I’m getting married in ~15 months so naturally I’ve been pulling together a strategy regarding my skin goals since maybe the day after I got engaged in January😅
As someone fairly active in the online skincare communities (Instagram, Reddit, Facebook) I have seen a great deal of folks who are having skin problems or are wondering what to do to make their skin perfect for The Big Day™️ with varying degrees of closeness to said day. While I’m by no means a professional, there are a handful of tips and best practices that I’ve learned from a combination of communities, common sense, and understanding product ingredients efficaces.
This post will cover some of the most common questions and concerns (stress breakouts anyone?) I’ve seen and what to do about them.
Understanding Your Skin Type
First things first with developing a skincare routine is knowing your skin type. It seems obvious but when I was getting started, I thought I had to dry out my skin to remove blemishes and also had no clue how sensitive my skin was to fragrance. Now I know that I have dry/dehydrated skin that is sensitive, especially with heavy creams or fragrance.
Having A Basic Routine
With the popular of the K-Beauty 10 and 12 step routine, you may be surprised to know that you really only need 5 key products:
- First Cleanser
- Second Cleanser
- Hydrating Toner
Once this part of the routine is established, you can begin adding in skin concern specific products–targeting acne, dark marks, redness, and brightening.
Introducing New Products
One thing to note with any products added to the routine is to ensure proper past testing and integration. If you have any reaction to a product, it is really hard to tell what is causing the issue if you’ve added 5 products at once. The rule of thumb is new product introduction every 4-6 weeks. Chemical exfoliants (mentioned in subsequent sections) can be strong so introducing every 2 days when you are starting something new is best so your skin can build up the strength. The worst possible scenario would be damaging your moisture barrier before the wedding!
TL;DR: Make sure you are introducing products slowly!
Hydration is Major 🔑
Hydration is a huge element in having glowing and healthy skin. I don’t mean drinking more water (though you should!) but making sure your skin’s moisture barrier is intact, especially as you incorporate AHA, BHA, Retinol, Vit C into a routine.
My favorite products for this are toners which I always have several of in rotation. They’re light, hydrating and buildable which is essential if your pores get clogged or you need a boost that won’t feel too excessive for the day time. Once toners dry down they typically don’t cause problems with makeup which is of course essential for wedding day.
Unscented toners with lower alcohol content are my jam so I try-ish to seek out brands that comply. However the most important factor is fragrance–overly fragrant products seriously trigger allergies for me which isn’t cute when trying to be camera ready!
- simplistic skin wonder essence
- Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner Review
- 107 Rose Vinegar Water Toner**
My other favorite hydrating products are essences, emulsions, and ampoules–all of which are lighter than creams and come in scores of options. If you’re looking for something targeted to specific needs like anti inflammatory (honey, propolis), soothing properties (aloe, green tea), or healing (snail, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid) there is absolutely something for you at a wide range of price points in both Asian Beauty and Western offerings.
Quickly Banishing Breakouts
I’m not quite sure if there’s a surefire way to banish breakouts quickly other than not picking at your face and maybe getting to the dermatologist would be helpful in assessing your situation. There are a few products I would 1000% have in my arsenal of tested products that do make a difference.
- CosRx Master Patches: use when you’ve got a big spot. there are tutorials on the interwebs of how to do it best but it really does suck all the gunk out and leave the spot flat. Plus they’re inexpensive at $5-6 depending on the retailer.
- CosRx BHA Skin Returning A-Sol: the A-sol stands for acne solution and I used to use this daily before switching to BR Lotion P50. As Fiddy Snails mentions in a 2015 review, this product is fairly high in alcohol and propolis (healing properties) which certainly aid in the process. It also dries quickly and doesn’t have any texture residue like some other BHA or AHA’s I’ve tried.
Also to note: limiting my sugar and dairy intake have certainly been integral! Buttoning up my diet has also done wonders for not re-triggering breakouts and keeping new ones at bay.
- Biologique Recherche Lotion P50W (for sensitive skin): I won’t bore you with the details of my opinion of this AHA and BHA product because there are a bazillion already out on the internet. This is definitely a new go-to and not for anyone who hasn’t already dabbled in acids. I feel like while potent it has given my skin the added brightness without changing much else in my routine so I can certainly recommend this as something to test if you’ve got a long lead time before your wedding. Vicki Morav ships super fast and includes a BUNCH of freebie samples.
- Curology*: my Curology has .02% tretinoin and I feel like it’s helped in my overall skin tone and evenness as well as the appearance of fine lines on my forehead. My goal was to proactively start using Curology in place of some other chemical exfoliants and to re-introduce with enough time to build over time. Learn more about the use of topical tretinoin to treate acne and photodamage here.
- Vitamin C: a staple in fading dark marks and evening /brigetening skin tone. Allure put together a master list of products with mini reviews! Oregon State University shares a study on topical Vitamin C on this website if you are interested in learning more about the efficacies.
It’s essential to use sunscreen in tandem with chemical exfoliants as they do increase photosensitivity (doesn’t help those of us struggling with eliminating dark marks).
Are Skin Treatments Worth It?
Meh. I started the year wanting to spend less money on products and more on treatments like facials, however I quickly realized that this was not cost effective and I was still spending a decent amount >_> my online shopping has been greatly reduced but I’ve found that for ~$100-$150/service my money is much better spent buying the occasional spa package or mani/pedi when looking to relax in the midst of all the wedding planning madness! As with anything skincare, Your Mileage (Budget) May Vary so prioritize accordingly!
If you have serious skin concerns and/or are in a financial position to work with a dermatologist or esthetician, I’d say there isn’t such thing as too much advanced planning in this arena. Other than not wanting to start any new treatments too close to when you are actually planning to get married of course.
Planning It All Out
As with all things wedding, it might be helpful to organize your skincare goals leading up to the wedding day. Several of the trades like Brides and Allure have written about pre-wedding skincare but personally a rule of thumb would be not to rock the boat once you hit 2 months out. Obviously if you have a major breakout that needs to be addressed or randomly super dry skin that’s one thing, but 2 months isn’t the time to start experimenting with more chemical exfoliants, new and interesting ingredients, or a new brand of really anything unless it’s a tried and tested workhorse product.
For me, I plan to:
- check in with my dermatologist in November 2018 and May 2019
- lock in my routine by July/August 2019
- account for weather changes in my area.
- get to the Korean spa once a month for relaxation, saunas, and drinking as much water and tea as is healthy.
- continue my exercise regimen
Wedding Day Routine
It is not recommended to try anything you haven’t had as a tried and true routine step or that your MUA has not used before. The name of the game here is don’t anger the face! You want it to think it is just any other day with no excuses to act up.
Personally, it isn’t going to differ from any other day except I may use one fewer hydrating product and I will plan to sheet mask 2 nights before our wedding. Using a oil reducing powder or gel will also be in the mix because of obvious reasons.
Find a basic routine that works for you after establishing your skin type, don’t add in anything new 2 months out, work with a professional as you are able or deem necessary.
Hopefully people found this helpful, please let me know if there are any other bits I should touch on or provide more context around!
*Disclosure! The link to Curology does provide me credit to the site but otherwise there is no benefit or partnership with this brand, just a friendly enthusiast
**Disclosure: I attended Beautchat in July of this year and we were gifted new and/or refreshed products from their line. I purchased the old bottle with my own money from Beautibi last Fall/Winter.