Wedding Day Beauty Prep (For Brides, Bridesmaids and Even Guests!)

What you should do before the Big Day.
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Michelle Villett
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What you should do before the Big Day.
Blake-Lively-BAFTA-Brits-to-Watch-event-2011

My girlfriend got married last weekend, and even though I wasn't the one walking down the aisle—or even in the bridal party—I put some SERIOUS effort into my beauty prep. One, because I am vain (of course); two, because it was a bit of a school-friends reunion (and you want them to really mean it when they say you look exactly the same); and three, because when you tell people you're a beauty editor, they do expect you to look the part.

But it got me thinking. Shouldn't we all be putting a bit of extra grooming effort in for those big occasions, like weddings? I feel like finding a dress to wear is what people focus on the most, while the beauty part tends to happen in the 36 minutes before you're due to arrive at the ceremony. And then you realize—woops!—that you forgot to paint your nails, and your legs are looking a bit pasty... and there are three grey hairs poking up from your part.

Clearly, what we all need (not just the bride) is a Big Day beauty countdown. Here, based on what I did in the lead-up to last Saturday, is what I suggest...

1. DEAL WITH YOUR COLOUR

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A haircut is always nice, but I think what people REALLY notice is whether your roots are showing—especially (but not limited to) greys. And besides the inch or two of re-growth, just dull, flat colour in general can also be a problem.

See, unless your ends are super-fried, you can always camouflage hair that needs a trim by curling it or doing a really sleek blow-dry or putting it up in a gorgeous bun. Colour, on the other hand, can't be hidden. So if you can, try to time your touch-up for about a week or so before the big event. If that's not happening, you can always go in for a toner—it won't lift colour but will deposit a "tone" like gold or red, etc., will help hide your roots a bit and will make your hair look refreshed and shiny.

No matter what, DON'T make any big changes with your cut or colour... and don't go to a hairdresser you've never gone to before. It's too risky! I mean, even when you think you know what you're getting, stuff can happen: I just got my colour done last week with the same guy I always go to now, and without telling me he dialed up the amount of red to a mega strawberry blonde. Luckily, I'm okay with it... but you might not be, so make sure you have "the talk" before anyone touches your hair.

2. ATTEND TO YOUR BROWS

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I am of the school of thought that if your brows don't look good, nothing else matters on your face. If you've been regularly seeing a pro already, then you probably don't need to worry about this one too much. I get mine done every three or four weeks, so I didn't need to make a wedding-specific brow appointment.

But if yours have been neglected, AND you don't have a regular brow lady to go to, then definitely ask around for a reco. (If you live in Toronto, check out the comments here—I now swear by Irena.) Again, seeing someone new is always risky, especially because sporting a thin brow is maybe the worst beauty sin of all time. Make sure you're very, very clear that you want a nice shape but still full. Because fuller = younger.

3. FAKE A (SLIGHT) TAN

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Since I've yet to find a spray-tan place that doesn't leave me orange, I'm not recommending the professional kind. Instead, if you've got time in the week leading up to the wedding, try one of the gradual tanners I recommended in this post. Unlike regular tanners, they have less chance of giving you streaks, since you're building up your colour over a matter of days.

Of course, if you forget to do that, this instant body tint product is a lifesaver—it's actually what I ended up using on my legs (review here):

NARS-Laguna-Body-Illuminator

4. MAKE SURE YOUR SKIN IS LOOKING TOPS

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I'm not a fan of lots of makeup for weddings. Aside from the stars of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, I think most people probably agree with this—I mean, we're still talking about Kate Middleton's heavy wedding eyeliner. Even though you have a little bit more leeway as a guest, I just think it's much nicer to show off gorgeously radiant skin over smoky eyelids or bright red lipstick.

And this is where good skincare comes in. Here's an easy thing you can do at home, either the day before the wedding or (if you have time), the morning of. First, do a mild peel to exfoliate your skin. I've been using this product from NeoStrata, which you apply on a cotton pad and leave on for 15 minutes:

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Once you rinse off the peel, apply a hydrating mask to plump up your skin. As you know, I'm a big fan of cloth masks, but lately I've been using this old favourite from Dermalogica:

Dermalogica-Multivitamin-Power-Recovery-Masque

If your skin is already fairly hydrated and you don't want to do two steps, then this peel-off mask from Rodial is what I suggest for an instant glow. I reviewed it in this vid—it's pricey, but it WORKS.

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If that all sounds too difficult, you can also spring for a facial. The only one I recommend for pre-wedding, however, is Dermalogica's (the hour-long one). This is because they tend to go light on the extractions and there's less chance that it'll trigger a breakout. I've probably had a dozen or more Dermalogica facials over the years and (unlike treatments from their competitors) I've never had a reaction. Nope, just a CRAZY GLOW that lasts for a few days. Seriously.

5. GET YOUR NAILS DID (BUT NO "NART" PLEASE)

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Obviously, good nails are a must—but I would like to gently steer you away from the nail art (that's "nart" for short), as I just don't think it's all that wedding-appropriate. So skip the fancy designs, the shatter, the glitter, and just go for a solid-colour mani-pedi (not necessarily matching, however). Since we're talking summer here, I'd avoid anything too dark, like black (obvi), navy or even deep red. Even the pastel blues and greens are a bit much, but then again I am a boring person who usually sticks to the classic pinks, corals and reds.

I decided to be matchy-matchy, and this the colour I went for (Zoya polish in Elodie). I hadn't made up my mind on the dress and it doesn't force you to choose between pink or red. Corals are good like that.

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For the chip-prone, I highly suggest a service like Shellac, which lasts up to 14 days.

6. OR... GET YOUR NAILS AND YOUR FACE DONE AT THE SAME TIME

If you're truly strapped for time, this is the service for you. On Friday, I visited Toronto spa The Ten Spot, which has a new-ish service called "The Works." It costs $155 and has you sitting on one of these...

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...while you lean back and have not one but two estheticians working on you. It's a full one-hour Dermalogica facial (see raving recommendation above), plus simultaneous manicure and pedicure.

As someone who gets incredibly bored with facials—I'm always fidgety and anticipating their next move—I have to say I loved this. You're in and out in one hour, and because they start with the hands first, it's amazing to have fingernails that are already dried by the time you're ready to walk out. And like I said above, your skin really does glow for at least a couple of days after.

And... that's it! Consider yourself prepped.

Then it's time for the fun part, which is hair and makeup. I'll be doing another post with some more detailed suggestions, but just quickly, let's all praise Blake Lively for her VERY wedding-appropriate look here (at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event in LA). Somebody write down the date because I don't think this has ever happened before. I'm actually loving her peachy face for once...

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...and the loose, textured bun:

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A HUGE improvement over this hot mess, right?

Tell me:

What do you do beauty-wise to prepare for a big event like a wedding?
Do you agree that tans and nails should be low-key?
What do you think of Blake's wedding-esque look?