For years now, I've entrusted Kathryn Sawers when it comes to facials. Kathryn boasts 14+ years in the skincare and spa industry, and her spa-in-shop Collective Skincare (located upstairs at BeautyMark) takes a holistic approach by addressing diet and lifestyle factors as well as skincare. Facials at Collective aren't just facials: depending on the treatment, they often involve potent natural products (they're the only ones to do Tata Harper facials in Vancouver), acupuncture, and facial massage. With such a breadth of experience and knowledge, I had to pick Kathryn's brain about getting one's complexion ready for the big day. Consider this Q&A everything you've ever wanted to know about bridal skincare!
When should a bride start a pre-wedding skincare regimen?
This will depend on what the bride is hoping to achieve with her skin. If she has concerns with acne or pigmentation, starting 1 year to 6 months ahead of time is appropriate. For brides who have normal skin, about 3 months ahead is adequate.
What sort of skincare issues can be addressed by a skilled aesthetician, and which ones would be best addressed by a dermatologist or a cosmetic procedure?
A skilled aesthetician can address many concerns such as acne, pigmentation and sensitivity. The key is receiving regular treatments and sticking to a professionally prescribed skincare routine. For the best results, shortcuts don't cut it.
I would suggest seeking the advice of a dermatologist for severe acne (cysts and nodules), as well as pigmentation concerns like melasma and facial redness. Reputable medical aesthetic clinics will have a variety of lasers at their disposal that specifically target these concerns. These clinics are also a good resource for facial contouring and lip enhancement treatments. Fillers can also temporarily smooth pitted scars that would otherwise require more aggressive treatment with ablative lasers (multiple treatments that involve downtime).
For brides who already have their skincare game figured out, are there any extra things they can do in their routine to make sure they're radiant on the big day?
I would focus on the areas of skin that are often neglected in our routine which may be revealed by the wedding gown. Use an exfoliating cleanser like Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser nightly and wash your face, ears, neck, chest and bust, as well as your back and the back of the neck. With a cleanser like this, it's important to only use it once a day, otherwise, you will risk over exfoliating the skin.
Get into the habit of giving your entire body an exfoliating scrub 3 to 4 times a week. A lip scrub is a good idea to integrate too. Moisturize every inch of skin immediately after you get out of the shower. I also like the idea of using a scalp tonic and lightweight oil in the hair to keep it soft and moisturized.
Different skin issues can require different remedies. What's your top tip for these issues?
It is vital to exfoliate, brighten (with a concentrated serum) and protect (with a broad spectrum SPF) to correct an uneven skin tone.
Uneven texture is often the result of either not enough exfoliation or not enough hydration, or a combination of both. I would recommend consulting a skin therapist to determine what is causing the uneven texture—it may require exfoliating with a chemical-based exfoliant (as scrubs may not provide sufficient results, especially with mature or acne-prone skin) or improving the skin's moisture with a heavier moisturizer, a face oil or a serum. In some cases, both actions may be needed.
Many people make the mistake of treating adult acne with products that are meant for teen acne. This can result in over-drying the skin, which leads to redness and irritation. I recommend a Retinol treatment at night to regulate the oil secretions and enhance cell turnover. This can greatly reduce the incidence of breakouts, and if/when they occur, they will heal faster. This treatment can also lighten acne scars.
For post-inflammatory pigmentation scars, brightening serums and Retinol are helpful. To revise textural scars, ablative fractional lasers, microneedling and dermal fillers are the gold standard treatments.
With sensitivity, it is important to discover whether the sensitivity is inherent or caused by lifestyle and environmental factors. Dermalogica's UltraCalming line addresses both types of sensitivity and includes anti-inflammatory ingredients like lavender and oat extract, as well as a proprietary peptide that prevents the histamine response in the skin. Sticking to a gentle line like this is optimal until the sensitivity subsides, or use as a long-term routine for truly sensitive skin.
I love your holistic approach at Collective Skincare; it's not just about the products you're putting on your skin but about diet and lifestyle. What are your top tips there for brides-to-be?
I recommend eating a clean diet that consists mainly of whole unprocessed grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as protein. Minimizing sugar, pastries, dairy, alcohol and caffeine is helpful. I also recommend taking a nutri-cosmetic supplement like GliSODin, to optimize nutritional intake and provide internal antioxidant support for the skin, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
Wedding planning can lead to a lot of stress, which can wreak havoc on skin. How can brides combat that?
Managing stress is crucial during this busy time. Getting regular exercise, sleeping 7-8 hours per night, and eating well will ensure that you will look great on your wedding day. I also highly recommend doing a minimum of 10 minutes of meditation every day, ideally in the morning. This greatly reduces stress and sets the tone for mental clarity throughout the day—something every bride can benefit from when their to-do list seems overwhelming.
Okay, the week and the day before the wedding: what's the skincare game plan?
Have your facial booked 1-3 days before your wedding day. Keep up your usual routine at home, but make sure to integrate a hydrating and/or brightening masque 1-2 times in the week leading up to the wedding day. I particularly like Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask ($77 at BeautyMark) for this purpose. It can be left on overnight (ideally the night before the wedding): the pomegranate enzymes brighten and refresh the skin, beet extract and aloe hydrate, while willow bark and French pink clay perfect the pores.