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beauty - skin care

Bridal Beauty: Prewedding Skin Care Solutions

Here's everything you need to know for healthy, clear skin -- whether yours is oily, dry, or somewhere in between.

Photo: David Gubert

What kind of skin are you in? It's never too soon to begin a healthy skincare regimen, even months before your wedding. So with our help, you can become your own skincare expert.

The Essentials for Oily Skin...

Keep a variety of products designed for oily skin on hand, so you have options at your fingertips for whatever you face in the mirror. In the summertime, you may be drier on the surface, but oily underneath. Around the holidays, you might be extra oily. The key is to have a range of products at home, so they're available the moment you need them.

Cleanser

Use a gentle gel formula. Rinse carefully, counting at least 10 splashes. (If it's winter, or if you have been spending lots of time in airplanes, your skin may behave more like normal-to-dry skin, in which case you may want to switch temporarily to a more creamy cleanser.)

Toner

Avoid toners containing alcohol, as they can dry the surface of your skin, blocking impurities beneath the surface. Overdrying the skin is one of the biggest mistakes women with oily skin make. Toners with AHAs are a better choice because they help smooth skin's texture and prevent clogged pores. Cucumber water, applied with a clean cotton pad, is another good option.

Moisturizer

While moisturizing might seem counterintuitive with oily skin, it will actually prevent extra oil and pimples (because if skin is too dry it's natural oil production goes into overdrive). Look for an oil-free product or a mattifying cream made specifically for oily skin -- it dries matte on the skin, minimizing larger pores and smoothing surface texture imperfections. If you are drier around your eyes (most people are), apply a richer cream to that area at night. And if your skin is extra, extra oily, skip the moisturizer during the day, and just use an oil-free version at night.

Foundation

Wearing foundation will not negatively affect your skin's condition, as long as you cleanse your face thoroughly at night. Stick to oil-free or mattifying formulas. Or opt for a light, oil-free tinted moisturizer.

Powder

Don't be afraid to use powder to seal in your makeup. If you find that powder makes your face look ashy, skip it. The darkest skin tones often look best with oil-free foundations and nothing else.

Makeup Remover

Before washing your face in the evening, use a nonoily makeup remover on a clean cotton pad to wipe away mascara, liner, shadow, even lipstick. Oily removers can aggravate the eyes and cause makeup to run down your face.

Exfoliant

Sometimes oily skin has a hard upper layer, so regular exfoliation is essential to keeping it soft and unclog pores. Use a gentle, grainy scrub twice weekly, concentrating on blackhead-prone areas like the nose and chin.

Masks

A good clay mask, used once a week, is great for oily, acne-prone skin -- especially in the summer.

Facials

Deep-cleansing facials are good for cleaning out blackheads (just be prepared for a little pain as the facialist presses the impurities from your face).

Dermatologists

When should you seek professional help? If you've followed the above regimen and are still plagued by pimples and serious greasiness, see a doctor for some better solutions.

Facial Hair Removal

That little peach fuzz just above your upper lip may not seem like a big deal in your everyday life, but you don't want it showing up in wedding photos. One option to think about is waxing. Not into the pain? Salons now offer special treatments like chocolate wax and sugaring (a sugar paste), which reduce pain and swelling. Or try a depilatory cream, which dissolves the hair at the root. Just be sure to test a small patch of skin first to see how it reacts. Last, bleaching creams strip your hair of its natural color so it's not quite as noticeable -- but beware, the lighter hair may stand out against darker skin tones.

The Essentials for Dry Skin...

Fight flakes and prevent fine lines with this regimen for normal-to-dry skin types.

Cleanser

Use a creamy cleanser that rinses off with water. Steer clear of tissue-off creams, which can leave a residue. You may even consider using a gel cleanser once a week for a more thorough cleansing, or just switch to the gel cleanser in hot humid weather.

Toner

You don't need a toner, but when using one apply an extremely gentle formula (such as rosewater) with a clean cotton pad to prime your skin for moisturizer. Or use a toner only in the summer.

Moisturizer

Make sure your moisturizer is rich, but absorbs completely into your skin. If your skin feels taut five minutes after application, either the moisturizer formula is not rich enough, or you applied it too sparingly. At night, use heavier moisturizing cream. If you have especially dry spots, use an AHA lotion all over your face, and a richer hydrating cream on the dry patches. Remember, you don't have to treat your whole face in the same way.

Foundation

Use a creamy, moisturizing formula, and make sure your powder is silky and light. Tinted moisturizer is a good summer option, but be sure to use a light facial lotion first.

Cosmetics

Choose creamy formulas for shadows and blushes. The trick is to apply cream blush just after foundation, then dust on face powder and apply another dab of blush on top.

Lip Balm

When lips are dry, use a lip balm that does not contain camphor -- a common ingredient that is meant to be drying and healing to open sores. Instead, coat lips with a noncamphor balm as a base, then slick on a creamy lipstick. Carry balm with you and reapply as necessary.

Eye Cream

A must, as it's slightly richer than face cream and when this area gets dry any fine lines are more noticeable. Apply all around your eye area, every day, both in the morning and at night.

Exfoliant

Use a creamy scrub packed with AHAs -- especially good for combating dehydrated skin and unevenness in skin's texture -- but only if your skin does not become red and irritated after use.

Masks

Skip clay masks and opt for a hydrating, creamy formula instead.

Facials

A hydrating facial will make your face glow and is especially beneficial if you've been travelling a lot.

-- Hollee Actman Becker

See More: Bridal Beauty Secrets