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Bridal Boot Camp

Before and After Bridal Skin Bootcamp

Chronicling one bride’s journey to a healthy glow.

By Caroline Cunningham Before photo by Lauren Joseph, after photo by Documentary Associates.

After sharing about Blush Med Skincare’s bSKIN bridal plan to help brides’ skin look wedding-day ready, we sent out Vanessa McDonald (formerly Schutz), Washingtonian account executive and bride-to-be, to try out the services over the months leading up to her wedding on February 14, 2015. The bSKIN bridal bootcamp can run for three, six, or twelve months at a time, depending on the preferences or needs of the bride, for $59 a month. To test the services, McDonald participated in eight treatments over six months, planned by Blush Med Institute founder and medical director Dr. Arleen Lamba.

Treatment 1: Core Microderm Face

The first treatment took place on September 23. After Lamba had evaluated McDonald’s face, an aesthetician began the first stage by removing dead skin cells from the surface of McDonald's skin. “They use a tool that almost acts as a vacuum to remove dry and dead skin, so you are left with a layer of healthy skin,” says McDonald. “My face felt incredibly soft.”

Removing the dead skin cells as the first step was “important because many times people tend to get facials without doing an appropriate level of exfoliation first, so the heavy facial creams sit on the surface of our skin, clogging further these dead layers which in turn leads to breakouts,” says Lamba.

Treatment 2: Enzyme Facial with a Microdermabrasion

McDonald returned on October 21 for a facial that included microdermabrasion. “We utilized enzymes found naturally in fruits such as pomegranates and pineapples to help brighten her skin tone,” says Lamba. "The microdermabrasion utilized in this procedure was done to polish the skin and to smoothen it and increase blood flow to the surface.”

After leaving her second procedure, McDonald said she could feel the difference. “I once again left with incredibly soft skin, and this time I noticed that my skin was actually glowing and felt healthy and hydrated.”

Treatment 3: Core Microderm Face and Core Chemical Peel-Glycolic

For her third procedure on November 18, McDonald experienced a chemical peel after a round of microdermabrasion. "The goal of combining the chemical peel and microdermabrasion is to help exfoliate deeper to get rid of sun damage and impurities that build up,” says Lamba. After once again removing a layer of dead skin from the surface of her face, the chemical peel was applied.

“The peel burned for 30 seconds or so when applied, but then it settled down,” says McDonald. “It was only left on my face for a few minutes since it was my first peel, and I didn't notice any major redness or irritation afterward.” Following the appointment, McDonald says the soft, healthy glow lasted for about a week. “I also use a Clarisonic which helps extends the benefits of the treatments by exfoliating as well,” she says.

Treatment 4: Core Facial Blushing Experience

For the fourth treatment on December 18, Lamba focused on hydration, using the center’s all-natural “maintenance facial” that can be done monthly. “The facial included cleaning the skin, light extractions, exfoliating, and finishing off with a mask. My face felt clean, and I hated to put makeup back on the skin the next morning because it was so nice,” says McDonald. “It was the perfect time of year for a relaxing facial as well with all of the craziness of wedding planning coming to a head.”

Treatment 5: Core Microderm and Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

On January 13, one month out from her wedding, McDonald received another round of microdermabrasion to remove dead skin cells. This time, the focus was on evening out her skin tone. Following an extraction of her nose to eliminate any clogged pores, McDonald sat beneath a skin rejuvenation light. “The goal of the Red Light Therapy is to decrease inflammation in the skin,” says Lamba. “We also use the Red Light Therapy to prevent any breakouts by killing acne-causing bacteria and decrease redness in the skin.”

McDonald walked out with a smooth, soft face. She was pleased that while she was with family over the holidays, they noticed a change in her skin. “Even my older sister kept commenting on how great my skin looked,” said McDonald. “I know that the treatments and my own skin care regime are really paying off.”

Treatment 6 & 7: Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

A week later, on January 20, McDonald headed to the center for a quick 25-minute session of Red Light Therapy, a treatment that can be scheduled multiple times in the last month leading up to the wedding for $20 a month. “It's kind of like tanning--goggles and all--without the heat radiating from the lights,” says McDonald. According to Lamba, the acne-fighting properties of the light are intended to keep a bride from breaking out in the weeks before her wedding as the stress mounts. To maintain the effects, McDonald returned on January 27 for another 25 minutes beneath the lights.

Treatment 8: Core Facial Blushing Experience and Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

On February 3, a week and a half before her wedding, McDonald returned for another facial and red light treatment. “The Blushing Facial was done to gently exfoliate and hydrate, and we follow with Red Light Therapy to achieve a lasting bridal glow,” says Lamba. After completing her final pre-wedding procedure, McDonald was ready to walk down the aisle with clear, healthy skin.

Overall, McDonald found the experience to be very positive. "They had the friendliest customer service," says McDonald. "There was never an attempt to sell me on things I didn't need, which I've experienced at other places." With the easy of online scheduling of appointments and the efficiency of the treatments, McDonald has decided to sign up for another year of Blush Med Skincare treatments to keep her skin glowing through her first year of marital bliss.

More information on the bSKIN bridal plan can be found on Blush Med Skincare’s website.

Bridal Boot Camp

Get Glowing Skin For Your Wedding Day

Bluemercury founder Marla Beck developed an easy-to-follow bridal beauty routine for Washingtonian readers, guaranteed to leave you with radiant skin

By Samantha Miller

The last thing any bride wants to think about on her wedding day is how to conceal a monstrous blemish. Luckily, we chatted with Marla Beck, the blond bombshell behind one of Washington’s most luxurious skin care stores, Bluemercury.

“The whole goal of a bride is to have smooth, healthy, glowing skin,” Beck says. And to achieve that enviable I-just-woke-up-looking-this-way effect, she recommends adopting a beauty routine five months before the big day.

First thing’s first: See a specialist. “I would advise going to see a spa esthetician that can get you on a regular routine to treat any issues,” she says. That way, reoccurring problems like acne or hyperpigmentation can be treated with prescription-grade creams. After that, it’s time to embrace the big “e”—exfoliation.

“Exfoliating gets rid of the dead surface cells and brings out the new skin. And if you do that three times a week for the five months—or even three months—before your wedding, you’ll see new skin.” To start, Beck recommends using (1) Cane + Austin’s Retexturizing Treatment Pads, a one-step, at-home glycolic treatment that gently sweeps away dead skin. The pads are gentle enough to use three times a week—every day if your skin is a bit tougher. But if chemical exfoliants make you nervous, (2) REN’s Micro Polish Cleanser is a popular alternative.

On the down side, glycolic treatments and exfoliants can make your skin more susceptible to burning, so be sure to slather on the sunscreen (which you should be doing anyway—ahem). Beck suggests (3) ReVive’s SPF 45, an emollient lotion that protects against UVA and UBA rays.

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Bridal Boot Camp

Welcome to Bridal Boot Camp

By Marissa Conrad
You can sort of see me in the mirror, struggling along!
I’ve done some crazy things in the name of journalism before (hopping a fence at a John Kerry rally to get an interview; trick-or-treating at Maureen Dowd’s house), but nothing comes close to this one: Eight weeks of “bridal boot camp”—an exercise class geared toward brides-to-be—at Sport & Health in McLean (1800 Old Meadow Rd.; 703-556-6550). On Saturday mornings. At 7 AM.

The Fit-Brides program—there’s also a resistance class on Tuesdays and a Pilates class on Thursdays, both at 6:30 PM—attracts brides such as Michelle Pycior, who started the first four-week session on Saturday and is getting married in October at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg. “I’m pretty healthy already as far as exercise and food,” she says, “but I just want to be a little more toned all over.” Her wedding dress is sleeveless with thick straps—perfect for showing off defined arms. Keep Reading ...

Bridal Boot Camp

Bridal Boot Camp: I Hear the Clock, It's 6 AM

By Marissa Conrad
Michelle and her fiancé, Mike, at their engagement party.
If you subscribe to this blog’s e-newsletter (and if you don’t, you should probably get on that), you read two weeks ago that I’ve pulled the (crazy? awesome?) move of joining a 7 AM Saturday workout class for brides. Yes, that means waking up at 6. I, however, am not as crazy or awesome as most of the women in the Fit-Brides program, who also have committed to Tuesday and Thursday evening classes.   

So how are things going? Michelle, who’s getting married in October, is one for two on her goals so far:

“The first week of class was tough. I was sore every day! I’m glad I committed to the program though. Now I’m not as sore, but the classes are still a challenge. Keeping the commitment to attend each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday is even more challenging. Since high school I have always made a point to get some kind of exercise, but I’ve been a yo-yo about it at best. That’s my first goal—to develop a habit of exercising regularly—and it’s going really well.
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