Do any of your favorite products contain them?
jamie and michael wedding bride dress
Credit: Sally Pinera

If you're in the throes of wedding planning, it might feel like there's an endless and growing list of things you should be doing in preparation for your big day. And we're not just talking about your basic to-do list that includes things like building your wedding website, hiring your vendors, finding your dress, and scheduling your hair and makeup trials. There are also some things you need to do for yourself in the months and weeks lead up to your wedding, including getting enough sleep, exercising (but not too much), eating well, and taking care of your skin.

That last one's important, but it can also be tricky. Dermatologists warn against starting a new skin care routine too close to your wedding, and advise against using certain ingredients that can lead to redness, irritation or, breakouts. To make sure you're fresh-faced and glowing on your big day, here's a list of skin care ingredients to avoid until after you've walked down the aisle. The bottom line: Be gentle with your skin the week before the wedding.


This wrinkle-reducing ingredient might be powerful and effective, but dermatologists warn against using it too close to your big day. "Retinol, which also goes by the name of retin-A, can typically take 8-12 weeks to start showing results and, in some cases, skin conditions can temporarily worsen in the first week of use," says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., board certified dermatologist. For this reason, he recommends postponing the use of any retinol-containing products until after your wedding. If acne is the reason you reached for retinol, he recommends a 2% salicylic acid treatment instead.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps to keep skin looking youthful and radiant by neutralizing free radicals and brightening a dull complexion. However, Dr. Schlessinger notes that using vitamin C in high percentages can cause skin to become temporarily irritated, red, and even peel. This is not a good look for your wedding day, so it's best to keep vitamin C products in the cabinet until after the big day.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid (AHA) is a chemical exfoliant found in peels, cleansers, and certain skin treatments since it's very effective at addressing skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. "It's a great addition to most skin care regimens, however, I would advise any bride-to-be to skip it altogether the week before the big day, especially if the product has a high percentage of glycolic acid," says Margarita Lolis, MD., a board certified dermatologist. "In certain skin types, especially those with fair skin, glycolic acid can cause redness and irritation and that is certainly something you won't want to see in wedding photos." Instead, she recommends looking for products that contain lactic acid, which is a gentler exfoliator.


While not so much an "ingredient," per se, dermatologists recommend that you don't scheduling a laser treatment or hair-removal appointment too close to your wedding date. Instead, book your last appointment for several weeks before. "Laser hair removal takes a few sessions to achieve full results and you need eight to twelve weeks between sessions, so if you have time, start that process at least a year before the big day," says Dr. Schlessinger.


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