Treatment Feature

Glowing Skin for Your Bride Using Medical Grade Skincare

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Wedding planning can be stressful. It's important to help clients manage stress and take care of their mental health during this time. Brides want to look and feel their best on their big day, which involves developing a bridal routine and navigating wedding skincare. As Portrait provider Kristen Doezie, MSN, BSN, RN says: “A good skincare routine is everything.” The overall benefits of skincare include helping with hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, and overall skin appearance. Medical grade skincare is promoted by dermatologists, aesthetics providers, and estheticians. It targets the specific medical conditions and needs of your clients and can help brides achieve their goals to improve visible signs of skin aging, skin vibrancy, and overall rejuvenation.

As a general rule of thumb, clients should start a skincare routine well before the wedding day. Our skin requires some time to adjust to new products and treatments, so advanced planning is wise for your clients’ skincare routine. Ideally, there should not be any experimenting during the month leading up to the big day. Portrait provider Melissa Gorden, RN tells her clients: “Be honest with your patients; they should start months in advance to get the glow they are looking for on their wedding day.” The three main areas providers should focus on for bridal clientele are the face, neck, and décolleté.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Product recommendations: including SPF, moisturizer, retinol, and eye cream
  • Procedure recommendations: including hydrafacials, dermaplaning, and chemical peels

Product recommendations

SPF (face, neck, & lips)

Sunscreen is arguably the most crucial step to protecting a patient's skin from long-term damage. Sun exposure leads to many skin issues, including hyperpigmentation, dryness, leathery skin, premature wrinkles, and skin cancer. Providers should advise patients to use sunscreen on all skin surfaces not covered by clothing — including the face, neck, and lips.

Dermatologists have more than one opinion when it comes to the timing of when to apply sunscreen during your skincare routine. One factor in this debate is whether patients should use chemical or mineral sunscreen. Both sunscreens protect the skin from harmful UV ray effects, but they accomplish this differently. Chemical sunscreen soaks into the skin and works best as the first step of a skincare routine, while mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier between the skin and the sun.

Dermatologists and other experts recommend applying sunscreen as part of a morning routine, regardless of the weather forecast. Portrait provider Melissa shares similar advice: “Patients should find a sunscreen they like and use it every day. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive! And always apply sunscreen on your neck and chest!” The sun protection factor (SPF) value in sunscreen is fully effective for two hours after patients put it on; as a result, experts recommend reapplying sunscreen about every two hours when spending time outdoors. The American Academy of Dermatologists suggests using a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

When it comes to helping clients prepare for their wedding day, Portrait’s Chief Medical Officer Patrick Blake, MD offers his advice: “In terms of sunscreens, some people are really sensitive across the board. So right before the big day, I definitely do not recommend trying anything completely new. I think the Alastin ones are the best and the easiest to apply. Nobody ever has a problem with them. They apply super smoothly, and they never pill, which is really meaningful.”


Hydration is key for keeping your client’s skin fresh going into their wedding day. There is a moisturizer for every skin type. For example, clients with dry or sensitive skin may benefit from a thick and creamy moisturizer. Ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid (HA) are widely considered superstar hydrating ingredients, so finding moisturizers that contain these ingredients may be wise. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and the signs of aging and is safe for most skin types. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, or a substance that retains moisture naturally found in many parts of the human body, and helps keep the skin hydrated, plump, and vibrant in appearance.

Non-comedogenic moisturizer for acne-prone skin

Non-comedogenic moisturizers are products specifically formulated to not cause blocked pores. Blocked pores can lead to a variety of skin issues, including breakouts and uneven skin tone. Using a moisturizer with a formula that is designed to prevent clogged pores may be particularly beneficial for clients who have oily or acne-prone skin. There are many medical-grade products available to help clients with oily, breakout-prone skin stay hydrated, glowing, and fresh.


Retinol is found in many different skincare products, both over the counter and with a medical prescription, and is part of a larger category of retinoids. Retinoids help to promote cell turnover, prevent the clogging of pores, boost collagen, and reduce hyperpigmentation. According to Portrait provider Melissa Gorden: “The two most important things we can do at home that are clinically proven to slow down the signs of aging are sunscreen and retinol.”

Despite its many benefits, it is not uncommon to experience side effects when incorporating a retinol into your routine. Common side effects include redness, peeling, dryness, and tightness. Melissa warns clients to “start low and slow, you have to build up with retinol. Use it at night and you’ll see results in about four months.” For clients who only have a few months until their wedding, she offers the following advice: “If you’ve got two months till your wedding, you might get some redness or irritation using retinol. Some of the pinkness that you get is actually an increase in capillary flow to the surface of the skin. Closer to the wedding day, a microneedling/chemical peel combo may be more effective. This can be done four to six weeks before the wedding.”

For clients who would like to incorporate retinol into their routine, it is safest and most effective to apply retinol products at night because they break down with exposure to sunlight, leaving the skin particularly sensitive to UV rays. It can be helpful to remind your clients who are using retinol to be diligent about wearing a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day.

Eye cream

The skin around our eyes is very delicate, and the extra layer of protection and hydration that comes from using an eye cream can make a big difference in improving the appearance of dark, puffy, or tired-looking under eyes. Recommending a high-quality eye cream for your clients will lead to a fresher and more rested look, while simultaneously reducing fine lines in this delicate region. Ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid, and caffeine will help plump up the skin, and vitamin C to even out dark circles. Brides-to-be should use a good eye cream during the months leading up to their big day, and even wear it as a long-lasting primer under their bridal makeup.

Procedure recommendations

Hydrafacial MD

HydraFacial MD is a relatively new advance in non-laser skin surfacing — it’s a medical-grade hydradermabrasion device that is made up of four parts: cleansing and exfoliation, chemical peel, extraction, and hydration. Each of these steps is customizable to the unique skin and specific skincare goals of a client. The first step of the treatment is cleansing and exfoliation, where a specialized spiral tool is used to gently buff away dead skin cells from the face. The intensity of the tool can be adjusted to meet the needs of clients with sensitive skin. Once the upper-level cellular debris has been removed, a chemical peel will be used to improve the skin’s texture and hyperpigmentation, and a gentle vortex vacuum tool will painlessly unclog the pores and remove skin impurities. Finally, this same tool is used to infuse a high-quality hydrating serum, typically including antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, into the skin. The entire procedure only takes about 30 minutes — we recommend at least seven days in advance of the wedding to allow the best results to shine.


Dermaplaning is a procedure that exfoliates the skin and gets rid of dead skin and peach fuzz, leaving the skin squeaky clean and glowing. With this procedure, the provider uses a tool called a dermatome, which resembles a surgical blade on a handle. By moving the dermatome back and forth, they scrape off the top layer of dead skin. There are not many side effects associated with the procedure, though it is possible to experience red and swollen skin from the scraping or a slight burning or tingling sensation for a short time following the treatment. Unlike other forms of hair removal, dermaplaning hair should not grow back thicker or darker. While there is no downtime following the procedure, we recommend that brides-to-be schedule their dermaplaning appointments a week out from their wedding day to leave wiggle room for any redness or adverse effects.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are an advanced skin rejuvenation treatment. They work to remove superficial and damaged skin and stimulate collagen production in the deeper layers to result in smoother, more even skin. Full results from a peel can take up to four to six weeks to show. Getting a peel twice a year will help improve the appearance of sunspots and is recommended as preparation for the big day. To learn more about chemical peels, how they work, and the associated benefits, please refer to our recent blog post.


Supporting your clients and helping them achieve their skincare goals as they prepare for their wedding day is no small feat. Everyone wants to have glowing, camera-ready skin for their walk down the aisle, and the process of getting there can be a stressful process for the client and provider alike. As you work with your clients to achieve their goals, keep in mind that wedding planning is a stressful time, and refer to this blog post as needed.

Portrait providers Kristen Doezie and Gail Keir summarize their best pieces of advice and favorite skincare products for brides-to-be:

“If I could nail it down to just a few products for brides, they would be: an exfoliator, a toner, a retinol, and a serum. And sunscreen, of course. If I can get a bride on that even eight weeks before their wedding, it will make a drastic difference for them. If I had 12 weeks and I could throw in a chemical peel— which would be even better!”

- Kristen Doezie, MSN, BSN, RN

“I think the minute you get engaged, you should start thinking about a skincare routine. Everybody should have a really good eye cream. There's an amazing SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. This is my favorite cleanser for the bride and groom. I keep it in the shower, so you're kind of steamed, your facial pores are open, and it's really gentle. You're not gonna peel terribly but it's just gonna eat away that dead layer skin. So this is something you just use once a day, and that's really good for men, too.”

- Gail Keir, RN, BSN

We hope the medical-grade skincare recommendations in this article will serve as a guide to help achieve that bridal glow for your clients. As Portrait provider Gail Keir says:  “A good skincare routine is essential. It's like if you're painting a picture: you want the canvas to be prepped and ready before you go, so everything you put on it looks its best.”

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