As a makeup artist the quality of the finished looks I create is largely dependent on the quality of the skin I’m working on. For this reason I always recommend that my brides-to-be take extra care of their skin in the run-up to their weddings.
So, lucky readers, I’ve asked one of London’s top facialists (and saviour to many of my brides) Cherry Woods to share some tips and demystify skincare rituals and products.
With the wedding season upon us soon I thought it would be useful to know exactly how to treat the skin. But not only for brides-to-be, for all of us, so that we look youthful and healthy for a long time to come.
1. My skin is confused: dry and very oily at the same time – foundation seems to slide off. What should I/shouldn’t I use in order to make it better for my wedding?
Skin likes stability, simplify your skincare routine and whatever you choose to do, stick with it and be consistent.
Protect sensitive areas with a thin layer of sunblock on top of moisturizer if you are doing outdoor activities or sat in air conditioning. This will stabilise water-loss allowing your skin to keep a constant environment and seal in your moisturiser/serum. All of this will allow the confused, dry, flaky skin to “normalise”.
Gentle regular exfoliation is key to boosting “patchy” dry/oily skin metabolism. De-scaling the skin boosts new fresh cells to the surface whilst also allowing your moisturiser to absorb much more effectively.
But foundation sliding off is either because we need to have an oil-control moisturiser and makeup primer (I love Absence Oil Control Primer by Jane Iredale – to be applied with a foundation brush before your foundation) and/or you have too much heat in your skin. Often your capillary network is close to the surface so you go red easily. The skin doesn’t like thick layers of makeup as occlusion can make the skin wet and hot – pores open, the pH of the makeup changes, acidity changes, colour changes and the makeup invariably slides. Try mineral makeup, this doesn’t occlude the skin like a blanket but rather overlaps it like fish scales allowing heat to escape and air to get in = makeup stays intact.
Also try spraying an Evian mist before your makeup and introduce my “cool cloth technique” (explained in my answer to question 2 below) to your routine at least two months before the big day.
2. Oily skin – after I apply my makeup my skin starts shining within minutes. My pores are super-large too. Is there anything I can do to regulate the oiliness? What products and/or ingredients should I use and what to avoid?
The key is good and thorough cleansing but not stripping the skin. A common issue with oily skin is to over-wash and over-scrub which ultimately makes the surface dry and then the sebaceous glands are triggered to produce more oil (a catch-22 if you like).
Use a surfactant-free, pH balanced foaming cleanser, a pH balanced toner with a little glycolic or lactic acid for super-gentle exfoliation (no grains or scratchy scrubs needed as these will cause irritation and only exfoliate superficially) as well as a water-based lotion. Don’t over-apply on the t-zone, maybe just in the morning and not at night. Putting too much product/moisturiser or too heavy a product on open pores will over-burden the pore. The product will then sit in the pore acting like a weight – stretching it and exaggerating its size in time.
My “cool cloth technique” below is just as helpful for oily, open-pored skin as it is for acne, breakout skin and super-sensitive, reactive, rosacea-prone skin too. You should definitely do it the night before your wedding (to minimise the chances of an “unwanted guest” arriving on the morning – AKA the SPOT!!) and just after you get out of the shower on the big day itself.
Inflammation is the cause of many skin conditions and disorders so keep it cool and calm during the lead up to your wedding. This is fundamental in reducing red, blotchy patches as well as the effects of ageing. Positive lifestyle changes reduce inflammation, such as cutting down on caffeine and alcohol intake or introducing a low GI diet.
Spritz the skin with a soothing chamomile toner or a little Evian mist. As well as using this technique…
● Soak three to four soft cotton cloths in warm water, throw in a few chamomile tea bags or add a few drops of chamomile essential oil;
● Squeeze out the excess water from the cloths and put each in an individual zip-lock bag and in the fridge;
● At least three times a week, or the night before your wedding (or special event), after you have cleansed and toned, take one out and hold it to your skin taking care not to rub. Pay extra attention to areas prone to redness, irritation or breakout; and
● Discard once the “coldness” has subsided and continue on with your skincare routine.
An extra tip: use a chamomile cloth over your face as you soak in the bath, this will counteract the negative effects of the hot water.
3. Mature skin – I am 50+ and I hate my lines and saggy skin – any advice?
For this skin type I would recommend a series of gentle in-salon peels, especially if we have a good six months to play with. Peels will rejuvenate skin that has deeper lines and loose laxity stimulating collagen production. I would suggest a good quality oral vitamin C supplement which is known to helps stimulate fibroblast cells (the cells that product collagen) and to reduce wrinkle depth as well as improve skin elasticity.
And how can I make my skin appear plumper?
The best product – for all skin types, from young, mature, combination, dry, and sensitive – is a good serum or booster which contains hyaluronic acid. This ingredient plumps the skin cells up 1,000 x their weight in water and provides that comforting “padding”. It’s awesome under makeup for skin that seems to show every little line every time you put makeup on.
4. What skincare routine should I implement 3 to 6 months before my wedding? Regular facials? Facial massages? Supplements?
Preparation is everything and great skin is not created overnight, more specifically, it is created in the winter and spring months long before your big day. Also not all skins are suitable for regular facials.
So start with booking in for a basic facial with a trusted professional. Working backwards from the big day I would suggest a facial about two weeks before the wedding date and then try and space them about every six weeks. This is important because every facial will gently improve skin-cell turnover which helps with pore size, blackheads, superficial lines, patchy dryness and clarity. In addition it helps the therapist know how your skin “behaves” after a typical facial and therefore we know what to expect and how to predict so there are no nasty surprises on the big day.
Make sure your first visit includes a good in-depth consultation where you can be advised of a plan of action for both in-salon treatments and home care products. If your skin can tolerate it (i.e. it’s not too sensitive) I suggest having a gentle peel in the springtime to prep it and clear out any backlog of congestion or sluggish performing skin cells.
Don’t make the biggest mistake most brides do and get caught up in the excitement of the first facial appointment and buy every product going because guess what… The skin invariably rebels and we get reactions or breakouts.
But remember, as you get close to the big day, levels of stress are high (adrenaline) and this can mean random breakouts and flare-ups, especially if your skin has a tendency to do this anyway. This is why I always advise taking some supplements which are a great way to improve skin performance, especially if you have a good six months before the wedding… One of the best supplements to invest in is an Omega complex. This will not only help support the skin’s immunity and combat dehydration but also helps reduce the red blotchiness often associated with the hot summer months.
5. What can I do to ensure that I don’t come out in spots on my wedding day – I often get a spot or two when I’m stressed? Any tips on how to counteract spots should any appear?
Use a spot treatment but beforehand – cool-cloth any spot-prone areas just like you would ice-up a sports injury. This stops some of the inflammatory response mechanisms and can make a big spot appear smaller; also take an antihistamine the night before if you feel that spot coming.
Diet-wise eat a low GI diet, this alone can reduce inflammation of the skin and don’t do any last-minute changes to your skin routine – even if you feel it’s misbehaving.
Just get plenty of sleep, lots of water, take time-out to have some chill time to keep those stress levels low. Stick to a pre-planned skincare routine as advised by your therapist and keep the evenly spaced facial bookings which will allow your skin cells to “tick over”. This will reduce the chance of congestion which could easily lead to breakouts.
With over 25 years’ experience in the UK and abroad, Cherry Woods is a west London-based anti-ageing facialist, a self-confessed beauty junkie and a “no baloney here” skin specialist.
She is probably best known for her ability to demystify and simplify the complex industry jargon. Cherry was named one of InStyle magazine’s “10 Genius Facialists” and The Sunday Times said that Cherry’s “Turbofacial” is best for an “all-round glow”!