Along with thinking about how you’ll wear your hair and what you want your makeup to look like, there’s another (equally) important component of your bridal beauty plan. We’re talking about skincare. No matter whether you’re starting from scratch or already have a dedicated regimen and just want to up the ante, the earlier you can get your big-day skincare routine in place, the better. “A year ahead is A+, but six months ahead of time is ideal,” says Melissa Levin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist founder of Entiére Dermatology in New York City, who adds that three months is the bare minimum.
Like many other parts of the wedding planning process, there are also certain things you’ll want to do right before the big day. However, it also bears mentioning that you definitely don’t want to start any new products three to six weeks before the big day, as you run the risk of a potential reaction and things such as redness, a rash, or peeling, cautions Sheila Farhang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Tucson, Arizona.
Meet the Expert
To help simplify your pre-wedding skincare protocol, keep reading for more info on both the best bridal skincare products, and when to start using them.
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
Top tip: Cleansers are a great place to save your money. Any active ingredients aren’t on your skin for long enough to make a difference; all you need is a gentle formula that will cleanse your skin without stripping it. This one fits the bill: a soap- and fragrance-free option that nourishes the skin with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, great for dryer skin. Still, it also foams up nicely, great for those who are on the normal or even oilier side.
Byoma Moisturizing Gel Cream
This moisturizer contains niacinamide and ceramides to help bolster the skin barrier and lock in hydration, but in an oil-free, gel-like formula that never feels greasy or heavy. It also touts antioxidant-rich, skin-soothing green tea, and it is both alcohol- and fragrance-free. It's even dermatologist-tested, a boon for those with sensitive skin. Not to mention that the wallet-friendly price tag can’t be beat.
Best Antioxidant Serum
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
Both dermatologists we spoke with underscore the importance of using an antioxidant serum underneath sunscreen every morning. (FYI, this is a good skincare habit in general, upcoming wedding or not.) By neutralizing skin-damaging free radicals caused by exposure to things such as sun and pollution, topical antioxidants can help improve both the appearance and health of your skin. This particular antioxidant serum is a cult classic for good reason. The proprietary formula contains a unique mix of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid, all powerful antioxidants in their own right, and even more so when they’re combined. While it is pricey, a little goes a long way; you only need a few drops for your entire face.
Best Antioxidant Serum, Runner-Up
Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil-Serum
A more affordable option, this relies on plant-based, antioxidant-rich ingredients—camellia oil, sea buckthorn—along with vitamin E. As the name suggests, it’s a dual-phase oil-serum hybrid (so make sure to give it a good shake before using) that leaves skin glowy and hydrated. Also nice: It works for all skin types, even oily and acne-prone.
Best Night Cream
Skin Better AlphaRet Overnight Cream
Levin says this is her favorite over-the-counter night cream. It contains do-it-all retinol, an ingredient that can do everything from fade discoloration to smooth out wrinkles to help keep pores clear, making it choice for pretty much any and every complexion concern. She lauds the formula for pairing retinol with some other heavy-hitting anti-agers, namely glycolic acid and peptides.
Best Night Cream, Runner-Up
ISDIN Isdinceutics Melatonik Restorative Night Serum
For those who have very sensitive skin or may be planning for pregnancy, Levin says bakuchiol is a good alternative to retinol. It’s been shown to have similar anti-aging effects but without the irritation that often comes with retinol; it’s also safe to use when you’re pregnant. It’s the star of the show in this nighttime serum, which she recommends. Vitamin C and melatonin are in the mix as well, both powerful antioxidants.
Nécessaire The Sunscreen
Hopefully, a sunscreen (broad-spectrum, with at least SPF 30) has long been part of your skincare routine. If not, consider this a friendly reminder to start using one ASAP. Not only is it imperative for the appearance of your skin—since sun exposure can lead to everything from wrinkles to redness to dark spots—it’s also essential for preventing skin cancer. This newbie is one of our current favorites, a gentle, mineral-based formula that is hydrating and non-sticky and won’t clog pores or cause irritation—ideal for everyday use.
Best Neck Cream
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Moisturizer
According to Levin, more and more brides are focusing on the skin below their chin, making a neck cream a good addition to your routine. This drugstore buy is a great choice, helping to both smooth out wrinkles and improve elasticity. Also nice: It can be used on your face as well.
Best Eye Cream
Elemis Superfood Matcha Eye Dew
Farhang says that an eye cream with green tea is a good way to help depuff eye bags. This formula contains it in the form of matcha, which also has plenty of protective antioxidant properties. The gel texture feels innately cooling (even more so if you stash it in the fridge, which will also up the depuffing ante), and it hydrates without feeling greasy, so it's great to use in the morning under makeup.
Best Body Lotion
AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
Along with your face, it’s worth giving a little extra TLC to the skin on your body—especially if your wedding dress is going to show off your arms, back, or decolletage. This lotion not only hydrates to combat dryness, it also contains gently exfoliating lactic acid, helping to smooth out unwanted bumps or areas of rough texture.
Best Hydrating Serum
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient that works by attracting moisture to and trapping it in the skin. The molecule can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water; in the skin, this translates not only to plenty of hydration but also a (temporary) plumping effect that smooths out the look of lines and wrinkles. A hyaluronic acid complex makes up 75 percent of this serum, ensuring plenty of bang for your buck.
Best Face Exfoliant
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment
“Using gentle, brightening products made with lactic acid can help improve both the texture and tone of your skin,” says Farhang, who suggests using them weekly. We like that this serum can be used in two different ways—leave it on overnight, or use it as a mask, rinsing it off after 15 minutes if your skin is more on the sensitive side. Either way, you’ll reap the benefits of the exfoliating lactic acid, as well as skin-brightening licorice root extract and soothing prickly pear extract to help reduce any potential redness.
Best Skin-Clearing Mask
Lancer Skincare Clarifying Detox Mask
Knock out any pesky pimples with this complexion clearing mask. It relies on a 3 percent concentration of sulfur, an ingredient known for combatting bacteria and inflammation (two major contributing factors when it comes to acne), as well as reducing oil and uncloging pores. Green clay also helps to absorb excess oil, while green tea tamps down redness and azelaic acid brightens the skin. In short, it can quickly improve the appearance of blemish-prone skin.
Best Face Mist
Tower 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray
Keep this aptly named face mist on hand to use anytime, anywhere. The key ingredient is hypochlorous acid, a wunderkind that is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory, ideal for soothing all kinds of skin issues, from breakouts to eczema to weird rashes. It’s perfect for using throughout the day to keep your complexion calm and clear, and/or to reach for if and when any kind of irritation does pop up.
Best Body Exfoliant
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel
If you are, in fact, going to be showing some skin in your wedding dress, now’s a good time to step up your exfoliating game to make sure everything looks smooth and even-toned. These peel pads are a super-convenient way to do so. Simply swipe them across any problem spots and let the combo of alpha- and beta-hydroxy do their thing, dissolving dead skin cells that can cause bumps and discoloration. Use them two to three times per week.
Best Pimple Patches
Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Blemish Patches
If a zit pops up in the days before your wedding, whatever you do, don’t pick it, cautions Farhang. “You can cover a pimple with makeup, but it’s much harder to cover up a scabbed pimple that’s been messed with,” she says. Enter these patches. Simply stick one on over any blemish; the hydrocolloid material both helps to absorb excess fluid so that it looks smaller, and it is a great way to ensure that you stay hands-off and aren’t tempted to pick.
Best Face Roller
Ecotools Jade Roller
Face looking a little puffy from a lack of sleep or one too many cocktails at the rehearsal dinner? Gently massage this jade roller across your skin to help flush out excess fluid, all while helping you feel more relaxed (always a win). Keep it in the fridge if you want it to feel extra cold and soothing. We also like the fact that it’s dual-ended with two different size rollers that make it easy to target even smaller areas, like under your eyes.
Best Eye Patches
Mary Kay Hydrogel Eye Patches
Pop on these patches when you start getting ready the morning of the big day. In just 20 minutes, they help to hydrate, cool, soothe, and de-puff the area under your eyes, making you look totally fresh and well-rested (even if you’re not). They’re the perfect pre-makeup prep step, not to mention that the shimmery pink color makes them super cute and Instagrammable.
What to Look For in Wedding Prep Skincare Products
A good cleanser, moisturizer, and, of course, sunscreen are paramount for any skincare routine, pre-wedding or not.
Tried-and-true active ingredients
Some of the ones recommended by our derms include vitamin C (for brightening and antioxidant protection) and retinol for anti-aging and skin-clearing benefits.
As you get closer to the big day, it’s a good idea to tone things down and stick with simple, gentle basics, says Farhang; you don’t want to risk any type of irritation or reaction in the weeks and days before the wedding.
When should I start a skincare routine before my wedding day?
The sooner, the better. A year before is ideal, according to the experts we spoke with, but at the very minimum at least three months before the big day.
How can I get glowing skin for my wedding day?
Along with using exfoliating over-the-counter products, in-office procedures such as chemical peels, the Clear & Brilliant laser, and HydraFacials are a great way to help brighten the skin, says Farhang. Start these about three months before the big day, she adds.
How many days before my wedding should I get a facial?
According to Levin, you should get a facial a month before your wedding.
Why Trust Brides
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has nearly 15 years of journalism experience covering the beauty and lifestyle space for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s also a recent newlywed—who spent quite a bit of time establishing her pre-wedding skincare routine.