Your Wedding-Day Beauty Countdown
Of all the pre-wedding to-dos on your list, taking care of yourself is a top priority. Making healthy choices for your mind and body, treating your skin and hair with the right goods, and locking in a dream day-of beauty team will guarantee glowing results. (And if you want to do your own hair and makeup, know that that's perfectly fine, too). Here, we're sharing a simple, easy-to-follow get-gorgeous timeline that will help you stay on track without stressing.
First things first: If you'd rather not to be in close quarters with your glam team in light of the ongoing pandemic, simple prefer the way you do your own hair of makeup, or want to save money on the big day, plan to be your own glam team on the wedding day. We do suggest asking an expert for a tutorial, though—after all, they know how to apply makeup that will stay put and look great on camera. "I'm a big fan of virtual consultations," Los Angeles makeup artist Molly R. Stern says, because they empower you to perfect your own hair and makeup, and you'll have the skills for life. (Another upside: This format also frees you up to work with anyone, anywhere.) Stern suggests positioning your computer in good natural light and jotting down products and tricks as you go. Pricing can range from $25 up to $1,000 per hour, depending on the expert's experience.
Whether you're handling your own big-day beauty or handing that responsibility over to a pro, it's important to remember that a great foundation—clear, bright skin and healthy hair—is essential. Follow our year-long game plan, and you'll achieve the head-to-toe results you want by the time you say "I do."
9 to 12 Months Out: Step Up Your Skin Care
Active ingredients take time to work, so ease them into your routine now. New York dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum suggests using a vitamin C serum in the morning to fight wrinkle- causing free radicals; her favorite is Skinceuticals C E Ferulic ($166, dermstore.com). Follow it with a layer of sunscreen (SPF 30, minimum). Every other evening, apply a retinol, which helps stimulate cell turnover and soften fine lines, but can be irritating at first. Build up to putting it on nightly. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream also hydrates dry skin ($24.99, target.com).
9 to 12 Months Out: Consider an In-Office Option
If you want to try an in-office procedure, do so at least nine months prior to your day. In baby doses, Botox smooths wrinkles (and helps prevent them): "Ask for a minimal amount that will highlight your features without taking away too much movement," says Dr. Nussbaum. She also likes ultrasound treatments like Ultherapy for brides 35 and over; it's a non-invasive treatment that helps build collagen to plump lines and lift features. Gals and guys can benefit from a laser treatment like Clear + Brilliant, which resurfaces skin to even the tone with little downtime.
9 to 12 Months Out: Book the Talent
Reserve your makeup artist and hairstylist up to a year in advance, suggests New Jersey makeup pro Lauren D'Amelio. Ask friends and family, or your photographer or planner, for local recommendations. Los Angeles makeup artist Amber Amos also suggests scrolling through social media. Start with your venue's feed; it may link to experts from previous weddings.
6 Months Out: Make Time for Wellness
Scrap the extreme workouts and crash diets. "Slow and steady wins the race," says Los Angeles health-and-wellness coach Jessica Schatz. "Add a daily walk to your routine for mental clarity, or try mind-body exercises like yoga or Pilates." Joan Ifland, PhD, a Seattle researcher in food addiction, advises swapping processed foods (which trigger cravings, bloating, and brain fog) for proteins, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
6 Months Out: Consider Your Look
You can find inspiration aplenty on these pages and online, from real weddings to red-carpet pics. Then schedule hair and makeup trials before events like your shower or an engagement shoot. Bring any reference images (and hair-accessory contenders) with you. "This way, you'll see how the look photographs and how the makeup lasts throughout the day," D'Amelio says. If you envision a big change in hair color or length, float it now—your stylist can do a subtler version that gives you wiggle room for redyeing and regrowth should you change your mind.
2 to 3 Months Out: Fine-Tune Skin Treatments
Add an eye cream to your regimen to soften crow's-feet and dark circles (see our recommendations, opposite). If your dress shows off your décolletage, start to apply a firming neck cream, like PRAI Ageless Throat and Neck Creme ($29.95, hsn.com), twice a day. And continue to moisturize well: Dr. Nussbaum suggests a product with hyaluronic acid; Olay Regenerist Max Hydration Serum ($32.99, target.com) packs a high concentration.
2 to 3 Months Out: Slough It Off
Facial exfoliation does wonders for every skin type: It brightens by bringing fresh cells to the surface, clears the way for serums and creams to penetrate more deeply, and helps makeup go on smoothly. New York City dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali suggests washing with SkinMedica AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser ($44, dermstore.com); the acids gently dissolve dullness. If you're oily, reach for something more potent once or twice a week, like Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal daily peel ($88, sephora.com).
1 Month Out: Keep Your Complexion Calm
"Nothing new should touch your face," says Dr. Nussbaum. Introducing an unfamiliar ingredient could trigger inflammation, which leads to redness—or worse, acne.
1 Month Out: Give Your Body a Glow
Gently exfoliate your arms and legs two to three times a week during this last stretch. New York City dermatologist Jennifer Chwalek likes Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Illuminating Hand and Body Scrub ($8.99, target.com), which contains coconut, olive, and jojoba oils to instantly hydrate renewed skin. Afterward, smooth on Neutrogena Body Oil ($9.59, walgreens.com) while skin is still damp, says Dr. Bhanusali. If you have keratosis pilaris (red bumps on the backs of your arms or legs), soothe it away with AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion ($12.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) Dr. Nussbaum says.
1 Month Out: Treat Hair Right
Go for your final color about three weeks out, says New York City hairstylist Lucy Garcia Planck, and add a weekly mask to improve shine and texture. New York City stylist Michelle Cleveland likes Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector ($28, sephora.com), which strengthens strands from the inside out. Distribute it through damp hair with a wide-toothed comb, let it sink in for 10 minutes, then shampoo and condition. It's particularly helpful for keeping dyed hair from getting dry and brittle.
10 Days Out: Keep Inflammation at Bay
To prevent puffiness, avoid fried and processed foods and drink plenty of water (aim for 9 to 10 glasses a day). And be wary of dairy if you're prone to cystic acne around your jawline. "Yogurt, milk, and cheese are common triggers," says Austin, Texas, aesthetician Renee Rouleau. Schatz recommends sipping dandelion tea; it acts as a diuretic to help reduce bloating.
10 Days Out: Prep Your Lips
"Keeping them smooth and hydrated will help makeup go on seamlessly," says Dr. Nussbaum. She suggests a homemade scrub of brown sugar and a dot of coconut oil, or you can massage in Kopari Coconut Lip Scrubby ($16, sephora.com). Follow with an emollient balm or gloss immediately afterward to prevent them from drying out.
10 Days Out: Stay Covered
It's no biggie to conceal a blemish or broken capillary, but a swath of sun-burned skin is a lot harder to camouflage. Wear long sleeves when you're outdoors, and apply SPF on exposed skin. Amos likes Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50 ($38, nordstrom.com), which leaves a light, dewy finish.
10 Days Out: Spot-Treat Spots
Yes, you may be feeling high-strung. But no, you don't want to worry about acne—which, unfortunately, can be triggered by stress. For hormonal acne (painful bumps that haven't surfaced yet), head to your dermatologist for a preemptive cortisone injection. If you can't get to your dermatologist, Dr. Nussbaum advises applying a bit of salicylic acid directly onto the offender (don't over-do it, or you could experience redness and flaking). Peter Thomas Roth's Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($32, ulta.com) take out the guesswork; just pop them on before bed for an overnight dose. And if you have an allover breakout, your doc can prescribe antibiotics for a few days to calm it down.
In the Days Before: Do Your Digits
Your left hand will be getting loads of attention. Go for a gel manicure three days out; it'll last about two weeks. Choose a natural color that complements your bouquet (like warm peach for tropical florals, or cool pink for an all-white arrangement), or go bold with classic red or fuchsia. Keep your toes neutral.
In the Days Before: Stay Fueled
Be a happy bride, not a hangry one. Ifland suggests protein-rich meals in the final 48 hours to keep your energy level steady. On the day of, make sure to have a well-rounded breakfast (like chicken sausage and berries) and don't forget lunch—her go-to is four ounces of protein, steamed vegetables, and half an avocado for healthy fats that'll keep you satiated but not stuffed.
In the Days Before: Rise and Shine
The night before, pop two clean spoons in the freezer, and press them under your eyes to depuff when you wake up the next morning. Then apply eye cream and gently rub it in small circular motions to flush excess fluid, says Rouleau.
In the Days Before: Pack a Bag
You'll want to touch up before portraits (or after tears of joy), so keep a few essentials at the ready. Stash cotton swabs to clean up mascara, concealer for quick camo, bobby pins to refasten an updo, and lipstick or gloss.
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