Don’t get me wrong, a wedding isn’t magically going to remove your pimples. However, I did find that getting engaged gave me the strongest motivation I’ve ever felt in my entire life to improve the overall appearance of my skin.
Can you imagine my horror when my boyfriend (at the time) posted this photo!?
It’s not his fault that I was horrified. I posted the exact same photo to Instagram prior to him, but I used a photo editing app to blur my forehead. Mr. Smith, who is so sweet and innocent, posted the unfiltered version while wishing me a happy birthday and unknowingly humiliating me all at the same time.
For years my forehead has had what seemed like hundreds of these tiny pimples. My overall skin has been problematic since I was a teenager so it was really nothing new to me. I used makeup to cover it as I got older. I had also paid A LOT of money over the years to try and resolve the issue. But all I really knew how to do was buy the basics: I bought everything from Neutrogena at the drugstore to Proactiv from an infomercial. I owned the Clarisonic brush and so many face masks, I can’t even count them all.
For reference, he proposed to me about 3 months after this was taken. That’s when I knew it was time to get serious about what my skin was going to look like in our wedding photos that I wanted to cherish for the rest of our lives. In the beginning, I just started buying and trying a lot of expensive foundations at Sephora and MAC. I, again, spent a lot of money and none of it really made me feel confident.
Finally, I decided I needed to go to the professionals. I bought a Groupon voucher for microdermabrasion at a nearby salon in New York City. I sat through the first session and evaluated whether I even liked the process. But I actually really liked my esthetician and I already noticed results after the first time.
My pores initially looked wide open and my face was pretty pink after leaving the salon but the process didn’t hurt at all. For those of you who have never had microdermabrasion, it’s like having a tube suck your skin up but it’s painless. Essentially, the tube is actually exfoliating your skin and giving it the chance to refresh the outermost layer. For me, I wanted to clear the acne on my forehead and reduce the size of the pores in the center of my face.
However, the next day after the procedure, my pores were so shrunken and my skin was glowing! I bought another pack of sessions and went back about a month later. This time, I spoke more in-depth with the staff and she recommended four sessions every month up until my wedding. And Lord knows that’s what I did!
In addition, I bought Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil which is $40 for half an ounce (and $80 for the 1.18oz bottle)! I read amazing reviews and bought the small bottle to try it out knowing that I could return it if it didn’t work. Thankfully, Sephora has an amazing return policy. My other go-to that I found during this time is Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion 3 which is not actually a lotion, it’s a toner. I swear by this stuff and have repurchased it numerous times at this point. It takes off any remaining traces of makeup even if I’ve cleansed my face twice so it makes me feel squeaky clean but not dried out.
A few other small changes included drying my face with a new sheet of paper towel instead of a bath towel. This kept any germs from spreading from my old, used towel to my face. I stopped using my Clarisonic. The brush didn’t really help anything for the 11 months I used it prior. Honestly, I have a sneaking suspicion that it was also just spreading the gunk on my face around instead of cleaning from the inside out.
Lastly, I bought new moisturizer: I used Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer in the winter (my skin is SO dry in these New York winters) and Olehenriksen’s Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator all summer before my wedding (I have a super oily T-zone). There’s something to be said about the fact that I don’t use drugstore moisturizers anymore. I’m not saying it’s the price point that makes a product good. But I do firmly believe that quality ingredients are important, especially when you’re putting these chemicals on your face!
And boy, did all of this work. The monthly microdermabrasion combined with the face oil cleared my skin right up. Seriously, I went from the above picture to the below after six months of my new routine.
Even my best friend since 7th grade noticed the change:
Suffice to say: I don’t think I would have ever paid hundreds of dollars on microdermabrasion and skincare had it not been for my vain desire to look good in our wedding photos. I understand not everyone has the means to do the same but if you’ve been embarrassed by similar issues that I had, I encourage you to try what I did. Everyone has different skincare needs but I know that I thought I was trying everything until I tried something new and, low and behold, it actually worked!