Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep 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

woman hair salon rinse Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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

tweezing eyebrows Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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

Gisele Bundchen1 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

4. MAKE SURE YOUR SKIN IS LOOKING TOPS

tricks even skin tone 0509 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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:

neostrata skin renewal peel solution1 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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.

Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum Mask Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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)

NYFW F11 Jenni Kayne 1 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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.

zoya elodie Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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…

The Ten Spot The works Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

…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…

Blake Lively BAFTA Brits to Watch event 2011 2 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

…and the loose, textured bun:

Blake Lively BAFTA Brits to Watch event 2011 3 Whether you’re the bride, bridesmaid or just a guest—this is the beauty prep you should do before the Big Day

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?

15 Comments

Thomas
Wednesday, July 13/2011 at 3:07 pm

What I love about this post is that it actually applies (mostly) to me! I have an upcoming wedding next year for my cousin where I will actually be IN the wedding, so I am gonna need to look my best! Obviously the makeup/nails doesn’t apply to me, but all the rest does. I’m loving the idea about using a toner instead of a permanent colour, I may be a wee-bit colour-happy when it comes to my hair (having literally been every shade of blonde, brown and red under the sun) so I like this suggestion. Also, LOVING Blake’s new hairstyle. While I still see that adamantly immovable orange eyeshadow (though I will concede it is less heavy and more peachy) what I really noticed was her skin. She looks so old in photos sometimes, I’m sorry but it has to be said, and this is such a nice departure from that. One thing I will complain about is the colour of her hair, particularly at the back (although it may just be the lighting), as it seems to be MEGA brassy. I’m thinking this is maybe a result of the previous red coming through?

Huge fan, fellow blonderexic Thomas xx

P.S. I don’t care who he is, if a hairdresser did that to ME (i.e. extra red without telling you) I’d fully go crouching tiger on his ass.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 15/2011 at 5:59 pm

“A wee-bit colour-happy?” No! (just kidding – I love it)

Yes toner is amazing if you’re not wanting to lighten – it can really change your look and isn’t as damaging… it just fades instead of the harsh re-growth line.

I agree that Blake looks younger here – it really makes a difference when she lightens up on the makeup. And yes, I agree that the colour is not quite there yet. From the front there are too many tones happening as well…

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Sarhana
Wednesday, July 13/2011 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for the very helpful pre-event checklist. I think Blake looks great here – really stunning and simple on the makeup. I think the hair color that Thomas commented on is a result of her dyeing her hair that red color, not liking it, and then trying to get back more of the blonde by doing heavy highlights through the red. In the photo of the back you can see the red still there in streaks. I prefer the natural blonde color that is right around her face, but she gets full credit for this lovely look.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 15/2011 at 6:01 pm

I think you’re right! But it’s a good day when the only thing we have to criticize about Blake is her hair colour. Everything else I approve of for once!

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Sophia
Thursday, July 14/2011 at 3:16 am

Went to The Ten Spot for a bikini wax and was not wowed. I had hoped for some post-pain service but got none and (perhaps partially as a result) was red and irritated for 3 days. I suppose hiding your bikini line because its red is better than hiding it because its furry, but after $25 I don’t want to have to hide.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 15/2011 at 6:02 pm

Oh too bad! I’ve never had waxing done there. I thought bikini waxes were their specialty? Hmmm…

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Nomadic D
Thursday, July 14/2011 at 2:43 pm

Well done Blake! Seriously, she looks radiant and glowy and young and put-together and just generally beautiful! Hooray!

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Marina (Makeup4all)
Friday, July 15/2011 at 9:56 am

I am having a very important event tomorrow so am slightly nervous. Wanted to visit the hairdresser but since I know it can be a disaster will have a visit after the event. For me the hardest thing was to choose what to wear.

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Lisa
Friday, July 15/2011 at 2:26 pm

LOVE The Works at the 10 spot! I am not a huge facial or nail person, but the combo is great and fast and I agree, Dermalogica facials are the best. I’ll never forget the time that I was walking home (a few short blocks) from a Yonka facial with beat-up post- extraction face and I ran into an ex from my old town who I hadn’t seen since I’ve moved here to TO. HORRIFIED. I now only trust Dermalogica facials for my sensitive, flare-up prone skin!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 15/2011 at 6:06 pm

OH MY GOD! Worst nightmare ever! But it’s like Murphy’s Law – I always seem to run into people I know when I’m coming from a facial. My esthetician the other day told me not to wear makeup for 24 hours but as soon as I got to a mirror I told her it wasn’t happening. I always bring mineral powder to facials as I figure it’s the least-worst thing to apply for the walk home…

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Veronica
Thursday, July 21/2011 at 3:13 pm

Oh, boy, do I need a facial (and an esthetician)!

Who do you go to, Michelle?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 12:07 pm

I actually don’t get facials regularly! I just find they don’t do much for me… sure, they feel great and you get a temporary glow, but I don’t really believe in them for extractions, etc. (And since I started using this prescription vitamin A called Retisol – which is a milder Retin A but in cream form – the facialist told me I had nothing to extract! Hooray!)

HOWEVER – from the ones I’ve tried the best are Dermalogica (the full hour not the 30 min kind) and I really like Pure + Simple’s because it’s so darned relaxing. (they do scalp, hand and feet massages) My skin also really liked Jurlique.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 12:07 pm

Oh – and for esthetician – brows at least – go to Irena at Robin Barker!

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Barb
Wednesday, August 10/2011 at 7:22 pm

Where do you go in Toronto for the Dermalogica facial?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 10/2011 at 7:35 pm

The Ten Spot (reviewed above) is great! Have also had it at Ritual on King St. They have a salon locator here: http://www.dermalogica.com/ca/buy/index.html

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