Every bride-to-be's must-have skincare guide

Meghan Markle, who weds Prince Harry on May 19, may want to take heed!

May 7, 2018, 4:12 AM
Meghan Markle attends the U.K. Team Trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, April 6, 2018, in Bath, England.
Meghan Markle attends the U.K. Team Trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, April 6, 2018, in Bath, England.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Many brides -- future-royal Meghan Markle, included -- begin wedding planning months in advance to make sure their big day is picture perfect.

But what should they do to make sure their skin looks flawless, too?

"Good Morning America" spoke to dermatologist Whitney Bowe and celebrity facialists Joanna Vargas and Sonya Dakar to get tips and tricks to nailing the perfect complexion.

1. Begin prepping at least months out: Bowe, Vargas and Dakar all advise brides-to-be (or anybody who's looking forward to a big event!) to begin their skin prep well in advance.

"In the months prior to your wedding day, I recommend introducing a retinol product into your skincare routine in order to even out tone and texture and to keep breakouts at bay," Bowe said. "The key is to begin slowly. You want to start using this type of product just twice a week, building up to every other night, and then ultimately every night, IF your skin can tolerate it. One of my favorite products is dermalogica’s Overnight Retinol Repair."

A skin-brightening serum with Vitamin C is also a good addition to one's skincare routine, she added. Vargas said a month out, some brides-to-be may want to consider a deep pore cleansing to make sure the skin is smooth for the wedding.

"Having one four weeks out will give the skin time to heal. I would follow with an LED light bed session so the pores start to shrink and you can get the skin even toned and perfect for the big day," she said. "Three weeks out, the bride should have the first of three [de-puffing] micro-current facials. Two weeks before the wedding, I would do a LED Light treatment plus oxygen. LED works in a series. The more you do, the more the pores shrink and the better your skin looks. The oxygen is awesome for bringing a great glow to the skin, which is so important with all the stress and pollution we subject it to."

Vargas added that a few days before the wedding is a good time to do another micro-current facial, like her Triple Crown Facial.

"As much as you should avoid it, many brides end up trying to manage stress with wine this last week, which leads to puffiness," Vargas explained. "Microcurrent will make you look de-puffed. It will make your cheekbones high and your jaw and neck really perfect for pictures. This is my favorite facial to give to anyone before a big day like a wedding or red carpet."

The day of, Vargas and Dakar both suggest using exfoliating products like their exfoliating mask and Flash Facial.

"Once the top layer of dead skin is sloughed off, the new skin revealed is so smooth and soft that makeup will easily glide on and sit perfectly all night," Dakar said. "It really creates the perfect canvas for your makeup."

Vargas also recommends using something like her daily Serum under makeup to oxygenate the skin and providing "a rosy glow." Bowe added that some women may want to try using a sheet mask as "a rapid-fire way of trapping moisture into the skin."

But be careful not to overdo it: "They can lead to breakouts in acne-prone skin," Bowe said.

PHOTO: Two women are pictured smiling and wearing facial masks in this undated stock photo.
Two women are pictured smiling and wearing facial masks in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

2. Stop experimenting at the two-week mark: Two weeks before the event, Bowe said women should be in "maintenance mode," and the focus should be on hydration. This not the time to start experimenting with new products, she added.

"It can also take up to 14 days to show signs of an allergy to a fragrance or preservative," she said. "I’ve received panicked calls from brides-to-be who started a brand new product two weeks prior to their wedding, only to wake up to itchy red bumps all over their skin on the day of the event because they are allergic to one of the ingredients in that new product but the rash took close to two weeks to come out!"

3. Nourish your skin from the inside out: Bowe recommends a diet rich in antioxidants to keep skin looking healthy and fresh. Vitamin C (found in oranges, red peppers, kale, and broccoli), lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit), polyphenols (found in green tea, dark chocolate, and blackberries), zinc (found in meat, beans, nuts and whole grains) and vitamin E (found in spinach, almonds, sweet potato and avocado) are among the most important ones to have. She also warns to stay away from foods that are processed or high in sugar.

4. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate: "Exfoliation is my secret weapon to having great skin. It's the most often skipped step in people's home routine but it really makes a huge difference in the way your skin looks and feels," Vargas said. "Think of exfoliation as your way of creating a perfect canvas for your products and your makeup. You could be investing in the most expensive amazing skin care products at home, but if you don't exfoliate, those ingredients won't ever penetrate to make any difference at all."

One way to incorporate exfoliation into one's routine is to begin dry brushing right before showering, she added.

"It's actually incredible as a cellulite treatment and increases elasticity," she gushed.

“You can exfoliate your skin twice a week, but the way you exfoliate your face, neck and chest should be much gentler than the way you exfoliate your body, especially those rough spots such as the elbows, knees, and soles of your feet," Bowe added in her new book: "The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out." "While a DIY sugar scrub is too harsh for most people’s faces, I love this kind of scrub for the extra-thick areas of skin on your body. My favorite recipe is made with two ingredients: brown sugar and almond oil. Simply mix ½ cup of brown sugar with ½ cup of almond oil and apply it to those rough spots with your hands. Rub gently in a circular motion for a minute or two. Then rinse and pat dry before moisturizing!”

5. Try an at-home facial massage: Markle relies on facialist Nichola Joss's facial massage to keep her skin looking its best, and Vargas said there's a reason why.

"Lymphatic drainage massage is a lost art and certainly a tool that anyone can use to make the face look rejuvenated and glowing," she said. "For dry skin, massage the skin in circular motions upward. Start at the base of the neck on the sides where your arteries are. Massage in gentle circles upwards, towards the jaw, up the sides of the face and around the eyes. This will help coax nutrients into the tissue. You want to do the opposite motion and start on the top of the face by the eyes if you are prone to breakouts -– this will draw the waste away."

6. Don't pick at blemishes: If a breakout hits in the days or weeks before, resist the urge to pick, Bowe said.

"Instead, visit your dermatologist for a quick injection of cortisone! Your zit will go down within hours. I have saved many a bride’s flawless glow with this technique!" she said.

Vargas added that an exfoliating mask the day before can work wonders.

"It will bring down the inflammation so you can cover the red mark with a bit of makeup," she said. "Another quick fix for a pimple is to dab a bit of yogurt onto it. The lactic acid along with the probiotics will calm and heal it fast!"

7. Slather on the sunscreen: Bowe wrote in her new book that in addition to being bad for one's health, skipping sunscreen can lead to skin damage that can make overall tone uneven.

And even then, "sunscreen alone isn’t enough," she continued. "I always pack a floppy sun hat and stay out of the sun between the hours of 12 and 2 and I am a big fan of UPF swimwear and cover-ups!"

Dakar, who makes her own brand of sunscreen, advises against wearing sports bras or swimsuits that might lead to tan lines.

For those brides-to-be who do want a tan for her wedding, all three experts suggested going for a spray tan. Bowe added that it's important to stick with tried and true products or to leave it to a professional.

"The tan will often look more even and polished," Dakar explained.