The amount of time, money, and attention to detail required when it comes to planning a wedding is nothing to bat your lashes at. One survey revealed that brides spend between 120 and 900 hours planning their weddings (florals and tablescapes and entertainment—oh my!). And while you may be thinking about your venue and guest-list far enough in advance, are you sufficiently prepping for your wedding-day beauty goals?
Just as you would with seating arrangements and food, so should you with haircare and eyebrow planning. We all want to look back on our wedding scrapbook (or Instagram hashtag) and feel both timeless, as well as flawless. From skin to hair to brows, these aspects can take months (or honestly, even years) to get to your exact dream liking. This is exactly why we asked a handful of beauty experts on how to plan ahead for your most perfect day. (But even if you don’t have a wedding coming up, these tips can be easily incorporated into your regime, big event or not.)
Six Months Before
Beginning a weekly and nightly routine six months before your wedding day may sound overly prepared, but it can overhaul the quality of your skin. Working this far in advance is where you’ll really impart dramatic changes to your face come your wedding day.
“It is crucial to have a consistent and efficacious skincare routine to get your skin in tiptop shape for the wedding,” says celebrity electrician esthetician Melanie Simon, whose client list includes the likes of Eva Mendes and Mandy Moore.
This is also the time to consider at-home devices, like Simon’s very popular ZIIP device, which offers a powerful one-two-punch of nano and microcurrents. There are seven treatments programmed into the device and each one is focused on one thing specifically. Acne? Use the 8-minute Total Clearing treatment that uses negative energy to kill positively-charged bacteria. Brown spots? Try the 6-minute Pigment treatment, which suppresses overactive melanin production. The 12-minute Energize can be used on all skin types to tighten fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten skin. Got acne? Simon suggests taking a Vitamin A supplement by Thorne (with 21,000 IU) 12 days per month, especially when you’re breaking out.
Now’s also the best time to adjust your morning routine. Simon recommends a gentle cleanse with something like Bioderma Micellar Water or Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water. Then, use a powerful exfoliator like the iconic Biologique Recherche P50 PIGM 400 (it’s an acidic toner that somehow exfoliates while hydrating) by putting four to six drops on a gauze or fingertips and pressing into the skin. Finally, add a serum to your routine—Vintner’s Daughter, Melanie Simon Skincare Serum C, and Peach & Lily Glass Skin are our top picks. And, of course, don’t forget about the power of sunblock. Simon prefers Jane Iredale PurePressed Mineral Foundation with SPF 20, paired with their D2O spray.
In the evening, cleanse with something like Tatcha The Deep Cleanse to remove all sunblock and makeup and tone again. Simon recommends a more intense toner for nighttime, like Biologique Recherche P50 1970. Use a nighttime serum, and always moisturize—try a heavier cream, like Goop Replenishing Night Cream.
Three Months Out
If you are considering Botox or fillers, now’s the time. Somewhere between the three months to six-week mark is your sweet spot—especially if it’s your first time. “Many young brides try Botox and lip fillers for the first time before their wedding,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Melissa Doft. “Often brides will visit the office a few months before the big event to try Botox to see if they like the feel and look of it.”
No matter what, be sure to seek a board-certified dermatologist with experience in fillers, Botox, and skincare, says Dr. Gary Goldenberg of Goldenberg Dermatology. “The wedding is not the time to take chances on your skin! Explain your timeline to the doctor and make sure you’re on the same page and have a plan,” he says.
Find a stylist that you love, and collaborate with them on your vision—ideally months in advance so you can plan hair color and the cut especially. “[The bride] should have a style in mind for the big day, and carefully (and slowly) work to achieve the end goal with her stylist,” says Ashley Streicher of STRIIIKE. “Whether it be getting the color right or growing out your hair, it’s important to be on the same page as your stylist, so you can both be working towards that goal.”
Teddi Cranford of White Rose Collective agrees, mentioning it’s good to reconnect with your stylist a month or so ahead of time, especially if you’ve booked them long in advance, to assure you’re both on the same page with all details and vision.
The lush, full brows you desire really can take months, even years to grow—no, really. “If possible I always have clients start a growth program a year in advance, as it can take up to a year to grow every hair in your brow,” says Kristie Streicher of STRIIIKE. “We have a strategic tweezing growth plan that really works!”
As Streicher previously told us, tweezing brows can actually stimulate the hairs around the removed hair to grow. A brow master can gameplan to assure you achieve your brown dreams over time.
An at-home option is brow growth treatments. Christina Zeigler, the co-founder of Vegamour, a natural brow and lash growth serum brand, suggests starting by using your new lash and brow routine a few months prior to the wedding to ensure full results. (But if you’re in a rush, she said most users see results within 30 days of using Vegamour.)
Botox does take ten days to fully work, says Dr. Doft. “The muscles of the face are asymmetric so one side can require more toxin than the other,” she says. “I advise all brides to come in a month before the wedding to allow time for a “touch up” before the big day.” This is done to try and look as natural as possible with the Botox, so you can show expression fully on the wedding day, but no set wrinkles.
Also, if your dermatologist recommends more intensive facial treatments, around three to four weeks out is the ideal time. A treatment like the VI Peel might be beneficial—it increases radiance and helps mitigate acne and brown spots.
Weeks out before your big day is the ideal time to start increase skincare hydration and to decrease aggressive treatments. Peach & Lily founder and CEO Alicia Yoon suggests using a gentle exfoliator to resurface skin while clearing out blackheads and acne. Her Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask is a great option, as it’s super effective, yet won’t cause irritation. Simon suggests using a mask as often as five nights a week. Ensure three to five of those masks are hydrating or gently brightening—the Tatcha Violet Mask, Dr. Barbara Sturm Deep Hydrating Mask, or Biologique Masque VIP O2 are excellent. Then, make one or two of those masks a week a clarifying or exfoliating option, like Goop Instant Facial.
And, yes, keep up with your skincare and devices. Simon suggests using your microcurrent tool as often as three to four times a week.
Three to two weeks before your big day, you could refresh your hair color if you’re getting consistent highlights or color. “Three weeks prior, I would refresh your hairline, or any sort of highlights you have, so everything looks super fresh,” says Cranford. “At White Rose, we call that a “mini light”, it’s just kinda adding that extra sun-kissed look.”
For a cut, Cranford suggests a baby trim one month out, so your ends are fresh. If you have shorter hair, maybe two to three weeks out is better.
Why are you perfecting cut and color weeks in advance, and not just right before a big event? Your hair basically needs time to re-adjust. “I do feel like sometime people’s hair goes into a little bit of shock right after a cut, it takes a couple days for your hair to lay perfect and settle in,” says Streicher. “Color is the same for me, getting a couple weeks of growth looks most natural to me.”
There are eyebrow treatments that can give a major boost to brows, and you ideally want to dive into this a week or two before the big event. Like Streicher’s signature treatment, the Feathered Brow, which can dramatically change your eyebrows in under an hour.
It’s nearly game time, ladies! Prep by using a mask every night leading up to the wedding. “An easy way to get in hydration fast is through sheet masks,” says Yoon. She loves her Original Glow Sheet Mask for a hydrating and brightening boost, which can be used daily leading up to the big day.
If you tend to get acne when you’re stressed or rundown, now’s the time to be proactive. “Many develop stress acne, so be ready for that emergency pimple,” says Dr. Goldenberg. “Many of my patients “pop in” a week or a day before the wedding for a cortisone injection. This helps to decrease the size of—and sometimes completely diminish—the pimple.”
While it’s important to hydrate hair normally, be conscious of what products you’re using directly prior to your wedding day. Cranford suggests not doing a hair mask a few days before because you don’t want your hair to be weighed down from a moisturizing formula.
The Night Before
The day before the wedding, focus on hydration. A hydrating and gently formulated non-irritating mask like Peach & Lily Reset Button mask is great, and Simon swears by the aforementioned Biologique Masque VIP O2 for the night before a big event.
If a zit pops up last minute, acne stickers can save the day without causing irritation.
Check with your stylist ahead of time to see exactly how clean or dirty they’d like your hair to be—some updos hold much, much better with grit and a little texture in the hair. If you’re going to wash your hair yourself, Cranford suggests using a good shampoo and conditioner the night before or morning, especially one that gives volume but weightlessly, so hair isn’t weighed down. She recommends Apothecare Essentials Booster shampoo and condition for shiny, but voluminous hair.
This conversation with your stylist would hopefully happen months or weeks in advance, but be sure to be very clear with your dream hairstyle direction for day-of. “You basically want to look like the best version of yourself, whatever that may be,” says Streicher. “You want to look like yourself, and something you would wear. That’s my best advice for brides, especially years from now with those wedding photos.”
Focus on products and routines that will increase your glow the morning of the wedding. Do a quick sheet mask before massaging in a super glow serum like Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Drops. Take a deep breath and focus on your big day—it’s here.
Makeup is arguably the most vital thing to assure you look like your truest self on the big day. It also does tend to be one of those tasks most brides leave to a professional or even a skilled friend. But it’s also one of the tasks that can make you look least like yourself when done to extremes. Regardless of whether it’s you, or someone else in charge of your makeup, we’ve got tips.
Not sure what you want to look like? Jenn Streicher of STRIIIKE suggests bringing in a lot of pictures—both of what you imagine your makeup could look like day-of, and also pictures of yourself where you really liked the way you looked. This will visually tell a story much more vibrantly and decisively than words could.
What about trendy makeup? Our artists think you should avoid anything overly trend-driven. “Stay away from trends for your wedding day 100 percent,” says Johnston. “You don’t want to look back at your wedding album, and regret a trend that may not be around five years from now.” Streicher agrees, saying she loves keeping things traditional for brides. “But ultimately it’s the bride’s decision,” she says.
No matter the stress associated with your wedding day, enjoy the process and don’t forget what it’s all about— a celebration of you and your partner’s love.
This story was originally published on September 26 and updated on November 10.