12 Common Wedding Beauty Emergencies (and How to Solve Them)

Unexpected beauty crisis on your wedding day? Don't panic! Here's what to do in case you get a giant pimple, you hate your hair and makeup, or some other catastrophe. Plus, beauty experts share how to prevent these issues from happening at all.

bride getting makeup done
Photo Credit: Michael Anthony Photography

Nightmare scenario #1: You wake up with a monstrous zit.

Crisis control: Picking and prodding will only make the pimple more irritated and harder to conceal; so will over-scrubbing the area. “The best fix is to have a dermatologist give you a cortisone injection, which will help decrease inflammation right away,” says Dr. Marnie Nussbaum-Brown, MD FAAD. If you don’t have a skin pro on dial, decrease redness with a dab of either white toothpaste or Visine. 

According to Jennifer Trotter from Lip Service Makeup, “If your wedding is hours away, zit medicine isn’t going to work that quickly, so you want to focus on keeping the skin texture smooth." First apply a calming cream to reduce redness like Rodan + Fields Soothe Sensitive Skin Treatment or Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream. Then use Whip Hand Cosmetics Set the Stage Makeup Primer, which will help your foundation adhere. (Trotter uses IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Correcting Cream, which contains a non-visible green tint to counteract red spots.) Blend with a dampened sponge and repeat until you achieve desired coverage. Set with micro-milled face powder.

Prevention pointers: If your skin is acting up prior to the wedding, make an appointment with a dermatologist at least three to four months before the big day. They will help you put an individualized game plan in place. Avoid doing any unfamiliar procedures or using new products the month before your wedding. You don't know how your skin will react, and it's not worth the risk!

Nightmare scenario #2: You break out in hives during your wedding week.

Crisis control: Stress is a common culprit for hives, but a myriad of other factors can also cause them, including foods, medications, allergens from the environment or underlying medical conditions. Symptoms may vary from extreme itching to swelling and anaphylaxis (a severe, whole-body allergic reaction). “Contact your physician ASAP immediately to assess the cause. Treatments may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, or — in severe cases — an emergency injection of epinephrine,” says Nussbaum-Brown.

Prevention pointers: Don't try any new products, fragrances or lotions, or eat any new foods two weeks prior to your event.

Nightmare scenario #3: Your eyes are puffy from being overly tired or — even worse — you look sickly.

Crisis control: The frozen spoon approach that you may have seen your mom or grandmother using for decades actually works. Pop two teaspoons in the freezer for 15 minutes; once they’re chilled, place them on your eyelids facing up (with the rounded part in contact with the lid).

Just a few weeks ago, Trotter had a bride who showed up to the venue in her pajamas having just arrived from the emergency room with the flu! She covered dark circles with concealer, used brightening cream on the upper eyelids to camouflage redness, applied moisturizer to her chapped nose and used a sugar scrub on her chapped lips. “Then I did a very dramatic eye but I used neutral shades to create a glamorous look that wasn’t too over-the-top. It made her illness look less obvious,” she says. Bronzer and blush faked a healthy look.

Prevention pointers: Starting two weeks prior to the wedding, try and get eight hours of sleep each night. Drink plenty of water — it's important to stay hydrated.

Nightmare scenario #4: You got sunburned from staying outside too long or forgetting to put on sunscreen.

Crisis control: Take ibuprofen immediately to help relieve the pain. Make some cold milk compresses by combining equal parts milk, ice cubes, and water. Hold them on the affected area for five minutes and repeat this three times. “The pH content of the milk has an anti-inflammatory effect while the coldness constricts blood vessels and decreases redness and swelling,” Nussbaum-Brown explains. Swap out your usual soap bar for a soap-free cleanser such as Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash, which is less drying. Lastly, apply a refrigerated aloe gel to the affected areas.

When it comes to makeup, you can't make the sunburn disappear, but you or your makeup artist can make it look less obvious by adding color to the white areas. Blend them in with the sunburned areas by using a custom mix of cream foundations to achieve the correct shade.

Prevention pointers: Always use at least SPF 30; apply 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours. "No sunscreen is waterproof nor sweat-proof (even if it claims to be), so always reapply. I tend to favor mineral-based sunscreens like titanium or zinc since they are less irritating to the skin and very effective," Nussbaum-Brown says. Avoid indoor tanning, which increases the risk of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by 75%. Love the skin that you're in!

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