15 Effective and Natural Ways 1 Editor Got Perfect Skin For Her Wedding
After I got married last April, the first question all of my engaged friends asked me was: what did you eat and how did you tone up for the wedding? I answered all of that in detail here and here. Next up: what was your skincare routine leading up to the big day?
As a beauty editor, I'll admit it was intensive. There were quite a few facials involved. That said, I focused on my being natural and looking like my best self. (Read: no Botox, fillers, or any other cosmetic procedures that would alter my looks. You don't want your partner to meet you at the end of the aisle and not recognize the person under the veil.) I ate clean for clear skin, worked hard to control my hormonal acne, and routinely applied products to enhance my blushing bridal glow.
Whether you're planning a wedding or just hoping to get your skin in check for a big event, here's a thorough guide on everything I did to get the best skin of my life!
Celebrities and Instagram stars who constantly have their faces photographed love this natural antiaging treatment. During a microcurrent facial, an esthetician (I saw Shamara Bondaroff of SB Skin in NYC) uses a machine to run microcurrents of electricity over your face. Your skin is usually covered in a soothing product like aloe.
There's no pain as the electricity activates your facial muscles. Like any other muscle that gets worked, it appears firmer after. Doing a series of these leading three to six months up to your wedding will give you lifted, younger-looking skin — no Botox needed!
I received a microcurrent facial two months before my wedding and then again three days prior to saying "I do." That said, my skin has pretty good elasticity normally. If you tend to get puffy or sagging skin, you would need to do this more often to see results.
Brides tend to work out a lot (hi, ME!). And if you're doing it right, you'll be sweating and clogging your pores. So you absolutely need to exfoliate — without overdoing it. Beauty editors swear by at-home peels featuring glycolic acid. And while this is an amazing ingredient to turn over skin cells, I'm personally more into natural formulas. Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask ($58) is my favorite ever.
The mask goes on with a clear-pink tint, so if you throw it on while you blow-dry your hair at the gym, no one will really notice it. And as mentioned, it contains a rock-star lineup of ingredients including cleansing pomegranate enzymes, purifying pink clay, hydrating beet extract, and exfoliating willow bar and meadowsweet. The latter are both natural sources of beta-hydroxy acid, which work similar to a traditional peel
It's hard to believe something so natural works, but my skin looks more radiant every time I use this "peel" — minus any irritation. This is definitely a great fit for those with sensitive skin.
If you do want something more potent, try the Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum.
Whether you get these quick and gentle exfoliating treatments at the dermatologist's office or the spa, they're an old-school way of removing dead skin. For over a year, I've been visiting Dr. Amy Wechsler in NYC for this 15-minute treatment each month. It's another one that doesn't hurt at all. An esthetician or doctor uses a microdermabrasion machine to literally suck dirt, debris, and dead skin off your face.
"You gently remove all the dead cells on the top of the epidermis, which is called the stratum corneum," Dr. Wechsler told me in this article that explains even more about microdermabrasions. "And in removing those cells all at once, it stimulates the cells beneath it to all renew at the same time. There are no chemicals involved, it's a mechanical treatment."
Since your skin can look a bit pink after the treatment, I recommend doing it one week before your wedding. That's about when I got my last microderm!
Regular Old Facials
At the six-month point, I started getting what I call "regular" facials at Mario Badescu in NYC every two months. You can try lots of add-ons and machines to clean your face, but nothing works like a straightforward facial that includes cleansing, steaming, extractions, and an awesomely hydrating mask. The Mario Badescu European Facial is one of those signature treatments that has no frills and efficiently gets the job done — for $65.
In between services, I'd keep my skin dewy and my mind zen by misting my face with Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater ($7). It's a tried-and-true classic face mist to keep at your desk or in your travel bag to add a quick dose of hydration anywhere, anytime.
When you're getting those "basic" facials, look for an esthetician who is fabulous at doing face massage. Here, I am getting a skin massage during a facial at Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa in NYC. Similar to a microcurrent facial, this method helps to firm skin — minus the usage of a machine. Doing it can also help tighten your jawline, lift your forehead, and depuff the under-eye area. (You may need this right after your bachelorette party.)
What's also cool about facial massages is that you can try them at home. Watch this video for ideas on how to do it that are also de-stressing.
Or take the total lazy-girl route and buy a product with a built-in massage tool. Right now I'm loving Lancome's new Énergie de Vie The Illuminating & Anti-Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel ($39). Though it is meant for eyes, I often just use it all over my face when I feel bloated.
I swear by face oils to keep my 32-year-old skin looking youthful. Unless you have really dry skin, you can't use oil too much or you may break out. That said, I think it's the best nighttime treatment to make skin glow. Apply it after serum before moisturizer, or mix it in with either formula.
The Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil ($58) is my pick for brides. Anyone with a rock on their finger knows how stressful planning a wedding is, and this balancing oil has aromatic properties to help you wind down while you use it. Essential oils of rosewood, patchouli, and hazelnut mixed with blue orchid smells clean and floral. The ingredients themselves work to smooth fine lines and revitalize skin.
Bonus points if you put some oil on the tips of your hair. It will keep your split ends tame while growing your wedding mermaid mane.
High-Frequency Facial Treatment
At your facials, ask the esthetician to use a high-frequency facial treatment wand on you. This helps to kill any bad bacteria under the skin, while treating pimples you may have. Here, NYC-based celebrity esthetician and beauty brand owner Joanna Vargas is using the wand on my face a few days before my wedding to help bring down a hormonal, cystic breakout. Regardless of how well I kept up with my skincare routine, last-minute stress got the best of me — and my skin. High-frequency is a natural way to keep acne calm.
At-Home Acne Kit
If you break out before your wedding, have a solid acne kit at home to deal with it. Those throwing destination weddings should definitely bring products so that you're not stranded without the right formulas. Renée Rouleau Zit Care Kit ($153) is the best DIY set I've honestly ever seen. It includes a step-by-step guide for how to effectively pop a pimple (if there is an emergency — if not, leave it to the pros), as well as specific serums and gels to use during each phase of a zit. You can treat the critter from when it's under to skin to when it resurfaces and even when you're trying to fade the aftermath.
Laser Hair Removal
I'm a hairy lady! Well, I was one. Knowing I would be wearing a strapless dress, I decided to get laser hair removal on my armpits for my wedding. Before getting the treatment, I had to shave daily and would still see a dark shadow on my pits. In the photo, here, you can see that my underarms are totally clear of hairs and dark dots.
I chose to do it at Romeo & Juliette Hair Removal in NYC, because the online reviews were so positive. My advice is to be careful when choosing a laser spot. There is true laser (what I did) and IPL (intense pulsed light treatment). Make sure you're getting the former for the best, longest-lasting results.
Though getting clear armpits made me feel extraconfident on the dance floor, my main focus was getting rid of my facial hair — for good! Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method to permanently get rid of hair (whereas laser can reduce hair). And while laser is effective on places like armpits and the bikini line (where skin is typically pale and hair is coarse), it's not the best option for hormonal areas like the face (where there's peach fuzz). If fine, blond hairs are stimulated (for some people), they can grow back darker. Electrolysis targets hairs one at a time, instead of areas, to avoid this.
I've been seeing Ronni Kolotkin, an electrologist in NYC, for years to treat different areas. I've had amazing success, so I went back to her before my wedding to treat my upper lip.
Ronni explained what electrolysis is: "A tiny little needle — that's finer than a hair — goes into the follicle. A slight bit of current travels to the tip of the needle, and it seals off the root. Once the root is sealed off, that root cannot produce another hair."
As you can see, there is no shadow or any visible hair around my mouth.
OK, I did not do this for my wedding — but I wish I did! I learned about the treatment when I got a facial with Renée Rouleau after the big day. It's a perfect facial add-on to try a few days before you get in that white dress. Facial cupping uses a suction device on the skin to tighten it. This is really effective if you drink a few nights before your wedding or feel puffy from lack of sleep — as it naturally contours the face.
That said, be wary of doing it on your body or getting any sort of aggressive cupping as you could bruise. (Renée was quite gentle on my sensitive skin.)
Pro tip: You can also do it on your lips (again, gently!) to make them plumper temporarily. Definitely try this out well in advance to ensure you don't have any sensitivity to it.
About two weeks before my wedding, an esthetician told me to stick to oil-free moisturizers in order to keep my skin clear. I chose the Tatcha The Water Cream ($68), a Sephora bestseller.
The watery gel cream has tons of benefits thanks to Japanese botanicals. These include pore-tightening wild rose, oil-controlling leopard lily, and radiance boosters like green tea, rice, and algae. There's also a bit of 23-karat gold infused to give your skin a luminous look. And since it is watery but not greasy, you can easily wear it under makeup.
Oxygen Facial Treatment
My last facial was with Joanna Vargas the Thursday before my wedding. It included some cleansing, masking, microcurrent, and my favorite treatment, an oxygen treatment. This is usually one of the last steps in a facial. Skin is blasted with oxygen and sometimes a bit of serum through a machine. It feels cooling and lovely on the skin. It just plumps your pores — and again, gives you that healthy glow.
Fun fact: the Victoria's Secret Angels all do this before the brand's annual fashion show.
Dark Green Juice
I truly believe whatever is going on in your gut shows up on your skin. My skincare routine includes ingesting vitamins for better skin, and one way I did this was by drinking dark green pressed juices. The juices I picked contained veggies and little or no fruit. Juice Press's I Am Turmeric Juice also contains turmeric, which is an incredible natural way to detoxify skin from the inside out thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Read more about the benefits of turmeric here.
Dry Sheet Mask
The day of my wedding, I chose to do a dry mask (specifically Charlotte Tilbury's Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask ($80)). Unlike a wet sheet mask, this one would not get in the way of my hairdresser's work (hi, Dhiran Mistry!). It added one last lifting, plumping, hydrating dose into my skin before moisturizer and makeup.
At the end of the day, you can only do your best. I got so many facial treatments and used amazing products at home . . . and still got a huge cystic pimple on one side of my face four days before my wedding. I got rid of the zit at the dermatologist's office, and it all worked out fine. (If you want to read that saga, which ended with Dr. Neal Schultz injecting cortisone into my face, click here.)
And if you do break out or have dry skin or whatever the culprit may be, let it go. You found a life partner! Enjoy it. There's always Photoshop for everything else.