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Ask ITG: What Skincare Should I Use Pre-Wedding?


Ask ITG is our monthly email column where we answer moisturizer-related queries from readers like you. Got a question? Email us at [email protected], subject line: Ask ITG. Not signed up for our emails? You're missing out. Do that now.

Dear ITG,

I'm getting married in June and looking to create a pre-wedding beauty plan (for very dry, somewhat sensitive skin) for the few days leading up to the ceremony. I've researched and sampled so many products—Sisley's Black Rose and Express Flower Gel Masks, Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask, SK-II's Sheet Masks, and Sunday Riley's Good Genes, to name a few—but I'm beyond confused about the order and frequency I should use them. Do you have the same skin routine for pre-rehearsal dinner as pre-wedding day? Is there a such thing as too many masks? If you were to create a week-of wedding beauty plan, what would it look like?

Any advice is appreciated!

First of all, a very hearty mazel tov! I’ve never been married, but I’ve heard good reviews. And as excited as I am for you and your chosen life partner to start this journey together, I’ve also been to enough SLT classes with very serious brides-to-be to know how stressful the run-up to the big day can seem. While I’m not going to comment on finding a dress or a venue or a dairy-free, gluten-free entree option, what I can offer you is this advice: The less you stress about your skin, the better it’ll be.

You mentioned that your skin is very dry and somewhat sensitive. You know what you don’t need to add to that? Stress breakouts. This is the very unfair thing that happens when your emotional state triggers an increase in your cortisol levels which stimulates excess sebum production which could lead to breakouts, inflammation, and rosacea. That sucks, so I say skip the stress altogether in favor of a nice bath and other relaxing things like aromatherapy. Throw in a gentle cleansing-but-still-hydrating mask once a week (May Lindstrom Honey Mud is my go-to) to remove any unnecessary dirt or oil from your skin that could eventually turn into a zit.

But you asked about products, not zits. And the answer to that is similarly indirect—never try out a new product or new routine in the week leading up to an event where you want your skin to look its best. So many rules—I know! But hear me out: A beautiful complexion is about balance and sometimes (not always) new products, PARTICULARLY exfoliators like Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask or Sunday Riley's Good Genes, can upset that balance. (Don’t get me wrong, these are very good products, but with sensitive skin I always err on the side of caution.) Apply this mindset to your pre-rehearsal dinner and pre-ceremony conundrum, too. Find a routine that you like now, and be vigilant about it. And when I say vigilant, I mean don’t get overexcited and do too much. More is not always better. Yes, you can over-mask. I’ve done it, it’s not pretty.

All that said, you can certainly play around a little now and see what you like. Think about your current routine, think about the concerns you want to address, and think about the fewest number of products you can use to address that.

Here’s a routine that I propose to take you through your wedding day:

(Did you see that wedding humor I threw in there for you?)

Daily: A hydrating cleanser, mist, serum, and oil or moisturizer. Since you say your skin is extremely dry, I would recommend using a cream cleanser like Avène Antirougeurs Anti-Redness Dermo-Cleansing Fluid no more than once a day and wiping it off with a cotton pad soaked in micellar water. It’s my surefire way to reduce redness in a snap. Wash at night to get the grime of the day off—not in the morning, when you’ve produced your own natural oils to protect the skin and balance your pH.

Immediately after cleaning your face, add moisture back in efficiently with a mist and feel it sink in immediately. Then add a serum that’s targeted, but not too active. That’s probably hyaluronic acid for you—it’s light as can be, but a heavy-lifter when it comes to moisture retention. After that, I recommend an oil, but you can choose a moisturizer if that works for you. On my dry, redness-prone skin, there’s nothing better than Tammy Fender’s Capillary Strengthening Blend that I reviewed last February.

Weekly: This is when I will allow you to exfoliate. No more, no less. I’ve never found physical scrubs terribly effective, so I’d say go with your gut and try the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. If you’re not sold, I’ve done a whole story on peels for people who don’t want to peel off too much here.

Once you’ve exfoliated, now you can mask. Something that’s super soothing and hydrating, obviously. SK-II is a great choice, but there’s also all of these masks that come highly recommended via our Top Shelf alums.

Monthly: Here’s where it gets fun. Find a facialist you really like and devise a plan for the days leading up to the ceremony. For you, I would suggest someone who’s fluent in microcurrent technology—aka positive and negative electric currents gently pumped through your skin to tone the muscles underneath and leave them as lifted and firm as the day you were born. It’s really incredible. I’ve seen results after only one treatment, but the more you go, the longer it lasts. Can’t find a facialist that’ll see you regularly without extracting the heck out of your face? (You really don’t have the time for that–who knows how long the redness and scarring could take to go away…) Get yourself on the NuFace grind. Bobbi Brown endorses it, so what are you waiting for?

Getting into a routine now should mean that by wedding day, your skin will be in beautiful shape. If you do want to do anything special day- or night-of, watch this video of Jessica Alba prepping her skin for makeup. Because if I looked like Jessica Alba on my wedding day, I’d be so so happy.

Best wishes!

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG. Next up: Can I shrink my pores?