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When it comes to flawless, wedding-day skin, there's just one rule: what happens inside your body is just as important as what happens on the outside. The good thing is that, with a bit of thought and effort, you can balance your body's needs to make sure you walk down the aisle with gorgeous, naturally glowing skin.

So what can you do to make sure you don't spend the morning of your wedding painting on concealer? When you're working towards a perfect complexion - no matter what your skin type - it's important to think about what you eat. Food literally feeds your skin so opt for nutrient-packed foods that are as close to nature as possible to build strong, plump, firm skin cells. Having healthy skin means you've got less chance of developing spots, pimples, flakiness or trickier disorders such as eczema.

Well Oiled

Check your shopping list and strike off any hydrogenated (hardened) fats such as palm oil, and damaged fats such as margarine, both frequently used in processed foods. Eating too much of them can slow down cell renewal and lead to dull-looking skin. Replace these bad guys with beneficial vital oils such as olive, walnut and rape-seed oil. These natural skin-strengtheners are high in essential fatty acids and work from within to promote a smooth, healthy glow from top to toe. Use these plant oils liberally in both cooking and salad oil dressings. Essential fatty acids work well to improve skin tone so I advise taking at least a 150mg daily dose of GLA, which occurs naturally in evening primrose, blackcurrant seed or borage oils. Other skin-nourishing nutrients include vitamin E, an essential anti-oxidant that maintains overall skin health. This vitality vitamin is found in high-fat plant foods, such as avocados, olives and nuts, especially peanuts.

Feed Your Skin

If, like many newly engaged girls, you're watching what you eat in order to drop a dress size for the big day, you may be short-changing your skin! Remember, if you're eating less, you are also absorbing fewer nutrients and this can result in less radiant, rougher skin. A good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good insurance policy (with minimal calories). What you swallow it with is important too - caffeine in tea, coffee and soft drinks may bring a temporary lift, but in the long-term will deplete your body's B-vitamin supplies, which can give you rough, scaly patches of skin and a sallow tinge. Switch to herb teas, hot water with slices of ginger sweetened with honey and plenty of water to keep nutrient and hydration levels high. It's an old chestnut, but drinking one and a half liters of water each day does bring a glow and clarity to your skin that a cappuccino can never achieve!

Step To It

A brisk walk is one of the fastest ways to put a glow in your cheeks as well as releasing feel-good endorphins. Rather than a romantic stroll with your fiance, aim for at least 20 minutes at a sharpish pace to boost circulation. As blood flows around the body it carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, so speeding up this process will revitalise your skin. Continual movement also boosts the flow of fluids that carry away waste material from cells, helping to clear problem skin. Exercise helps to clear the mind as well as the skin and encourages better sleep patterns. Skin has been scientifically shown to repair itself while we slumber. The deeper we sleep, the more our skin can rest and renew. Aim for the optimum eight hours a night.

On The Spot

Sometimes even the best-laid plans go astray, especially with the fluctuating hormones and emotional ups and downs of the Big Day. With attention focused on you, then last thing you need to worry about is how you look. Break-outs are a bride's biggest beauty nightmare, but much less likely to happen if you've been eating well, taking vitamins, drinking plenty of water, exercising often and enjoying quality sleep. But should the worst happen, it's not too late to stop the spot!

The important thing is to take preventative measures before spots get a chance to break through the epidermis. Do this by mixing a blend of purifying essential oils and dabbing the area several times a day at the first sign of a blemish. Use equal quantities of tea tree, lavender and a rape-seed based oils. If you have a visible blemish, invest in a professional cream concealer such as Dermablend. A sample kit of colours costs £5 from www.garden.co.uk Cover with a light dusting of skin-toned setting powder to hide even the reddest marks. Using a skin-toned concealer on your chest is also useful for low necklines as wedding nerves can cause this area to flush.

Eye Spy

Hormonal upsets can lead to increased puffiness around your eyes - as can joyful tears. The best way to control this is to fill a basin with cold water and use a flannel to splash up and over each eye ten times, before patting dry with a soft towel. This boosts the delicate lymphatic system around your eyes and speeds up the removal of toxins that cause swelling. This technique is also useful for reducing dark, under-eye shadows and is a good way to 'wake-up' wedding-day eyes. Follow with a dab of nourishing eye cream that contains light-reflective particles to subtly conceal signs of tiredness, such as Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Daily Eye Repair, £10.50.

For serious radiance, pamper your face and neck with a daily massage using a pure plant-oil blend. Mix together a few drops of vitamin-rich plant oils and use light, circular, fingertip movements to work the oils into the skin before tissuing off any excess. The best blends for faces include Moroccan argan oil (one of the richest natural sources of vitamin E), organic rosehip oil (excellent for fading scars if used regularly) and apricot kernel oil (light enough for a daily massage). Add a drop or two of pure neroli essential oil, extracted from heavenly fragrant orange blossoms, for a visibly radiant glow.

Liz Earle, 'Brides' Jul/Aug 04

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