Bridal Beauty Countdown: 6 Months to the Day Of

Glowing, blushing, beautiful… certain adjectives ring true when attached to the word “bride.”  But if you are somewhere in the months or weeks leading up to your wedding, you may find the preparations leaving you tired, stressed, and haggard.

So when is that fabled “glow” supposed to arrive? Well, it will, regardless of how much time you spend cultivating it, but  there are things you can do now to ensure you’ll look your best. Follow these tips from Martha Stewart Weddings, and whatever else you do, don’t forget to smile– the one thing that makes anyone instantly beautiful!

Six Months Before:

Hire a Hairstylist
This might not be something that needs so much advanced notice, unless you mean to try something new, like highlights, bangs, or a different cut. If you don’t have a stylist that you love, ask friends and fellow brides for recommendations. Once you find someone, he or she can help you come up with a wedding-day hairstyle, or experiment with different options. Now’s the time book your wedding day appointment, too.

Schedule a Makeup Artist
While you’re at it, some hairstylists also do makeup and offer packages. If  not, ask for a recommendation, talk to other brides, or inquire at your favorite cosmetics counter or salon.

Price: Prices for makeup and hairstyling are similar, ranging from $75 to $300. In-salon application costs less than on-location. Request references and ask to see photos of recent work.

Clear Your Skin
Blemishes such as acne, scars, and sun damage can be diminished through treatments like retinol cream, lasers, and skin lighteners, if you begin a regimen now. Consider monthly facials and treatments like fruit-acid peels, which refresh skin’s outer layer. Microdermabrasion, a form of exfoliation that uses tiny crystals, is better for sensitive skin.

Price: $100 to $200 per session.

Three Months Before:

Target Areas
If your gown bares your shoulders, arms, or decolletage, you can define these areas by doing two sets of 10 to 12 push-ups every other day, says Christi Masi, a personal trainer and the author of “The Healthy Bride Guide” (Sasquatch, 2006).

Shape Your Brows
Over-plucked brows will need time to grow in. If you want to reshape, visit a specialist. Try threading (where hairs are wrapped with thread and pulled), or find an aesthetician who pairs waxing with tweezing to shape brows better. Go for follow-ups every three weeks.

One Month Before:

Brighten Your Smile
Drugstore whiteners, like strips and gels, take about three weeks to work. It might be nice to get a teeth cleaning at the dentist, even if you’re not due for one. A one-hour whitening by a dentist fades stains significantly, but is much pricier than the drugstore variety. Results can last six months to a year.

Price: Dental Whitening starts at about $650

Hold a Beauty Rehearsal
See your hairstylist and makeup artist for trial runs, with your veil and accessories. Take along a camera so you can recreate the look on your wedding day. If you’d like a sun-kissed look but don’t have time for sunbathing, try airbrushing, where color is applied by an esthetician, or spray tanning, where tanner is misted on via jets. If it’s your first time, try it out a month before the wedding.

Price: Airbrushing $50 to $100, Spray tanning $25 to $35

Two Weeks Before:

Cut and Color
Cut your hair two weeks in advance so it won’t look too blunt, says Boston-based hairstylist and makeup artist Anne Marie Laurendale. If you need to have color touched up, do it now to give it time to settle in.

One Week Before:

Bye-Bye hair
Make an appointment to have your eyebrows shaped. Have other areas, like bikini line and legs waxed now so there’s enough time for any redness to fade.

Pack an Emergency Kit
Fill a cosmetics bag with supplies: tissues, a nail file, dental floss, breath mints, and bobby pins. Some makeup artist will supply pressed powder, lipstick, and concealer to put in a custom makeup palette. Bring your nail polish for quick fixes.

Go for Your Last Appointments
If you want to get a facial for the first time, don’t do it less than one week ahead of your wedding, as some people experience acne or develop an allergic rash, or just look red. If you want to get tan, do it two days ahead of the wedding for the best color, says Richie Perna, co-owner of Bond St. Tanning in New York. If you thoroughly exfoliate before application, the tan should last about a week.

The Day Before:

Banish Blemishes
If the stress of sleeplessness leads to a breakout, don’t panic: Your dermatologist can administer a cortisone injection to reduce a pimple’s swelling and redness. “Almost all my brides have an appointment the day before their wedding,” says Ingleton. Within twenty-four hours, the blemish will be barely noticable.

Put on Polish
Get a manicure and pedicure a day ahead so nails can thoroughly dry. If you do nick or smudge a nail, gently even out the area with a buffer and smooth on a dot of color.

Wash Your Hair
What you may not know is that the buildup of oils overnight actually makes regular or dry hair easier to work with the next day. Fine or oily hair should be washed and styled the day of to keep it from falling flat.

The Day Of:

Just Relax
The more relaxed you are, the better you’ll look. Stress shows itself on your skin, in your eyes, and in your manner. To help stay calm, take slow, deep breaths, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Pace Yourself
Allow plenty of time for hair and makeup. Many brides start their hair three hours before the wedding, followed by makeup (each session should take about an hour). Pull on your dress only after hair, makeup, and perfume are set (oils in fragrance can discolor your dress). Lastly, arrange hair accessories and veil.

You’re all ready! We don’t have to remind you to stand up straight and smile– if you’re not doing it already, your mother or best friend is sure to remind you!

Read more: Month-by-month Beauty Countdown