Skincare Specialist Nuala Woulfe addresses the main skincare faux-pas we are all guilty of and how to correct them before you walk down the aisle.
Radiance is what defines a bride - it’s about having fabulous, glossy skin, which requires great skincare in the lead-up. Ideally, give yourself as much time as possible – roughly six months before the big day if you have normal skin, or 12 months if you have problematic skin.
This is not the time to undertake some DIY; invest in a consultation with a qualified skincare specialist who can see what works best for you, your skin and your lifestyle. Everyone’s skin is different, so you should tailor your regime to your individual needs.
If injectables such as botulinum or fillers are part of your planned beauty prep, ensure you give yourself enough time before the wedding. If you’ve never used them, six to eight months before the big day is the time to start. If you use them regularly, aim to have a treatment no later than a month before the wedding.
We often focus our attention on the face and forget to treat the other areas of skin that will be on show, including the décolletage, neck, back and arms. I think of the face and neck as a single unit and treat them the same. AHAs that are suitable for your face are fine for your neck, particularly if you are worried about pigmentation. You can use retinol on all the skin on show, including décolletage and the backs of hands.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of a healthy, wholesome diet. Great skin starts on the inside - if your skin is glowing, you can be sure that your body is getting the essential nutrients it needs. If you are on a quest for healthier skin, you might want to think about what you are putting into your body, before you start putting things on it!
Omegas are a critical component in building cell walls which are important for your skin cells. These are the cells that form a barrier to the outside world. It’s their job to keep moisture in and irritants out. Keeping proper levels of omegas in your diet helps your body build healthy cells that stay plump and hydrated. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin.
Topically using a vitamin C rich serum daily is hugely beneficial for protecting against environmental damage to your skin, boosting collagen levels and helping to protect against pigmentation. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin have cult status in this area of skincare. In addition, resveratrol is a nighttime antioxidant that helps to restore the skin at night while you sleep.
Antioxidants are a type of molecule which fight off free radicals in the body. These free radicals can cause harm if their levels rise too high. They have been linked to various illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The body creates its own antioxidants that are used to defend against these free radicals, but the best way to get them is through foods.
- Green tea contains many phytochemicals and catechins.
- Kale is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin C, and antioxidants.
- Bright and dark coloured fruit and vegetables are packed full of antioxidants. For example, blueberries contain more antioxidants than many other fruits and vegetables, whilst also being packed with many other nutrients.
- Chocolate with 70% cacao is high in flavonoids, thus high in antioxidants.
Vitamin A is an excellent nutrient for your skin that helps preserve eyesight, lower the risk of certain cancers and support a healthy immune system, but the benefits don't stop there. It is essential for glowing, healthy skin, and while it is popular in skincare creams and lotions, many of its advantages can only be achieved when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Some of the top benefits of Vitamin A include;
- Protects against sun damage.
- Prevents signs of ageing.
- Promotes cell regeneration.
- Boosts even skin tone.
- Reduces acne and problem skin.
Vitamin A Sources
You will find Vitamin A and skin-boosting retinoids in eggs, prawns, salmon, beef liver, cod liver oil, milk, butter and cheddar cheese. In addition, vitamin A and carotenoids are found in more plant-based foods, including leafy green vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, apricots, plums, mangoes and papayas.
Lack of Sleep
When it comes to your skin, a lack of sleep is often first seen in dark circles under your eyes, which may also be dry or puffy. You may notice that you are missing your usual glow. As with your general health, lack of sleep can significantly affect your skin condition in the long term. It can cause premature ageing and aggravate skins conditions such as acne and eczema.
This is because while you sleep, your body rests, and your cells regenerate, reversing the damage from UV rays and pollution. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body misses out on the precious repair mechanics that occur during the early hours of normal sleep.
In addition, lack of sleep or a restless night increases cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can damage the skin. Getting a good, restful night’s sleep reduces cortisol levels. It also helps the body produce collagen and maintain the skin’s pH balance and moisture levels. Without sufficient levels of collagen, your skin will lose its elasticity. It will start to sag, and wrinkles will appear. Without the right moisture levels, your skin will dehydrate, leading to issues such as a sallow complexion or redness.
Our busy – often stressful – lives mean that sometimes, it’s impossible to get the sleep we need. If this is something you find happening regularly, there are things you can do to help you sleep better. You could, for example, not take your phone to bed with you or avoid caffeine late in the day. In addition, eating food low in sodium and rich in vitamins and minerals can help to support healthy skin.
Smoking damages your absorption of vitamin C, which in turn means you are unable to produce collagen, meaning your skin will age faster.
Sugar causes inflammation within the body - when you eat a lot of sugar, it goes directly to your gut, gets processed, and enters your bloodstream, leading to inflammation. The inflammation that happens when you eat foods with a high glycaemic index can worsen certain skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Therefore, lowering sugar and saturated fats and increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats in the form of omega fatty acids is prudent advice for skin health and overall health.
The Deadliest Sins
- Do not change anything in the weeks running up to the wedding unless you are experiencing skin sensitivities or breakouts. Otherwise, avoid using new products; for example, don’t borrow your mum’s favourite face mask the night before.
- Don’t use chemical peels or retinol in the week before the wedding because it may cause flaking or drying, which will affect the look of your make-up.
- If you are using a make-up artist, don’t let them use products that they haven’t trialled on you in advance in case of an allergy.
- Avoid sunbeds at all costs.
- Avoid excessive exposure to the sun as it may make you more susceptible to pigmentation and sun damage.
- Avoid wet wipes as they leave a residue on the skin and can also cause dermatitis. If you have to use them, use a warm wet facecloth to remove the residue.
- Avoid picking at your skin, as you risk causing scar tissue.
In the final weeks, use a weekly face mask such as the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Face Masque, which is hydrating, calming and restores hydration and radiance. It’s non-oily, so it suits all skin types. When it comes to night creams, choose one with active ingredients such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, or peptides, all of which support collagen production.
Wedding Day Disasters
The weeks leading up to a wedding are some of the most stressful in your life, so it’s not surprising that some will break out in a rash or get a big shiny spot at the worst moment. There is no harm to have some hydrocortisone to hand to cope with any last-minute rashes or blemishes (1% hydrocortisone cream is available over the counter at any chemist). SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective, a hyaluronic mask containing dipeptides and botanicals, will help calm and hydrate but remember, don’t use anything for the first time on the day. Trial everything well in advance.
Most people who suffer from these know what triggers them, perhaps strong sunshine, wind or stress. Make sure you protect yourself with high factor UV protection in the weeks before. If you feel tingling, seek advice from your GP, who can prescribe an oral anti-viral that shortens the duration.
- Share your skincare problems with your make-up artist well in advance. For instance, if you are using medication to control acne, it tends to dry the lips, so a gloss hydrating lipstick should be the one you use, rather than a matte one.
- On your wedding day, you are potentially wearing make-up for 16 hours plus, from when it is first applied through to the end of the night. Ensure you wash your face thoroughly, removing every last bit of make-up. I recommend SkinCeuticals Simply Clean or their Gentle Cleanser for dry and sensitive skin.
Your wedding is a great time to invest in a skincare regime tailored to your individual needs. It’s important to find a routine that suits your lifestyle, so I can’t stress how important it is to discuss your skincare requirements with a professional. If you cannot make it into a salon, we offer online skin consultations and send products to you at home.
Nuala Woulfe manages two separate clinics in Glasthule, Co. Dublin, “Nu Aesthetics” and “Serenity Day Spa”, which are the Irish flagship for award-winning skincare brand SkinCeuticals. Nuala also stocks products from brands such as Obagi, Dermaceutic and Eminence Organics, an all-natural beauty range. For more information, see Nualawoulfe.ie.
- Nuala Wolfe