I was a complete mess at my wedding. With a psycho boss and the craziness of launching a new magazine, soothing spa sessions were the last thing on my mind. Instead, I was in office till midnight every single day and missed my last wardrobe fitting because I was shooting – most ironically – a bridal beauty spread. A couple of haphazard facials, a haircut on the run… that’s all I could squeeze in. And trust me, it wasn’t fun. Even 6 years later when I look back at my wedding days, I regret all the missed opportunities. Because, after all, when does a girl get to indulge herself the way she does at her wedding?
My mistake was in not realising that, like the rest of your wedding, your bridal beauty routine needs to be planned out well in advance to ensure you get gorgeous in time for your big day. Things don’t fall in place automatically. And yes, if something can go wrong, it most definitely will! As Beauty Editor of the hottest magazine, the only bit of sanity was that my makeup artist – one of the country’s best – had been prepped, primed and put on standby 6 months before the event. Then, the night before D-day, he messaged me from the ICU, after having undergone an emergency appendicitis surgery. Yup, Ms. Bridezilla had nothing on me at that point.
So, this series of posts is for all the brides-in-waiting who have been writing in to ask me how to tackle their wedding beauty jitters: When should you have that pre-wedding facial? How do you get that bridal glow if you’ve been more than a little edgy lately? How to look good in the wedding photographs? It’s all going to roll out once a week, starting with this bridal beauty countdown that’s been tested and fine-tuned on a hoard of friends, who have sworn that it’s made their weddings much easier. And prettier. So, let’s start, ladies! [Oh! And do feel free to read and implement even if you are not a bride – after all, you don't need to get married to glow!]
4-6 months to go
Begin your bridal beauty regime: Skin takes at least 4 weeks to renew itself, so you won’t get optimal results instantly. At the very least, cleanse thoroughly every day and exfoliate twice a week to remove dead cells. Use a serum and moisturiser in the morning and evening, based on your skin’s particular needs. And don’t forget your décolleté – exfoliate in the shower to slough away dead cells and then apply the same serum you use on your face.
Start on the hair: Hair takes even longer to show results, so start as soon as possible. Do a deep conditioning treatment once a week and decide whether you want to take a supplement like Kérastase Nutrients.
Hair colour: This is the time to start discussions with your colourist as it will allow you to judge exactly when your colour looks its best and book your pre-wedding appointment accordingly. Do not make any colour changes close to the big day because if you are not happy, it may be too late to make repairs.
The big picture: To help prevent your skin from looking dull, start following a healthy diet, eat plenty of fresh fruit, remember your 8 glasses of water a day and reduce alcohol consumption. And start an exercise regime – it will improve your circulation, flush away the toxins that cause skin blemishes and help ease stress, something any bride-to-be will appreciate.
Cellulite: While it’s not possible to “cure” cellulite, you can minimise the appearance of ripples and dimples with daily self-massage and a caffeine-spiked cream like Bliss Fat Girl Slim.
Hair removal: For small areas, like your chin or upper lip, hair can be removed by laser in 4-6 sessions, with two weeks in between each treatment. However, depending on the area and your hair and skin type, now is the time to set up an appointment.
Eyebrows: Allow brows enough time to grow in completely – it’s essential for correcting previous mistakes. Once you’ve done so, get them reshaped according to your bone structure and facial shape.
Bookings: Bridal beauty pros like makeup artists and hairdressers are notoriously overbooked, so snag your dates now. And don’t forget you’ll need to book hair and beauty appointments for your bridesmaids and mom as well.
Three months to go
Start on the makeup: Try out different looks with your make-up artist, if you’ve opted to use one. And make sure you have at least one trial run, complete with digital photos so you can remember the finer details later.
Going solo: If you are planning on doing your own makeup (if Kate Middleton can do it, so can you!), head to your nearest cosmetic counters and ask about bridal beauty consultations. Larger department stores offer free ones, especially for brides-to-be. Talk about your skin type and they will advise you how to get your face in top condition for the big day. Discuss how you would like your makeup and many will even give you a free make-over.
Stock up: If you are going to buy new products, make sure you are fully comfortable with them before your wedding day. A makeup lesson at a beauty salon is never a bad idea.
Hairdresser: Have a hair trial with your headpiece and veil. It’s a good idea to chat to your hairdresser before you buy the headdress as sometimes brides choose something too heavy for their hair type.
Don’t forget the teeth: Against a crisp white dress, your teeth can take on the dowdy tone of yellowed linen. For the best results, use power bleaching 4 weeks before your wedding and then pair it with at-home trays.
Brazilians and bikini lines: Since it’s your wedding day, you may want to experiment with a Brazilian bikini wax. If it’s your first time, start now – you really can’t risk unexpected pain or discomfort at the last moment.
Dates, dates, dates: Book other beauty treatments, such as a fake tan now.
One month to go
Back to the hair: Get a great cut 2-3 weeks before the wedding day. Don’t change the style at this point, just get the ends snipped off for a neat finish.
Facial: If you’re having regular facials, schedule your final appointment for 7-10 days before the big day. Skin will still be glowing but without the risk of any post-facial blemishes.
Time it right: Do a timed make-up trial, not just for you but for your bridesmaids as well. Remember the order – makeup comes after hair and nails, just before the wedding dress.
Practise, practise, practise: Planning on doing any or all of the hair or makeup yourself? Start practising – especially a technique you haven’t used before (like applying false eyelashes).
One week to go
Tackle body hair: Go for your final waxing and brow-shaping appointment.
A major do-not: DO NOT switch beauty products within a couple of weeks of the wedding. Skin goes through an adjustment period, which may include breakouts, whenever introduced to a new product. Plus, there’s also the risk of an allergic reaction.
Pamper yourself: The last 6 months have been hectic, so book yourself in for a bit of pampering – either with a professional scrub, soak and massage or in a decadent home spa, preferably surrounded by your best friends.
One day to go
Hair again: check with your hairdresser whether or not to wash hair the night before or in the morning; most don’t like working with squeaky-clean hair as it doesn’t hold a style well. And do like the Hollywood sirens – sleep on a silk pillow and your hair will be super shiny when you wake up.
Manicure: A manicure is a must-have. Remember, all eyes will be on your wedding finger, so make sure your messy nails don’t detract from the dazzling ring. Have your manicure no earlier than the day before to avoid chipping.
Pack it up: Put together a bridal beauty bag for touching up as the day takes it toll. Powder, bronzer, lipstick and tissues should be enough to keep you looking your best all day long. Ask your mom or a friend to look after it for safe keeping.
Chill out: Relax, have a long bath and an early night.
The big day
It’s your day, so enjoy it! Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. And follow the instructions – most beauty professionals have a set of to-dos and not-to-dos for brides. At the top of every list? Wear a button-down shirt to your hair appointment!
Getting married? Let me know if you have any questions about wedding day beauty prep and I will do my best to get the right solutions!