There’s a weird false dichotomy that exists in the fashion and beauty industries. The assumption is that if you’re not into hair and makeup and other forms of upkeep, that you must not care about how you look at all. Which this lazy femme will never understand. It’s particularly bad in the wedding industry. If our recent open thread on beauty expectations and weddings is any indication, it’s pretty clear that our culture has ideas about what your face ought to look like at your wedding. AKA even if don’t normally wear makeup, your wedding will be the one day when you make an exception (whether you like it or not), and go full glamazon: airbrush foundation, false lashes, the works (because, pictures). Which, no.
And while obviously you don’t need to do anything involving makeup for your wedding (and that is one hundred percent fine and nobody should tell you otherwise), where does that leave the people who want to do something beauty-ish before the wedding, but not everything? (Hint: it leaves them with not a lot of options.) So today we’re bringing you tips for taking good care of your skin before your wedding, as a happy medium between not wanting makeup, and not wanting to do anything at all (which, for the record, is still an option.) Because while it’s not required, sometimes I just want to do something… extra for special events. Even if that extra thing is just lotion. Plus, taking care of your skin is plain old good for your health (and a nice thing to do for yourself during a time otherwise marked by lots of people pleasing, and subsequently, lots of stress). We asked San Francisco makeup artist, Shana Astrachan, of Fox & Doll hair and makeup (who also makes her own good-for-your-skin cosmetics) for her best pre-wedding skin care tips. Of course, you can take all this advice and run with it, or just work some of it into your daily routine. Because any self-care is good self-care.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Number one is drink lots of water. I can’t stress this enough! Just keep drinking it. Get yourself a fancy new water bottle to carry around, or a new water filter if that is what it takes, but just keep drinking water like it will make you the most beautiful person in the world… because it will.
2. Don’t wait, exfoliate: Start doing daily gentile exfoliation by using a one hundred percent cotton washcloth when you wash your face. Here’s my method: massage face wash product into your skin (take time with this step, treat it almost like a massage), add water and continue to massage product and water into your skin, rinse cloth with hot water (but not too hot) and ring out, then wipe away the cleanser. Repeat this rinse and wipe three to four times, then finish by drying your face with a clean dry towel. This gentle exfoliation method does a great job at removing all traces or makeup and gets rid of the dead skin cells on the surface to reveal a brighter complexion. If your skin is dry switch your cleanser to a cleansing oil. For all other skin types generally a non-foaming creamy cleanser is your best guide for choosing a cleanser that is nourishing and effective. (Pro tip: switch out your cloth every few days with a fresh one.)
And you don’t have to stop with your face. I recommend exfoliating your lips two or three times a week to get rid of dry skin. To make your own lip scrub, mix up equal parts brown sugar, honey and olive oil, or you can purchase pre-made scrub here. In addition to exfoliating, switch away from lip balms that are waxy or medicated. Look for ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter like this one.
3. Start from the inside out: Add some additional supplements to your diet. My favorites for healthy skin are: probiotics, b-complex, and fish oil or omegas. Eat foods high in vitamins C and E, like fresh fruits and veggies (for C) and seeds and nuts (for E). Plus get healthy doses of antioxidants. Think grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, green tea, tomatoes, dark green veggies, and kidney beans. All of these are good for your regular health, so good skin is just a bonus. If you’re prone to breakouts, try a zinc supplement. Zinc helps clear up breakouts, prevents future ones, and will also keep you from catching a cold.
Bonus tip: If you tend to flush when drinking wine, you can take a Pepcid AC or Complete (or similar product containing Famotidine) forty-five minutes before drinking to reduce the redness. Of course consult your physician and do a test run in advance with a glass of wine. (Are we twisting your arm here? Sorry.)
4. Moisturize: If you want one of my best insider tips that doesn’t cost much, get a hydrating spray (like this one here). Spray all over your face, then while skin is still damp, add any moisturizer, serums and oils to your face. If you’re on the lookout for good moisturizing products, look for things that have antioxidants and vitamin C in them and then take your time when applying products, massaging them into your skin so that they get fully absorbed. And I recommend dropping your expensive department store skincare and start shopping in the natural food and beauty markets for skin care, you’ll get much better products for your money. (Whole Foods is good for this, but if you don’t have one nearby, try Pharmaca online.)
5. Wear SPF. Duh.
Extra Credit: If you want something with a little more oomph, you can try an at-home mask or peel. Shana says this one can help with dark spots, discoloration, and even brighten hyperpigmentation. And this moisture mask makes skin hydrated and soft (it’s the one she uses herself).
Do you have any favorite skin-care routines? Products? Recipes? (Questions for ShanA?) Give ’em to us in the comments!