So, from the moment you get engaged, nearly everyone starts saying ‘you have to look your very best!’ But how? Not all of us are beauty wizards, able to shrink our waist and grow luscious locks at will. For all of us regular girls, here’s our complete bridal beauty countdown. It’s easy peasy – given enough time, you’ll be able to fix any problems you may have. The bridal beauty countdown may seem like yet another thing you need to add to your neverending planning, but we’ve made this one really simple. And, like all our other checklists, you can download it absolutely free – just scroll below!
With invaluable assistance from Anne Marie Doherty of Makeup by Anne Marie, we prepared this most complete bridal beauty countdown you’ll find anywhere. Of course, we couldn’t resist this chance to ask a true professional for some insider info, and luckily, she was glad to oblige.
Image from Charlene & Stephen’s real wedding by Emma Russell
Anne Marie says: ‘If you’re serious about making every effort to look your very best, your first steps should be to go to a clinic that offers skin analysis. Some places do it for free, or for a small fee, so it’s worth having a look around. You may think you know your skin type, but actually, many brides I see tell me they’re one type, and then it turns out they’re the complete opposite. Knowing your type is the first step towards establishing a routine that’s best for you. There are many skin types, with the most basic being oily, dry, sensitive and combination.
The skin clinic is likely to recommend some products specifically for your skin type – if you don’t want to purchase them right away then take down their names and look for something comparable. I’m always glad to recommend my particular favourites from a brand called Image, and despite what you may think it’s not hard to find in Ireland, nor is it exorbitantly expensive. The best products usually aren’t heavily perfumed or priced up for their packaging or marketing – they’re just really good, and rated very highly by professionals.
If you asked for a single product recommendation, I’d have to say – serum. It’s key to skincare, and because it’s worn under the moisturiser, it delivers the benefits all day long, penetrating deep under the skin and delivering all the goodness it needs. Or for a treatment, it has to be microdermabrasion. It exfoliates the skin far deeper than any scrub, as it uses a spray of microcrystals to remove the outer dry skin, exposing the smooth and radiant healthy layer underneath. Of course, your makeup will look absolutely perfect after this treatment. But beware, not everyone can have microdermabrasion – for example, broken capillaries, rosacea or acne are some of the more common contraindications.
Knowing your skin is the secret to treating it right – so be sure to ask all the questions you can, before you start any new regime – and ask the right people. And, stick to WOL’s bridal beauty countdown for great results!’
Image courtesy of Makeup by Anne Marie
3-Month Bridal Beauty Countdown – a handy schedule for looking your very, very best on your wedding day.
3 months before
• Get your first facial, if you’ve never had one before. There are many kinds of facials, so visit a reputable spa and ask for a recommendation. If you love the results, you could have two more before the big day. Ask about microdermabrasion if you fancy trying something more intensive, but be sure to seek advice first – not everyone can have this treatment.
• Take a serious look at your daily beauty regime. Most women need a good cleanser, a scrub once a week, and a different moisturiser for day and night. Products that work for you needn’t be expensive, and you have plenty of time to try a few new things. Ask your local pharmacy or beauty supply for free samples.
• Start a body beauty routine. That means a weekly body scrub, regular body lotion application, and waxing if desired. Concentrate on any problem spots, like rough elbows, red décolletage or cracked heels.
• If you’re planning on having a tan (bed or spray), have your first session now, to see the results and how your skin will react. Remember, a natural look is key, or you may end up looking a bit too orange in your photos especially if your new spouse isn’t sporting a tan as well.
• This is the last bell to start a healthy weightloss regime if you’re looking to shed some pounds. There are so many options out there, so make sure to find one you can work with. Remember – a healthy rate for losing weight is approximately 2lbs per week. A brisk walk in the evening will help you sleep better at night, plus release the happy endorphins and relieve any stress that builds up during the day – a win-win!
• Professional teeth whitening is best done now to ensure no adverse reactions – but remember, you’ll need to stay firmly away from foods that stain. These include coffee, tea, red wine, and anything dark-coloured, like berries. If you’re on a budget, skip to the one-month mark to start using strips and other home remedies. For something even gentler, consider a specialist whitening toothpaste available from most dental clinics.
• Don’t change, or stop taking, your birth control. It may cause hormonal havoc and breakouts – probably not what you want.
• Start drinking your eight glasses of water a day. It does wonders for everything from skin to hair.
• Book your makeup and hair trials – and have them ideally no less than 6 weeks before the wedding, especially if your skin changes from season to season. By the time you have your trials, you should know most of the details – like your dress, veil, hair accessories, overall style etc.
• While at the hair trial, make sure to ask the stylist for haircare advice – you have enough time to get your hair looking its best ever if you start now.
• Practise walking in your wedding shoes a little bit every day, with regular time increases.
• This may be a surprise, but… now is the time to talk to your other half about their care routine as well. Grooms may like to consider a professional shave and pamper from an upscale salon, and seek advice on how to avoid shave rash and other skin problems on the day. There are great products out there for men as well.
2 months before
• Get into your sleep routine now. You may be feeling a little stressed, with the date getting this close – enough sleep will definitely prevent that unwanted ‘stressed bride’ look.
• Have your second facial, sometime around five-six weeks after your first one. Discuss the results with the beautician and be sure to tell him or her about any adverse reactions, like itching, breakouts or redness.
• Start taking daily vitamins. Your immune system needs all the help it can get with all the running around you’re doing.
• Make sure your eyebrow game is on point – visit a brow bar, or ask your beautician if she can recommend someone who’s particularly good at it. Don’t leave doing your eyebrows until the day before the wedding – one day isn’t enough for redness or swelling to go away.
• Start taking extra good care of your hands. Wash dishes and do housework only in gloves, moisturise every evening before bedtime and scrub regularly. Use cuticle oil as well, if they’re looking a bit less than perfect. Decide what kind of manicure you’d like to have.
• Start taking a little extra care to stay out of the sun.
1 month before
• Don’t change your skincare routine, laundry detergent, body lotion, shower gel or soap – you may break out in a rash.
• If you haven’t done so yet, choose your perfume.
• If you’re wearing a strapless dress or one that reveals your shoulders, now is the time to start minding those tan lines you don’t want. They’re much easier to avoid than to correct later.
• Give your haircut a touch-up if needed, a dainty trim for split ends, or arrange a colouring appointment, but no later than three weeks before the wedding. Try using a hair mask once a week to keep it nourished and add a little extra lustre.
• If you’re prone to stress-related breakouts, now is a good time to try a clay mask for your face – it could really help keep spots under control. If it works, you can apply it again the night or two before the wedding day, as a precaution.
• If at all possible, schedule your hen night sometime during this final month. Depending on where the maid of honour takes you, you may need several days to recover, and it might take its toll on your skin. But don’t worry – it’s only temporary, all the work you’ve done so far won’t be for nothing, so just make sure you continue.
• To tackle dry lips, invest in a good lip balm now. Apply as much as you can every day, and definitely at night. A gentle scrub once a week will also help your lips become smoother – you can use the same stuff you use for your face, or the softest toothbrush you can find. Many stores also sell specialist lip scrubs in little tins.
• Start your at-home teeth whitening now, if you’ve decided to go the budget route with options from your local pharmacy. Don’t leave this until the last minute, in case of any adverse reactions.
• No later than two weeks before, have your final facial.
1 week before
• Book the final manicure and pedicure. Before you go, ask the manicurist for advice on what option will last best until the wedding day.
• If your hair is prone to frizz and humid weather is forecast for the day, speak to your hair stylist about a de-frizzing treatment. She’ll advise on whether you should have it about now, or if she’ll take care of it on the day itself.
• Keep away from salty foods, overdoing the carbs and hardcore exercise to avoid bloating.
• If you haven’t been drinking those eight glasses of water a day, do it now – you’ll still see a difference and you’ll feel much better. Health gurus recommend drinking a warm glass of water as soon as you wake up, with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. This kick-starts your system, flushes out toxins and gets the metabolism going. Not to mention, makes you feel amazingly awake!
• Make sure your emergency kits are ready and with the right people.
• Your final waxing will be now, depending on your routine so far. If it’s your very first one, allow the full seven days if not more. But if you’ve been doing it for several months now and the hair is growing out, then you can wait until about four days before.
• If possible, book a relaxing day at a spa. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – just a massage, lunch and lounging by the pool will do wonders. If you make it a group thing, it’s a good opportunity to catch up with the girls, but remember – relaxation is the objective here.
• Top up your tan no less than five days before, for a healthy glow – and mind your bra straps and socks. If you’re not tanning, apply your SPF extra generously, especially to any areas that will be uncovered.
• Apply your clay mask one or two nights before the day, to prevent breakouts – but only if you tried it first. No untried beauty treatments should be done this week.
• Depending on your skin type, you may like to try and use less makeup this week – or none at all, if you can get away with it. This gives the skin a chance to breathe and look its best for the day.
• Get all the sleep you can.
• Wash your hair the day before the wedding.
• On the morning of the wedding hydrate really well, do your own skincare routine as normal and let your makeup artist do the rest. Don’t wear a bra or socks to avoid unwanted lines.
Image from Ailish & Vinny’s real wedding by Insight Photography
Main image courtesy of Makeup by Anne Marie
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.