Bride-to-be and beauty editor Aisling Keenan on the lengths (great or otherwise) she went to in preparation for her jaunt down the aisle, and her best bridal beauty tips.

When I got engaged, after all the Prosecco, parties and posing for ring selfies, I got down to the real planning. Once the venue was secured and we had the basics in place, I started into the serious business of my beauty plan of attack. After months of stress at work, my skin was in tatters. After years of constant heat abuse and extensions, my hair was also in rag order. Add to that my broken tooth, a serious dose of keratosis pilaris and cuticles drier than the Sahara, I had a lot to do.

Let’s be clear–I know there are more important things than white teeth, natural tan and long, flowing locks. I am fully aware that getting to marry my best friend in the presence of everyone I love, is what the day is about. But god knows, I’ll have to look at those pictures for a long time and someday I want to point at them and say, ‘look, kids. Mammy used to wake up flawless’, as opposed to waking up haggard and exhausted like a lot of mammies. So I made a plan for myself, and for your eyes only, here it is.

Like most of my wedding admin, this is divided into zones; long term, medium term and short term plans.

12 months out

Hair Status: It’s dry, in bits, my roots are shocking and even my split ends have split ends I’d heard that consistency is key when planning your wedding hair. So I decided to stick to one colourist and one cutting expert in the lead up. Joe from Toni & Guy on Clarendon Street in Dublin assured me he would help me achieve the cut I need, and Roisin Malone is helping with the ash blonde, shiny, healthy princess hair I dream about. They will both be there on the day for all my bridal party's hair needs too. Joe had recommended a Smartbond treatment to protect and repair my hair while it was continuing to be colour treated, and the difference was amazing. They are salon only, for around €30, so in the meantime, I was advised to use L’Oréal Smartbond conditioner, €25.40. Roisin recommended rose coloured shampoo too to take down the brassy, green tint my lime-filled water gives me, and it worked a treat!

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Be consistent
❥ Plan your colour and cutting timeline
❥ Bring pictures of what you want your hair to be like come wedding time
❥ Be honest if you’re not happy–they’re pros, they can take it

Tan status: Non-existent, I am the lovechild of a milk bottle and a Smurf Under no circumstances would I be hitting the sunbeds. Many brides resort to them because they think faking it will be unreliable and will result in their dress being stained on the day. This, my friends, is a myth. Done properly and with the right products, fake tan can be as natural as a real one and won’t ruin your dress either. Not to mention the fact that sunbeds are extremely damaging to skin, to say the least. I decided to focus on perfecting my skin in order to maximise the chances of a flawless fake bake.

Pamela Laird, beauty guru to the stars, says that prep and trial and error are key. “Making sure your skin is regularly exfoliated, cleaned of tan residue and well moisturised is vital. Drink all of the water so that you’re hydrated from inside too. Then, test as many brands as you can get your hands on, making sure your hands didn’t wind up orange and patchy–the ultimate tanning nightmare for a wedding day,” Pamela advises.

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Start treating your skin to lots of moisture, exfoliation and hydration
❥ Trial tan brands until you find The One. Vita Liberata is winning for me so far...
❥ Try a product that you can add to your normal moisturiser to subtly tan places like your hands, face and neck. I love Magic Radiance Drops, €22.95 by Bronz’ Express

Skin status: Broken out, unpredictable, congested and dull–both on my face and on my body My skin isn’t the worst, but thanks to keratosis pilaris, the very Celtic affliction, I have bumpy and red marks all over, particularly the sides of my face, backs of my arms, and backs of my legs. I also have expression lines on my forehead that I’d prefer weren’t there (but that Botox story is another day’s tale).

Dr Katherine Mulrooney, one of the two-sister team behind the The Dr Mulrooney Clinic and skincare brand Seavite, advises getting a handle on skincare as soon as the ring is on the finger. "Prep is key and the earlier you start, the better results you will get. If one product can change the appearance of your skin, its an exfoliant. I always recommend both a gentle body scrub, like our Seavite Illuminating exfoliator, to slough away dullness and dead skin once a week, and an AHA exfoliating lotion to exfoliate on a deeper level, leaving the skin smooth and bright. Great for those who suffer from keratosis pilaris," she says.

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Invest in a good group of products that you know you can be consistent with
❥ Get advice from a skincare professional and get regular peels and facials
❥ Never, ever, ever sleep in your makeup

6 MONTHS TO GO

Waxing status: Well, I’m hairfree and carefree thanks to the miracle of laser hair removal (and the super skills of the gals in Sensius in Swords Pavilion) but if you’re still bothered by unwanted hair (aren’t we all) Ellen Kavanagh Jones from Waxperts has all the advice you need. “For best results, begin your waxing regimen as soon as you can and pre-book your appointments up to the big day every four to six weeks. This way you’ll keep it regular and achieve the best results possible,” advises Ellen. “If you’re getting a spray tan or tanning yourself for the wedding you’ll need to be waxed 24 to 48 hours beforehand.”

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Go to a salon that doesn’t double dip, and has the highest hygiene standards (an infection is not ideal pre-wedding!)
❥ Like most bridal beauty things, be consistent for best results. Four to six weeks max between appointments

Teeth status: Not the whitest they’ve ever been, one broken tooth in need of a crown, not as straight as I’d like. I rocked up to MyDental in Ballsbridge and told them: I’m getting married and I want a smile I’m proud of. They advised whitening (great) fixing the broken tooth (brilliant) but told me braces to straighten my teeth wouldn’t be worth my while for the result I’d get, in a very honest move. I trusted them and am now crowned and well on my way to a wedding white smile.

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Get in early – dental work is not cheap so you’ll want to budget for any big work you might need done
❥ Find a dentist you trust to be honest about what you can achieve in the time and budget you have available to you

3 MONTHS TO THE AISLE

Makeup status: Ready to have a trial

From working in the beauty industry in a way, I knew what I wanted and specifically who I wanted to do my makeup for my big day, and knew I could trust that person to make me the best version of myself. Which leads me on to my best advice: Find a makeup artist who adapts to her brides, not one who does one particular ‘look’ really well, because it might be atrocious on you. Then when it comes time to have your trial, be honest about what you do and don’t like–you’re paying for a service and should get what you’re asking for. Bridal and editorial makeup artist Sue Brophy advises brides on what to do pre-trial to get the best out of it. “Clean, exfoliated and hydrated skin is best to build a flawless makeup base on. I love my brides to wear tan on their face too, if they’re tanning their body, so everything looks seamless.”

WHAT TO DO:

❥ Be completely honest during your trial
❥ Make changes if you want them, or find a new artist who suits you better
❥ Prep your skin for the trial the same way you will the day before the wedding

TWO WEEKS BEFORE ‘I DO’

One rule: Stick to what you know. I’m happy to say that, having done all of the above, my wedding went really well and my skin, hair, nails and tan helped me feel calm and confident for the big day. The last 12 months of beauty prep did indeed stand to me and I was able to enjoy the lead up to it. Sure isn’t that what it’s all about, after all?

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