• Get your manicure the day before the wedding. Your hands will look great for the rehearsal dinner, you'll have one less time-consuming task on the big day, and you'll know for sure your polish is set before you touch your gown.
• Whether you're doing your makeup yourself or going to a professional, do a complete practice run in advance. Take photographs to record the look you choose, and be sure to write down exactly what products and shades were used.
• The best way to choose your hairstyle is the old-fashioned way: Rip pictures you like out of magazines and start experimenting. Consider comfort and durability as well as appearance—you don't want a look that requires enough hairspray to turn you into a fire hazard!
Every bride wants to be gorgeous on her wedding day—little wonder, since you'll be watched closely by three important audiences (your groom, your guests, and your photographer's camera). The following beauty tips will help make sure you'll be ready for this most photographed, most gazed upon day of your life.
"For beautiful, silky skin the day of your wedding, start working on it right after you get engaged," says Yasmeen Djerradine, owner of the Yasmeen Djerradine Institut de Beaute day spa in New York City.
- To begin, ask a dermatologist or aesthetician for an assessment of your skin. Both are armed with powerful treatments to control the signs of aging and improve skins clarity. Most important, you want to avoid any additional damage to your delicate dermis.
- Next, schedule a facial. Today's non-irritating facials—packed with oxygen, vitamin C, seaweed and essential oils—are great for stimulating the vital functions of the skin, days Djerradine. And don't forget the rest of you! Body treatments, like the Power Peel or seaweed body wrap, work wonders on rough spots on the back, chest, elbows and knees.
- At home, use products that mimic prescription and spa remedies. Wash twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Use an a.m. moisturizer with SPF 15 and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to reduce the appearance of fine lines. At night, treat skin to a more intensive moisturizer.
Though its difficult in these busy days of wedding planning, try to stay calm. Stress triggers the hormones that affect acne, says Rena Brand, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. If you feel the tingly sensation that's a sure sign of an imminent breakout, Dr. Brand suggests mixing a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of clean warm water. Soak a piece of gauze in the liquid and use it as a compress on the troubled spot. That should help prevent a small breakout from becoming a large one.
If you do break out the week of the wedding, don't panic. Ask your dermatologist to administer a mild cortisone injection, which will soothe the inflammation. "It's best if the injection is given a few days or a week before the wedding, but you can do it that day in an emergency," says Dr. Brand.
"The number-one thing brides need to know about wedding-day makeup: There shouldn't be any surprises," says Robert Huitron, a New York City-based makeup artist. "You want to look like yourself—but with more oomph!" This generally means that less is more, and you should stay close to your natural look.
- If you plan to use a professional makeup artist, its a good idea to book her about four months before the wedding, and to experiment with colors and techniques at least a month before the date, suggests Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist Natalie Miller.
- To find your makeup style, collect magazine photos of makeup looks you love. It's also helpful to bring a good picture of yourself so the artist can see how you normally photograph, to help determine which features to play up. Also bring a picture of your wedding gown, and your hairstyle if that has been determined already.
- Do color rehearsals. Try different palettes (taking your gown's formality and style and the wedding's time of day into consideration) and take photos to pick the winning look. Also note the products and shades used so you can duplicate those choices on the big day.
- Our suggestions: For a solid base, start with a long-lasting foundation. Looking for the perfect match? Apply a sample and then step outdoors for a natural-light check, says Huitron. Apply the foundation with a dry sponge, then set with a powder puff. (If you're having an outdoor wedding, be sure to use a foundation with a built-in SPF so you dont begin the honeymoon with a burn.)
- For eyes, think smudgeproof and waterproof—tears of joy shouldn't trigger smears of worry. Even if you don't usually wear eyeshadow, try adding just a hint of color for the big day. To make it last, begin with a base coat on lids of your regular foundation (blended will and blotted to remove any excess) or an eye primer made for the job.
- Use a lip liner only one shade darker than your lipstick, suggests Miller, and blend the liner into your lipstick to prevent the harsh look of an outlined mouth. For stay-put color, apply lipstick with a lip brush.
Who won't look at your hands on your wedding day? "Start now to get them in great shape to show off that ring," says Dida Paraschivoiu, manicurist at the Avon Centre Salon and Spa in New York City.
For salon results at home, rub moisturizer into cuticles every night to soothe those ragged edges. Give your nails a buff and shine every couple of days. With the coarse side of an emery board, shape the nail, then use the smoother side to fine tune. Next, use a buffing block to soften ridges on the nail.
Once a week, add polish: Start with a base coat to fill ridges. For color, choose a long-wearing, chip-resistant enamel. Seal with a quick-drying top coat. To strengthen tips, apply the top coat underneath the nail as well.
If you're going for acrylic nails, test them two weeks prior to the wedding to prevent allergic reactions.
"If hair isn't in great condition, no style will work," says Christophe Belkalemi, senior stylist at Jacques Dessange salon in New York City. First stop: a consultation. Depending on your lifestyle and hair type, you may need to detoxify the scalp, condition the ends or add moisture to your hair. Your stylist can advise you on specific products for your needs.
"Determine the basic shape of what you're going for at least six months in advance," says Belkalemi. Get a trim early on to begin establishing that shape.
If you color your hair and are happy with the shade, stay with it. But if you think you'd like to change your shade or try coloring for the first time, go ahead—"Just leave yourself at least a few months to live with a new hue."
Finally, "get your last haircut about two weeks before the wedding," says Belkalemi. "That's when the haircut's true shape emerges."
Brow Wow—Grooming Essentials
With DIY plucking, it's all too easy to get tweeze happy, says Christine Chin, eyebrow guru to stars like Gisele Bundchen and Penélope Cruz.
Your brows may end up unbalanced—too thick at one end and too thin at the other. For goof-proof shaping, Chin recommends seeing a professional. But for at-home grooming, her advice is to keep it to a minimum.
Remove unwanted hairs between brows, then clean up strays just below them. (Tweezing on top will mess with the natural shape.) No single shape works on everybody, Chin says, but in general, your brow should follow the line of the bone just above your eye.