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I’ve Tried Over 15,000 Beauty Products And This Is What I’ve Learned

If you've ever wondered what a new beauty product is like, chances are Sophie Cullen knows. As our resident beauty writer, Sophie is constantly testing the latest products. Here she shares her best advice for brides-to-be.

28 Feb 2019

Having worked on the BRIDES' beauty desk for nearly three years, I’ve seen and attended some of the most amazing beauty events, from the newest spa openings to fragrance launches and everything in between. I’ve been sent the latest and greatest beauty products to try and test, and have been lucky enough to meet some of the industry’s top make-up artist, hair stylists, doctors, dermatologists and facialists (here’s’ looking at you Nicola Joss - Megan Markle facialists FYI!).

With all of these perks, it’s my job to try everything and find out what works, what doesn’t work, and to report back. Needless to say, I take it very seriously (and love every minute of it!). So with around 15,000 beauty products having been sent to me over the years, here's everything I've learnt about bridal beauty and how to get the best out of it before your big day.

Don’t buy expensive cleansers

I absolutely swear by micellar waters when it comes to cleansing. It’s partly because they’re easy and don’t require 10 different steps and most importantly don’t overload the skin. Nothing is more of an irritant for skin than using thick heavy cleaners that block your pores. These light-weight waters are great for all types of skin; I suffer with dry dehydrated skin (attractive, I know) and these are perfect at getting rid of all the impurities, thanks to the microscopic oil spheres. If you’re not already, I guarantee you’ll become addicted. My personal faves include:

Don't overcomplicate your skincare routine

Using more products doesn't always mean your skin will be better. I’ve met beautiful glowing brides who have had everywhere from one step (a face wipe) to 10 steps in their morning and evening regimes. It’s about finding what works for you and addressing your areas of concern. When I’ve spoken to dermatologists in the past, they made a very good point in that you’re probably repeating a step twice or even three times without realising. For instance, you don’t always need to double cleanse every day, instead try cutting it back to three times a week. Also swap cleansing brushes and for a good exfoliator – they can work just as well at removing dead skin cells. It's much better to streamline your skincare regime and invest in a couple of hero products such as:

  • Hyaluronic acid is a god send for anyone with dry dull skin, wanting more of a supple plump feel.
  • Retinol is great for anyone with anti-ageing concerns but do your research, start low and build yourself up to high percentages – trust me!
  • Sheet masks are great for an instant shot of hydration and easier to apply than some paint on masks, plus they're super easy to apply on a plane if you're travelling to your destination wedding or honeymoon.

Don’t change your haircare or skincare a month before your wedding!

This is one of the most common mistakes brides and grooms make in the lead up to their big day. If you want to avoid unnecessary breakouts, redness, irritation or dry skin please do not change your hair or skincare routines. Stick to what you know and what’s working for you, now is not the time to introduce five new steps into your regime. I know it’s tempting when you read reviews and see the latest and best products on Instagram, but trust me its not worth it.

Buy a mist

I promise, they’ll be your new beauty best friends and your secret new weapon. Whether you’re looking to set, prep, hydrate or give your make-up a new lease of life, facial mists can do it all. To get the best out of them, hold approximately 5cm away from your face and spritz between 3 to 5 times. Some come in handy purse sizes which are perfect for on the day touch ups or when travelling and in need of a hit of hydration.

Book in regular facials

If you’re already happy with your skin, then you may ask why you should get a facial? The truth is, consistent up keep of your skin prevents future concerns i.e. breakouts, ageing or fine lines. It’s also a great excuse to have a break from wedmin and have an indulgent hour to yourself. One of the best facials I’ve ever had is the Sunday Riley fire and ice facial at Hereshsons in London. The first (and only) signature facials from the brand worldwide. It starts off like any other normal facial with cleansing, extraction, toning and massaging, but then the cool bit (literally) is that it includes Cryotherapy, which blasts freezing cold air around your face that helps reduce inflammation and remove redness. Then comes the fire aka the LED light which destroys any bacteria on the skin and prevents further breakouts and infection. For more facial recommendations see our tried and tested best facials for brides-to-be.

SPF is not a myth

Protecting your skin is important every day of the year including your wedding day. One of the biggest reasons many brides and grooms forego SPF is because they’re worried about photography flash back. Confused? Let me explain. The SPF technology that protects you from the sun is built to reflect light. So when a camera flash goes off directly in your face, the result (flashback) can make you look like you’ve dipped in a pot of baby powder. This is never a good look, but on the flipside, neither is sun-scorched cheeks. The solution? Your photographer can use a an indirect flash (where the light bounces off the ceiling or walls) as opposed to a direct flash (which bounces off your face). Or Dr Marko Lens, of skincare brand Zelen’s, says: "You can avoid flashback by avoiding sunscreens containing physical (aka mineral) sunblock’s, the most common being zinc oxide and titanium dioxide." As well as stopping you looking ghostly in your pictures, these formulas wont clog your pores or cause your make-up to slide off, making them ideal for your wedding day.

Make-up trials ARE important

If you’re planning on having a make-up artist for you and your maids, please, please, please book a bridal makeup trial. One bride I met recently didn’t book a trial before the big day but flew her makeup artist out to Marrakesh (where she was getting married) and ended up spending all morning of her wedding crying and taking all of the makeup off. If you’re thinking of doing your own wedding day makeup – pop into your local department store and ask for a trial. Most brands offer this service and if they charge the fee is normally redeemable on products.

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