A lot of planning goes into a wedding, but this massive to-do list pales in comparison to a bride's must-do agenda. From smooth hair and sparkling teeth to vitamin-drenched skin and a cellulite-free backside, there's no shortage of beauty treatments promising a more gorgeous version of yourself, come walk-the-aisle time.
We've rounded up our top 10 favorite beauty treatments, all designed to give you a beautiful edge on your big day. And, just in case you aren't a trust-fund baby or a future royal, we've also earmarked a few DIY treatments offering similar effects for significantly less money.
Keratin Smoothing Treatment
This new salon-only treatment is good news for brides with thick, unruly locks. Specially trained technicians infuse hair with a protein potion and then smooth it with a titanium flat iron set at 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius). The look isn't meant to be pin-straight, but rather a refined version of your previous mane. The procedure is a bit pricey (about $300) and it isn't permanent, so you'll need to do some careful planning to get the look you want on your wedding day. It lasts about three to five months and, as with any new look, you won't want to try it out too close to your wedding day.
There are reports that questionable levels of formaldehyde fumes are released when heat is applied to the smoothing solution, so bypass this health problem by asking for a formaldehyde-free treatment such as Brazilian Blowout ZERO.
We can't say enough good things about a body polish because this spa treatment simultaneously exfoliates and massages the skin. This relaxing scrub starts out much the same way as a massage -- by lying face-down on a heated massage table -- and progresses as an exfoliating scrub is massaged onto your skin, beginning with your back and moving to your arms and legs. After each area is massaged with the exfoliant (which is usually a sugar- or salt-scrub mixed with essential oils), the grit is removed with a warm washcloth. A mere 60 to 90 minutes later, you'll be rewarded with smooth, silky skin that's ready to slip into a wedding gown.
Laser Hair Removal
If you haven't tried this yet, get on the bandwagon. Laser hair removal will save your schedule from everyday shaving and every-few-weeks waxing. We especially love laser hair removal when it comes to underarms, where no matter how close you get with a razor, the roots still seem to show. During laser hair removal, a highly concentrated beam of light is aimed at the hair, which drastically slows the hair's growth (the laser's feel is like the snap of a rubber band).
In general, the results last from several months to several years. The procedure costs several hundred dollars a session, will require several visits and will probably need to be repeated on occasion However, this semi-permanent hair removal will make you feel great in your strapless wedding gown. It also can be used on the face for pesky hairs on the upper lip or chin. Now that's a wedding gift you can really appreciate.
The weeks leading up to your wedding may seem like a blur, thanks to bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and the arrival of out-of-town friends and family. The last thing you need to worry about is your mascara. You don't want to dash to the ladies' room every time you shed a tear, just so you can whisk away dark rivers of mascara (and let's not even talk about waterproof mascara -- we don't want to damage the few lashes we have left). The solution? Semi-permanent mascara. Also known as lash extensions, it costs about $250, lasts six weeks and will stay put -- even through all your tears of joy.
You're sure to do a lot of smiling on your wedding day, so why not cause some retina damage by flashing your white teeth at attendees? If you'd like your pearly grin to look its gorgeous best, try professional teeth whitening. This dental office procedure is instantly gratifying. The dentist will paint a high concentration of peroxide gel onto your teeth and supervise its progress in 20-minute intervals for up to an hour. In just one session, your teeth will become several shades closer to pearl than peach.
Of course, your checkbook will be about $650 lighter, so you may want to opt for a DIY whitening kit. For example, Spray White 90 costs about $200 and works in just 90 seconds -- so you could even use it the night before your betrothal. There also several other at-home whitening kits sold at drugstores with varying prices and rates of success.
Cellulite body wraps are offered at many spas and promise to help shed inches. Anytime we hear "lose 20 inches in a single session" our eyes tend to roll into our heads. Yeah, right. So we were pleasantly thrilled by the cellulite wrap results, even if they were composed of toned skin more than lost inches.
A body wrap begins by exfoliating the skin with a scrub, followed by a body mask, a bandage wrap and a 60-minute wait. After the body wrap is removed, the body mask is removed and a moisturizing lotion is usually applied. While a cellulite body wrap isn't guaranteed to rid your body of cellulite, it does have a temporary smoothing effect that should last a few months. It's a great way to boost how your backside looks in your wedding gown -- or in a bikini during your beachside honeymoon.
Vitamin C Facial
You can find any number of fancy facials at the local spa, including some that incorporate vitamin C. Unlike more questionable concoctions (caviar, really?) vitamin C is one ingredient with scientific backing: Studies show it really works. Turns out vitamin C -- known in its purest form as ascorbic acid -- can diminish the effects of sun damage, lighten dark spots and may even help prevent wrinkles. Pair the power of C with a facial exfoliation and you're sure to leave the spa with bright, revitalized skin -- the perfect foundation for looking fabulous on your upcoming wedding day.
Get a full-body massage on your wedding day? You bet. Not only does a massage improve blood flow and stimulate endorphins, but it also helps you regulate anxiety and stress -- something that's especially good for nerve-wracked brides. If you can't spare the time for an hour-long rub, steal a few minutes for a foot massage (even if it's delivered with a pedicure). It's a great way to refocus your mind. After all, the event you've worked toward for weeks and months is imminent. The planning phase is through. It's time to stick to one simple rule: Have fun! And what better way to kick-off your new attitude than with a massage?
You probably already know how a spray tan works: A mist containing dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is sprayed onto the body, either in a tanning booth or with a hand-sprayer. The DHA reacts with dead skin cells and dyes them brown. This may not sound very romantic, but the results can be lovely -- especially if you're worried about looking pasty in your wedding gown.
Keep in mind that if you're fair-skinned, you should start with the lightest spray tan shade that's offered. Otherwise, you may look more like the Great Pumpkin than a sexy bride. After your spray tan application, keep your skin moisturized with lotion (this will keep the newly darkened top layer in place a bit longer) and plan to re-spray about once a week.
It's a good idea to do a test tan about two weeks before your big day. That way, you'll know how it looks on your skin. And, because you need to forgo bathing for several hours after your tan is applied, don't do your touch-up the night before your wedding. Schedule your appointment 48 hours in advance.
You apply makeup nearly every day, so why spend the extra cash for a professional? A professional makeup artist (you can find their services on the menus of most high-end salons) will do your makeup onsite using her own tools and products, so you don't have to worry about whether you remembered to bring mascara. Schedule a test run about two weeks before your wedding day; this hands-on consultation will give you a chance to tweak the details. Remember to bring your veil or any other hair adornments with you.
On your big day, you'll be camera-ready for hours, and that's a benefit that's hard to beat. Plus, most makeup professionals can be hired to apply their skills to the entire wedding party; it's a nice treat for bridesmaids who've stuck by you as the big day nears.
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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