If you're currently deep in the trenches of wedding planning, you're probably laser-focused on securing vendors, narrowing down your guest list, and all of the rudimentary (yet cardinal!) details in between. With all of the many boxes that need to be checked leading up to the day of your nuptials, the way your complexion will translate both IRL and in photos may not take up a large amount of space in your brain at this moment, but if deep cystic acne or scarring is at the forefront, perhaps you've already considered what your one-year (give or take) skincare plan will look like.
"There are a few challenges when it comes to acne and getting the skin clear for a wedding," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. "First, preventing new breakouts; second, clearing existing breakouts, and third, fading the scarring (or discoloration) from old breakouts." Rouleau notes that while all three elements propose a challenge, fading the discoloration is the most time-consuming, so a 12-month timeframe is ideal.
Meet the Expert
Renée Rouleau is a celebrity esthetician based in Austin, TX whose clients include Demi Lovato and Lili Reinhart. She is also the founder and creator of her eponymous skincare line.
Rouleau stresses that above all, the first step you should take is consulting a skincare professional. "What may be fabulous for your friend may not be right for you," she says. "Be sure to ask a lot of questions; particularly the cost of treatments, side effects, and the results they can guarantee." Once this is in place, she recommends taking the following steps:
- Set a budget: According to Rouleau, generally speaking, your treatment plan (including both professional and at-home products) can range from $1000-$2000. This is all of course depending on what is required of your skincare needs—if professional treatments aren't on the docket, work with your dermatologist or esthetician to locate products that have the ingredients you need at a price point that suits your budget.
- Patch test your skin: When starting a new regimen, Rouleau says to be sure to do a patch test if you’re trying out new skincare products as allergic reactions can take up to four weeks to heal. She recommends rubbing a small amount of product on the side of your neck and waiting 24 hours. If redness or irritation occurs, avoid using the product.
- Follow the plan set forth by your skincare professional: Rouleau says a variety of skincare procedures such as ultrasonic exfoliation, facials, microdermabrasion, light therapy, oxygen, micro current, and chemical peels will all be beneficial in getting your bridal glow.
Now that we've narrowed down the basics, Rouleau has devised for us a 12-month blueprint to get your skin in prime condition before you walk down the aisle.
As we've mentioned, it's at this point you should start looking into professional treatments for deep-seated skin issues like scarring, discoloration, and cysts. "Treatments could include micro-needling (for indented scars and general skin smoothing), chemical peels (for acne and discoloration), deep pore cleansing facials (to clear clogged pores), and possibly laser treatments [to resurface the skin]," says Rouleau. Work with your skincare professional to devise the perfect plan.
According to Rouleau, this should generally follow the same plan as the 12-month mark.
Once you're a quarter of the way to your wedding, your skincare professional should be assessing your skin to figure out which treatments have shown the greatest success and were the least invasive (because redness and peeling certainly aren't side effects you'll want present the day-of).
Rouleau mentions that it's at this point you should also be sure your skin-picking habit is curbed: "It can be so tempting, but before you go ahead and pick at that blemish, remember that if you disturb it and cause the skin to scar, it can remain visible for around three months," she explains. "You are so much better off treating it with a non-drying spot treatment, or if it is really severe, make an appointment with your esthetician or dermatologist."
Lasers and peels can leave you with dryness and, in some cases, swelling, which is why Rouleau recommends leaving ample downtime. Instead of continuing with intense practices at this point in the game, consider getting facials at least once per month, like a vitamin C facial, which Rouleau notes is good for brightening.
The experimental phase should be well over by this point. Says Rouleau, "Stick with your tried and true skincare routine. By now, your esthetician should have helped you put together a skincare routine that is tailored to your needs so you will want to keep using this. Don’t try any new products this close to your wedding day—even if you don’t typically have sensitive skin, it’s just not worth having a potentially adverse reaction to a new product."
1 Week Before
The key here is sticking to status quo as prescribed by your skincare professional and taking a gentle approach. Though, if you are noticing some dullness and want to kick things up just a notch, dermaplaning may be the answer. Says Rouleau of the tool, "It lightly exfoliates, but it also removes all of the little hairs. Since you’re typically outside for most of the day on your wedding day, and exposed to the sunlight, it won’t show your peach fuzz and will also help your makeup go on more smoothly."
She recommends getting this type of treatment at some other point in your treatment plan before this stage to make sure your skin reacts well to it. "The idea is that you don't want to start any new type of treatment because you really don’t want to be experimenting with anything new a week out."
Two days before your wedding, Rouleau recommends using her Triple Berry Smoothing Peel (a Byrdie team favorite!) followed by a mask for your skin type. Just be sure not to combine this with any other intense actives like retinol or exfoliating acids as doubling down could create a harsh reaction.
1 Day Before
"Weddings are a happy and emotional celebration so it is only natural that you may end up shedding a few tears," says Rouleau. "If possible, try to avoid crying during all of the pre-wedding excitement, speeches, and celebrations because this can lead to swelling and eye puffiness—which is not something you want to wake up with on your wedding day." Of course, this is easier said than done, but it's something to keep in mind.
Also of note: With all of the festivities happening just before the main event, you'll want to call it an early night and get a good night's rest. This also lends itself to drinking less (hangover skin is real).
The Day Of
Make sure to have a water-based hydrating mask handy (hot tip: place it in the fridge the night before so that the cool temperature soothes the skin and eases inflammation). Opting for something that's water-based means you'll have less slip prior to makeup application. Speaking of H2O, drink lots of it throughout the morning and afternoon (just remember to go to the bathroom before you get in your dress!).
Some other things to note:
- If you have cystic acne: Your diet is important leading up to your wedding day (and no, not in terms of being a specific weight—you'll look amazing no matter what—but in terms of how your skin reacts to what you put in your body. "Many people have heard that greasy foods and chocolate cause breakouts," says Rouleau. "Breakouts—especially those that are cyst-like in the chin and jaw line area—most often are related to too much ice cream, yogurt, milk, and cheese. Try cutting back and watch your skin clear up."
- If your skin is ultra sensitive: If your skin is prone to breakouts, make sure to exfoliate well. This will keep off dry skin cells to lessen clogged pores and blemishes and help fade post-breakout scars. Look for products with exfoliating acids and enzymes. (Rouleau's Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is great for this.) She also recommends keeping the skin clear of bacteria (tea tree oil and salicylic acid will stave off blemish-causing germs) as well as using water-based moisture to keep cells healthy to discourage dead skin cell buildup (aka no oil-based moisturizers).
- If your skin is still breaking out just before the wedding: If you wake up with a blemish, use a spot treatment with salicylic acid and tea tree to help eliminate bacteria and prevent the spread of breakouts. A gel spot treatment prior to makeup is key as it will disguise well underneath your foundation.