I Wanted Glowing Skin for a Wedding. This is What I Got.
The year was 2017, the month was October. Meghan Markle was just the plain old celebrity girlfriend of a famous British royal. Fenty Beauty had not yet released Stunna lip paint. And I was a wide-eyed optimist who planned to get glowing skin for my friend's wedding by following some glowing skin tips and making a few lifestyle tweaks. But as the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
I did not have the most radiant, glowy skin for my friend's wedding. In fact, my skin freaked out days beforehand, and I had to race to do damage control. Here are all the things that ruined my carefully laid plans, and what I had to do to compensate:
I got sick.
A week and a half before the wedding, I came down with a terrible cold. That meant I didn't have the energy to do any exercise, especially not 20 minutes of daily cardio to make me sweat and induce a glow. I also was constantly wiping my nose, which resulted in chapped, red skin. And while I was intaking a lot of fluids, I was not really adhering to my skin-friendly diet.
It's hard to be good and eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies when you want to die. You know what's easier than cutting up a bunch of produce? Heating canned soup and pan frying some grilled cheese. My lack of energy was also a real roadblock when it came to keeping up with my multistep AM and PM skincare routines.
This is me when I want to die, but I'm smiling because I'm a woman and I'm supposed to.
I overestimated my willpower around Christmas time.
Confession time: despite the fact that this wedding was December 29, I kind of forgot that it was only days after Christmas. Unlike young me, I don't plan my whole life around the present-filled day. That's why my intentions to not drink alcohol and to avoid cheese in the days leading up to the wedding were only doable in theory. Because you try hanging out with family for two straight days without any wine, champagne, or charcuterie.
I've also come to the conclusion that eating tons of sugar can make me break out. After all, there were chocolate Santas! And holiday cookies! And cocoa! I resisted a bit, but not enough.
I broke out, then broke the cardinal rule.
On Christmas Eve, I noticed a pimple was forming on my cheek. It was such a bummer because as soon as I started feeling better a few days before, I began to follow this routine:
- Cleanser: S.W. Basics Cleanser
- Toner 1: Thayers Witch Hazel Toner with Rose
- Acne treatment: prescription Aczone
- Serum: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- Toner 2: Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
- Mask: Snail Bee High Content Mask (only used on one afternoon)
- Hydrating spray: Ole Henriksen Fountain of Truth Facial Water
- Toner: Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
- Double cleanse: Banila Co. Clean It Zero and S.W. Basics Cleanser
- Serum: Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid
- Exfoliating treatment: Prescription tretinoin or Sunday Riley Good Genes
I was back on top of my skincare game. I had even started taking an evening primrose oil supplement two times a day because I heard it could help with hormonal acne. And I still got a pimple on my cheek—an area that I had gotten completely clear after suffering from three back-to-back breakouts earlier in the month.
In a sort of fugue state brought on by my intense frustration and panic at having a zit for the wedding just four days away, I popped it. I know I should have left it alone, especially because it wasn't even close to coming to a head. But again, fugue state. What's more, my upper lip had another small breakout that I popped. I think it was caused by all of the previously mentioned nose blowing and inflammation because I never get anything there. I shouldn't have popped that one either.
Then I was forced to do damage control.
As soon as I popped, I got to work trying to minimize the damage while getting rid of the zits. This meant:
- I slapped Cosrx pimple patches over them to draw out the gunk. I left them on overnight.
- I left Aczone on as a spot treatment in the morning. I did this after performing my whole routine, though I didn't add my hydrating toner to those areas.
- I immediately washed off my makeup as soon as I got home on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, this was after wearing it for about 12 hours, but that couldn't be helped.
- I popped the cheek one again—and put on another patch. Listen, I was pop-committed at that point, and just wanted to get the rest of the gunk out. At the risk of TMI, I'll say that quite a bit came out, which worried me.
I was in panic mode for two days.
Which meant I barraged my face with treatments every couple hours:
- I kept adding serums and exfoliators to the areas. I wanted to attack the zits with acne spot treatments (Aczone), redness reducers (niacinamide and Cosrx Triple C), and exfoliators (Good Genes, Cosrx Triple C, and tretinoin).
- When I wasn't treating the areas, I kept them covered with patches. These hydrocolloid patches both suck out gunk and keep the wound, which is what a popped zit is, moist (I'm so sorry). This helps speed up healing.
It (mostly) worked!
Praise Beyonce! All my ministrations flattened both spots out and dried them up enough that they started scabbing up. At that point, I did another no good, very bad thing and peeled off the layers of skin forming on top. You're supposed to leave them alone so the zits heal faster, but they're harder to cover with makeup. So I did what I had to do, leaving red, yet smooth marks behind.
The morning of the wedding, I did another hydrating mask to help keep everything flake-free. I carefully blended my foundation, strategically added concealer, and buffed on some loose powder to set everything. Then I added a healthy amount of Becca highlighter. After all my efforts, I was able to fake some decently glowing skin. (Pic of my finished makeup for attention!)
See the original plan and all the vows I made and subsequently broke.
My prescription retinoid really helped get rid of my spots. Here's what else retinoids can do.
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.