Natural, glowing, dewy skin has always been my dream. But before getting engaged, I had never prioritized a skincare routine that would help get me there. Once we began the wedding planning process, clear skin became as important to me as finding a wedding dress, which was already hard enough (there are just so many options!).
Exactly a week after our engagement, the co-founder of facial and skincare shop Heyday, Michael Pollak, reached out to me about a panel he was hosting at his newly opened Los Angeles outpost. I believe the opening of Heyday in Los Angeles and being reconnected was the universe in action. I had met Michael in New York when he opened the first Heyday location in Nomad years ago. Now, there are eight locations between the two coasts. After visiting his first west coast outpost for a facial and learning about their monthly membership plans, including a once-a-month 50-minute facial, I immediately knew this would be the catalyst to glowing skin on my wedding day. I was at the ready for monthly facials and Michael gently reminded me that my then-fiancé, now-husband should partake too, because "skincare is for everyone." Why hadn't I thought of that? Shrug.
Monthly facials quickly became the best part of the wedding planning process for both of us. Each month, we looked forward to this time of self-care that we practiced together. And, as I had envisioned, it proved to be helpful in staying on top of a healthy skincare regimen.
Ahead, find a breakdown of my routine and go-to products for clear skin (plus makeup-free selfies that I took over the course of six months to document the progress, but also hold myself accountable for things like taking my makeup off before bed).
MONTHLY FACIALS AT HEYDAY
Having a membership for regular monthly visits with an esthetician was game-changing. It was like having a personal trainer for your face. Each month my esthetician at Heyday, Adi Kempler, would check in on my progress and motivate me to maintain my routine while working on our next skincare goal. I would receive an email after every appointment recapping my facial, and detailing what I should focus on in the next 30 days.
For instance, in our first treatment, Adi focused on deep cleansing and boosting my skin's hydration. It was December and my skin felt and looked like it had gone through a major drought. She would also make product recommendations based on my skin's needs, like Naturopathica's Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil for my thirsty skin (more on my product routine later, which Adi also helped me devise).
"Your skin looked phenomenal!" Adi wrote to me in an email in February. "I’m so proud of your diligence and dedication to your at-home routine. Thrilled at the results so far and can’t wait to continue this skincare journey! See you next month!" How's that for motivation?
DAILY SKINCARE ROUTINE
I have a "less is more" approach when it comes to beauty products, which Adi supported. While I had the products that work well for me down, I learned that I was using them incorrectly. For example, I was deep cleansing my face in my morning shower and not at night.
"[Double cleansing and toning at night] is a lot more effective because it's been a full day of being outdoors and braving the elements," Adi shared. "Whereas in the morning, you're just rinsing off excess product from the night before or excess oil from sleeping overnight—there's nothing more that you're cleaning."
After learning this easy-to-fix life lesson and adding a few new favorite products recommended by my esthetician, my daily skincare routine looked like this:
I keep Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash in the shower and cleanse with it every morning. It's gentle for everyday use and the scent is calming and refreshing.
Protecting skin from sun damage is one of the most important things we can do for anti-aging. After I've cleansed, I apply Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18.
As I immediately learned, having a thorough skincare routine at night is much more important than having one in the morning. If I wore makeup that day, I took special care to remove iot each night with DHC Eye & Makeup remover.
To cleanse my face, I would alternate between Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser and Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash. Like Ursa Major, Tata Harper products are clean and non-harmful, which is important to me, especially when it comes to everyday use. The Regenerating Cleanser also has micro apricot seed powder that gently exfoliates and polishes.
After I've cleansed my skin, I tone with Son & Park Beauty Water. Soko Glam co-founder Charlotte Cho turned me onto it years ago as a product she swears by, and I've used it as part of my ritual ever since.
Next, I generously apply Naturopathica Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil. This was a recommendation from my esthetician, Adi, and the newest product to be added into my list of favorites. I have combination skin that's also sensitive. This product helps hydrate my skin, and is soothing. The scent could be the signature fragrance for self-care.
Historically, I've never been good about applying eye cream. It has always felt like a chore, but I resolved to give it a go. Adi introduced me to Naturopathica Primrose Eye & Lip Treatment, which is non-harmful and feels like a treat for my skin.
What I've always been good about is applying Lucas Pawpaw ointment to my lips at night. I am obsessed with how hydrating it is and how it helps me wake up with super moisturized lips.
While not technically a beauty product, adding a Dyson humidifier to my nighttime routine was a game-changer. It worked while I slept, adding moisture to my dehydrated skin. While a splurge, it's one of those things that made me think: why haven't I done this sooner?
MONTHLY LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Most of my breakouts are caused by hair growth. My skin is sensitive and when I do most forms of hair removal that aren't laser, the hair tends to get trapped underneath my skin and cause ingrowns, which resemble a breakout. When I was younger, I would pick at them, which led to scarring. Even though I've always known this about my skin, the cost of laser hair removal meant that I tended to be inconsistent with the treatments. But with my wedding day as a clear-cut goal date for my quest to clear skin (and because my aesthetician also urged laser hair removal for problem areas like my chin), I visited OrangeTwist, formerly Illuminate Face & Body Bar, once a month for laser hair removal. The minimization of blemishes happened within weeks.
SAKARA LIFE'S 20-DAY BRIDAL PROGRAM
Sakara Life is a meal delivery program that's entirely organic, dairy-free, anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, vegan, and processed sugar-free. While I started Sakara Life's four-week wedding prep program to eat healthier and feel more energized and less bloated, I didn't anticipate how it would help my skin glow, too. Within a week, I felt better from the inside out. My complexion was brighter, more hydrated and glowing. It was the final piece of my skincare journey.
In case you missed it, you can read my entire review of Sakara's 20-day bridal program here.
Among the many lessons I learned, one that stuck with me was to drink more water when sugar cravings would hit. Apparently, these cravings are a disguise for dehydration. Throughout the program, I drank at least eight cups of water a day and used Sakara's chlorophyll and "beauty" drops. While it's no secret, it can be easy to forget the significance of water and how one surefire way to maintain clear skin is to stay hydrated.
The overall takeaway I had with my pre-wedding skincare routine was that having a big day such as your wedding gives you a firm date to work toward, and like just about everything else in life, for best results, you have to be consistent.