There’s no doubt that any major event in your life, whether a wedding, milestone birthday or even a significant career step, can cause stress. Your nerves feel it, your brain may be overthinking it, and naturally your skin is bound to show signs of it. While the details of the event obviously take priority, there are steps you can take, depending on your timeline, to ensure that your skin is clear the day of. Follow these tips from two skin pros, so you can check clearing up your complexion off your to-do list.
Give yourself time
Now isn’t the time to take on any extra commitments, unless it’s your skin. Bigger issues like acne or dark spots require significantly higher levels of patience. You can achieve major improvements, but know that it’s going to take time. Sejal Shah, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City and founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology recommends giving yourself three to six months lead time: “It can take four to six weeks for your skin to adapt to new products, and then a minimum of eight to 12 weeks to see benefits,” she says. If you have concerns that need correction like reoccurring breakouts or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, plan to spend nine to 12 months dealing with them.
Start with the most pressing concerns
A common issue that requires an early treatment plan is acne, plus the scarring and hyperpigmentation it leaves behind. “There are a number of treatments for acne spots and it's important to keep in mind that they all take time to work,” says Dr. Shah. Topical treatments include retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, sulfur, and salicylic acid. Oral treatments include antibiotics, spironolactone, oral contraceptives, and isotretinoin. Your derm can help you determine which options are best for your skin. “Keep in mind that if the treatment is not working after 12 weeks, you many need to change course leading to another six to 12 weeks of treatment,” she adds.
Go all in for your skin
Aside from your at-home skin regimen, Cecilia Wong, a celebrity facialist and founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare, suggests scheduling time for monthly facials. “Alternate between deep pore cleansing treatments, LED light therapy to heal scars, treat sun spots, target blemishes and plump skin, and microcurrent facials,” she says. “Try to squeeze in an oxygen facial two to three weeks before the event while continuing to maintain home treatments like masks, Gua Sha facial massage, and jade rolling.”
Skip any major changes right before the big day
Nips and tucks before a big event are never a good idea. Neither are some injectable treatments, especially if you’ve never done them before. “You may not be happy with the results, and there are also potential adverse effects like bruising and swelling, which can linger for days to weeks,” explains Dr. Shah. Wong adds that you should skip deep pore cleansing treatments with extractions right before an event, as well as any other invasive treatments like lasers and peels that require downtime.
Start a skin clearing countdown
Like every other part of your planning process, deadlines will help keep things on track, and setting them for your skin should be no exception. Start a separate skin care calendar to help monitor your progress and tweak your regimen as necessary. Here’s a guideline of what to do from a year out up until the day before.
1 Year Before
- If necessary, start an acne regimen.
- Start any cosmetic treatments that require a series of four or more sessions or a few months to see results, such as laser hair removal, scar treatments, or body contouring treatments.
- Book monthly facials.
6 Months Before
- If you haven’t finalized your skin care routine, now is the time to do so.
- Start any cosmetic treatments that require a series of three or less treatments like fractional resurfacing.
- Try out an injectable treatment for the first time (if that's something you are planning to do). Know that Botox can take up to two weeks to kick in and usually lasts three to six months. With fillers, the results are instantaneous, but doing it a few months in advance gives you time to correct any potential issues.
3 Months Before
- Start any cosmetic treatments that don’t require a series before seeing results. “Generally these types of treatments are not meant to correct issues but rather give the skin a glow and more radiant complexion,” says Dr. Shah.
1 to 2 Weeks Out
- Get a deep cleansing facial two weeks before the event. “This will help eliminate blackheads and blemishes,” says Wong. In the week following your facial, alternate between hydration and brightening masks that contain Vitamin C or green clay.
- “If you have a big angry acne bump and want a quick fix, ask your dermatologist for a steroid shot,” Dr. Shah recommends. Light treatment may also help bring down any inflammation.
- Don't start using any new skin care products.
1 to 2 days before
- “Two days before the event, schedule a microcurrent facial, aka ‘red carpet facial,’ to tone and tighten skin, decrease puffiness, and rejuvenate your overall appearance,” says Wong.
- If you still have a pimple, it still want to consider that steroid shot as they can work to bring down the inflammation in as little as 24 hours.
- Use a hydrating mask to boost the skin's hydration. This will temporarily plump and improve texture and tone so that skin looks smoother, clearer, and brighter.