This Pre-Wedding Skincare Routine Gave Me Perfect Skin for My Big Day

The Ultimate Pre-Wedding Skincare Routine: Emily Dawes wedding

Photo:

Kreativ Wedding

Let’s be real: No matter how much everyone around you may try and play it down to ease the pressure, getting married is going to be one of the most important and best days of your life (trust me on the best part). Whether you’re planning on a small registry office ceremony, a traditional church wedding or a sun-drenched destination affair, every woman wants to look like the best version of herself on the big day. 

For someone who has never been very experimental with her beauty routine, having lived for years by the mantra of “cleanse and moisturise” with whatever products I can get my hands on through industry beauty sales and monthly Boots trips, the self-care part of planning a wedding, I’ll be honest, baffled me. Somewhere between buying bridesmaid dresses and ordering flowers, I realised I should probably start thinking about prepping my skin too (and sooner rather than later), but I had no idea where to start. 

Despite having worked in the fashion and beauty media industry for over six years, even I felt completely overwhelmed by the number of products, tools, treatments and advice out there. I was happy to invest in a few products that were absolutely worth it and a couple of treatments if needed, but what I really wanted to know in this world of abundant acids, vitamins and SPFs, was a simple, dummied down, a day-to-day routine that didn’t cost the earth and actually worked.

The Ultimate Pre-Wedding Skincare Routine: Emily Dawes getting ready.

Photo:

Kreativ Wedding

So three months before the big day, I went to the experts. I asked all of my beauty editor friends for their essential products (I didn’t want to end up with a 20-step routine), my makeup artist for her ultimate skin preparation tips, and visited the fashion girls’ favourite low-key facialist Rhian Truman (don’t worry, it doesn’t cost the earth, she’s not based in L.A. and doesn’t have a 6-month waiting list), for a skin consultation and bespoke facial. I have to say that if you can, this last part is absolutely worth doing as every individual obviously has different skin and different needs.

What makes Rhian so special is that she’s independent rather than working for one brand or spa, which means she uses only the best products across all brands and I was able to really trust her advice without feeling like it was being sold to me. If you’re not in London, I’d definitely recommend looking for a similar independent facialist near you.

If like most of us, you have little spare time, limited budget and—let’s be honest—you’re planning a wedding here, limited headspace with all the other things on your to-do list, I’m here to help. Below you’ll find all of the best advice that was given to me and the seven easy (promise) tips that genuinely changed my skin and made it glow more than I had ever seen it on my big day.

1. Don't Get a Facial Too Close to the Wedding

Although it may feel like just what you need to unwind in the few days before the big day, perhaps opt for a relaxing massage instead. Facials have a tendency to pull out impurities which in the long run is obviously what you want, but this can also result in breakouts and redness in the days or even week after a treatment. I’ve just come straight out of my first facial with Rhian in this picture, three months before my wedding, and although glowing, you can see some redness around the chin area which did turn into quite big breakouts over the next few days (they were the last spots I had pre-wedding, though). Aim to have your last detoxifying or clarifying treatment at least a month before the big day and if you’re desperate, try a massage based facial to plump and tone the skin’s surface, such as FaceGym, rather than any extractions.

2. Get Yourself a Good Cleanser

This may go without saying, and I’m sure most of you already have your favourite cleanser (if so, stick with it—if anything changing up your routine too close to the wedding may cause your skin to breakout), but for those, like me, who are micellar water addicts or change between products often, finding a good cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin is an essential place to start. I used to dislike Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser because of the film it left on my skin, but when facialist Rhian told me that that was actually a good thing, it changed how I felt about it completely. “It’s the best and just amazing at levelling our the skin,” she says. I used to prefer a squeaky clean finish, but you don’t want to strip your skin completely. This is a cult product for a reason, and it won’t break the bank, meaning you don’t have to be sparing with it. Slap this stuff on day and night and you’ll see a difference immediately.

3. Go Gentle on the Exfoliation

Exfoliating is important for glowy skin—don’t get me wrong—but I used to think it wasn’t working if it didn’t have bits in it that resembled rock salt. Turns out that I was totally wrong. Rhian advised getting an exfoliating toner such as Pixi’s Glow Tonic (which had also been suggested to me by many a beauty editor) to use regularly every morning. It contains a gentle amount of glycolic acid, which dissolves dead cells at the skin’s surface, leaving a radiant glow. I have to say that I think this is the product that changed my skin the most. In fact, I’m still using it every day. This, paired with the exfoliating muslin cloths (they come with Liz Earle’s cleanser) on the T-Zone works wonders.

4. Don't Go Overboard on the Intense Masks

The main issue I have with my skin (which is normal to combination) is congestion. Living in London and working full time means, like most of us, I’m almost always exposed to pollutants that can really block up the skin as well as using at least some form of makeup most days. Rhian advised I use a deeply detoxing face mask such as Goldfaden MD’s Clarify + Clear to really pull out impurities, but she also advised on its strength, and where I would normally plaster a face mask all over at least twice a week, this is best used no more than once a week and only on the small areas that have issues (mainly the chin for me). This is another product she warned not to use any closer than 1–2 weeks before the wedding due to the risk of redness and breakouts but this will really help blast any under the skin bumps in the run-up to give you that flawless glow on the big day.

5. Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise

If anything is going to help you get that glow, it’s a good moisturiser. This is where to invest your money, and treating yourself to a new, fancy moisturiser feels special if it’s like something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Every beauty editor, influencer and facialist I’ve spoken to seem to agree that Dr Barbara Sturm cannot be beaten for her creams. Rich in hyaluronic acid, they glide on and really enrich your skin at the same time as giving an immediate glow. I used this normal face cream day and night and totally fell for it. Yes, it’s expensive, but this lasted me just over six months, as you only need a tiny bit upon each application. The only problem is (and the one I’m having now) that once you try it, you’ll never want to go back. 

6. Give Yourself a Facial Massage

When I visited Rhian for my skin consultation and facial, the one piece of information I got from her that I didn’t feel like I knew anything about before was the importance of facial massage. Maybe it’s just me, but I was so wrapped up in what products to use I didn’t realise the importance and effect of how you applied them. She told me if there is one thing that will make your face glow and feel plump on the big day, it’s a good old fashioned face massage. And no, you don’t need to splash out on a professional one every evening—don’t worry. Take 5–15 minutes at least three times a week, and especially the night before the big day to really rub, pull and push (yes, your husband-to-be might think you’re strange, but go with it) your favourite night oil in before bed.

I love Aurelia’s natural products because not only do they smell heavenly and really work but this bottle has also lasted me almost a year. If you’re into your tools, a face roller will also help with this.

7. SPF Is Your Best Friend

It will come as no surprise that everyone I spoke to for advice mentioned the importance of using SPF in your daily routine—and not just in the run-up to a wedding. This is a habit I’ve happily kept in my day to day routine, but remember this especially if you’re getting married in spring and summer. SPF will prevent any visible sun damage and keep your skin looking younger in the long run. The product that came up time and time again for feeling light and sitting well under makeup? SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense. And the experts weren’t wrong—I bought two just in case.

Shop More Hero Products for the Big Day

These warming masks will aid in a great night’s sleep and de-puff the eyes. 

Just as good for making skin shine on the day as on the honeymoon. 

Although traditionally made for scarring, lather this on top to toe straight after showering and you’ll have the softest skin. 

I used one of these super-hydrating masks the evening before the wedding. 

A fresh, clean scent you’ll always love to remember. 

The best lip balm I’ve ever tried. It’s perfect for keeping lips kissable. 

Another great gentle exfoliator that can be used as a wash or mask. 

Another cult product to help you get that full night’s sleep beforehand. 

A luxury alternative to Liz Earle’s cleanser, which also comes with the exfoliating muslin cloths. 

A classic to make sure you have removed every ounce of makeup post-cleanse. 

Everyone is raving about the hydrating qualities of this face mask.

If you struggle with keratosis pilaris or bumpy skin, this is the product to sort it out. 

A great budget-friendly alternative to Dr Barbara Sturm’s face cream. 

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