No bride should have to deal with a blemish on the big day.

By Blythe Copeland
July 03, 2020
Young Woman Washing Her Face
Credit: Chakrapong Worathat / EyeEm / Getty Images

No matter how well you care for your skin each day, the extra stress that comes with a wedding—from making the seating chart to your mother-in-law's frantic phone calls about her gown—can lead to pimples that were definitely not part of your vision for your big day. "During stress—not just mental but physical, too—your body releases cortisone," says Dr. Julie Russak of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York. Since cortisone affects your body's hormone production, it can be a sneaky cause of cysts and pimples. "When your hormones start fluctuating, they bind to the receptors on the oil glands that are present on your lower face and sometimes on your forehead," she says. While breakouts are sometimes unavoidable, there's a lot you can do to mitigate your chances of waking up with a blemish in the days before your wedding.

Get enough sleep.

Wedding planning may be taking up a lot of your spare time, but that doesn't mean you should trade precious sleep for extra hours spent browsing floral designs or choosing the perfect shade of ivory linens. "The simplest thing, really, catching up on your sleep, is very, very important," says Dr. Russak. "Your body's hormone levels normalize, your body regenerates during sleep." She suggests taking magnesium before bed for better REM sleep, or adding the herbal supplement ashwagandha to your routine to decrease the effects of cortisone.

Ask for a prescription.

If you're prone to breakouts, your dermatologist can prescribe a topical anti-inflammatory, like Aczone, to help keep your skin clear. "You can start it knowing you're going to run into a stressful period of time so you will have some breakouts," says Dr. Russak. And since there's no limit on how long you can use it, you can even start ahead of pre-wedding events (think: in time for clear skin for your engagement pictures, your bridal shower, and your bachelorette weekend).

Schedule a hydrofacial.

Unlike traditional facials that rely on manual extraction to remove blackheads, hydrofacials employ a gentler technique. "It uses water and suction to suck the blackheads out and clear up the skin," says Dr. Russak. "But what's more important is what we can infuse into the skin with a hydrofacial. We can infuse vitamins, antioxidants, and peptides that not only tighten the skin but actually calm the skin down." She recommends two hydrofacials, one about a month before the wedding and the second a week before, for skin that's clean and moisturized. If you do decide to go with a standard facial treatment, schedule it for at least a month before the big day to give any extraction marks time to heal.

See your doctor.

If you do end up with a cyst the week of your wedding—or even the day before—don't try to get rid of it on your own. Call your dermatologist for a last-minute appointment and let her handle any extractions. "This is not a time where you want to manage your breakouts on your own," says Dr. Russak. "You definitely don't want to do extractions, you definitely don't want to start popping those pimples because you're creating more inflammation and you can irritate the skin even more." In the office, your dermatologist can give you an anti-inflammatory injection that can reduce a cyst overnight, or set you up with a blue light acne treatment that can reduce acne-causing bacteria on your skin.

Leave a wedding-day pimple alone.

Your mother always told you not to squeeze a pimple, and she's more correct than ever when it comes to your wedding day. If you wake up with a cyst, don't squeeze it or irritate the skin. Instead, says Dr. Russak, put nose spray or eye drops directly on it to constrict the blood vessels and reduce redness, apply ice, and when the redness is gone, dab on some over-the-counter hydrocortisone (not benzoyl peroxide, which can break the skin and cause peeling). Once you take care of the redness, the rest is up to your makeup artist: "It's the redness that's hard," says Dr. Russak. "Everything else they can cover."


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