Photo: Joe Buissink
When you're planning a wedding, there is a lot to think about: The venue, the dress, what kind of deodorant to put in the bathroom baskets. With so much on your mind, it's easy to forget about one of the most important things…your skin.
True, some skin issues can be covered with makeup (that's 90% of the point of trials, after all) but if there is something that's bothering you, or that you want to perfect before your wedding day, it's better to be safe than sorry and get to the dermatologist, STAT. Too many brides wait until the last minute to address their skin problems, says Dr. Shereene Idris of Wexler Dermatology, and there isn't much that can be done to fix any major issues. “It's trial and error, so you don't want to try something a month before your wedding in case you, God forbid, have a complication and it didn't sit well with your skin type,” she says. “Time is of the essence when you're talking about brides, so you want to make sure theres time to recover in the worst case scenario.”
Since brides are all working on a deadline, Dr. Idris suggests adding “booking a skin consultation” to your to-do list around the same time you're looking at venues and trying on dresses. Considering you can't change your wedding date because of an unforeseen skin issue (though wouldn't it be great if we could all plan our lives around knowing when we would break out?) it's important to give yourself enough time to get it all figured out and ensure that doesn't happen. Here are seven skincare tips your dermatologist wants you to know the minute you get engaged, most important of which is to get to their office as soon as you've had your ring fitted.
1. Start Early
How early, exactly, varies from bride to bride, but it's better to be safe than sorry. “If somebody has severe acne issues, they should come in the second they get engaged,” says Dr. Idris. “If you have relatively decent skin, and you just want to up your game and look better for the big day, I would say give yourself six months ahead of time to see what treatments are best for you and figure out the best glow you can get from each treatment.” Whatever treatments you decide on, it's best to go in for a consultation early to figure out what your options are and make sure that if there is anything major you want to to, you'll have enough time to complete the process with enough time to recover.
2. Know What You Want to Fix
In general, there are two main types of skin issues: Pigment and texture. If what's bothering you is primarily pigmentary, you can get away with hiding it with makeup, but you can't cover texture quite as easily. “If you have acne scars, the second you get engaged come in and we'll start working on it,” says Dr. Idris. “If you have active acne, you need to get that under control in order to treat the scars from it. So anything medical, anything textural, any underlying condition needs to be treated and addressed as soon as possible because it takes a couple of weeks or even months to get acne under control.” Color issues can be fixed too (yes, even those that can't be covered with makeup), but don't require quite as much treatment time.
3. Build a Relationship With a Dermatologist
The last thing you want to worry about in the days leading up to your wedding is trying to find an emergency dermatologist to help fix a last minute pimple or stress rash, which are common occurrences when your anxiety is high and your immune system is low. “Can you imagine the week before the wedding you have a massive zit and you go to a person you hate and they do something that doesn't sit well with you? That's why it's important to build that relationship ahead of time,” says Dr. Idris. Plus, it's easier for a doctor to treat you if he or she knows your skin, so it couldn't hurt to book a consultation early on so you can familiarize with each other.
4. Don't Try Anything Crazy Without Consulting a Doctor
One of the most important skincare tips: No at home chemical peels, crazy routine changes or harsh new treatments. Double check with your dermatologist or esthetician before doing anything major to your skin, even at home.
5. Avoid Playing Esthetician
Do yourself a favor and leave the skin fixing the professionals. “Don't pick your skin,” says Dr. Idris. “And don't pop that pimple because you will end up with a bigger crater and a bigger scar.” You've been hearing this same advice from every doctor and magazine article you've ever come across for your entire life, and it's more true in the months leading up to your wedding than ever.
6. Stay Away From the Tanning Bed
This should be a rule of thumb all the time, but it's especially important during your engagement because you don't want to add any new damage to your skin before the big day. Opt for a sunless tanning lotion that will darken the surface of your skin slightly over time, or a spray tan two days before the ceremony, instead.
7. Don't Bargain Hunt
Dr. Idriss has dealt with the aftermath of brides who have tried bargain botox or other “special deals,” and cannot stress enough how important it is not to skimp on major skincare treatments, especially in preparation for your wedding. “You never know what you're getting,” she says. “Go to someone who's certified and who's reputable, and make sure you know what you're getting injected with or touched with. Even when it comes to lasers, not all lasers are created equal so you really have it make sure you know where you're going.” Bottom line: “When a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't do it.”