Your Ultimate Bridal Skincare Guide

All the basics you need to know to get you started on your journey towards healthy glowing skin on your wedding day.


You’re engaged and have started planning for your big day! 

You may have already invested much time and energy finding the perfect photographer to show you in your best light and capture those special moments, and even said yes to the dress (and the shoes!). You know these photos from your special day will be a part of your family for decades to come so of course you want to feel like the best possible version of yourself.

So what about your skin? 

They way our skin looks and feels has a major impact on our self esteem and confidence, as well as that beautiful Pinterest bridal makeup look you are dreaming of. And who doesn't want that radiant newlywed glow?

In this guide you will find the basic information you need to craft an effective and personalized skincare routine to help you achieve healthy beautiful skin, and maximize the results of your wedding day makeup.


Sweat, oil, makeup, and pollution from our environment build up on the surface of the skin and can cause damage if not cleansed away properly.

Our skin works hard for us, protecting us from environmental aggressors, so it's important that we cleanse it well day and night. A good cleanser will be gentle, won't leave the skin feeling dry or tight, and will be effective at removing dirt and or makeup. 

For makeup wearers, a really great option to start with is an oil cleanser. An oil cleanser will break down makeup and grime, lifting it from the skin to be easily cleansed away. Oils are also a great option for dry skin types.

For more oily or combo skin, it's ideal to follow an oil cleanser with a more clarifying or foaming cleanser to penetrate deeper into pores and remove any left over oils.  This step is especially important if you wear makeup.

Another option for cleansing is micellar water. Micellar water cleansers don't require any rinsing and can be used with a cotton pad swiped across the skin to remove dirt and makeup. I don't recommend relying solely on micellar water, but they are great for on the go or in a pinch. 

Whatever you do, do not use: body wash, shower gel, bar soap, or anything not formulated specifically  for the face! 

These products can strip the skin of natural oils severely drying the skin, irritate the eyes, and may even leave behind a film that can clog pores and so much more. Gross! 

Here are some great cleanser options that are gentle on the skin, but tough on dirt and makeup: 

 All skin types

Mario Badescu glycolic foaming cleanser

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

COSRX  Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste™ No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

 Oily/acne prone

First aid beauty skin rescue red clay deep cleansing gel

 Sunday Riley ceramic slip cleanser

No.7 beautiful skin foaming cleanser

LaRoche-Posey Effaclar H cleansing cream

Mario Badescu acne facial cleanser

Dry skin

LaRoche-Posey toleriane hydrating gentle facial cleanser

Lancome miel en mousse

Nars gentle creamy cleanser

Dior prestige micellar mousse

Sensitive skin

Caudalie instant foaming cleanser

Clarin’s cleansing milk with gentian

First Aid Beauty face cleanser

Fresh soy face cleanser


Kate Somerville exfolikate cleanser

Philosophy microdelivery exfoliating wash

Skinceuticals clarifying exfoliating cleanser

Oil cleansers

Shu uemura high performance balancing cleansing oil advanced formula

Tatcha pure one step camellia cleansing oil

Shiseido perfect cleansing oil

Micellar water

Bioderma sensibio h2o

Dior hydra life micellar water

Koh Gen Do cleansing spa water


The biggest mistake I see brides making is failing to exfoliate.

Makeup on top of skin that is not exfoliated well will look cakey, dull, and won't last as long or photograph as flawlessly. Properly exfoliated skin will always give your makeup a more natural, beautiful, and long wearing finish, as well as a more effective and boosted skincare routine.

Exfoliation removes build up of dry dead skin that can form a barrier and block your moisturizer and other skincare products from being absorbed by the healthey skin.

I always recommend a chemical exfoliant for every skin type rather than a physical scrub which can be too harsh for the delicate skin on your face. Chemical exfoliants are acids or enzymes that work by dissolving the dead skin and any debris on the surface without scrubbing or harming the healthy skin below.

-Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, and citric acid, are water soluble and will gently dissolve build up on the surface of the skin to reveal the healthy skin below. This will boost the skins ability to shed cells faster which promote younger, smoother looking skin, and are great for dry skin types.

-Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) like salicylic acid are oil soluble and have anti inflammatory/anti bacterial properties. These penetrate deeper to clear out black and white heads and break down oil. Great for acne prone skin and even rosacea.

-Enzymes, derived from fruit are a more gentle alternative. Similar to BHA’s in their effects and are great for sensitive skin.

These acids can be found in a number of different products, from gentle daily cleansers and toners, to more moderate masks and peeling pads used only once or twice a week.

More intense exfoliations can be performed by an aesthetician, using methods like dermaplaning, chemical peels, and micro dermabrasion and are great for oily skin with enlarged pores, along with a more gentle exfoliant used regularly for maintenance.

Here is a list I’ve compiled of some of the top chemical exfoliators:

Kate Somervlle exfolikate

Volition beauty apple cider vinegar resurfacing peel pads

Drunk Elephant T.L.C sukari babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. framboose glycolic night serum

Sunday Riley good genes glycolic acid treatment

Paula’s Choice skin perfecting 2% BHA liquid exfoliant

Dr Dennis Gross alpha beta universal daily peel

Glossier solution

Moon Juice exfoliating acid potion

The Ordinary aha 30% + bha 2% peeling solution

La Prairie 3 minute peel


Toner is one of the most common products that is missing from many brides routines, even though it is one of the most important elements in making a skincare routine effective. 

It's not surprising, since the functions and benefits are so broad and varied that it can become vague and confusing about what they actually do. 

So what are they, what are the benefits, and why do you need one?

To put it as simply as possible, toners are fast penetrating liquids that remove surface debris and dead skin cells left over from cleansing, and chlorine and minerals left over from tap water that are damaging to the skin. They also balance the natural acidity level of the skin (ph), moisten, and prime the skin to absorb your skincare.

Without a toner, your skincare products are more likely to sit on the surface of the skin without penetrating and delivering the results you want.

There are two main types of toners: hydrating and exfoliating. 

My favorite toners are exfoliating, with a combination of AHA and BHA to maintain the glow and clarity of the skin, so I know I will get the full benefits from the rest of my skincare.

Toners should be used day and night, after cleansing. I use mine soaked in a cotton pad and swiped gently across the skin. 

Here are some popular plus effective toner options:


Fresh rose deep hydration facial toner

Algenist hydrating essence toner

Indie Lee coq-10 toner

Context hydrating toner

Nars multi action hydrating toner


The Ordinary glycolic acid 7% toning solution

Pixi Beauty glow tonic

Ren Skincare ready steady glow daily aha tonic

Nars multi action hydrating toner (if you noticed this toner in two categories that’s because it’s both hydrating and exfoliating!…it’s also my personal favorite.)


Finding the right moisturizer is key.

It doesn't have to be expensive but it should be effective and with quality ingredients. Avoid moisturizers that contain SPF, as it will be diluted by the moisturizer and won't be as effective as when applied on its own, and sleeping in SPF is not ideal if you are using the same moisturizer day and night.

Look for the following in the first five ingredients listed on the moisturizer:

-Hyaluronic acid.

A natural lubricant produced by the body that helps to attract and retain moisture. 


Produced from plants, is a humectant that attracts water.


A naturally occurring lipid found in the top layers of skin that acts as a protectant to help skin retain its moisture.


Helps to loosen dead skin cells and binds moisture to skin.


Produced from olives and is similar to squalene, which is naturally produced in our skin but starts to decline in our 20’s. It acts like a lipid to help protect the skin and retain moisture.

Moisturizer should always be applied immediately after cleansing and toning while the skin is still slightly damp for best moisture retention and absorption.

Oily/combination skin types.

Even if you have skin that produces a lot of oil doesn't mean it can't also become dehydrated, and dehydrated skin will over produce oil to try to compensate, making hydration even more important.

A lighter gel, oil free cream, or a hydrating serum can be more comfortable during the day so as not to add more oil to already oily skin. However, nighttime hydration will be important in helping to calm down those overactive oil glands, allowing you to go lighter on products for daytime and under makeup.

Dry skin types.

Dry skin does well with richer creams, and may even need the added benefit of a hydrating oil layered on top to lock in the moisturizer especially at night. Dry skin cannot be cured, but dehydration can be. Moisturizing while the skin is still slightly damp from cleansing and toning is crucial.

When using oils it’s important to leave the cooking oils in the kitchen where they belong!

Coconut oil and olive oil can not only clog the pores, but can block your skin from absorbing moisture. Look for an oil specifically formulated for the face, not the body. It’s also important to avoid pure essential oils, as those are incredibly potent and can actually sensitize the skin, damaging it permanently.

Here is my list of the some of the top moisturizers broken down by skin type:

All skin types

The Ordinary natural moisturizing factors + ha

Kiehl’s ultra facial cream

Skin Ceuticals metacell renewal b3

Tatcha the dewy skin cream

Oily/combo/acne prone

Mario Badescu aha and ceramide moisturizer

Skin Ceuticals triple lipid restore 2:4:2

First Aid Beauty skin rescue daily face cream

Peter Thomas Roth water drench hyaluronic cloud cream

Paula’s Choice oil free moisturizer

Dry skin

La Roche-Posey toleriane double repair face moisturizer

Laneige water bank moisture cream intensive

Drunk Elephant lala retro whipped cream moisturizer

Biossance squalane + omega repair cream

Vichy aqualia thermal rich cream

Serums and masks

(extra credit)

Serums are not necessary for a good skincare routine but they can boost your desired results based on the concern you want to target.

If you are concerned with anti aging, an anti aging moisturizer alone won't provide dramatic results, since the ingredients are diluted by the moisture which is its primary purpose. Serums are concentrated and undiluted by moisture in lightweight formulas that are meant to penetrate deeper into the skin and deliver more dramatic results. 

Masks are like serums intensified. Used only once or twice a week, for a few minutes at a time or even overnight, they target specific concerns and give a boost to your overall skincare routine.


Sun protection is an important part of daily skincare for every skin type and complexion.

SPF will help to prevent premature aging, sun spots, and other serious skin conditions, as well as preserving your hard earned results from a dedicated skincare routine.

Sunscreen should always be the last step, and for full effectiveness must be reapplied every two hours.

A UVA and UVB broad spectrum sunscreen is ideal, and can be found in many different textures, including creams, liquids, and even powders.

Consumer Reports has a great article on the top sunscreens of the year.

Internal hydration

Hydrating the skin isn't exclusive to what you put on it.

It's so important that you hydrate from within as well. Drink plenty of water every day, and minimize your caffeine and alcohol consumption especially within the week leading up to the big day. Bachelorette parties or heavy/binge drinking should be avoided the week of, unless you want a dry and dull complexion and cakey makeup that won’t last.

I love to drink a moderate amount of coconut water or aloe vera juice especially first thing in the morning to hydrate and prime my system for the day. Coconut water is not my favorite in terms of flavor however it does hydrate and absorb much more efficiently in your body than water does alone. I have developed a taste for it over time and even adding some fresh lime juice can help cut some of the funky flavor. 

General health and wellness

Smoking cigarettes blocks the delivery of oxygen to the skin cells.

This one shouldn't need much explaining to know that's bad! Skin will be dull, gray and unhealthy in general. I myself have smoked in the past and this unattractive side effect motivated me to quite for good. Who says vanity can't be healthy?

You are what you eat.

I also recommend for all my brides to get tested for allergies by their doctor.

Our skin is a reliable indicator of our overall health. I’ve seen many clients with problems ranging from eczema like symptoms to full on cystic acne who where tested and discovered they had allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. When the culprits where removed from their diet the improvements in their skin where drastic, and I’ve personally experienced this when I removed all dairy from my diet and the mysterious eczema around my mouth and chin disappeared completely and for good.

A good start would be to check out Everlywell’s food sensitivity test


Skincare routines should be consistent.

Starting a new skincare routine or adding in new and untested products a few days or weeks before the big day could mean trouble if you have a reaction or sensitivity. The key is to start early and to find a system that you will realistically be able to stick to consistently enough to see the desired results and then maintain after, so it's important that the products you choose are minimal as well as enjoyable for you to use.

Realistically you can expect it take weeks, or even months to see results from your new routine, products, or diet.

Get started today so you can wake up to a beautiful new you on your wedding day! 


Was this guide helpful for you?

I've compiled all this information based upon my recommendations to my bridal clients. If I've missed anything or you still have unanswered questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me through my email I always respond!

With love, 

- Giselle 🖤