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Beauty Prep

3 . . . 2 . . . 1: Your Summer Beauty Countdown

When it comes to achieving peak fabulosity this summer, it pays to think ahead.

I was thrilled when my daughter got engaged. Excited when she and her fiancé chose an organic farm in the Hudson Valley for the setting, even if a bit startled that it was Vogue-approved. I was amused when she went from “not wanting to buy into wedding industrial complex” to planning a two-day affair for 150 people and a designer gown (or two). 

I was, I swear, chill about it all. That is, until I realized the wedding would take place outdoors at the height of summer. We’re not talking about the soft flattering glow of candlelight. We’re talking glaring natural sun. The kind that shows every flaw, line and sleepless night. Forget stressing about the guests or the decor; I realized instantly that I needed a strategy for my face.

Whether you are planning to be a guest at a wedding or a garden party, looking your best at a summer soiree takes planning. I immediately called a few of my favorite experts for advice on what to do, what not to do, and when to do it. (Yes, I have dermatologists on speed dial. Don’t judge.) 

Feel free to follow along—with these caveats. One, this is not the time to test something entirely new to you. (That’s a big No Thank You to the bird poop facial). And, given the recent news about damage at various salons from faux Botox, and that unlicensed New Mexico salon where several people contracted HIV from “vampire facials”, always go to a licensed dermatologist. Full stop.

Whether you are planning to be a guest at a wedding or a garden party, looking your best at a summer soiree takes planning.
One Month Before

This is the time to bring out the big guns, according to Dendy Engelman, MD, the go-to beauty savant at The Shafer Clinic on Fifth Avenue. “FraxelDual targets laser beams deep beneath the skin to stimulate collagen and tighten things up,” she says. “It’s great for treating sunspots, softening wrinkles, and improving the overall look of skin.”

First, though, you have to wait out a week of looking like you have a bad sunburn, including major peeling. The last time I had Fraxel with the oh-so-calming (and talented) Engelman, she Fraxeled my eyelids along with the rest of my face. (Well, I asked.) Was I a grotesque mess sleeping with ice packs the first night? Yes. Did I love the results in a week? Absolutely. The treatment isn’t exactly pain-free but, like childbirth, you forget that part when you see the smooth-as-a-baby results. I’m definitely in for round two.

If you want to skip the downtime, Engelman recommends LED light therapy that emits infrared lights at various wavelengths. “Amber light stimulates collagen and elastin production; red light can boost circulation,” she says. You’ll get the best results in a doctor’s office, but if you want to go DYI, Engelman recommends Dr. Dennis Gross’ DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro.” (PS: I do love those.)

Young woman having LED mask regenerative treatment
LED light therapy is a good no-downtime option for improving your skin. Amber light stimulates collagen and elastin production; red light boosts circulation, according to Dendy Engelman, MD. Schedule your appointment with one month to go. Photo warodom changyencham/Getty images
Beautician Trimming Woman's Eyebrows with Scissors and Brow Comb
Two to seven days before the event is prime time for brow shaping. Photo by CasarsaGuru/Getty images
Two Weeks Before

I’m not alone in worshipping at the feet of Robert Anolik, MD at New York’s Laser and Skin Center. (Check out his Insta to see everyone from Justin Theroux to Olivia Palermo and Kelly Ripa sitting in his chair.) Anolik is always on the cutting edge of what’s new. 

One of his favorite ways to glow up with minimal downtime is with Skinvive™ by Juvéderm®, an injectable form of hyaluronic acid (HA), the star ingredient in many serums. While it’s been used in Europe for years, the treatment has only recently been approved by the FDA here.

“Unlike other injectables, Skinvive doesn’t change the shape of your face,” Anolik says. “The purpose is to boost glow rather than volume. During the treatment, 10–15 microdroplets of HA are injected on each side of the face. The droplets then spread out, helping skin attract and retain moisture, leaving it smoother and more glowing. Along with cheeks, he might commonly place it around the mouth to smooth crinkling lip lines and even the neck to reduce crepey skin. 

I decided to give Skinvive a trial run. The entire treatment takes just 15 minutes and the needle is so tiny it feels like a little pinch. While the glow can last up to six months, Anolik recommends having it two weeks before an event in case of bruising. And yes, the glow is real. 

This is also the time to get Botox or fillers, if that is your wont. Talk to your doctor about what you are hoping to achieve. One thing you definitely want to avoid too close to a big reveal is lip filler. “There’s a term ‘fat lip’ for a reason. Lips swell so easily,” Anolik says. Jackie N, a Soho denizen, didn’t get the memo and had a smidge of filler in her lips two days before a big event with a different doctor. “I looked like a blowfish and ended up on steroids, longing for masks to make a comeback,” she said.

One week before: time for brow shaping and tinting plus a facial
One Week Before

Let’s move on from the derm to the aesthetician, starting with brow grooming. “Brows should be shaped and tinted two to seven days before an event,” says Yetty Bames, brow specialist at the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon. “The results will still be visible without the risk of redness or over-tinting.” For serious advanced planners, she recommends NULASTIN® BROW Shape Altering Serum—especially if you have sparse brows. It takes 12 weeks for optimal results, but I’m giving it a go anyway. You have to start somewhere, right?

This is also the time to book a facial. For an at-home option, Engelmann recommends Glo Skin Beauty’s Hydra-Bright AHA Glow Peel, which she says yields professional results. But if it works well, that also means the risk of redness or peeling—thus the need to do this a week before, just in case. 

Woman applying Nulastin Shape Altering Serum to her brows
Prep brows with a brow serum such as NULASTIN® BROW Shape Altering Serum up to 12 weeks in advance. Photo courtesy of Ruff Communications
Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum by Charlotte Tilbury
If you’ve left it to the last minute, a brightening eye cream like Charlotte Tilbury’s Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum can help reduce puffiness. Apply before you head out the door.
The Night Before

Ambien is, needless to say, optional. Engelman recommends pre-gaming with Medik8’s Crystal Retinal Ceramide Eye product. “It acts as both a vitamin A treatment and an eye cream to help smooth and lift the eye area, while minimizing puffiness and dark circles.

 Day Of

If you’ve ignored everything I said above, Engelman recommends using a brightening eye cream before you head out the door. Her fave, Charlotte Tilbury’s Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum, can also reduce puffiness.

If all else fails, I’m counting on a good concealer and a glass of champagne to do the trick. Okay, I’m counting on them either way.

Hero photo by Westend61/Getty images

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