How to Avoid the Biggest and Most Common Skin Dilemmas Before Your Wedding Day

In the name of good skin, we're answering all of your burning prewedding skincare questions.
by Shelley Brown

Looking to get a gorgeous wedding day glow? Of course you are—and we've got you covered. From sudden breakouts to sun damage, read our expert advice on how to tackle some of the most common skincare dilemmas so you can be camera-ready by the time your wedding day rolls around.

What if I break out a few days before my wedding?

If you just have a whitehead or two, don't worry. Your makeup artist can easily cover up small pimples with a few dabs of concealer. Just remember: Don't try to pop your zits! It's much harder to try to hide an infected scab than it is to cover up a tiny blemish. If your breakout is more serious (think: deep, painful cysts), a trip to the dermatologist might be in order. "If a bride experiences an active breakout the week of the wedding, we would perform SmoothBeam laser as an in-office treatment, or targeted cortisone injections," says Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. "If redness is the problem, LED is a great option to reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria with no downtime."

How do I prevent breakouts on my back?

If your wedding dress is strapless or has a plunging back, the last thing you need is a bacne breakout. "The skin on the body is thicker, with more oil glands, so acne is deeper and more difficult to treat," Gross says. "Both hormones and stress can aggravate and cause body acne." Fortunately, there are several easy ways to help you treat these breakouts at home.

First of all, you should always shower immediately after the gym, as bacteria can develop from sweat and trap dirt and oil in the glands. Additionally, clean your back with a loofah or washcloth (frequent exfoliation will help keep your pores clear of buildup and oil). On that note, antibacterial soaps and body washes containing benzoyl peroxide will treat the pores on your back, drying up any blemishes. And lastly, consider cutting out oily hair products since they can transfer from your hair to the pores on your back. 

Are there antiaging products I should start using before my wedding day?

While an elaborate antiaging routine may not be your biggest concern right now, sticking to a solid skincare regimen will help you maintain a healthy glow, even if wedding planning stress gets the best of you. Start by using sunscreen, a lightweight day lotion and a moisturizing eye cream to prevent sun damage and stave off tired-looking eyes. Then, consider investing in some heavy-duty age-defying serums and night creams. "Consistent use of powerhouse ingredients, like retinol and ferulic acid, brightens the skin and really helps treat congested pores so they appear smaller," Gross says. Pro tip: Don't test out new skin products (especially prescription ones) in the week leading up to your wedding. "Even something as simple as a facial may leave your skin blotchy and red for up to a week after the procedure," Gross says.

I have sensitive skin, but I want to amp up my skincare routine. What products should I be using?

Avoid cleansers and other products with abrasive ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and alcohol, that will irritate your sensitive skin. Cleansers targeting acne or oily skin usually contain at least one of these, so read the label before you purchase. "Soothing ingredients such as bisabolol (an ingredient derived from chamomile), green tea and cucumber help soothe redness and reduce inflammation," Gross says. And keep in mind all facial scrubs are not created equal. "Avoid harsh scrubs that can irritate and opt for gentle microexfoliation instead," he says.

What if I have sun damage or more serious discoloration?

Usually, concealer can cover up smaller areas of sun damage. If you're concerned about larger dark spots, laser treatments can help even out your skin tone. "The GentleMax Pro Alexandrite laser targets and then destroys darker pigment most effectively. Small scabs will form, but usually fall off in a few days," Gross says. "The IPL laser is another highly effective laser, and when used with the Alexandrite, it gets the best results." Another idea: A series of professional peels will gradually diminish spots and scars, without the side effects of scabbing or flaking—just make sure to start early.

What if my skin looks dull and dry?

It may be surprising, but the easiest way to avoid drying out your skin is to leave it alone. Using astringents or over-washing your face can strip away your natural oils, creating rough patches. "In chronically dry areas like the cheeks, look for ingredients that will brighten the dull skin with alpha and beta hydroxy acids," Gross says. "Oil-free is best for combination or acne prone skin types." If you're a couple of weeks from your wedding date, using a light chemical peel will slough off dead skin and improve the texture of your skin.

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