Expert Advice from a Dermatologist

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2010

Kathleen M. Welsh, M.D., Dermatologist
San Francisco, California

Known for: Helping brides-to-be achieve the radiant skin they've always dreamed of

How to find her: In private practice, 415-292-6350;

How can a bride get her skin into top shape for the big day?
Brides with skin-care concerns should make an appointment for a consultation with a dermatologist about six months before the wedding to determine a skin-care plan. I often prescribe brides a retinol cream like Retin-A, which tackles fine lines, skin tone, and pore size. At home, it's really important to cleanse and exfoliate -- I recommend the Clarisonic sonic cleansing brush. It's also a good idea to apply an anti-oxidant serum first thing in the morning, like SkinCeuticals ferulic acid, and to use an anti-aging cream at night. Kinerase Ultra Rich Night Repair is one of my favorites. Brides should also avoid harsh treatments like chemical peels and waxing during the last month before the wedding. It's just too risky.

What are some of the top in-office procedures that brides are asking for these days?
Intense pulsed light treatments are one of the most popular. They dramatically improve brown spots and visible blood vessels by reducing redness and blotchiness in the skin. Usually a series of treatments is required. Since most patients wait four to six weeks between sequential treatments, these should be started at least four months before the wedding. Brides who only have ruddy skin or a few visible blood vessels can opt for more limited treatments with lasers. A microdermabrasion or light peel series -- one every four weeks starting three or four months before the wedding -- can also improve skin clarity and pore size.

What about facials -- are they a necessary prewedding indulgence?
Like most dermatologists, I am not a huge fan of traditional facials. Physical extractions and pore cleansing with steam and instruments can actually cause significant break-outs, and they provide only temporary improvement. If you've never gotten a facial before, you certainly don't want to start in the months right before your wedding.

Okay, but what about that dreaded last-minute blemish? There isn't a bride who doesn't live in fear of it.
A dermatologist can give you a cortisone injection, and voila -- the pimple will be gone overnight. If you can't get in to see a doctor, apply hydrocortisone cream under a Band-Aid to reduce the inflammation. Taking 400mg of Motrin every four hours will also help. Whatever you do, don't pick at it -- it will only irritate the surrounding skin. Most makeup artists would rather cover a bump than an irritated lesion.

Any advice for hives? Is there any way to prevent a nervous rash from creeping up?
If you're prone to blotchy skin, take an antihistamine like Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl at bedtime starting a few nights before the wedding. Just be sure to give it a trial run two weeks in advance so you know how it will affect you.

What about those bachelorette Botox parties: fun and festive, or really scary?
They're actually considered unsafe by national plastic surgery and dermatology professional academies. A party is for cake and Champagne, not a medical procedure! You want an individualized approach to your treatment in a private, sterile medical setting.

Top tip: "Don't forget about sun protection! If you're getting married outside, remember to apply sunscreen to exposed shoulders, arms, and chest areas before you put on your makeup. And steer clear of tanning salons before the wedding. Tanning causes premature aging and skin cancer -- it's like smoking for your skin."


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