On your one, perfect day -- your wedding day -- you want to look better than you've ever looked before. Even with a big budget, plenty of planning and all your friends helping, pulling that off can be a tall order. Sometimes the very things you do to look great work against you in the end. The cleansing facial that's supposed to make your skin baby soft could cause unsightly blemishes or that new, sophisticated updo could end up emphasizing your slightly pointy (but totally endearing) ears or make your normal neck look sturdy instead of willowy. The beauty choices you make today are important. A false step could have you cringing when you look at your wedding photos later -- and that would be a shame.
Let's lift the veil on 10 classic wedding beauty ideas that 21st-century brides endorse wholeheartedly. You'll love your look and keep potential beauty blunders to a minimum.
Beauty starts on the inside. Remember your mom telling you that? Well, we may be taking that old adage a little more literally than she did: What you eat, drink and do weeks before your wedding day will have an impact on how you'll look when you're walking down the aisle. Here are some examples:
- Sodium -- Consuming too much salt will make you retain water, causing puffy eyes, swollen ankles and that bloated, uncomfortable feeling you hate.
- Alcohol -- Drinking a little too much celebratory alcohol can reduce your skin's elasticity, making it look dry and lined. It can also cause puffy eyes, lethargy and memory loss -- or at least a fuzzy head you won't appreciate.
- Sleep -- Not getting enough sleep will make your hair and eyes look dull, your skin look sallow and put some pretty impressive dark circles under your eyes, too. It will also ruin your sunny disposition and make small problems seem like big ones.
- Smoking -- Smoking will stain your teeth, dull your hair and complexion, make you smell bad and -- well, kill you one day. Smoking introduces up to 8,000 chemical substances into your body, some of which are absorbed into your tissues and later expelled through your skin. Think of smoking this way: Every puff eventually coats your skin with goo from the inside out. Imagine your new husband caressing that on your wedding night.
The takeaway here is that lifestyle factors have a huge impact on the way you look and feel. Eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest during the months leading up to your wedding. You'll look better, have more energy, and feel healthier -- because you'll be healthier. It's not a fast beauty fix, but it's the most important suggestion on this list.
Keep Your Look Authentic
If you want to explore a radically new look, don't choose your wedding day to do it. It can be tempting to go for the drama of a complete makeover, but lots of things can go wrong. From falling off stiletto heels you're not used to wearing to coming across looking like Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra" when you were trying for something a little more natural, the opportunities for disaster are alarming. Do explore new ways to look your best, but give yourself plenty of time to experiment. You want to blush on your wedding day for all the right reasons.
Consider a Little Sex
Your granny may not have considered sex a beauty aid, but it actually is. Intimacy in the days leading up to your wedding will increase blood flow to your skin, giving it a lingering glow. Your lips will be naturally redder (and maybe a bit bee stung), your eyes brighter and you may even experience fewer problems with blemishes. Consider calming those pre-wedding jitters with a little heavy duty cuddling. Your skin will thank you -- and so will he.
Groom Your Eyebrows
Yes, that forest between your hairline and your eyelids can obscure your natural assets, those bewitching eyes. From an artistic perspective, eyebrows are like frames for the eyes. Distracting, disheveled, thick, wiry, poorly groomed, shaved and otherwise unappealing eyebrows can ruin the appearance of your entire face. It's hard to believe that a thin strip of hair can make your nose look bigger or smaller but there it is -- on your face for all to see. One of the best beauty investments you can make for your wedding is to have your eyebrows professionally evaluated and groomed. The right eyebrow shape can show your best features to advantage, and there are a number of easy ways to maintain an eyebrow makeover after the honeymoon.
Choose a Unique Wedding Perfume
The sense of smell is very evocative, and you can use that to your advantage on your wedding day. When you choose a unique perfume for your wedding that works with your floral and other scent elements, you'll create multiple levels of interest -- and recognition. This is a very good thing. It can actually be almost magical. In six months, wear that perfume again and you'll be transported back to your wedding day -- and so will he. That's the power of fragrance to freeze time -- and bottle it -- for your future pleasure.
Take Time to Tan
If you want a sun kissed look for your wedding and have a regular tanning regimen, that's great. If applying a chemical tanning solution or visiting a tanning salon is a first for you, try the look a few months ahead to see how you really like it. With an artificial tan, looking less sun kissed and more like a Florida orange is a possibility, so check out the options. Tans can appear healthy and sleek, or ruddy, orangey and overdone. Use some restraint, and proceed with caution. Just be sure to choose a spray tan over a tanning bed. Your skin will thank you.
Whiten Your Teeth
It used to be enough to have straight teeth, but these days, your pearly whites should actually be pearly white -- or whiter. There are many tooth whitening options on the market, but aside from scheduling a visit to the dentist for a professional treatment, most take a few weeks to work. The reliable do-it-yourself option is to use whitening strips six to eight weeks before your wedding and follow up with a whitening toothpaste and possibly a whitening mouth rinse to keep your teeth white.
If you haven't whitened your teeth before, you may want to read up on the process. Whitening can make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. It can also be ineffective or unpredictable when applied to porcelain veneers or tooth colored fillings. If you had veneers put in after a previous whitening regimen, you're probably OK. If the veneers were originally matched to slightly stained teeth, you may have a problem. Play it safe by asking your dentist for guidance.
Take Care of Your Skin
In the months leading up to your wedding, increase your skin care routine. This should probably include getting a facial to exfoliate dead skin cells and remove excess oil. Whatever your budget happens to be, though, make your skin a priority. Use a good cleanser and moisturizer. Depending on your age, explore skin toning products, night creams and eye creams. There are lots and lots of products on the market that promise perfect skin. Some of that is hype, and some of it is solid science. You may not be able to make your skin look 10 years younger, but you can make it look softer, smoother and healthier.
For example, the outer layer of your skin is protected from dehydration by a thin coating of oil that holds moisture inside your tissues. That layer is also slightly acidic to repel bacteria. When you apply a mild cleanser, you remove surface dirt, grease and bacteria without stripping off that protective layer. Many moisturizers include humectants that attract revitalizing water to the surface of your skin. They work with emollients that create a barrier to keep precious moisture from evaporating. These are a few examples of the solid science behind some very basic skincare products. Once you start using one or two, you should see a difference in the look of your skin in a matter of weeks. Just be sure to start your new skin care treatment weeks in advance. Cleansers can coax embedded grease and dirt out of your pores, but the process sometimes causes blemishes. You want all that out of the way before your wedding day.
You may be a blushing bride, but there's a good chance you'll end up being a glistening bride, too -- as in perspiring enough to outshine the light fixtures. You've dreamt about the fairytale dress, the handsome groom and the beautiful flowers. Being the center of attention can be wonderful and terrifying in equal measure, though. As if that wasn't enough, the bright lights, press of people and a heavy gown often conspire to make you glow -- OK, let's get real here -- you're gonna sweat. You can dab your wrists with cold water to feel more comfortable, but to deal with that shine, you'll need a lookout person to tell you when you need to apply some blotting paper or pressed mineral facial powder refresher. Keep the necessary supplies on hand in an emergency kit that contains other essentials like lip gloss.
Take a Walk
Going for a brisk walk on your wedding day will give you a beauty boost by increasing the blood flow to your skin, improving your balance and stretching your muscles. You'll develop a healthy glow you can't buy at the cosmetics counter, too. Your body will also produce mood enhancing chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine that will initiate a natural high that can last a couple of hours or more. You'll feel happier, more alert and more focused. When you feel that good, it'll show in the way you smile, move and respond to others. Oh, and the fresh air will do you good, too.
Take a look at this photo album to see all of our style suggestions for the unique and unexpected style bride!
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