Unlike our hand-picked wedding makeup must-haves, which can be applied at the last minute to stunning effect, getting flawless wedding-day skin is a months-long, 24/7 situation. To see real results popping off the pages of that wedding album, you need to start a good skincare routine from the moment you get engaged and stick with it. But even with daily diligence, late-breaking problems can crop up. (Like, ahem, a monster pimple 48 hours before you're set to walk down that aisle.)
That's why we've included everyday essentials like cleansers and scrubs, along with trouble shooters to solve wedding-day beauty emergencies, in our list of the best skincare products under $25 that every bride-to-be needs. It's time to get going — and get glowing — without breaking the bank.
1. Anti-Ager: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, $20.99
In a sea of miracle anti-aging ingredients, retinol (a byproduct of vitamin A) is the undisputed champ. This serum contains lots of retinol, but since it's buffered with ultra-soothing hyaluronic acid, you don't get massive irritation to go along with all that fine lines and wrinkle blasting. Bonus: The hyaluronic acid helps the retinol work faster.
We're big-time believers in the power of a thorough scrub-a-dub. That's why we're psyched this rock star cleansing mask won't break your beauty budget. It's got Amazonian white clay to draw out the dirt and gunk, and oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe. Trust us, a once-a-week, 10-minute time-out with this baby is a treat with benefits.
3. Eye Soother: Earth Therapeutics Cucumber Eye Care Kit, $9.99
Of course you're burning the candle at both ends — you're a bride! When sleepless nights lead to undereye puffiness, de-flate with this two-part kit. The soothing eye pads are laced with cucumber, green tea and vitamin E. And the eye mask (which is filled with gel beads and secures with a Velcro strap) gets tossed in the freezer first before you pop it on and chill out.
4. Cult Tool: Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge With Bamboo Charcoal, $18
Okay, it isn't a Clarisonic. But for under 20 bucks, you can't beat the deep-cleansing, skin-smoothing manual exfoliation of Boscia's super-popular Konjac sponges. This latest version is laced with charcoal, the pore-declogging ingredient du jour. Translation? With this single purchase, you'll be tapping into two beauty trends for the price of one.
5. Oil-Free Sunscreen for Face: L'Oreal Paris Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer Face Lotion SPF 30, $9.99
To prep for your big day and all the photo ops leading up to it, you need to keep your face 1000 percent sunburn-free. (Seriously. It's always important, but even more so now.) That means a daily dose of sunscreen that's light enough to layer under makeup is required. We like this one because it's punched up with antioxidant vitamin E, a potent wrinkle preventor.
6. Gentle Scrub: St. Ives Nourished And Smooth Oatmeal Scrub + Mask, $4.29
You have to love a scrub that's gentle enough to pinch hit as a mask. Sure, you could whip up your own DIY oatmeal concoction, but why go through that hassle when this one is so good — and so affordable? From St. Ives, which makes some of the best drugstore scrubs on the planet, this new nourishing number is effective, sulfate- and paraben-free, and smells delicious.
7. Acne-Zapper: Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Targeted Spot Treatment, $10
The gold standard for a blemish blaster: It does the job without making your skin as dry as the Sahara Desert. This award-winning number relies on plant-based antiseptics and clarifiers - tea tree oil, calendula, yarrow - to significantly reduce pimples in 48 hours. (If not zap them completely — we've seen it happen.) For best results, dab it on with a cotton swab.
8. Dark Spot Remover: Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream, 24.99
Perhaps more than any other skincare product, spot-removers (a.k.a. "brighteners") need time to work their magic. But with consistent use of a legit, high quality offering like this one, you'll start to see changes. If your dark spots and discoloration are minor, skip the lasers and go for this cream.
9. Cleanser: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, $12.99
It's important to remove makeup and daily grime without stripping the skin. Technically, this foaming number is targeted to Normal to Oily complexions. But since it's laced with ceramides and hyaluronic acid — the building blocks of healthy, moisturized skin — it doesn't leave your almost-married mug feeling tight and dry.
10. Pore Strips: Biore Deep-Cleansing Pore Strips, $6.99
You can be trucking along, happily choosing your bridesmaids dresses and rearranging your seating chart for the 15th time and — bam! — you look in the mirror and spy about a gazillion blackheads on your nose. Get rid of them, fast, with this classic strip. But don't overdo it, especially if your skin is prone to redness; every once in a while is plenty.