You’ve made it through the fun, easy part of your engagement — The ring! The teary “Yes!” The perfectly staged Instagram snaps! — and now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of looking fantastic on your big day.
And there’s nothing like having a mega bull’s eye on the calendar — your wedding date — to get you motivated. “To a certain extent, everyone wants to look like a supermodel on a daily basis, but we may not have the drive to act on it,” says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, who just whipped her client Sofia Vergara into perfect skin shape for her nuptials to “Magic Mike” hunk Joe Manganiello. “Getting prepared for a wedding gives you a deadline, and forces you to start making a move.”
Not that you need to freak out. (Actually, you want to do the opposite of freaking out. Getting Zen is the best thing you can do for your looks — and your sanity.) Still, if you want a flawless complexion, shiny locks, a bright white smile and envy-inducing arms, you need to put the work in.
Are all the gym hours, tress deep-conditioning treatments and dental hygienist appointments worth it? Without a doubt, says certified personal trainer Holly Del Rosso, who crafts results-driven workout regimens for brides on both coasts. “When you have toned triceps in the photos you will treasure forever, you’ll forget about the pain and dedication it took you to get them.”
SKIN: Learn to manage your stress from Day One
Why: From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, there’s no end to the beauty bummers headed your way if you don’t get your wedding-planning freakouts under control. On the complexion front, says derm Dendy Engelman, “Many inflammatory conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and keratosis pilaris, may be at least partially caused by stress. As stress weakens the immune system, chronic inflammation worsens.” Excess anxiety can also disrupt your sleep, which in turn can lead to a gray, decidedly un-bridal, complexion. The fix? Do what you can to chill out, whether that means ramping up on the Yin Yoga or zoning-in out to guided meditation apps like Headspace and Omvana.
When: 1 year out
SKIN: Book an appointment with a dermatologist, even if it’s for the first time in your life
Why: Not to put too fine a point on it, but flawless skin should probably be one of the top priorities for your wedding day, right up there with securing a drop-dead stunning venue. And there are two key reasons to get a pro skin doc in your corner early on: One, they can assess your complexion’s current state way better than you and your trusty magnifying mirror. And two, they can help you devise a strategy for achieving your dream-skin goals, be it softening pesky forehead wrinkles or zapping acne. “Some treatments take time — up to several months — and you certainly want a game plan,” Engelman.
When: 1 year out
SKIN: Start easing retinol into your skincare regimen
Why: Although every day seems to bring a new must-have “miracle” skincare ingredient, 99.9 percent of them can’t hold a candle to old-school retinol. Derived from vitamin A, it’s known for increasing cell turnover, unclogging pores, boosting collagen, and fading hyperpigmentation. The prescription version, aka retinoid, is even more powerful, and is often used to treat skin cancer. Still, as great as they are, both retinol and prescription-strength retinoids can generate redness and peeling at the outset, and even a possible uptick in acne before all those benefits kick in. “I recommend patients start with a non-prescription retinol for at least four to eight weeks before progressing to a prescription retinoid,” says Engelman. “Their skin will tolerate it better.” Two retinol products she swears by for her patients: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Capsules, $76, and Natura Bisse Essential Shock Intense Retinol Fluid, $105.
When: 9 months out
SKIN: Find an aesthetician you trust
Why: Don’t live in a city that’s crawling with marquee-name facialists like New York celebrity fave Joanna Vargas? Brush up on your detective skills. In your initial chat with a prospective aesthetician, make sure she’s not doing most of the talking. “Look for someone who’s a good listener,” recommends Vargas. “Old-school facialists would dictate your care. These days the best ones work with your budget, your goals and your skin. I always tell clients if something doesn’t feel right about a product, or a step in the process, they should always feel like they can speak up and it will be received in the right way.”
When: 6 months out