Wedding Prep: How to Get Healthier Skin

 

NOTE: THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN JULY, BUT I JUST DID MY OBAGI SKINCARE UPDATE TODAY, SO CHECK IT OUT BELOW!

Since you’ll be photographed more on your wedding day then probably any other day in your life, there are a few things on my personal checklist that are what I call “beauty priorities.” Of course, there’s the day-of beauty that involves your hair/makeup, and to some extent your dress (if you don’t look good in your dress, the other things are kind of moot.). But some things you need to start thinking about months before your big day. You want to make sure you have the Big Three:  A great haircut/color, white teeth, and glowing skin.

It’s less than three months before my wedding, and I’m beginning to tackle the Big Three now. First item on my list was skin. At 31, I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice changes in the way my skin looks compared to the way it did when I was in my 20’s. It’s a little more dull, my pores are bigger, and while I don’t have a whole lot of wrinkles, I do have those pesky forehead lines. As someone who’s visited the dermatologist a lot in my lifetime (I used to have acne…thankfully I don’t have any scars) I knew that was where I needed to start if I wanted to see real results.

Last week I had my first appointment at a local Aesthetics Center located within my dermatologist’s office (since wrinkles aren’t really considered a medical problem, you’ll want to look for an Aesthetics center, or a dermatologist who deals with cosmetic procedures). Now, I’ve been to some very pushy dermatologists who will try to get you to do more radical things like Botox and fillers. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those things, but at this point I’m not quite ready to go there yet (the whole idea of paralyzing my muscles freaks me out). But luckily, I met with the nurse practioner within the aesthetics center, and she was so informative, helpful, honest, and not pushy at all.

I told her that I had a wedding in the Fall, and asked her what she thought I should do in order to achieve that glowing, fresh, semi-younger look I was going for. After explaining all my options and their prices, she recommended the following skincare plan for me. If you have the budget (and honestly…I’d rather spend less on other areas and put it into this) and the time, this could work for you as well. Of course, you’ll find out the best option for you if you make an appointment with a cosmetic dermatology center in your area.

First Step: Vitalize Peel

Price: $130

I had this peel done in-office last Friday. It took 20 minutes and was fairly painless, except for some mild stinging and burning which seems intense at moments but is totally manageable. It was performed by the nurse (who is the only person I’ve seen. I believe you only see the doctor if you’re having something like Botox or fillers injected), who told me that I should leave it on for 8 hours, then wash it off. She gave me a gentle cleanser and moisturizer, and said that I would have glowing skin that night, glowing and somewhat “tighter” feeling skin the next night, then on Sunday I would start to peel, at first around my mouth and then it would move outward over the week. And that’s exactly what happened. By Sunday, my skin was feeling super tight. Over the next few days, my skin continued to peel. I was told not to peel it off, so I tried my best not to. However, some of the skin is just dangling there so you kinda have to! The peeling is very similar to the kind you get after a sunburn (thin pieces of skin that seem to come off in one big piece…Sorry, I hope you’re not eating!), and if you can help not going anywhere that week that you would want to wear makeup to, than that’s ideal. (If you’re going to work, I would just tell them you’re peeling from the sun.) I went into the aesthetics center again today for a one week checkup, and my skin has pretty much stopped peeling, minus a few flakes around my hairline. I definitely notice a difference in my skin…my pores are smaller, I have a rosy little flush, and my skin tone is very even.

Second Step: Obagi skincare system

Price: Around $480 plus any discounts offered by the dermatologist (mine was 20% off, so I got the whole system for $385)

The last time I was in there, we discussed what other treatments I should do leading up to the wedding day, and how I could get the most bang for my buck. We decided to do the peel first, to kind of kick-start everything. Next, she recommended using a prescription skincare system called Obagi. I had heard about this system before, but always shied away from it because of the hefty price tag. Yes, it’s definitely not cheap. The complete kit costs around $480 (though check for discounts, a lot of docs offer them) and lasts you around 5 months. If you do the math, that’s a lot of money per month, especially considering that my current skincare routine involves some Neutrogena Deep Clean and Weleda Skin Food moisturizer (which costs $16 in Target). However, I justified it because the nurse, who also uses it, said the majority of her patients use it INSTEAD of other treatments, such as lasers and peels. I’ve also met people who swear by it. So, I’m giving it a shot. I bought the kit today, and the nurse walked me through it.

If you don’t know about the system, it’s pretty extensive and is prescription strength. It contains a Foaming Cleanser, Toner, a 32 SPF, and four “repair” “stimulate” and “maintain” products. Those include a Hydroquinone cream (called Clear) that corrects discoloration and improves skin tone. Another, Exfoderm (called Exfoderm Forte), removes the top layer of skin cells while a prescription Tretinoin (also known as Retin-A) workes to turn over your deepest layer of skin cells. A product called the Blender is made to mix in with the Tretinoin, which is also a Hydroquinone and is supposed to enhance the delivery of the Tretinoin.

During the first two weeks you use the system, you’re supposed to experience some flakiness or breakouts, mostly because of the Tretinoin, which is working to bring everything “out.” Within 6-8 weeks you should see the results.

I start the system tonight, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Are you planning on starting a skincare regime for your wedding countdown?

UPDATE…

I continued to use the Obagi skincare system until after my wedding. Overall, I would say I was pretty happy with the results. My skin stopped the initial breakouts/flakiness after about 6 weeks of starting the system, and I had clear skin for my wedding. HOWEVER, I did need an additional moisturizer on top of the Obagi system the week leading up to my wedding. I didn’t realize my skin was all that dry until I had my makeup trial a week before the wedding. Since I never wear foundation, I couldn’t really tell that I had some patchy spots, but when the makeup artist put foundation/powder on, they were visible. Keep in mind, though, that my skin was pretty much like this BEFORE I started the system, too, so I don’t think it’s to blame. Anyway, I started moisturizing like crazy. Two days before the wedding I had an “Oxygen Restore” facial at the Fontainebleau in Miami (which was seriously amazing), and it really re-hydrated my skin. The facialist used an awesome Yonka serum on me, and gave me a sample. I used it religiously before AND on the day of my wedding, and I loved it. The makeup artist said my skin was SUPER hydrated when she did my makeup on the day of the wedding, so apparently it worked!

Ladies, you are not *technically* supposed to get a facial so close to your wedding! However, I felt like I needed a little skin pick-me-up, so I decided to get a “calming” one that had no extractions. I also told the facialist that I was getting married in two days so she was aware of what not to do to potentially aggravate my skin. If you decide to get a facial, be sure to let your facialist know when the wedding is!

So, what was my wedding day skin verdict? I would say I felt pretty happy with the way my skin looked at the wedding, and I was glad I had gotten the peel and used the skincare system. My skin wasn’t completely transformed, but it looked healthy, which is all you really want. NOTHING is going to give you baby skin…you just want your skin to look the best it can. I would say mine did.

I got lazy and stopped using the Obagi system after our honeymoon, and I started breaking out! I think this has to do with stopping the Retin-A (Tretinoin). So, I’m using that again and it seems to have subsided. While I still have A LOT of the original system left (except for the toner/cleanser), I found the most useful part of the program to be the Blender (a cream you mix equal parts with the Retin-A), and the Retin-A. Because I don’t have any sun damage or splotchy skin, the Clear cream (which has the Hydroquinone in it) didn’t do a whole lot for me. I think the Exfoderm Forte cream was also useful, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as the Retin-A.

Overall, if you’re willing to pay the money, I would use it. Considering how long the products last and their effectiveness, it’s a worthwhile investment. But for long term, or if you don’t feel like spending that much money on a skincare routine, I think a Retin-A prescription, combined with a serum like the Yonka one I linked to above would suffice.

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