took having a wedding (and approximately one million wedding photos) on the horizon to convince me to commit… to a skincare routine, I mean.

Jessica L. Yarbrough

Ahead, the pre-wedding beauty regimen I still swear by, a year and a half after saying “I Do.”

1. Focus On Skin-Healthy Foods

I’m a big believer in the link between overall health and skin health, so I hired a nutritionist to help me figure out what foods my body needed to look and feel its best. According to Colleen Baxter of Vessel and Soul, a Functional Medicine Health Coach, my personal skin issues could be traced back to gut issues — which is why my pre-wedding diet focused on improving digestion and battling “candida,” an overgrowth of yeast in the gut (gross, but it happens). I follow the protocol to this day; it just makes me feel good, which, in my experience, means I look good, too.

2. Drink Bone Broth

While I do think that a “skin-healthy diet” will look different for every body, the one thing I will recommend to anyone and everyone is bone broth. Bone broth is a natural source of collagen (and a bioavailable version, at that), so it’s said to make skin plumper and more hydrated. In the months leading up to my wedding, I’d drink at least a cup a day and noticed a huge improvement in the texture of my skin.

3. Go Full-On "Sweating For The Wedding"

I took the phrase “sweating for the wedding” to a whole new level — and I’m not talking about working out for the sake of fitting into a dress. Sweating is so good for your skin, too, since it helps clean out your pores and supports lymphatic drainage.

4. Consult A Professional About Hormonal Issues

I’ve almost always struggled with hormonal acne, but after I got an IUD, the number of monthly cysts on my face skyrocketed. I was hoping this unfortunate side effect would fade away after a few months… but it didn’t. I consulted with my OB/GYN, and we agreed the IUD wasn’t the best fit for me. I had it removed, and after about a month, my hormonal acne had significantly improved. Obviously, this won’t be the solution for everyone — the main takeaway here is to consider all the options and get input from a professional.

5. Pare Down The Products

Your instinct might be to experiment with fancy new cleansers, serums, oils, and eye creams and see what sticks. If you’re sensitive, though, testing out new products (or piling too many on) could be more trouble than it’s worth. I decided to keep my pre-wedding routine as simple and natural as possible in order to nourish my skin, not exfoliate and brighten it into oblivion.

6. Find A Gentle Morning Cleanser...

I’ve been using straight Manuka honey as my morning cleanse for years, and that didn’t change once I got engaged. It softens, (gently) kills acne-causing bacteria, and draws moisture to the skin's surface.

7. ...And A Pore-Clearing Cleanser For Night

Before bed, I'd use Osmia Organics Black Clay Soap, since it deep-cleans pores without drying them out. Bonus: It’s dermatitis- and eczema-friendly, too.

8. Cut Out The Alcohol-Based Toners

Since my focus was dewy, glowing skin, I swore off toners that featured drying alcohols. Instead, I whipped up my own DIY toner by mixing two ounces of distilled water with five drops of tea tree oil. The mix kept my complexion clear (tea tree oil is great for fighting acne) without stripping it of much-needed moisture.

9. Opt For A Gentle Brightening Serum

Vitamin C serums have reached Holy Grail status when it comes to lifting hyperpigmentation, but sadly, C irritates my sensitive skin. I used Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum to handle lingering acne scars instead, since licorice is a natural brightener.

10. Get Yourself A Barrier-Boosting Moisturizer

I moisturized day and night with Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer. Besides oil-regulating squalane oil, it’s packed with probiotics to strengthen the skin’s barrier.

11. Tackle Under-Eye Circles

The rumors are true: OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Cream is the best. Period.

12. Trade In Acid Exfoliators For Enzymes

Personally, I don’t do well with acid exfoliators. To keep dead skin cells in check, I opted for the fruit-derived exfoliating enzymes in One Love Organics’ Brand New Day Mask. No tingling, no redness, and fresh skin.

13. Focus On Face Oils

Face oils were the heroes of my wedding skincare routine. I had three that I’d switch out nightly: Flower and Bone Supply Miracle Skin Facial Oil (I feel like it’s a better, cheaper version of Vintner’s Daughter’s cult-favorite oil), Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Oil (it’s amazing for calming redness and irritation), and plain vitamin E oil (to smooth out dry patches).

14. Don't Overdo It On The Spot Treatments

The two most popular spot treatments out there — salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide — are both too harsh for my delicate skin. (Noticing a theme here?) But Living Libations Dewdab, a simple blend of essential oils, is powerful enough to nip zits in the bud and gentle enough to use nightly.

15. Cut Out The Other Kind Of Alcohol

This might be a little extreme, but I stopped drinking for two months before the wedding. Alcohol is dehydrating, messes with sleep, and raises cortisol levels, all of which result in dry, dull skin.

16. While You're At It, Cut Out Makeup, Too

I also stopped wearing makeup altogether. I wanted to let my skin breathe, and honestly, I think it helped. (You better believe I covered my face in foundation and concealer for the wedding, though.)

17. Dry Brush Your Body

Because skincare shouldn't stop at the neck, I dry brushed every day before hopping in the shower. Besides aiding in lymphatic drainage, dry brushing sloughs away dead skin cells and boosts circulation for a head-to-toe glow.

18. Meditate Every Day

Say yes to the dress and no to the stress. Stress wreaks havoc on the skin, and for me, daily meditation helps keep my mind and my pores clear.

19. Get A Facial No Less Than A Month Beforehand

With one month to “I Do,” I met with a holistic aesthetician for some extractions and extra skin love. Facials can be tough on your skin, especially if you’re sensitive or acne-prone, so your face may need some time to heal afterwards. Experts agree it’s best schedule treatments no later than a month before your big day — by which point, you’ll be positively glowing.

Jessica L. Yarbrough