A smooth, blemish-less complexion is something most people strive for — doubly so during the lead-up to one’s wedding, which is arguably one of the most photographed, splashed-all-over-Insta days in a person’s life. So how do you get your typically uncooperative skin to, well, work for you once the cameras are out and it’s time to stride down that aisle with your head (and face) held high?

We asked two Vancouver beauty pros — both of whom have their fair share of experience with brides — for their advice for getting your skin in plump, glow-y shape for the big day. And grooms, you’re not off the hook: these tips can be adopted by you, too.

Photo by kevin laminto via Unsplash
Credit: kevin laminto via Unsplash

Adopt a three-step skincare routine — if you haven’t already

If you don’t already have a three-step skincare regimen in place, now’s the time to start one — preferably at least three months ahead of your wedding date.

Lise Landriault, founder of Squamish’s Sweet Skin Beauty Studio, recommends both brides and grooms apply cleanser, toner and moisturizer every morning and night. Sunscreen should be applied in the morning, too.

This helps “condition the skin” so that it’s in tip-top shape when it comes time to walk down the aisle. “A good, regular skincare routine is really key, especially if you can't afford to go into a clinic or salon to get more expensive treatments,” Landriault says.

Hero products: Moor Spa Cleansing GelElaSpa Enzymatic Toner and Alumier MD HydraLight Moisturizer

ElaSpa AHA Peeling Gel
Credit: ElaSpa

ElaSpa AHA Peeling Gel, price on request.

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

Ensure dry, flaky skin is banished from your wedding day by regularly exfoliating ahead of time. The process, which removes dead cells from the surface of your skin, improves texture, reduces fine lines and wrinkles and may even help alleviate concerns like hyperpigmentation.

“It’s speeding up the cellular turnover process, which will then give the skin more plumpness because it's helping collagen build up,” says Landriault.

Faye Smith, makeup artist and founder of Faye Smith Agency, agrees. She recommends chemical exfoliation, which is suitable for all skin types and gentler than physical exfoliation.

Look for ingredients like mandelic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid, which are forms of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) that sweep away dull, dead skin cells while unclogging pores. Forms of beta hydroxy acid (BHA), like willow bark extract and salicylic acid, do the same.

Aim to exfoliate your skin two to three times a week, beginning at least three months before your nuptials. “It makes such a difference,” Smith says. “It helps ensure there’s a silky smooth canvas for your makeup artist to work with.”

Hero products: Eminence Organic Skin Care Yam and Pumpkin Enzyme Peel 5%, Alumier MD Lotus Scrub and ElaSpa AHA Peeling Gel

La Roche Posay Hylu B5 Serum
Credit: La Roche Posay

La Roche Posay Hylu B5 Serum, $49.

Say hi to hyaluronic acid

So you’ve got a three-step (four steps with the SPF) skincare routine set and are exfoliating regularly — what’s next? Applying a hyaluronic acid serum at morning and night, says Landriault.

The clear, somewhat sticky substance is a natural sugar found in the skin that keeps it plump and hydrated. But its production in our bodies decreases as we age, which means we can give our skin a boost by applying products — creams, sheet masks and the like — that are formulated with it. 

For best results, Landriault recommends looking for a serum that has a relatively high concentration of hyaluronic acid. It should be applied day and night — after moisturizer but before sunscreen. “This ingredient is excellent at plumping up the skin, hydrating the skin,” says Landriault. “It helps reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dryness.”

Hero products: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator and La Roche Posay Hyalu B5 Serum

Antonika Chanel via Unsplash
Credit: Antonika Chanel via Unsplash

Avoid invasive treatments — and self-tanning

Sure, taking drastic measures like Botox and fillers ahead of your wedding may seem called for — this is going to be a heavily photographed day, after all — but Smith recommends pumping the brakes on any invasive treatments. At least, when you’re only a few weeks out from saying “I do.”

“Everybody's skin is different,” she says. “And most treatments out there are safe, but people do have reactions and allergies to things. So give it a lot of time.”

If you’re contemplating procedures such as lasers and micro-needling, book a consultation at least six months ahead of your wedding date, Smith suggests. These treatments can do wonders for addressing common skin concerns like scarring and fine lines, but you need to give your skin enough time for recovery and to assess any unexpected reactions or complications that may occur.

In a similar vein, Landriault suggests avoiding testing spray tans or self-tanners for the first time too close to your wedding. If you’re looking to fake a sun-kissed glow for your big day, ensure you book one to three trial runs in the months leading up to your nuptials so you know what to expect.

“I've seen brides frantically scrubbing themselves the day before their wedding because they had a spray tan go wrong,” Landriault says.

Avoid fake-and-baking your face if you can, too. “The makeup artist can honestly give you a really bronzy, glow-y look on your face without the risk of blotchy touches of self-tanner,” says Landriault.

Albert Stephens via Unsplash
Credit: Albert Stephens via Unsplash

But do treat yourself to a facial or three

Both Landirault and Smith suggest scheduling facials for every six weeks starting at least six months before your wedding date.

If you already have a makeup artist secured, ask them for recommendations for estheticians around town. Oftentimes, makeup artists are “skincare geeks” themselves, says Smith, and would be more than happy to point you in the right direction. 

Be open and honest with your facialist about your skincare concerns so they can perform the treatments — extractions, microdermabrasian and the like — that are the best fit for you. “With a facial, we can do a little bit more than what you can do at home,” says Landriault. “We can do a deep cleansing, we can do extractions, we can do gentle peeling at a different level.”

Smith recommends letting your esthetician know how far away your wedding date is so they can plan accordingly. “If you're getting married in three days, they would definitely do a different facial on you than if you were getting married in six months,” Smith says.

Jana Sabeth via Unsplash
Credit: Jana Sabeth via Unsplash

Drink up — H2O, that is

Champagne and cocktails may be the bevvies of choice at the bridal showers, cake tastings and other events leading up your wedding. But don’t forget to get in your eight glasses of water a day. “Hydrating from the inside out is insanely important,” says Smith.  

Be mindful of your diet, too. If you know gluten, dairy or chocolate often trigger breakouts or make you bloat, avoid these foods in the lead-up to your nuptials. “At least two weeks prior [to your wedding], just be cognizant of what you're putting in your body,” Smith notes.