It’s hereeeee, the post SO many of you have been waiting for! You might be wondering what took me so long to write it, but you’ll see why in a minute. This is one of the more in-depth posts I’ve written in awhile. It’s chock-full of info, so even if you’re not searching for bridal beauty tips right now, I hope you can bookmark this to revisit as your all-encompassing beauty checklist in the future!
Also, I’m sharing a couple more photos that Kelly took of our “getting ready” portion of our big day 😉
Overall beauty tips for the bride to be:
Before we jump into my giant wedding beauty checklist, let’s take a step back. Lets talk about my biggest piece of advice. Looking back, what I would stress the most is start earlier than you think you need to.
I made the mistake of waiting until a month before my wedding to really start incorporating some major changes into my beauty routine. The reality is, these things can’t be rushed. Starting beauty treatments at the 6 month mark is going to put you in a much better place than trying to squeeze in everything at once.
Not to mention, everyone’s body reacts differently to changes in everything from your diet to a facial, to new products or new habits. so you should never try something for the first time with only a week or two to go before your wedding. You need time to gauge how your body is going to react to certain products or treatments, and adjust as necessary!
Additionally, keep in mind that “beauty tips” aren’t limited to just what you’re putting on your hair and your skin. It’s also what you’re eating, how much you’re exercising, and how much stress you’re under. That leads me to a couple more overall tips:
Drink lot’s of water:
Keeping your body hydrated doesn’t just help in the beauty department, but it will make you feel infinitely better! Water flushes out toxins in the body and will help you glow from the outside in. Personally, I am TERRIBLE at getting water down because it tastes boring. So a few things that help me drink more water:
- Lose the ice. It sounds weird, but it’s much harder to guzzle water when it’s cold. It goes down much smoother when it’s chilled, but not freezing.
- Drink out of a straw. I don’t know why this helps me so much more. It seems to go down much quicker when I drink water out of my tumbler than I do out of a glass.
- Flavor your water–the easiest way to do this in my opinion is to just toss in some chunks of frozen fruit! My favorite is pineapple or strawberry. It makes what would usually be a boring chore into a treat!
Being a lot more focused on what I was putting into my body made a big difference leading up to my wedding. Honestly, it completely changed how I’ve been eating post-wedding, too! I focused on cooking clean. We made healthy meals at home during the week, and still allowed myself to indulge a little if I wanted to on the weekends. I really do think it made a difference in my skin. Also, I felt SO much better in general, that it completely transformed my eating habits for good. Also, if you’re trying to slim down, it’s much easier to control your portion size when you’re eating a Kale salad than if you’re eating a slice of pizza 😛
Okay, so–now that we’ve touched on the internal benefits you should be taking care of, let’s jump into the beauty portion. Since I know that’s what you’re REALLY interested in, right?
Jess’ Ultimate Bridal Beauty Checklist:
Establish a wedding skincare routine that works for you: ASAP
This is another thing I think a lot of us misjudge. All of a sudden you’re a month away from your wedding. You suddenly want to splurge on the nice skincare products. But here’s the thing–those products need TIME to start working on your skin. You can’t expect overnight results! The sooner you start really taking your skincare routine seriously, the better. With that said, here’s what I use on a daily basis (you’ll notice it’s mostly Caudalie–this is in no way sponsored by them, haha, I’m a huggeee fan of all of their products!)
Cleanse with a gentle cleanser: I started using Caudalie’s oil makeup removing cleanser about 6 months ago and absolutely loved it. I used it with an exfoliating charcoal sponge to both cleanse and remove makeup.
Toner: I started using Cadualie’s brightening essence to improve uneven skin tone and also target my dark spots on the sides of my face leftover from acne scarring. This is honestly my biggest insecurity with my skin and I didn’t want to be dwelling on it on my wedding day! I used to think of toners as harsh astringents that I used in my teenage years but that isn’t the case at all–they’re actually very effective at tightening pores and targeting unevenness.
Eye cream: Beautycounter’s eye cream I really like (full review of it here) because it has caffeine and helps me look more awake, especially when I apply it in the morning! This was especially helpful the week-of! If you are trying to target fine lines, products with retinol are likely a good solution to apply at night. (I’m searching for a good retinol eye cream now, this one has really good reviews though!)
At-home peel: I swear by Peter Thomas Roth’s pineapple enzyme peel (I did a full review of it here). At first I was really worried that it would be too harsh for my skin (and, as the name suggests, make it peel like a traditional chemical peel would!) But that’s not the case at all, it really does a great job of exfoliating and your makeup goes on so smoothly afterwords! Make SURE to start using this awhile before your wedding though–I do think it took my skin some time to adjust to it.
At-home light therapy: I absolutely SWEAR by Neutrogena’s light therapy mask. Yes, you look like a storm trooper while doing it, but it WORKS. If you have problems with breakouts and want to ensure you keep them at bay before the big day, this will be your best friend. I even packed this thing with me to Portland (I had to put it in my tote bag so it wouldn’t get crushed and carry it on the plane like the biggest creep, haha!) Make sure to steer clear of their “light therapy pen” though–that does NOTHING.
Weekly masks: There are a couple masks that I apply a couple times per week: I love Caudalie’s glycolic peel mask, (more on that here) JJ Young Pore Steam & Cool Mask duo (K-Beauty from CVS, my latest obsession! Full review here!) and Origin’s Charcoal mask (full review on that here!)
Wedding Prep Facials and treatments: 6 Months Out
One of the most commonly asked questions I get is, “what treatments should I get before my wedding, and when should I start?”
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple! Everyone has such unique skincare concerns, that it’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. I would recommend going to get a consultation at a reputable medical spa or skincare boutique at least 6 months out from your wedding.
First, why a medical spa, and not that fancy 5 star hotel spa that you go to every year for your birthday? I’ve typically found that treatments at those spas are relaxation focused, whereas at a medical spa, they are cosmetic focused. If you want a relaxing chocolate aromatherapy facial, by all means, go to the Four Seasons. But if you want results–go to a medical spa.
I started going to get facial treatments at Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique (pictured above, it’s a very cute, cozy space!) about a month and a half out from my wedding, and I was so upset I didn’t start sooner! I saw such good results from her and can only imagine how good they would’ve been if I had started earlier! She is more knowledgable about skincare than anyone I’ve ever met and I highly recommend her.
My first visit, we sat down and I told her what my biggest concerns were with my skin, and she recommended a series of customized treatments. (She also offers special custom packages for bridal prep, so make sure to let her know you’re getting married upfront!)
When it comes to facials, again, everyone has really specific needs, so I can’t really recommend one over another because your skin could be completely different than mine! I’m going to be doing a different post ALL about wedding prep facials, but long story short, here is what I found to be most effective for me personally:
Regular facials honestly don’t do a lot for me. Many women swear by getting regular facials, but truly, I’ve never been able to tell a difference in my face afterwords and I typically break out from the extractions.
However, I really loved the SilkPeel Dermalinfusion facial that I got at Leah’s (if you don’t live in Chicago, many places offer them across the country!) It’s great for targeting breakouts and for breakout-prone, uneven skin. Similar to microdermabrasion, they use this cool pore clarifying vacuum-y thingy that penetrates the skin’s surface, opens blocked pores and flushes away impurities while soothing pores with Salicylic Acid to speed the healing process. It definitely helped to brighten and even my face while clearing it up at the same time.
(Pictured above! Crazy looking, but I promise, the results are really great.) Since my biggest source of discontent with my skin at this point in my life is that it tends to be pretty blotchy and uneven with acne scars and discoloration on the sides of my face, Leah recommended laser treatments to help even everything out. I did both the Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) which targets hyperpigmentation and scarring as well as the Laser Genesis Skin Rejuvination treatment which helps even out skin tone and reduce redness. I cannot say enough good things about these! They have forever evened out my skin and diminished my old acne scarring for good! Both only take a couple of minutes and you’re done!
If you’re wondering–they don’t hurt. They aren’t comfortable by any means, and feel like a warm rubber band snap, but nothing you can’t handle. (Beauty is pain :-P) However, I should probably mention I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so this will be different for everyone.
I did two dermaplaning sessions before my wedding. This treatment came highly recommended by all my girlfriends who had gotten married before me. It makes your makeup go on flawlessly and makes your skin super smooth. Stick with me, because it sounds scary–but essentially a medical-grade scalpel is used to “shave” off the top layer of dead skin as well as any peach fuzz on your face. This makes your makeup go on FLAWLESSLY. Even if you have perfect skin I would recommend doing this just for how great it makes your makeup look alone. You’re also in and out in a few minutes, with very minimal redness afterwords, which is nice!
I did so much more working out than usual leading up to the wedding that I had problems with breakouts on my back and chest. (Hot things to broadcast on the internet–if you ever doubted my devotion to you, here’s proof.)
Knowing I was wearing a completely backless dress, this honestly kept me awake at night more times than anything else about the wedding. (That is, until our venue got evacuated because of the fire the week of, haha!)
Luckily, I was able to solve it by applying benzoyl peroxide on any affected areas (make sure you sleep in an old white t-shirt–it will bleach EVERYTHING) followed by a mixture of gentle moisturizer (I used CereVe) with a few drops of tea tree oil.
Additionally, I kept astringent wipes in my bag that I would swipe on immediately after a workout. This really helped!
Finally, right before the wedding, I also had Leah apply some of the laser treatment on a couple trouble areas on my shoulders, and that definitely made everything clear up quickly.
Hair prep: 3 Months Out
I’m definitely a minimalist when it comes to hair. So not a ton to discuss here. But I did make sure to get a cut 3 months out. Then followed up with a trim about a week beforehand. I wanted to look exactly like “me” on my wedding.
I go to Stacia at Sine Qua Non salon in West Town (She also works at their Lakeview location!) She always does an outstanding job and cannot recommend her enough!
Again, the key here is that you never want to try anything new right before your wedding. If you want to experiment with color or cut, make sure to do that in PLENTY of time, so you can get things just right for the big day. That way, you’ll know exactly what you want and just have to maintain that until the wedding.
Brows and lashes: 2-6 Months Out
I always knew I wanted lash extensions for my wedding. My lashes leave much to be desired and I don’t love the look of a lot of false lashes (because they tend to, well, feel false, haha.). You also want to find someone you really trust. So I went to the same technician (Her name is Melanie Rios! She’s the best!) that all my friends have gone to. I was really happy with the results. I wrote a whole Q&A on my lash extensions and where I get mine here.
My biggest tip:
Start them a couple fills before your wedding (i.e. at least 1.5-2 months) because it might take you some time to figure out the exact length and fullness that you want!
As for brows, I always get asked about them, but I really do nothing to mine! They’re really light and essentially shapeless and non-existant. So I was interested in microblading, but it was too close to the wedding and I was too nervous that if I didn’t like it, there was nothing I could do about it! I’ve heard really good things though and definitely want to try it out soon. If you’re also interested in getting it done, I would do it six months before your wedding to leave enough time for it to fade if you don’t like it!
Teeth whitening: 1 month out
Shaheen tells me that I should get whitening trays from the dentist (haha, she’s a dentist!) but I was lazy and went the Crest Whitestrips route and still got great results. I only did half the box because I didn’t want my teeth to be like, blue-white. (Kelly and Mitch have the funniest story on how they used too much teeth whitener before their wedding and everyone joked they could see their smiles in the dark.) How early you need to start your teeth whitening will really depend on how sensitive your teeth are, so if you need to space out your treatments, make sure to plan for that accordingly!
Wedding Prep Makeup:
I opted to get my makeup professionally done (Kirstie Wight is amazingggg if you need a makeup artist or hair stylist in Portland! I used her for both!). You definitely want to book your hair and makeup as SOON as possible, because the good people get snatched up really quickly!
On that note, I am so picky about my foundation and lip color. I knew I wanted to use my own. (HIGHLY recommend a hair and makeup trial for this reason. Especially if you aren’t used to having your hair and makeup professionally done because makeup looks SO different from person to person!). I think even if you opt to use your hairstylists products (which most people do, and that’s totally normal! Kirstie was so patient with my psychotic nit-picking about my skin hahaha). You should go shopping beforehand so you have a few products on-hand to re-apply throughout the day and night!
Here’s what I had stashed in my MOH’s bag:
Personally, my skin does NOT do well with airbrush makeup. For whatever reason, it doesn’t wear well on me and I’ve had too many bad experiences with foundation. So I started about 3 months before my wedding to search for my own, because I wanted to give myself enough time to really wear it under different weather conditions, circumstances, etc.
I finally landed on the perfect one, and I can’t recommend MakeupForever’s HD foundation enough. I went into Sephora and got samples of a few different foundation samples that they had recommended and took them home with me to test out, but this one had the best coverage and stayed put the best.
Whatever you do, you want to make sure you do NOT get a foundation with SPF in it. SPF causes a reflection with a camera flash, and you’ll end up with a completely blown out face in all of your photos.
I also got NARS lipstick in “Apoline”–which was a really pretty pinky-neutral hue. I was originally going to do a deep red. However I didn’t want to have to constantly be worrying about having lipstick on my teeth or having it wear off and look bad. I’ve used NARS lipsticks for years and like that they have a semi-matte, but not too drying finish. It lasts longer than the average lipstick! Again, give yourself time with this one. You don’t want to be spending the last few days before your wedding trying to find the perfect lipstick. (Believe me, you’ll have bigger fish to fry).
I’ve had my makeup done a LOT over the years, and this Urban Decay “All Nighter” spray is almost always the setting spray that all the professionals use! You need your makeup to last a longggg time, so having this in your bag is key! (I touched up my makeup a couple times throughout the day and just sprayed this lightly over top!)
WHEW. This may be my longest post ever written. If you stuck with me until the end, I hope you found it helpful! What other wedding beauty routine questions do you have? Leave them below!