When a More senior editor received an invite to her 20-year college reunion, she joked that while she didn’t have time to impress her former classmates by winning a Pulitzer, she did have a few weeks to get her hair, skin and teeth in better shape. So she mapped out a pre-event prep plan that included a haircut and color, a light chemical peel, at-home teeth whitening and, closer to the date, a manicure, pedicure and light spray tan (to leave her looking relaxed and healthy). “I didn’t do much that I wouldn’t normally have done”—except the peel and the tan, which were the beauty director’s idea—“but I timed it to all come together right before the reunion,” she says. The result? “That weekend I felt as if I looked like me, but on my best day.”
How good we feel about ourselves may be an important component of how good we look, says Judith Sills, PhD, a Philadelphia psychologist. Pre-event primping instills confidence, she explains, enabling us to show up at a potentially nerve-racking occasion with our best face on (literally). “Confidence just comes easier when your roots aren’t showing, your middle isn’t sagging over your jeggings and your hairstyle isn’t the same as it was in 1972,” says Sills. So to look—and feel—great on a day that really matters, choose the strategy that best fits your time frame.
YOU'VE GOT SIX MONTHS
Sure, it’s early in the game, but if you’re super busy, super organized or just someone who lives by her Outlook or iPhone calendar, it’s never too soon to get started.
You can improve your complexion a lot in half a year, says Cheryl Karcher, MD, a New York cosmetic dermatologist and consultant for Avon. In the hands of a skilled doctor—equipped with an arsenal of lasers—fine lines, uneven skin tone, acne scars, broken blood vessels, leg veins and even sunspots can all be virtually erased in four to six months. For best results, most of the aforementioned conditions require four to six sessions—at $500 and up per session—so you need six months to prep. Go to plasticsurgery.com or aad.org to find a certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist with a specialty in lasers. For subtler skin improvement (with a lower price tag), you can also up the ante on your daily skin-care regimen and incorporate vitamin A (aka a retinoid) if you aren’t already using it. It will take three to six months to see the skin-rejuvenating results. Ask your dermatologist for a prescription-strength retinoid like Retin-A or Renova, or pick up an over-the-counter formula such as SkinCeuticals Retinol NightCream in 0.5 ($54; skinceuticals.com).
Give your stylist the heads-up on your big event so together you can figure out how to use your time well—by growing out a cut you dislike, for example, or getting unhealthy hair in better condition. If you want to experiment with a major color change, like going from dark to light or swapping a warm tone for a cool one, this long lead time is ideal, because it allows you to get used to the new look while also giving you a chance to reverse course if the new color is not for you, says Kyle White, senior colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon in Manhattan.