In the one-month countdown to the big day, there's so much to do. But most vitally, can you ensure that whatever skincare issue you have right now won't be still plaguing you in a month? Or, even more frustrating, that all the potions, lotions, and creams you're slathering on to ensure you'll be your most photo-ready aren't doing more harm than good? However, adjusting your skincare regimen and getting the targeted treatments you need 30 days out will result in skin that looks positively glowing and gorgeous when you walk down the aisle.
Aesthetician and eponymous skincare brand founder Kate Somerville says that ideally you should start treating your skin three to six months before your wedding, but you can still see great results with only one month to prepare. Even if you've procrastinated, there are fast fixes for skin concerns of all varieties, ranging from acne and hyperpigmentation to pore size and wrinkles. Here, in addition to Somerville, we've tapped dermatologist Debra Jaliman and aesthetician Maria Dolanescu of Karina NYC Lash & Skin Care's for their best fast-fix skin advice. Heed these tips and maybe discord among your family and friends be the only drama you're dealing with the week of your wedding—no skin issues!
Acne and/or Clogged Pores
Dolanescu recommends nightly applications of Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, which she has dubbed "a facial in a bottle." It tones, exfoliates, hydrates, and rebalances the skin's pH to impart a glow. She also says to plan pre-wedding facials six months in advance, "but the last facial should be two weeks before the big day," she says. If your skin reacts, you'll want to have time for it to calm down. ("Lotion P50" balancing exfoliator, Biologique Recherche)
While professional facials help keep skin clear, at-home cleansing is key to making skin look its best. Jaliman recommends choosing a face wash with glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid so you don't dry your skin out. "I instruct patients to clean their face with either cleansing pads or using a sonic cleansing system," Jaliman advises.
If you suffer from severe or cystic acne, you should speak with your dermatologist, as over the counter products and facial treatments may not be strong enough to combat your acne alone. A dermatologist can prescribe topical or oral medication like spironolactone, doxycycline, or minocycline to help boost results quickly. Jaliman recommends Aza Clear, a topical product that treats both acne and hyperpigmentation because it contains azelaic acid as a well as well as niacinamide.
Over-the-counter salicylic acid or glycolic acid pads are effective for people who tend to have clogged pores, Jaliman says. We recommend salicylic acid-spiked Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, a wallet-friendly exfoliator that yields instant results. Somerville finds sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil and salicylic acid to be among the most effective ingredients when treating acne. "Look for products that deliver these active ingredients without over-drying skin," Somerville says. "Stripping skin of oil will cause overcompensation and skin will become off balance by producing excess oil." To avoid over-drying, she says to look for time-release formulas and/or formulas that are coupled with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, to minimize drying. "The biggest mistake I see my clients make is applying multiple acne treatments with different active ingredients at once, which is harsh and drying to skin," Somerville notes. (Skin perfecting 2% BHA liquid exfoliant, $9, Paula's Choice)
If you want to go beyond products and prescriptions for acne, Jaliman recommends blue-light treatments. They can be done anywhere on the face or body and greatly reduce inflammation and bacteria. "This done in conjunction with products could result in more visible results before the wedding," she says.
Scarring or Large Pores
Somerville recommends Micro-Needling or Laser Genesis to refine pores and even out texture. "They can be done in conjunction with LED," she says. With Micro-Needling, micro-fine needles are used with a serum to produce transdermal channels on the skin's surface, activating cellular regeneration to help even out texture. Laser Genesis is a noninvasive laser that uses near infrared light and heat to get down to the dermis to stimulate collagen production and healthy cell growth. This treatment smooths out the surface layers, too.
Jaliman likes products containing niacinamide for treating discoloration. Retinol is also her go-to remedy, but she says to wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide every morning. "Otherwise the sun's rays will undo everything you've accomplished the evening before," she says. A series of laser treatments will also clear skin of imperfections quickly. "Fractional lasers (Fraxel) can rid skin of dark spots or discoloration caused by sun damage and improve the look of scarring," she says. Lighter lasers like the Genesis or Revlite require no downtime. "It may take a series of treatments two weeks apart," she explains. So if you start one month before, you can have two pre-wedding.
Somerville notes that some pigmentation (generally on darker skin types) needs to be pre-treated with a lightening agent two weeks before a laser treatment for optimal results, as it helps break up pigment better. Look for products with ingredients like vitamin C, licorice root extract, and kojic acid to help even the appearance of skin tone. We like Sunday Riley CEO C+E Antioxidant + Repair Moisturizer, which blends vitamins C and E to increase skin's clarity. "The most effective ingredient for treating pigment is hydroquinone," Somerville says. Hydroquinone bleaches the skin by stopping melanin production. Glytone Dark Spot Corrector is a good over-the-counter option, but you can also get hydroquinone prescribed. Those with darker skin tones can use hydroquinone as well as a lightening agent to help even out skin. ("CEO C+E Antioxidant + Repair" moisturizer, $65, Sunday Riley available at Sephora)
Uneven Skin Texture
Light peels are another nice way to improve texture. A salicylic acid peel will help with bumpy skin and clogged pores. Jaliman recommends scheduling two peels the month before. For slight discoloration of the skin or if you want to brighten it, she recommends doing a lactic acid or glycolic acid peel. One to try: the BeautyRx Peel Bar at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City.
Somerville says to use super mild, fragrance-free, dye-free products that are formulated for sensitive skin or that are hypoallergenic. "Just because a product is natural doesn't mean it won't be irritating," she warns. She says to avoid anything that is astringent or drying—anything containing alcohol, alpha hydroxy acids, and retinols. Somerville's Dry Skin Saver works well to soothe skin at night, thanks to its inclusion of oatmeal, the only FDA-approved OTC ingredient for eczema. Stress can be a trigger, as can detergents and dehydration. Somerville also recommends taking baths if you're an eczema sufferer to help hydrate the skin. ("Dry Skin Saver" moisturizer, $48, Kate Somerville)
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Botox and fillers can be used to soften fine lines and wrinkles on the face instantly. "It's good to do a trial at least one month out, especially if you've never had them before," says Jaliman. "This way your dermatologist can make any necessary adjustments prior to the wedding date. It's especially important in case you swell or bruise."
If you're afflicted with rosacea, look for products containing calming agents like aloe, lavender, and green tea. Somerville recommends Laser Genesis and LED red light therapies, both noninvasive treatments that gently diffuse redness and calm skin. For severe rosacea, Somerville recommends kick-starting treatments with Global, a laser that delivers results after just one session. Using green laser technology, Global heats abnormal vessels that cause discoloration and helps eliminate rosacea, vascular conditions, redness, and discoloration in the skin, restoring a less red skin tone and color. "There is around week of downtime," Somerville says. "The skin has a rippling effect to it and you may experience more redness at first." Diet also plays a large role in rosacea—Somerville says to avoid trigger foods such as caffeine, white sugar, white flour, alcohol, and spicy food. "Eat food that encourages the growth of good bacteria versus bad bacteria like leafy greens, high fiber foods, and probiotics," she says.