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Bridal Beauty Boot Camp, by Corinne Erickson, MD

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  My boyfriend Will and I were walking our Yorkie around Piedmont Park and admiring Midtown’s skyline reflecting on Lake Clara Meer.  Suddenly, he twirled me to face him, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.  I hyperventilated, said YES(!), and then dove headfirst into the hectic world of wedding planning. Ask any bride-to-be, and you’ll find that selecting the perfect font or fondant is the easy part.  The pressure is on the bride herself to look and feel her best on her wedding day as family and friends and complete and total strangers stare at her and cameras flash and photos are taken that are passed down for generations and oh my this is a lot of pressure!  I imagined my future great great grandchildren looking at my wedding photo and asking “Is that a zit on great great grandmommy’s nose?  Wasn’t she a skin doctor? Ew!!”  And so begins my own bridal boot camp for my skin.  I have approximately 6 months until Aisle Time, and this is my bridal beauty boot camp. The Ground Rules: Every boot camp has ground rules, like being awake at 5am and running up and down muddy hills, and this boot camp is no exception.

  1. Know thy skin before embarking on any skin regimen.   Oily or dry, light or dark, sensitive or tough as nails, your skin type is complicated and will dictate what types of products and procedures are safe and effective for you.  Your dermatologist can help you with this.
  2. Establish your goals.  Are you concerned about controlling unruly acne, or repairing sun damage?  Are wrinkles your issue, or problem pigmentation?
  3. Know your timeline.  You should never try a new procedure or product three days before your wedding .  There is always a risk that you have a negative side effect, or that it won’t work at all, and you won’t have time to fix it.  Then panic will really set in.
  4. Know your budget.  The budget is a key aspect of wedding planning, and that goes for your prewedding preparation as well.  Decide on your priorities and what you are comfortable spending to make sure your skin care bill doesn’t put any wrinkles in your budget or your forehead.

Based upon these ground rules, I have laid out the following boot camp schedule.  I’ll give you examples of products and procedures I plan to use, but remember, everyone is different and needs to work with their dermatologist to design a customized skin care plan. As I go through my personal prep procedures, I’ll update you on my experience and any new suggestions! 6 + Months to Aisle Time:  This is the time to look carefully at your skin and decide on your priorities.  Are you battling break outs or perplexed by pigmentation?  If you’re wearing a strapless or backless dress, is there any acne or sun damage on those areas that needs to be addressed?  This is the time to talk with your Dermatologist about your goals and start on a skin care program that is appropriate for your skin type that helps you meet your goals. For example, I have started using a topical retinoid every night to even out my complexion and prevent break outs.  (Read more here on Retinoids)  I have also found an eye cream that smoothes out fine lines and brightens dark circles (Lumiere), and a face moisturizer with sunscreen that also contains growth factors to further fight off wrinkles (Journee).   These treatments don’t work overnight, so starting them now gives my skin time to improve gradually and be in great shape by September. This is also a good time to get to know your aesthetician and have regular facials to clean out your pores and possibly even a series of peels to bring out healthy, glowing skin.  We have three fantastic aestheticians in our office who give fabulous and effective facials, and who perform a variety of peels.  The combination of great skin care products and facials alone will make a huge difference in your skin quality and texture. weddingblog_bouquet Early preparations will ensure that you skin looks as lovely as your bouquet! 4-6 Months to Aisle Time: You have seen your Dermatologist, are using the right products for your skin type, and now you’re ready to make some more specific improvements in your skin.  This is the perfect time for more targeted treatments, including lasers, peels, botox, and fillers depending on your priorities.  You have plenty of time for any side effects from the treatments such as redness or bruising to resolve, time to see a benefit, and time for additional treatments if needed before your wedding. My dress is strapless, so I am undergoing IPL treatments for the sun damage on my face and chest.  (Dr. Forney discusses IPL treatments here) IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and targets both red and brown sun damage, with an added benefit of having no downtime.   If broken blood vessels and redness are giving you a permanently flushed appearance, the VBeam would be a perfect laser treatment.  At this point, you have time for several treatments of either  laser with plenty of recovery time as well. I have also started working on those lines between my eyebrows, because H-E-Double Hockey Sticks wedding planning can be stressful!  I catch myself furrowing my brow and raising my eyebrows skeptically at the cost of cake, and then realize I’m forming crevices in my forehead.  My solution to this issue is Botox.  Botox lasts for 3-4 months and is used to prevent wrinkles in the upper face that form with movement.  By preventing these active wrinkles from forming, you don’t end up with permanent static wrinkles in their place over time.  I also don’t want crow’s feet in my photos, which Botox also corrects.  I recommend starting 3-4 months pre-wedding.  You’ll need a touch up treatment at least 2 weeks before your wedding day to allow it to take full effect and for any bruises to resolve. While Botox and Dysport help dewrinkle your upper face, fillers can be used to smooth out lower facial wrinkles like the parentheses around your mouth.   Brides seeking the perfect pouty lip or simply more definition of their lips will love effect of fillers.  The major side effects are swelling and bruising, so this is not a procedure to save for the last minute.  If this is your first time getting filler, I recommend the treatment at least 4 months before your wedding day so that you can start slow, decide what you like, and add more if wanted. weddingblog_skinveil Preparing you skin includes the skin on your chest and back that might be exposed depending on what style of dress you choose. 2-3 Months to Aisle Time: This is a maintenance and protection phase for your skin.  First and foremost, you need to protect your skin from the sun.  Tans actually make your photos look worse, and will change the way the color of your gown looks against your skin (and not in a good way).  You also need to keep in mind that all of the peels and IPL and topical retinoids you have been using make you more sensitive to the sun.  One afternoon by the pool could completely reverse the benefits you’ve achieved (not to mention make them a complete waste of your money). If you have had a few peels and liked the results, it would help to have another one as a refresher around this time, as well a facial to clear out any congestion in your pores. 2-4 Weeks to Aisle Time: If you have been getting botox, it’s time for a final touch up.  You may also want to get one final facial and “mini-peel” so that you are all aglow for show time. The most important thing in these last few weeks is not overdo it with new treatments that your skin hasn’t experienced.  Don’t panic because you see a blemish and start a new, aggressive acne treatment.  There are no last minute skin perfecting miracles.  If you find yourself in the midst of an acne flare, relax, call your Dermatologist who has plenty of emergency tricks up her sleeve. Days Before: Resist the urge to change anything!  If a last minute stress zit pops up, pop by your Dermatologist’s office for an intralesional steroid injection to melt it away.  .  Protect your skin from the sun to avoid any unsightly burns or spots.  Get rest, stay hydrated, and you will be beautiful!

You are finally ready for the big walk down the aisle!
You are finally ready for the big walk down the aisle!