Wedding pictures are forever, but there’s only so much that Photoshop can do when it comes to your skin. That’s why having a pre-wedding skin care plan is so important — think of it as bridal bootcamp for your face and body. To help us formulate the best plan of attack, we spoke with Venus Dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine, a top New York City doc who’s working with the shaving brand to kick off the launch of the new Gillette Venus & Olay Sugarberry razor. Here’s what Dr. Levine recommends you start doing for your skin ASAP.
6 Months Before Your Wedding
“You’re not going to do anything one week away that you haven’t tried six months out,” Dr. Levine says. That includes everything from the makeup, self-tanner and nail polish you use (make sure none of them give you a rash!) to facials and procedures you get at your derm’s office.
For example, lots of brides requests fillers and Botox before their weddings, but Dr. Levine advises first timers try the procedure well in advance. “It takes Botox three to four months to wear off, so the first time you do should be at least four months before your wedding,” in case you don’t like the results, she says. “When it’s done right it looks amazing, but it affects the way you smile sometimes. You have to get used to the feeling of” injectables, she says.
Diminish signs of sun damage.
Six months is plenty of time to do something about dark spots on your complexion. Dr. Levine suggests consulting your derm for a treatment plan now. Laser treatments or photofacials can help. “There are also topical products like pads and creams that help brighten your face,” she says.
Start a regimen for smoother skin.
All the makeup in the world can’t cover skin with an uneven texture, which “has to do with the dead skin that builds up everywhere on your body,” Dr. Levine explains. Get your complexion wedding-photo-ready by starting an exfoliation routine now. Your dermatologist can recommend glycolic acid pads or peels, or regular microdermabrasion treatments to help create a smooth canvas for your wedding makeup.
1 Month Before Your Wedding
Continue your regimen.
Resist the urge to start anything new. You’re not going to see results from an anti-aging cream or cleansing routine in a month’s time anyway, so your best bet is sticking to what you know your skin can tolerate.
Avoid extreme procedures.
“The month of the wedding, I would not do any laser procedures or anything besides a glycolic peel — a gentle one,” Dr. Levine says. That includes facials, even though many brides think they need them. Dr. Levine suggests a peel over a facial because the results are more controlled and predictable. Gentle chemical exfoliation with a peel refines pores and texture without the poking, prodding and squeezing that a facial can inflict, and with a peel there are fewer added ingredients that can provoke an allergic reaction.
1 Week Before Your Wedding
Maintain your glow.
Stay hydrated by eating food with a high water content (like salads) and drinking plenty of fluids. Focus on keeping your skin well-moisturized and on controlling your stress levels, since stress can make skin more sensitive and more likely to break out.
But be careful if you’ve scheduled a pre-wedding massage. Make sure your massage therapist uses an oil that you’ve tried before — you don’t want to find out you’re allergic to a certain fragrance or ingredient and break out in hives two days before donning a strapless dress.
Exfoliate — but be gentle.
Step away from the harsh scrubs, since they can irritate the skin on your body. Instead, remove dead, dull skin with a moisturizer that contains gentle chemical exfoliants, such as lactic or glycolic acid. Shaving is also an “easy, gentle way to exfoliate the skin on your legs,” Dr. Levine says.
Ward off breakouts.
When it come to wedding day disasters, waking up with a monster zit ranks right up there with weather forecasting a monsoon. The good news is you can do something about the zit (unfortunately we can’t help you with the rain). Dr. Levine will often write her patients a prescription for a few emergency prednisone tablets to take in case of a breakout in the wedding home stretch. The prescription corticosteroid stops inflammation in its tracks. “You take one tablet and it’s gone,” she explains. “For people with really bad acne, I’ll have them start three to five days before their wedding.” Of course, steroid medications are not something you want to use regularly or long-term because of their adverse side effects. Luckily, your wedding is a once in a lifetime occasion.
Read more: 4 Tips For Flawless Wedding Makeup