One of the hottest trends we spotted on the 2015 bridal runways? Statement backs. Whether it's a plunging backless gown, sheer panels, embellished accents, or oversized bows, this season's backs were just as gorgeous as the fronts.
Such a style, however, puts a lot of emphasis on an area that probably hasn't received as much care as the rest of your body. Though if you dream of walking down the aisle in a gown with a statement back, we're here to help. We consulted with Ellen Sackoff, principal of Cornelia Spa at The Surrey, and Kinh O'Brien, a San Francisco based Pilates instructor to put together the ultimate guide to sculpting a sexy back — from the must-do exercises to can't-miss beauty treatments.
Two to Four Months Before the Wedding
Get a "Back Facial"
"A few months before the wedding, a bride should book a back facial," recommends Sackoff. "Having an aesthetician look at and treat the skin is very important since most of us don't know what's going on back there. A professional treatment including steaming, extractions, and a mask or a peel can be very nourishing and help rebalance the skin. It's a lot easier for you to maintain the results and take care of your skin after that."
For an exercise routine that really focuses on toning the back, O'Brien says that Pilates cannot be beat. "A lot of Pilates work focuses on the spine and lengthens the muscles from the neck to the lower back, giving it that sleek, strong line," she says. For best results, start going to mat or Reformer classes about three to four months before your wedding.
One Month Before the Wedding
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
"The best thing you can do for your back is to keep it moisturized," Sackoff says. "The skin there is probably not getting the amount of hydration it needs." Try using a moisturizer that contains sea botanicals such as algae. In addition to being incredibly effective for dry or irritated patches, marine ingredients also help to re-mineralize skin, infusing it with nutrients that boost collagen, firmness, and elasticity.
Using a fine scrub every other week helps to remove dead cells and re-texturize the skin, advises Sackoff. This makes the skin more radiant and able to absorb moisturizer more effectively. "Make sure you start exfoliating at least a month before the big day," she advises. "It takes at least 30 days for your cells to turn over."
Try a Clay Mask
"Clay masks are amazing for decongesting the skin," explains Sackoff. "They help to clean out clogged pores and reduce the production of sebum, which contributes to acne and blemishes. It is essential, however to look for a mask that is hydrating."
See More: The Best Bridal Boot Camps
Loosen the Upper Back
"A beautiful back starts with an elongated neck and shoulder," explains O'Brien. An easy exercise you can do to lengthen the area is to practice raising both your arms over your head and then lowering your shoulders away and down from your ears while keeping your hands up. That moves releases the muscles along your neck and shoulders and will help you look and feel taller.
Open The Chest
Good posture goes a long way in giving your back that lean look. To help train your shoulders to fall more gracefully, O'Brien recommends trying a simple chest expansion exercise while you're at your desk. Start by clasping your hands behind your head, bending your elbows and letting them fall outwards. Then pull your shoulders back and release your head into a mini back bend.
Tone Up All Over
One of the best back exercises you can do at home is the "swan" move, O'Brien says. Lie on your stomach on a mat with your elbows bent and your palms resting on the mat just outside your shoulders. Breathe and lift both your upper and lower body off the mat, pulling the shoulders down your back while lifting your chest and reaching your legs behind you. Hold and repeat. This exercises strengthens and tones all the muscles along your shoulders, upper back, and lower back.
On Your Wedding Day
Apply a (Subtle) Shimmery Lotion
Now is your day to show it off! "As a last step, apply a bit of shimmery moisturizer or body serum to your back," says Sackoff. "A little bit of glitter or mica can diffuse any imperfections on the skin and giving it a polished, glowing finish."
Don't forget to keep your shoulders back as you walk down the aisle! It's a simple tip, but it will make you look even more regal.