Feel like you're seeing more zits than ever these days? Here's why: Stress, lack of sleep, and new routines can all lead to extra blemishes. Before you start freaking out, know that there are a lot of options out there for clearing up your skin once and for all. Here, New York City dermatologist Doris Day shares her must-know secrets for getting better skin by the big day.
1. Stick to a routine.
In the months leading up to your wedding, lock down a morning-and-night regimen that fights blemishes and keeps new ones from forming. Day suggests switching between your regular cleanser and one with an acne-fighting ingredient like salicylic acid (we like L'Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser, $4.37, available at Amazon) or benzoyl peroxide (try Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, $7, available at Ulta). Then smooth on an oil-free moisturizer, like Aveeno Clear Complexion ($13.59, available at Target), which won't clog pores.
2. Be patient.
Not seeing the results you want right away? Give it time. Acne ingredients can take at least six weeks to kick in. Then, once you start seeing those results, be sure to keep sticking to your routine. "Acne is a chronic condition, which means it doesn't just show up one day and then disappear and never come back," Day says. Keep slathering — first every other day, then, as your skin gets used to it, daily — to keep skin clear.
3. Do a little damage control.
If despite your best efforts, a blemish shows up in the weeks (or, the horror, days) before your wedding, zap it fast with a spot treatment. Day loves ACZONE Gel, a prescription product which contains 5% dapsone, an extra-powerful ingredient. Prefer an OTC option? Try Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment ($7.86; available at Amazon), which has benzoyl peroxide.
4. Take care of yourself.
"Acne can be exacerbated by the stress and hormone imbalance caused by lack of sleep," Day says. So make sure to log eight hours a night. Take a look at your diet, too. Is it full of cheese and lattes? If so, you may want to consider cutting back. Studies have shown a link between dairy consumption and acne.
5. See a pro.
The biggest mistake brides make when trying to clear up their skin, Dr. Day says, is trying to go it alone. If your breakouts won't quit, consider seeing a dermatologist. They can prescribe you powerful topicals to treat tough cases, and even offer in-office treatments like peels and microdermabrasion to remove oil and dead skin and get your skin clear and glowing.