You're engaged! If you're not already doing so, now's the time to finally start using products that really work for your skin type, because, aside from the dress, we like to think having gorgeous, radiant skin is one of the major wedding-day goals. Once you've found your perfect regimen, start doing it as soon as possible, as it may take a few months to see results. (Skin turnover takes 30 days, so that's the least amount of time you'll need to see a significant change in your complexion.) Here, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman lays out the ideal regimen for every bride-to-be, based on your specific skin type.
Start your day by washing your face with a cleanser that has two percent salicylic acid, like Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser. "Salicylic acid is a workhorse ingredient that helps prevent pores from clogging," Engelman says. Follow with a lightweight moisturizer, which should hydrate your skin without making you look shiny. "Hyaluronic acid is the best," Engelman says, since it holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. She loves Cetaphil's Daily Hydrating Lotion, which looks like a lotion but goes on like a gel—perfect for those with oily skin. Finish your morning routine (and this goes for every skin type) with sunscreen. Engelman suggests a powder sun block, like Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45, for everyday wear.
In the evening, trade your salicylic acid cleanser for something more gentle, like Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, since you'll want to use a medicated retinol on top (Engelman likes Differin Gel). It's a vitamin A derivative that promotes cell turnover to prevent acne, refine pores, and even skin tone. Since it can be drying, finish with a moisturizer that's a bit heavier than the one you use in the morning.
"With dry skin, we have to be very careful about using anything that will be too harsh," Engelman says. In the morning, you don't need to cleanse—use a gentle toner instead, like Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel. "It's anti-inflammatory, it's an antiseptic, and it cleanses and purifies so that your next step, your moisturizer, works better. It's an old ingredient, but it really works." Follow with a niacinamide hydrator, which strengthens the skin's barrier. Engelman recommends SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3.
"I love oil cleansers for the evening, because they're a great way to clean and hydrate at the same time. They remove makeup well without stripping your skin," Engelman says, and suggests using Eve Lom's Cleanser. Then, use a serum with ceramides—ceramides are fatty acids and cholesterol that hold our skin together. "By age 30, there's a sharp drop off in the amount of ceramides our body makes," Engelman says, and recommends using Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules. Finish with a thicker cream that contains cholesterol, like SkinCeuticals Age Interrupter.
Combination skin basically requires using products for oily skin on your T-zone, which produces more sebum, and products for dry skin on your cheeks. "Use a gentle cleanser, like Cetaphil, everywhere, and then follow with a medicated toner only on your T-zone," Engelman says. We like Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner, which helps control oil production. Then, use a hyaluronic acid moisturizer on your T-zone, and a niacinamide hydrator on your cheeks.
In the evening after cleansing and toning, you can use a retinol just on the T-zone, and a thicker cholesterol cream on your cheeks. ("Essentially, and when in doubt, you want to follow the oily regimen for your T-zone, and the dry regimen for your cheeks," Engelman says.)
First thing's first: What you don't use is just as important as what you do use. "Stay away from exfoliants as much as possible, like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, scrubs—all of which can make your skin red and sensitive," Engelman says, and adds that you don't need to wash your face in the morning. Pat on a cooling or redness reducing serum, like SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel, which contains hyaluronic acid, cucumber, thyme, and other soothing and calming botanical ingredients. ("It works like a charm if you've had spicy food or margaritas at your bachelorette party, and your skin gets red," she says.) Then, finish with a moisturizer that contains sun protection, because UV rays can irritate and aggravate redness. Try La Roche Posay Rosaliac CC Cream. (It's tinted, too, so you can use it as a foundation base.)
In the evening, wash with an oil cleanser (the Eve Lom Cleanser for dry skin would work like a charm for those with a sensitive complexion) or one that has a milky, creamy consistency, like Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser. Finish with a soothing, hydrating lotion, like Cetaphil Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer.