As your wedding day approaches, you may be contemplating a few personal improvements—smoother skin, sleeker contours, fuzz-free extremities, or even longer, fuller locks. No matter what you’re contemplating, our experts are unanimous on one point: The closer you get to your wedding date, the less you should try to do, especially if you’re considering anything more permanent than a new shade of lipstick.
Consider the cautionary tale of one bride who decided, the day before her wedding, that she’d look better with a little color. Slathering herself in an “extra dark” sunless tanner, she found herself, just a few hours later, a blotchy shade of orange. She spent the night before her wedding in the shower with lemon halves and coarse salt (removal tips courtesy of a resourceful bridesmaid), desperately trying to bleach and scrub the stuff off. She was mostly successful, but it was a close scrape in more ways than one. The hard-learned lesson of this and many other bridal beauty disasters: have a plan, know the worst-case scenario, and allow plenty of time to tweak the results.
To help you plan for a triumphant march down the aisle, we consulted some of Westchester’s leading experts and asked, “In her quest for picture-perfect beauty, what should a bride-to-be do and when should she do it?”
Long, Richly Colored Hair
Experts: Victor Tripaldi, Artistic Director, and Tracy LaSala, Senior Stylist and Extension Technician Richard Scott Salon & Spa
15-17 S. Moger Ave., Mount Kisco
(914) 242-1700, www.richardscottsalon.com
“Brides typically don’t want big changes right before their wedding,” says Victor Tripaldi of Richard Scott Salon & Spa. “They usually wait until after they’re married to try out a new hair color or a radically different hairstyle.” And that’s a good thing—especially in regard to color. “Some color changes can be very difficult to undo,” cautions Tripaldi. “The most you should do is add some highlights or richer tones to enhance your current shade.”
When it comes to hair length, however, a dramatic change could yield very positive results. “What every bride wants is long hair because it’s perceived as romantic and it gives you more options with updos. I’ve never had a bride come to me and say, â€˜Please chop it all off.’” If you’d like longer, thicker locks, hair extensions can provide what nature and time deny.
“We can do extensions that clip on and can be removed immediately or more permanent extensions that will last for about three or four months,” says Senior Stylist Tracy LaSala. More permanent extensions consist of strands of human hair that are bonded onto your own with a keratin-based glue and must be removed by a professional. “If you want extensions, you should get them a few weeks before your wedding,” LaSala advises. “Hair has to be ordered in colors that match your own so you’ll need to allow a few days. And if you have the more permanent extensions done, it’ll take some time to get used to them and learn how to care for them properly.”
Goal: Surgical Sculpting
Expert: Philip Bonanno, MD, Director
Institute of Aesthetic Surgery & Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital
400 E. Main St., Mount Kisco
(914) 242-7622, www.nwhc.net
Although Dr. Philip Bonanno says he sees more mothers of brides coming in for facial rejuvenation, it’s not unusual for him to see brides in search of a little work.
“Brides usually come in to inquire about liposuction after they’ve had their first gown fitting,” says Dr. Bonanno. “Less frequently, they’ll inquire about a tummy tuck or breast augmentation.” If you’re considering either liposuction or breast augmentation, “it would be ill-advised to do anything closer than three months to the wedding day,” Dr. Bonanno says.“The longer you have to recuperate, the better the results. You’re really talking about a minimum of four months before the wedding or, ideally, six months or longer.”
Recuperation time from a tummy tuck depends on your age, the extent of the surgery, and the elasticity of your skin. “If you’re under thirty-five and it’s a â€˜mini tuck,’ recovery time is about the same as it would be for liposuction or breast augmentation [about four months],” says Dr. Bonanno. “If you’re over thirty-five, have had a child, or had substantial weight loss, you might need a â€˜formal abdominoplasty,’ and that requires nine months to fully recuperate.”
Expert: Rhoda S. Narins, MD
The Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center
222 Westchester Ave.
“The most common procedures we offer for brides under age thirty-five include Botox, acne treatment, acne scar correction, and microdermabrasion or light TCA glycolic peels for smoother, softer skin,” says Rhoda Narins, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical School and director of The Dermatology Center in White Plains. Botox for this young an age group? “Yes, it’s a great preventative treatment, especially for women who have a hereditary predisposition for deep frown lines,” Dr. Narins explains. “If we treat them early with Botox, the lines won’t form. Botox can also give the eyebrows a great arch, giving the whole face a lifted, more sculpted, yet natural look.” Older brides can benefit from a host of rejuvenating facial treatments including wrinkle fillers, like Restylane, for the “marionette” lines below the mouth and the nasolabial lines at the sides and above the mouth, to V-beam laser treatment for broken blood vessels and IPL (intense pulsed light) for brown and red spots.
Some brides don’t limit themselves to correcting skin imperfections. “We also see brides for safe liposuction using local anesthetic, both on the body and neck,” Dr. Narins reports. “I’ve treated rock stars who have seen a picture of themselves in profile and recognized their grandmother’s neck staring back at them. Doing some lipo on the neck makes a big difference in photos. You can go back to work in two to three days. We also do lip augmentation for brides with Restylane. You get a subtle result—not huge lips, just a little definition. It can also even out uneven lips.”
According to Dr. Narins, here’s how many days, weeks, or months you’ll need before your wedding for her most popular treatments:
â€¢ Acne treatment using the drug Accutane: At least eight months.
â€¢ Acne scar correction using CO2 laser treatments and injectable fillers: At least four to six months.
â€¢ Liposuction on neck: Looks good immediately and gets even better in three months.
â€¢ Temporary skin smoothing and softening with microdermabrasion or a light TCA peel: A series of six treatments done in two- to four-week intervals. If you’re doing just one treatment, have it done five days before your wedding.
â€¢ Botox: If you’ve never had it before, do it a few months in advance to gauge your reaction and then once again about one month before the wedding. The effects of Botox peak about three weeks after treatment and last approximately three months.
â€¢ Lip augmentation with Restylane: About a month in advance is ideal but, since the injections can cause bruising, you’ll need a two-week window for recovery. The results last for approximately six months.
â€¢ V-beam laser treatment for broken blood vessels and IPL for brown and red spots: Two to three weeks.
Goal: Fuzz-Free Limbs
Expert: Brigida Favata, Manager
12 Chase Rd., Scarsdale
Whether you want perfectly bare arms to accessorize that strapless gown or a clean, bump-free bikini line to go with that honeymoon swimsuit, you’ll want laser hair removal. Unlike wax, which only temporarily removes the hair and can lead to red, bumpy ingrowns more unsightly than the hair they replaced, lasers permanently reduce hair growth and leave skin perfectly smooth.
“We use the Epilight IPL [intense pulsed light] system,” says Brigida Favata of Completely Bare. “It’s FDA-approved for permanent reduction and can be used to treat all skin types. Unfortuntaely, it doesn’t work on blonde, white, or gray hair because the laser can’t distinguish between the hair and the surrounding skin.” According to Favata, most clients start with their bikini line and underarms. “When they start to see results, they typically want their arms, legs, and areas on the face done, too.”
Regardless which area you’d like to bare, Favata says you’ll need to space your treatments about four to six weeks apart. “Although there’s no redness or downtime, the method only works on hair that’s in its active growing phase, so you can’t get all the hair in one treatment. In fact, unlike with waxing, you won’t notice all the hair falling out immediately after one treatment. Two weeks later, you’ll notice the hair slipping out of its follicle.”
Does it hurt? Favata compares the sensation to rubber bands snapping against the skin. While hardly lethal, a Brazilian (no hair down there) is a less-than-comfy prospect. But when you’re done with all your laser sessions, you can treat yourself to something far naughtier than a lollipop: A $30 Swarovski crystal tattoo to adorn your hairless self. “We sell a lot of those to brides,” notes Favata.
Prices for laser treatments depend on the area to be treated. Larger areas, like legs, cost $185 per 15-minute session. A basic bikini-line treatment costs $200 to $385 per session, depending on the amount of hair to be removed. Packages of six sessions range from $1,000 to $1,925.
Goal: A Perfect Smile
Expert: Ira J. Handschuh, DDS
The Dental Design Center
280 Dobbs Ferry Rd.
White Plains (914) 683-5898
“You’ll never smile more than on your wedding day,” observes Dr. Ira Handschuh, “so if you’re unhappy with your smile, now is the time to fix it.” He recommends that at least six months before your wedding, you visit a cosmetic dentist for a thorough consultation.
If you and your dentist conclude that whitening will take your smile to its maximal wattage, Dr. Handschuh advises that you schedule your treatments (depending on your teeth and the method you choose, you may require multiple applications) to conclude about a month before the wedding. “You want to get to maximum whitening and then let the color die down to a more realistic shade,” he says. Unfortunately, whitening can’t help everyone achieve a perfect smile. “If you have antibiotic-stained teeth, you may want to explore veneers,” says Dr. Handschuh. “Porcelain laminate veneers can also correct misshapen, stained, poorly shaped, or crooked teeth. In just two visits, veneers can make it look like you’ve gone through years of orthodontics.” The bad news is that veneers don’t come cheap: Dr. Handschuh estimates a cost of $1,500 per tooth.
If veneers are beyond your reach, you might consider bonding, sculpting highly polished, plastic-like material onto the tooth surface, which costs $200 to $600 per tooth.
Goal: Lose 10 Pounds
Expert: Yours truly, Catherine Censor, Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant
Let’s skip the why and cut straight to the how-to. First, you’re going to need to give yourself plenty of time. A pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories. That means you’ll need to burn 500 calories more than you take in every single day to lose just one pound a week. And with a social calendar packed with cake-tastings, showers, dinner with the future in-laws, etc., you’re going to need to build in some slack. How much time it will take you to reach your goal depends on many factors, but, to be on the safe side, give yourself three months or more.
Next, let’s talk diet. To estimate the number of calories you need to lose weight, multiply your current weight by a factor of 13 to 15 (13 if you’re sedentary, 14 if your job keeps you on your feet or you work out a couple of times a week, 15 if you’re a gym regular). The product is the number of calories you need daily to maintain your current weight. To lose a pound a week, subtract 500 fewer calories a day but don’t go below 1,200. Most nutritionists agree that 50 percent of your calories should be from complex carbs (mostly non-starchy vegetables), 25 percent from protein, and 25 percent from fat.
If you don’t think you can handle the stress of calorie counting and portion control, consider having someone else do it for you: Zone Chefs (call 800-906-5927 or visit www.zonechefs. com) delivers freshly prepared, nutritionally balanced, pre-portioned meals right to your doorstep for $39.99 per day. Nutrisystem (call 800-321-THIN or visit www.nutrisystem.com) offers a similar service for about a third of the cost but their food is typically either instant or shelf-stable and it hardly qualifies as gourmet.
Finally, to get the results you want, you’ll need to exercise. Cardio is the most effective means of burning off fat and calories. Aim for 45 minutes of aerobic activity at least five days a week. Any mode of exercise will do the job—treadmill, dance class, spinning, etc. You just need to make sure you’re working hard enough to burn maximal calories, but not so hard that you can’t sustain the effort. On a scale of one to 10 where one is sitting on the couch and 10 is running from a burning building, you want your effort to fall between six and eight.