When gearing up for the big day, there's a slew of lists to consider like your wedding planning checklist, your cocktail party playlist, and a guest list you’re still refining. And given all the planning ahead of you, it’s oftentimes easy to forget about one essential list that should never be forgotten: your bridal skincare routine.
Great skin doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ll want to start working on your skincare regimen at least a year before your wedding. You'll also want to tackle this with the help of a professional in order to ensure you start a plan that's tailored to your personal needs. “While every bride wants to look glowing and effortless on their wedding day, no two brides will share the exact journey,” says Dr. Kim Nichols, a board-certified dermatologist.
To further break it down, we asked the pros to put together the best game plan for your bridal skincare routine leading up to your big day. Follow this timeline to ensure your skin is as glowy as possible.
Meet the Expert
- Shari Marchbein, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
- Kim Nichols, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in Greenwich, CT.
- Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
- Joanna Vargas is a celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care.
One Year Out
If you’re newly engaged, consider making a dermatologist appointment as soon as possible. “Nothing works overnight,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Machbein. “It will take three months or so to really see improvement in your skin.” That includes new skincare ingredients, treatments, and injectables, so starting early will ensure that you get the results you desire.
For those who have acne or rosacea, “it can take six or more months to even see improvement. That's why it's so important for us to really tweak routines, and have enough time to see you back in the office and make any necessary adjustments [with treatments],” adds Dr. Marchbein. What's more, your dermatologist can also use the one-year mark to review how you're currently managing your skin and make additions or changes based on your personal goals.
Regarding specific products, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kim Nichols advises that this would be a good time to introduce active ingredients like vitamin C for brightening, retinol to address fine lines, and an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) for improved texture. “And if the bride is not already using SPF daily, they should start,” she adds. Dr. Marchbein also notes that peptides are another ingredient to consider as they help create new collagen, which in turn "can minimize fine lines and wrinkles. [Peptides] can help with pore size, they can help with texture, and they can also improve some volume loss—so they can actually tighten the skin a bit.”
"Many brides wear dresses that show off their decolletage,” says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “The skin on the neck is thinner than on the face; and with less naturally occurring sebum compared to the face, the [neck] skin is susceptible to irritation, dryness, and early wrinkling.” So, don’t forget to moisturize and nourish the neck and chest in preparation for your wedding.
Additional Product Recommendations
- Alastin Restorative Skin Complex, $210: Both Dr. Levin and Dr. Marchbein recommended Alastin products to introduce peptides into your skincare routine. “I'd add peptides for the eye, face, neck, and chest,” says Dr. Marchbein.
- No7 Ceramide and Peptide Capsules, $22: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly drugstore option, Dr. Marchbein recommends No7 for their peptide technology. These peptide serum capsules are also formulated with ceramides, which are key for hydrated, healthy skin.
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial AHA and BHA Mask, $80: Dr. Marchbein recommends adding a once-a-week chemical exfoliation to your routine a year out from your wedding (in case your skin reacts). This at-home peel combines AHA and BHA to exfoliate and clarify the skin.
- SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $182: Dr. Nichols likes this vitamin C serum, which provides a healthy dose of antioxidants to your skin and can help to brighten the complexion.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral Sunscreen, $35: Make a tinted mineral sunscreen your new best friend for the next year (and maybe always). Sun protection is absolutely vital to maintain the improvements you’ll see with your new skincare routine and to prevent further skin damage.
Nine Months Out
“By this time, the bride’s skincare routine should be consistent,” says Dr. Nichols. “With skincare, it’s better to be consistent than to try different products to reduce any potential irritation or purging.” Therefore, once you have your product regimen set, you can then consider a few treatments that may work for you. Botox, for instance, can be a great way to get firmer, more youthful skin and prevent further wrinkles from forming.
If injectables aren’t your thing, though, there are a few other treatments you can consider at this point. “The six-to-nine-month mark is when we consider starting skin-focused treatments such as laser, chemical peels, or micro-needling treatments,” says Dr. Levin. This will give you enough time to see any improvements, as well as time to recover if your skin has an adverse reaction. “Multiple sessions are required to address acne scarring, brown spots, pigmentation, and fine wrinkles,” she adds. “For example, broadband light (BBL), intense pulsed light (IPL), or fractionated resurfacing may require two to six sessions, typically spaced one month apart.”
“Some brides may also want to consult their dermatologists about non-invasive body contouring, thinning hair solutions, and leg vein treatments,” says Dr. Nichols. “Thinning hair, in particular, is a huge concern for soon-to-be brides. A board-certified dermatologist can help figure out the exact cause and suggest appropriate treatments, whether it’s PRF for hair growth, prescription topicals, or oral supplements.”
Six Months Out
With half a year to go, this is your last call to try any of the above treatments for the first time. Additionally, you should look closely at your diet to make sure you’re eating foods that support glowy, healthy skin. “If you haven’t already, definitely make sure your diet is balanced and full of antioxidants and leafy greens,” says Dr. Nichols. Some skin-friendly foods include spinach, blueberries, and sweet potatoes, she notes. “In addition, taking supplements and vitamins will help ensure you are looking and feeling your best leading up to your big day.”
Three Months Out
If you want to sneak in a few facials before your wedding, three months is the absolute minimum to try anything new in case your skin rebels. “A meeting with your facialist two to three months ahead of the wedding to plan a treatment schedule works well,” says celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas. She generally recommends LED light treatments and microcurrent facials about four weeks before the big day to get toned skin (though this may vary based on your personal skin needs). If you don’t have a regular facialist, ask your dermatologist for recommendations.
This time period also requires you to be gentle with your skin. “I recommend not trying any new exfoliants at this time to avoid any potential skin irritation,” says Dr. Nichols. “However, three months out is a great time to incorporate masks as needed depending on your concern. There are so many face masks that help to hydrate, soothe, and brighten the skin.” Just be sure to patch-test any new products, and don’t try any new products at all once you’re in the two-month range.
One Month Out
If you've started Botox and can’t imagine life without it, you’ll want to do your final pre-wedding treatment one month before the wedding. “It takes a full two weeks to kick in,” says Dr. Marchbein, so giving yourself one month means you’ll have time for it to work and time to make little adjustments if need be.
Botox injections are typically done every three months, so Dr. Marchbein recommends counting backward from one month out to plan your treatments for the year. For example, if your wedding is in June, get your treatments in August, November, February, and May.
You should also start to limit your alcohol consumption during this time. “Most brides are stressed and relatives arriving daily doesn't help,” says Vargas. “Drinking will make you look tired and puffy so try to skip it.” Lastly, sun exposure is something to avoid when you're one month out. “I cannot stress this enough,” says Dr. Nichols. “Everyone should avoid tanning and excessive sun exposure. There are so many organic spray tans that provide beautiful results while avoiding harmful UVA and UVB rays.”