Preparing your skin for your wedding day needs to start as early as possible. I cannot stress this enough! I see so many brides just weeks or days before their wedding day leaving us with very little time to treat common skin concerns.
The number one concern leading up to the big day that I see is acne. Acne can occur on the face, chest and back. It an be effectively treated or at least controlled if you give yourself a minimum of 3 months before your wedding day. The general timeline for most is that it will take one month to stop getting new breakouts on the right regimen, another month or two to fade the areas inflamed from before. If you have breakouts on your chest and back, at least 6 months may needed to clear completely. Ideally it is best to give yourself a full year pre-wedding, if possible, just in case we need to resort to Accutane or a hormonal method to control the breakouts!
Discoloration of the skin from old acne scars and sun damage may need a bleaching cream or laser treatments. These also usually take about 3-4 months to improve.
After choosing the perfect wedding gown, sometimes I have brides worried that their eczema or psoriasis will flare as their wedding day draws near! After all, stress can play a big role in flaring these conditions. Working with your dermatologist on a game plan to either treat these patches as they come up or even consider phototherapy to treat and control flares may be helpful.
I see a lot of patients with a condition called chronic paronychia or inflammation around the nail folds. This can make the skin around the nails look red, scabby, swollen and inflamed. It’s common for people to pick or peel this skin when stressed as a habit. It can also distort the appearance of the nails as they grow out. In planning wedding photography brides will realize that there are going to be some close up photos of their wedding bands. A manicure cannot always hide the look of the skin around the cuticles. This a simple thing to control and manage with the right treatment plan, but, you guessed it, takes about 2-3 months to heal in!
If you tend to get fever blisters or cold sores, then the stress of the wedding may bring one of these out when you least expect it! Tell your dermatologist well in advance. The medications prescribed can help lessen or hasten a flare to resolve. There are also treatment regimens that can suppress or prevent a flare from happening at all.
When we really boil down all of the skin, hair and nail concerns out there- the vast majority can be either treated or at the very least under better control within 3 months but ideally 6 months. If you try to treat any of these conditions in just a few days or weeks, there’s a good chance you will be disappointed.
What are your top tips for the week before the wedding?
Tip #1: don’t try lots of new products without the guidance of your dermatologist!
I see this all the time. Sometimes we decide to pamper ourselves and try expensive new products. Sometimes brides get ‘treated’ to special packages that include facials and peels. It’s the worst feeling to react to a new product or trigger an acne flare.
If your skin is normally low maintenance, there is no need to go out and start a whole new routine!
- Keep it simple: cleanse, treat and protect. Mild cleanser to get rid of excess oil and makeup. Philosophy’s one step cleanser is a wonderful simple product to use. Treat anything that is of concern- acne, discoloration etc- with the regimen you discussed with your dermatologist. If you are looking for a cream that seems to a do a little bit of everything I like The Ordinary’s Niacinamide Serum. It’s maybe $12 on Amazon and it treats acne, rosacea, and discoloration without drying the skin out. And, lastly, protect with a moisturizer and sunblock. My favorite product for this is Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue. It’s a tinted moisturizer with a sunblock in it.
Tip#2: if you are considering a minimally invasive procedure such as botox or fillers before your wedding day, try these out a full year in advance to get a sense of how they look or work. Botox wears off in about 3-4 months. If you have never tried it before, it’s not a great idea to try it for the first time a month before your wedding. If you are not happy with the look of botox, this is much harder to cover up than a pimple. Fillers last for about 6 months to a year if not longer. If you are thinking about augmenting your lips or cheekbones prior to your big day, start this a year in advance. If you are not happy with the look then at least it will wear off in time. If you love the look, then touch it up in the months leading up to the wedding!
-if you do decide to get Botox or fillers- be your own advocate and point out only the lines or wrinkles that bother you. I am constantly reminding patients that there is no need to use dozens of units of botox to treat their whole face when its just one line on their forehead that annoys them. If you focus on what actually bothers you it will save you a ton of money and you will be much happier with the results. I have patients that had botox at other places and spent hundreds of dollars only to have a numb frozen forehead. When I ask them what bugs them they point out just their crow’s feet or just a line across the mid forehead. These areas take just a few units of botox to treat and could cost less than $100 and not alter your appearance dramatically. It will soften the lines so you still look natural!
Tip#3: Please don’t go tanning. I completely understand that a spring wedding is preceded by a lot of sunless days. Ideally, if you are seeking out a wedding day glow, get this color from spray tans or tanning lotions. It’s so much safer. Not to be a downer, but the majority of melanomas and skin cancers I see in women in their 20s and 30s is likely related to their tanning bed use before proms and weddings. We know that tannings beds are associated with significant jumps in the risk of skin cancer. Spray tans and tanning lotions are safe ways to get a glow. That being said, it will take a little time try out a few options well in advance so that there are no surprises. The average spray tan lasts for about 5-10 days. A few months before the wedding try out a few places or products to make sure you find the right one before your big day!
Tip#4: Once you establish a skin routine with your dermatologist a few months before your wedding, stick with it! This isn’t the time to be too tired to remove your makeup at night or to get lazy about using moisturizers. The worst feeling is to wake up to a surprise pimple in the days leading up to – or worse the day of – your wedding day! Get a pack of makeup wipes and keep them by your bedside table. If you are exhausted one night and just cannot get up to take care of your skin, at least pull out a facial wipe, then wipe and toss. At least your makeup will be removed and less likely to build up in your pores.
-If you are not dealing with acne or other skin issues then a simple pack of Neutrogena Makeup removed cleansing towelettes will work well.
-if you do have acne and need a quick cleanse and treat then use Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Pads. These are great with salicylic acid and glycolic acid to prevent and treat acne and aging.
Tip#5: Keep your dermatologist’s number on speed dial. I tell my patients as they plan their wedding to keep us in the loop and make sure we know when the big day is. There are a number of ‘rescues’ we have up our sleeves to make sure you look great for your big day.
Tip#6: Eat a healthy balanced diet and stay hydrated. What you eat can affect your skin. Foods with a high glycemic index can trigger inflammation resulting in acne and rosacea. Avoid crash dieting as it can affect our skin and hair. Skin can look sunken and lose its glow when we restrict our diets. If you lose weight too quickly, there can be a 3 to 4 month gap before you see a substantial shedding of our hair. Talk about stress! I get calls from women in tears panicking that their hair is ‘coming out in clumps’ before their wedding day. This is, by definition, stress induced hair loss. Yes, the stress of planning a wedding can trigger this. More so, a sudden significant weight loss can make this much much worse.
Other things to consider...
This was all about the brides themselves but the other group of women coming in getting ready for the big wedding day are the moms and mother in law’s to be! Its so exciting to hear their daughters are getting married. Once the excitement settles down, there is this realization that you are about to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a long time! As we get older we have a lot more freckles, keratosis, and red spots on our skin. All of these can be treated but can take a few months to heal completely so its worth getting a head start. Leg veins can take a few sessions over a year to treat. Body contouring for our little ‘bulges’ takes about 90 days to look our best.
And, don’t forget men- they usually come in worried about ingrown hairs along the beard or hair line. This can be treated or managed to minimize the redness and irritation of the beard and neck area.