You may remember the horrific scene: On the morning of the biggest day of her life, Toula Portokalos wakes up to find a large, offensive red pimple on her face, sending her entire "Big Fat Greek Wedding" party into a frenzy. And while you probably shouldn't take her father's advice and "put some Windex on it," there are other precautions you can take for a big day that's blemish-free.
"The first thing I would suggest is not waiting until the last minute," says Sandra Downie, a Connecticut-based licensed aesthetician and recognized bridal beauty expert. "Preparing your complexion can take weeks, if not months, depending on the condition of your skin."
Downie says brides-to-be should start with a skin-care consultation, at which point the aesthetician can recommend an at-home regimen.
"It's not an involved process, and the most important thing is to wash morning and evening," she says, adding that most regimens will consist of a cleanser, exfoliator, moisturizer and sun block. For those with rosacea, hyperpigmentation or acne, Downie says more aggressive things can be done, but they need to begin a minimum of three months before the big day.
However, if your walk down the aisle is fast approaching, there are a number of things Downie says you can do to achieve a radiant look, including staying away from foods high in fat, calories and carbohydrates.
"Not that I'm promoting any kind of diet, but these are things that make you sluggish and affect the skin and cause the jaw line to break out," she says. "I would suggest fresh fruit and vegetables, lots of water and pure juices, not sugared juices."
Anxiety can also take its toll on the skin, but Downie knows relaxation is easier said than done when wedding planning is underway.
"You're not going to tell a bride not to stress, but if she can take some time out for herself, go to a movie, even exercise, she can raise endorphins which improve the skin. Getting sleep is really, really important."
A deep-cleansing facial can also be beneficial, and should be done 7 to 14 days before the wedding, she says.
On the big day, Downie suggests using refrigerated tea bags or, strange as it sounds, Preparation H, to minimize puffy eyes. She says the hemorrhoid cream can also help with emergency damage control, a.k.a. those evil Toula-esque blemishes that pop up just as you're about to don the dress.
"If it's come up because it's been there and it's been brewing for a while, there's not much you can do but use a little Preparation H to bring down swelling and then use concealer."
With a little planning and lifestyle preparation, though, you should be able to anticipate smooth, even skin when you say your "I dos." And Downie, who is also a makeup artist, says there's nothing better than a beautiful, naturally glowing bride.
"Every woman has things that she loves about herself and are unique to her, and those need to be highlighted on the wedding day," she says. "I don't believe in covering everything up and making someone not look like themselves. The key is to do more with less."