Bridal Beauty 101 african american woman makeup

Get gorgeous for your special day with our ultimate wedding day checklist!

With so much to do when planning a wedding, it’s easy for something like hair and makeup to get pushed to the back burner. Most brides look up and only have two months or less to get themselves beauty ready, but that’s not to say all is lost. I’ve created a timeline that will have you picture perfect on your wedding day, whether you’re planning far ahead or in the middle of the madness.

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7-8 Months Before:

  • Grow out your hair and/or try a new color. Talk to your stylist and start experimenting with some fun new styles and color. Remember, hair grows at an average of a ½ inch per month, so now is the time to get started. You could have up to five inches of new growth by your wedding day.
  • Go see your dermatologist. For the ladies who have adult acne, now is time to have the conversation with your doctor to figure out the right steps to achieving flawless skin for your wedding day.
  • Build a beauty inspiration board. Now I’m sure you’ve already done this for every other aspect of your wedding except how you and your bridesmaids will look. (Yes, your bridesmaids will want to look good too!) Don’t limit yourself to bridal magazines. Check out beauty blogs, Pinterest and even Instagram.

5-6 Months Before:

  • Book your beauty vendors and set up trials. With so many people getting married and the popularity of having a Glam Squad on location, don’t take the chance that your favorite makeup artist or hairstylist will be booked on your date. When booking, make sure to have a hair and makeup trial first to ensure you’ll have the look you want for your wedding day. Take plenty of pictures for reference as you’re choosing your official squad. 
  • Start great food habits. If you haven’t already started a more healthy diet, now is the time. It’s not just what you put on your hair and skin that counts, it’s what you eat as well. Give your body all the nutrients it needs to give you beautiful hair, skin and nails.
  • Start your head to toe beauty routine. Don’t wait until the last minute to get into a great head to toe beauty routine. Give your body a chance to purge all those bad toxins and shed those old dead cells to reveal new beautiful skin, hair and nails.

3-4 Months Before:

  • Experimenting with tanning? Body bronzers? Now is the time to decide if you’ll be tanning or bronzing for your wedding day. (Yes, Black girls tan too.) No one wants to walk down the aisle with tan lines, so be sure to take your gown’s neckline into consideration. Another trend is using a body bronzer, which will give you that rich Beyoncé glow and looks amazing on all complexions.
  • Finalize your beauty vendors. If you haven’t booked your hair and makeup by now, book your trials, finalize contracts and set up your wedding day schedule. (Pair with your photographer and wedding planner to ensure everyone is on time.)
  • Start shopping for extensions. In the event that the style you would like involves extensions, start looking into hair companies and techniques now.

1-2 Months Before:

  • Tame those brows. If you’ve never had your brows professionally shaped, then now is the time to ask for recommendations and make your appointment. You can’t have a flawless face with bushy, unruly brows. If your brows are super thin, at this point you still have time to grow them out.
  • Skincare follow up. Now if you followed my steps months ago, you have either chosen a skincare regimen that works for you or you have paired with your dermatologist to have flawless skin. Now’s the time to book your spa day and get those body treatments and facials ready.
  • Take a beauty class. If you don’t have the funds to book your favorite makeup person, don’t fret. Most makeup counters will give you a free class with the purchase of products, and you still have time to practice so your look is flawless. Same with your hair. Have the conversation with your stylist and have her walk you through your wedding style.

2 Weeks Before:

  • Hydrate your body. All the products in the world won’t help if your body is filled with toxins. Be sure your skin is clear and glowing by drinking plenty of water, at least eight oz. on a daily basis.
  • Finalize beauty appointments. Make sure all your beauty appointments are booked. If you have to travel to them, make sure everyone knows the time you will be arriving and the time that you need to leave. (Push this time up by 15 minutes to be on the safe side.) If your Glam Squad is traveling to you, make sure you have an airtight schedule for you and your bridal party, so everyone knows exactly where they need to be.
  • Finalize your hair appointment. 
  • Keep eating right. You only have two more weeks to go; nix the salt and excess sugar and replace them with leafy green veggies and plenty of fruit.

1 Week Before:

  • Avoid too much alcohol. With all these pre-wedding festivities, I know this is going to be hard to do. But trust me, it’s worth it. Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum as not to shock your system. (Remember how well you’ve been doing for all these months.)
  • Have your final hair appointment. This is for those who have elected to have extensions for your wedding day. Remember some procedures (like micro link extensions) can take up to four hours. If you’re having your extensions custom colored, be sure to drop them off to your stylist the previous week. (This is where all those trials and appointments come into play.)
  • Have some time to yourself. Be sure to relax, as this can be the best—and most insane—week of your life. 
  • Get enough sleep. If you’re like most people, when you are sleep deprived it shows.
  • Combat this by getting at least six to eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Have another spa day. Get your facial, body treatment and massage. Now is also a good time to get your brows groomed.
  • Courtesy Calls/Emails. If you have beauty vendors booked, do one last courtesy call/email to make sure everyone is on the same page. And if you’re doing it yourself, convene with your bridesmaids so you can all help each other get beauty ready. Maybe you can even teach them what you learned at your one-on-one sessions.

1 Day Before:

  • Water… Water… Water… Did we say water? Okay, you get the point.
  • Professional manicure and pedicure. Don’t you just love all this pampering? Make sure your nails look beautiful while you’re showing off that ring on your big day. When getting your pedicure, opt for one with a foot massage, since you’ll be doing a lot of standing.
  • Do a hair treatment. I only recommend this to brides who are wearing their natural hair. If you opted to wear extensions of any kind, skip this step.
  • Take a relaxing bath. Today will be filled with last minute errands, family coming into town, rehearsal dinners and so much more. But through it all, you have to take that one hour and just exhale and relax.

The Day Of:

  • Eat!! So many brides skip having a meal, which causes fatigue. So be sure to have a well-balanced meal prior to getting ready. You need all your extra energy for that kiss and dancing the night away with your new hubby.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize. Be sure to use products you’ve already used before. Think back to our head to toe beauty regimen. If you’re someone who turns red after exfoliation, just use a gentle cleanser for face and skin this step.
  • Relax and luxuriate. Sip a well-deserved glass of champagne and enjoy all this hair and makeup treatment.
  • Don’t forget your emergency kit, and you’re all ready to go!

—B Wilson

B Wilson is a bridal beauty expert based out of Philadelphia, where she runs www.JustBBeautiful.com.