Clear Skin on Your Wedding Day

Let’s start out by saying that if you are one of those people who have impeccable, baby-smooth, blemish free skin, this post is not for you. And…we can’t be friends. Only kidding. :)

I know that I wasn’t the only bride out there struggling with acne. Acne is no new thang for me. I have fought a losing battle with acne for many years. I even joke to Mr. Dolphin that I don’t know how he ever fell in love with my crater face (over 8 years ago!). He always tells me that it’s what was on the inside that counts for him…and that he liked my booty. MEN!

So what did I do to get my skin looking like this?


photo by Starks Photography

It’s been a long, tearful journey, my friends.

Throughout high school I was constantly plagued with painful, red pimples and all over (relatively minor, considering others’) acne. My junior year of high school I was prescribed tetracycline (relatively inexpensive, even without insurance) which seemed to help CONSIDERABLY. Having clearer skin gave me a new found confidence I didn’t have before. Eventually, I had to stop taking tetracycline (as it’s an antibiotic) due to its interference with BC (birth control).

I was bummed. I tried a few different BCs that were FDA approved to treat acne. Every half-year I would change to a different brand (wreaking havoc on my system), trying to find the perfect combination of over the counter products, Rx products, and BC brand for my skin. 6 years later, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

Now, I don’t contend to be a professional at acne prevention, but I thought maybe sharing my regimen (and the regimen of others), and what I did to prepare my skin for our wedding, may help y’all. As always, please consult your doctor/dermatologist before beginning any treatment plan.

Here are a few other tips (that worked for me!) in preparing your skin for your wedding day:

  • Drink TONS of water. Seriously people, water is the KEY. Instead of reaching for that soda or coffee, reach for some water. It totally cleanses your system and your skin.
  • DON’T TOUCH your face. Restrict all need to touch your face. Don’t rest your chin on your palm, don’t rub your face, just don’t touch it at all. Trust me.
  • Wear little to no make-up leading up to your wedding. I went several weeks sans makeup leading up to our wedding. There was no way I was going to let something clog up my pores and cause a crazy breakout on our wedding day!
  • Break a sweat, if you can. Working out and sweating is another way to pull all that junk out of your pores. Just make sure to follow up with a mild cleanser afterwards.
  • Alter your cycle*. I altered my monthly cycle (via BC) so that our wedding fell during the time of the month when I had the least amount of breakouts.
  • Don’t pick at your face! If you have a pimple, resist the urge to pick at it. Picking at pimples and acne will only make the problem worse and can lead to an infection and scarring. Leave it alone and let your body do the magic, and before you know it the pimple will be gone.

*I am not a doctor. This is just what I did in preparing for our wedding day. As always, PLEASE consult a physician.

Products I currently use:

  • Estrostep BC (Pretty much DOES the job of protecting you against unplanned pregnancy and acne. For me, the brand runs around $90, and the generic around $35. I know, it’s expensive, but it’s been my little miracle and I’m going to pay for it as long as I can!)
  • Differin Gel (Can be very expensive without insurance, as I discovered. But, many dermatologists will give you a discount card to use on your first few tubes of gel. This often brought it down to a more reasonable price. Once I had a better control of my acne, I only needed about 1 tube a year.)
  • St. Ives Apricot Scrub (2-3 times a week. All the other days I use a mild cleanser like Clean and Clear’s Morning Burst)

Now that I’ve regained control of my skin, I am looking into reducing the amount of products I use. Which got me thinking, what does everyone else use? So I posed the question to my Twitter posse on what they’ve found works best for them to control acne and break outs.

ShelikesRuffles“Proactiv. Used it since age 13! Love. I also moisturize with oil of Olay lotion. Awesome.”

LandlockedBride – “I don’t have one set thing, but I tend to use organic and natural products. My skin responds really well to them.”

obxwife – “Just started Proactiv a few months ago and love it. I used to use Aveeno a lot and it worked great.”

Laurenetc – “Murad products are fantastic and anything with sulfur. Benzoyl peroxide causes scarring. I use a retinol cream at night and it has worked wonders to fade old acne scars.”

dianalapoint – “Anything from BeFine, especially their brown sugar face scrub.”

jesstagirl – “For me, the only way my skin stays clear is by NOT washing it daily. True story. Only once, every other day in the shower.” Mr. Dolphin swears by this too, and he hardly EVER has break-outs. I think he just has good skin genes, but him and Jesstagirl could be on to something. Maybe we poke at our skin too much with products which causes it to freak the F out. Who knows.

OMGmomBLOG – “Drink lots of water and use a thick, oil free night creme. That’s what I’ve done and now I don’t even wear makeup anymore. Aveline night creme. $$ but worth it! Spent 15 years with bad products of every $ range and this is best for me.”

If you have more than just a breakout here and there, and want to make SURE your skin is at its best on your Wedding day… consult a Dermatologist. But don’t wait too long. Make sure to do so 6 month+ leading up to your  wedding as many products and suggestions they give you take a little while to kick in (often up to 3 months, but give yourself a little wiggle room with 6 months).

My dermatologist also said that if I did have a terrible, hard, painful pimple leading up to our wedding, that I could come into the office for an injection (which would cause the pimple to go down, considerably, overnight). Have any of y’all tried that?

Don’t think you can afford to go to a dermatologist? Call around and see what kind of prices for consultations dermatologists are charging in your area. Mine was about $30-40 for visit (and I didn’t have the best insurance at the time).

Not ready to take the plunge with a dermatologist? There are plenty of great over-the-counter products to try (listed above via Twitter Posse). Make sure to give yourself a few months of using the product before moving on to another product. Acne doesn’t clear up overnight and it often takes a few months of a strict regimen to regain control.

As for me, I’m thinking of trying Mrs Dumpling’s Aveline Night Cream. In the past I have used RA Cream (equivalent to Retin A), and my skin was super glow-y. Not hyperactive glow-y, just the “I have super fabulous skin” glow-y.   I’ll be sure to update y’all in a few months with my results and how I feel about the product. Plus, it’s a cream that helps combat the effects of aging on your skin, SCORE! I know I’m only 24, but as Seminole Bridesmaid always says “It’s never too early.”

Today, I’m so thankful for my skin. I have worked hard to get it where it is today. I know y’all probably want to see a “before” picture. When I have the balls to post it, I will. I’m not there yet.

Sure, I have my moments where I feel a pimple beneath the surface and I don’t want to leave the house, but in the end I know that it could be a lot worse.

How do y’all deal with breakouts? What products do you swear by? And for those struggling with bad acne, hang in there! You’ll eventually find the regimen that works for you!


Mrs. Dolphin

Gainesville, FL
Wedding Date:
May 2010
Not Changing
Dress Shopping with Mom

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  1. Member
    HoneyBear 3486 posts, Sugar bee @ 4:02 pm

    I love my clairsonic brush that my mom got my for Christmas. I swear almost as soon as I started using it, people were giving me compliments on my skin.

    Although, I am currently sporting a huge pimple on my nose. Gotta love hormones 😀

  2. jaguar Member
    jaguar 6501 posts, Bee Keeper @ 4:06 pm

    Great tips! I have only recently started struggling with acne (thank you, PCOS, really) so learning to deal with has been hard, especially when it’s hormonal. I’ll do my best to stop touching/picking. I’m awful at that, I’ll admit. (And you looked beautiful on your wedding day!)

  3. Member
    running.rachel 24 posts, Newbee @ 4:08 pm

    I swear by the Murad Clarifying Cleanser. It’s a little expensive at $26 a bottle, but it does last forever.

    I had terrible acne all the way through junior high, high school, and even college. Since I’ve been using this stuff my skin is really clear. I’ve even tried prescription medicatioons for it, but this does the trick, I promise!

  4. Member
    Rgeddy 2188 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:08 pm

    DH has terrible acne so he went to a dermatologist before our wedding and was prescribed a oral steroid (not sure what kind…). He started taking it about 5 days before the wedding and it cleared everything up for our big day! He tested it out a few months ahead of time of course. It’s not for everyday use but one in a lifetime events! Definitely worth it!

  5. Member
    UrbanAlaskan 102 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:11 pm

    Ditto on Clarisonic and Murad. I use Philosophy Purity Made Simple and a Murad toner in the morning and the Clarisonic with Murad’s Clarifying Cleanser in the evening, along with a serum and moisturizer from Sally Beauty’s Beyond Belief alpha hydroxy line. And Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is great for overnight treatment of occasional pimples. I’ve been trying out the Zeno Hot Spot to treat individual pimples, too, but I’m not super impressed.

  6. mszebra Member
    mszebra 365 posts, Helper bee @ 4:18 pm

    GAHHH! Thank you for this post. Your skin looks gorgeous btw. I just started working out in January and have had acne ever since. I usually have pretty clear skin but I’m getting nervous. I just switched to Oil of Olay (the wash, moisturize, eye package) and am seeing a difference already. I’ve also stopped wearing my bronzer. Stupid acne!

  7. dolphin Member
    dolphin 503 posts, Busy bee @ 4:18 pm

    Thank you everyone for the tips and what y’all use! As I mentioned, I’m trying to go down on the amount of stuff I apply to my face. I said I was going to start the Aveline night cream, but have now decided to start taking Retinoid (Retin A), since it seemed to work fabulously before. Even better, my dermatologist gave me a Rx for it without an appointment. Yay! I believe it’s going to cost me about $52. Boy, are skin products expensive!

    I also started looking at the Murad products but have no idea what to choose, too many options!

  8. glitter Member
    glitter 986 posts, Busy bee @ 4:18 pm

    Your wedding day skin is glowing and flawless! Gorgeous!

  9. Member
    MlleBrielle 2739 posts, Sugar bee @ 4:23 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have struggled with acne for 8 years. Tetracycline worked wonders for me as well, but I stopped taking it once my insurance was taken away. I have an appt on Friday to see a dermatologist. I hope she will help me! It is seriously a huge problem that bothers me everyday. Your skin looks absolutely beautiful!

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Guest @ 4:34 pm

    “DON’T TOUCH your face.”

    Ha. I was touching my face just as I read that. Removed those hands very quickly!

    I’m nine months out from my wedding, but the main step I’m taking to fix my skin at this point is by fixing my diet. I’m majorly cutting out sugar (even fruit, sob, except on days when I’m doing hardcore exercise), and replacing it with protein and LOTS of veggies… and so far it’s had the desired effect.

    Medications and skin treatments have never worked for me. Or not for long, at any rate.

    Will definitely keep your tips in mind, too. x

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Guest @ 4:38 pm

    I only just realised that picture was of you (I thought it was a generic wedding pic of a bride with gorgeous skin). You look incredible!

  12. Member
    froggy518 268 posts, Helper bee @ 4:39 pm

    Your skin looks flawless, Dolphin. Congratulations! Honestly, after seeing all your photos in your recaps, I never would have guessed you ever had problems with your complexion. For reals.

    I’ve tried pretty much every prescription, over-the-counter, and off-the-shelf product under the sun and really, nothing worked for me. The products that worked the best for my acne had harsh chemicals (including known carcinogens – yikes!) that left my sensitive skin red and irritated even after the thinnest applications. Really, I think the only thing that has helped is time. I’m in my early twenties now (still something of a spring chicken, I suppose), and my acne has cleared up quite a bit in the past two years. Kind of a lame example to contribute to the conversation, but alas, it is my story.

    Right now, I’m using a mild cleanser twice a day. The acne isn’t gone, but I think my skin is the healthiest overall that it’s ever been under this regimen.

  13. Member
    mightywombat 5038 posts, Bee Keeper @ 4:48 pm

    I swear to God, one of the things I thought when I saw your recaps was, “wow, she has beautiful skin.”

  14. Member
    glamfish500 262 posts, Helper bee @ 4:49 pm

    My face dries out easily, it’s painful and itchy and just plain nasty to look at. The best thing I’ve found is not using any cleanser. I wash with a warm washcloth only. No soap, no cleanser, no anything. It’s the only thing I’ve found to keep things under control. In winter I use body lotion on my face which isn’t the best thing when you’re acne prone, but it does keep the itching an pain to a minimum. I also only use Bare Minerals make up. The primer is enough to keep my face moisturized when it’s not winter.

  15. Member
    JillBill 425 posts, Helper bee @ 5:19 pm

    I was resting my chin on my palm as I read it… and I’m also a horrible picker. This post gives me hope and nerves all at once!

  16. Member
    amyellabella 173 posts, Blushing bee @ 6:09 pm

    Wow, thanks for posting this! Nobody likes to talk about acne so it’s good to hear how you dealt with it!

    My skin gets very red, dry and itchy especially in the winter weather. I use a heavy duty day cream and a night moisturiser to keep my skin from chapping (honestly, it’s so gross!).

    And I think you should start a poll of how many of us had our hands on our faces while we were reading this post. I was guilty!

  17. Member
    Miss Radish 237 posts, Helper bee @ 7:27 pm

    Great post! My problem has always been with blackheads. They love my nose and chin, the rest of my skin is relatively clear. I started using Neutrogena Blackhead Elminating Daily Scrub (like the St Ives Apricot scrub), and it’s been working great, although it’s been drying out my poor skin. Maybe once the snow and cold goes away, it’ll get better.

  18. Member
    duckduckamy 100 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:49 pm

    I used to swear by St. Ives Apricot scrub, but then 2 different estiticians told me how awful it is for your skin. Apparently the apricot seeds are very rough on your skin and cause minuscule scrapes. Nasty stuff.

    So now I use some organic stuff that I got at Whole foods and a Clairsonic. My skin is OK, but not great…

  19. jam Member
    jam 310 posts, Helper bee @ 7:54 pm

    Never had much luck with Proactiv, but I BIG-TIME swear by the AcneFree Clear Skin system (…it’s especially faboo because you can buy it at oodles of stores for less than $20.

    Love the tips, Mrs. D!

  20. cinnamonbun Member
    cinnamonbun 1116 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:15 am

    @glamfish500: Bare Minerals helps me too. It’s makeup that actually helps my skin clear up! Crazy! I’m sure it is mainly the ‘primer potion’ moisturizing, but I love it.

    Once I noticed that the Proactive lotion bleached my towels (bad habit of rubbing extra lotion off onto the nearest towel) I stopped using it. That was in high school.

  21. Guest Icon Guest
    Angie, Guest @ 1:18 am

    I spent much of my high school years whoring around with the many face scrubs, washes and medicines trying to find the best one to clear my skin. I even tried ProActiv, which worked wonders, but bleached all my mom’s towels so it had to go. I didn’t want to put anything that did that to cotton – on my FACE! (though, I now see they have a new gentler formula)

    But…. I agree w/ “Laurenetc” that Murad was the miracle product for me when I was in college. It was expensive, but really cleared up my [often broken out, oily] skin. I would say within a week I noticed a difference!! I used that for a looong time.

    I’ve since grown out of the crazy bipolar skin, so I don’t have much more than a random pimple pop up every few weeks (singing HALLELUJAH!!) My little sis works for Johnson & Johnson and introduced me to their various products. So, I currently am using Clean & Clear’s Acne Control Cleanser and Acne Control Moisturizer from the Advantage Acne Control Kit.
    I also use Neutrogena’s Oil Free Acne Wash (another J&J product) every couple days. The grapefruit one smells funky but still does the job. And I love the fine exfoliaters in it. I’m quite impressed with my skin!

    Thanks for the tips on not wearing makeup leading up to the wedding. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

  22. Member
    Miss Ireland 83 posts, Worker bee @ 4:28 am

    I’m on board the same train as your husband… Washing every other day. Love my Cetaphil cleanser and Eucarin moisturizer.

    I do still get acne from time to time, but not nearly as often as I used to. I went to a dermatologist several years ago and found out that I have sensitive skin so my cocktail of products was actually what killed my skin — which made sense, because I never had acne in high school (when I didn’t wash my face at all) but developed really bad acne a few years later (when I was using a variety of products).

    My real problem now is picking — I don’t know why, but for some reason I got in the habit when my acne was at its worst and it is so hard to break!

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    hopeandpray, Guest @ 8:17 am

    I would agree with everything apart from altering your cycle (although that is probably just the doctor in me going ‘don’t mess with your body!’) and that scrub. The beads in it are just way to big and scrape your skin causing the bacteria to be moved around the place. Use it really really gently or maybe just on your body instead of face

  24. Member
    pinky44 2262 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:27 am

    I was blessed with great skin growing up, but as I’m aging (I’m 27 now), it seems to be having more issues. I never had acne before, but I’m much more prone to it now for some reason. I also use a lot of the Murad line. The products are great!

    I also recommend to others that if you aren’t using a toner, add one to your daily regimen stat! It was the only thing that helped keep my face in line after I started working out a few years ago. I guess it just helped clear away the nastiness from sweating.

  25. meerkat Member
    meerkat 3257 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:36 am

    Love this post!!! I got lucky and my skin had no issues on our wedding day but who knows what will happen for our at home reception.

  26. Member
    Drums 202 posts, Helper bee @ 9:36 am

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but please don’t use the St Ives Apricot scrub! (Or most other “natural” scrubs, in fact.) As others have mentioned, the jagged edges of the ground apricot pits cause microtears in your skin. If you must use a scrub, try one with “beads” instead, as they’re rounded rather than having sharp corners. The best exfoliants are the chemical ones, as they don’t tear the skin, but be very careful not to overdo it.

  27. Member
    jess 218 posts, Helper bee @ 9:59 am

    First of all, thank you so much for this post, Mrs. Dolphin! I have had so much trouble with my skin as well, and this post has given me the boost I needed to be more proactive in fighting it. In fact, I have a huge Nalgene bottle of water sitting next to me and I am determined to drink it dry twice each day!

    Secondly, you are absolutely gorgeous. If I look half as pretty on my wedding day, I will be thrilled.

  28. Member
    ktisthatbees 1686 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:06 am

    I third or fourth the sentiment about the apricot scrub Dolphin. My Dermatologist told me its actually so bad for your skin (I was using it at the time!).

    Aside from that, I love your tips! Thank you so so much for posting this. I break the touching my face rule all the time and DO NOT drink enough water. This has motivated me to do better!

    Thirdly! You had glowing radiant skin on your wedding day, I would have never known that you struggled with skin issues!

  29. dolphin Member
    dolphin 503 posts, Busy bee @ 10:10 am

    @hopeandpray: @Drums: @ktisthatbees: I had no idea! Thank y’all for sharing!!!! I just used it last night and was thinking about everyone’s comments. I think I will stop using it and see how my skin reacts. I don’t want to hurt my skin!!!

    @Miss Ireland: I’ve now stopped washing my face as much, and it already feels less dry and icky! I think you and the Hubs have it right.

    Thank you all for all your great tips and for sharing what products you use. It’s so interesting to see what works and doesn’t work for everyone!

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    lovekiss, Guest @ 11:07 am

    I always thought my skin was breaking out because it was too oily, but I was so wrong. It turns out that my skin was breaking out because it was sensitive, and all of the harsh products that I used to treat the breakouts only made my skin worse. Now I “wash” my face with raw honey in the morning (moisturizing AND antibacterial, all in one!) and Purpose face wash + my Clairisonic at night. I also found that my skin is better when I use a day moisturizer that does not have a sunscreen in it; the sunscreen chemicals iritate my face. I use Bare Minerals as my foundation, and that has an SPF that my face likes.

  31. Guest Icon Guest
    Iuxta, Guest @ 7:13 pm

    Your skin looks beautiful! Great post – and REALLY good advice! The No Touching rule is absolutely essential. And water is doubly awesome because not only does it do all the things you said, but you do your body a huge favor when you choose water over sugary sodas! The sugar is actually bad for your skin.

    My skin has changed a lot in my late 20’s (I’m 30 now), so this might not help anyone else, but here’s my skin story. I was dismayed that my teenage skin problems (big nasty red zits, 2-3 at a time) followed me into my 20’s. I tried Proactive for about a year, and it was better but my skin was always tight and unhappy (I don’t think I had the type of skin problems that medication is meant for). Eventually I couldn’t afford it anymore, so it was back to drugstore products. Around age 27 or 28, I realized that my skin was not reacting to internal hormones anymore, it was reacting to the harsh products I as using. I started using Cetaphil, which is a super gentle cleanser, and when you wipe it off rather than rinse it off, it leaves a nice film on your skin that helps it not dry out (drying out will just cause it to make MORE oil). I also instituted a strict No Touching rule! My skin has now adjusted so well I’m using facial moisturizers for the first time in my life! I still have a tiny pimple now and then (usually PMS-related!), but my skin is generally really happy and soft. Again, part of it is age, but I suppose it’s good to remember that our skin changes over time!

  32. husky Member
    husky 1750 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:10 pm

    Great info – thanks so much for sharing! I’m fortunate enough to not be prone to acne (please don’t hate me!), but occasionally I will get a really, really bad one. I’m talking so bad that I just typed out a description, and deleted it because I feared you might spit out your lunch. I got one a couple of months before the wedding, and weird as this sounds, I was actually happy about it – it gave me the chance to play with different cover up options, so I was confident that if I got one on our wedding day, I would be able to disguise it. Thankfully I didn’t get one – but I kept thinking of that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the groom says he woke up with a zit, and put windex on it. Something tells me that wouldn’t have worked for my skin… :)

  33. Guest Icon Guest
    tony, Guest @ 2:49 am

    Great tips. I will do all these tips you write and tell my fiance to do it too.

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