How to Prep Your Skin for Wedding Day Makeup

Two experts share the best day-of skincare routine.

Woman in white dress brushing hair from face with her hand

Meraki Wedding Photo & Film

Finding the best makeup artist for your wedding day is a big deal. After countless Google searches and Instagram stalking sessions, you’ve finally found the artist who will bring your wedding beauty dreams to life. However, expert makeup application without a clean canvas is a lot like painting your house without priming it first, and that’s where a proper skincare routine comes in. 

Whether you’ve been getting regular facials in the six months leading up to the wedding or you’re low-maintenance and limit your skincare routine to a couple of steps, here are some tips and tricks from makeup artist Alexandra Rosengrant and aesthetician Cristina Simon. They share how to prep your skin for wedding makeup and ensure your makeup maintains a beautiful complexion from the ceremony to the reception to the after-party.

Meet the Expert

  • Alexandra Rosengrant is a Los Angeles-based hair colorist and stylist and bridal makeup artist.
  • Cristina Simon is a master esthetician at Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts Clinic in Los Angeles.

Wedding Day Skincare Steps

Simon tells us that you should solidify your skincare routine, ideally, at least a month before the wedding. This isn’t to say that you need to do your entire wedding day routine every day for a month, but rather, Simon does not recommend introducing any new products into your routine the day of the wedding

Rosengrant echoes this sentiment and adds that she’ll typically ask clients at their makeup trials what their usual skincare routines are, so it’s best to solidify that as early as possible so your skin prep at the makeup trial is the same skin routine you’ll do on the actual wedding day. 

Once you’ve solidified your skincare lineup and found products you love and your skin reacts well to, the wedding day pre-makeup skincare prep should look like the following:

Step One: Cleanse

Starting your morning skincare routine with a cleanser is pretty self-explanatory, but on your wedding day, Simon says the cleanse step should focus on hydration—or as she points out, ensuring the skin is "plump and glowy."

Step Two: Serum

Next up is a serum. Simon emphasizes the use of hydrating serums, saying, "something water-based, preferably something with hyaluronic acid." Hydration is always important, but it is especially vital on your wedding day because dehydration is what leads to the appearance of fine lines, pores, and makeup not quite sitting right on the skin. Even those who claim to have "oily" skin should still focus on water-based hydrating serums during this step because as Simon says, "it is definitely possible to have oily-type skin but still have surface dehydration (i.e. lack of water). In fact, oily skin can be due to your skin naturally responding to dehydration by producing more oil, which is why keeping hydration in mind is so important."

Rosengrant doubly encourages this step and says that if she shows up and a client hasn’t properly hydrated their skin, she’ll personally use a "hyaluronic acid or moisturizer before applying makeup." Rosengrant says that even the makeup can begin to dry out if the skin isn’t properly hydrated first.

Step Three: Moisturize

Lock in the benefits of the serum with a moisturizer. Simon prefers to use a lighter "daytime" moisturizer here because "you don’t want to put [on] anything super heavy before makeup," she says, especially since your pre-makeup skincare routine will end with primer. 

Step Four: SPF

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on SPF. Even if it’s a nighttime wedding or indoors, SPF is necessary to protect your skin. For those who fear that SPF might cause a white-cast or so-called "bounce back" in photos, Simon says to opt for chemical-based SPF, rather than a mineral-based one. Chemical-based SPFs typically contain a combination of as many as six chemicals—oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and homosalate—whereas mineral-based SPFs typically contain only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, but usually both.

Step Five: Primer

Finish your pre-makeup skincare routine with primer. Although, you should consult with your makeup artist first because some experts prefer to apply the primer themselves. Rosengrant will apply different primers for different skin types, such as a hydrating primer for dry skin or a mattifying serum or anti-shine primer for oilier skin.

Wedding Beauty Extras

If you want to up the ante on your wedding morning routine, Simon likes chilled gel under-eye masks. If you want to do an entire sheet mask for the whole face, Simon says that’s best done the night before the wedding.

Avoid using a face oil the morning of your wedding. A nice face oil as the final step in your skincare routine the night before the wedding is great, but not on the morning of!

Additionally, if you can learn how to Gua Sha before the big day, "it’s great for just getting rid of any puffiness. It's also just great for calming down mentally because it feels really good." Bonus points if you can put your Gua Sha stone in the fridge before application!

What Not to Do the Morning of Your Wedding

Simon and Rosengrant both emphasized that a big "no-no" is exfoliating the day of the wedding. Instead, Simon says to exfoliate at least two days before the wedding. The esthetician also cautions against using sunless or self-tanner on the day of the wedding. And as mentioned before, do not use any new products on the wedding day in the event your skin has a bad reaction to it.

Airbrush Makeup Considerations

Airbrush makeup is all the rage in the wedding beauty scene, but it requires a slightly different skincare prep with regards to one issue: facial hair. Airbrush makeup adheres to the face best when the face has naturally occurring peach fuzz. This means no dermaplaning. Although still relatively niche, dermaplaning is an aesthetic procedure growing in popularity that exfoliates your skin by removing vellus hair, better known as "peach fuzz." Dermaplaning is done by a professional facialist, so just be aware if you’re getting a pre-wedding facial and the aesthetician suggests dermaplaning for a super smooth finish.

However, if you aren’t planning to use airbrush makeup, Rosengrant suggests that dermaplaning "at least 72 hours before the wedding" is actually a great additional skincare step for a "smoother look" and can look really "flawless" when using traditional, non-airbrush makeup.

more in

The Ultimate Guide to Bridal Makeup

Related Stories