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Makeup

Dolphin Skin: the new beauty trend making a splash

July 16th 2020 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment

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Just-been-swimming wet-look skin is the big trend of summer 2020 – but doesn't it look a bit familiar?

We'd never thought Flipper would become a beauty icon, but 2020 has been full of surprises and the sheeny, shiny wet skin of a dolphin peeping its bottlenose through the waves is the look we're all after this summer, apparently.

Originally coined by US makeup artist Mary Phillips, who works with Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian, dolphin skin looks wet, glassy and silky smooth as everyone's favourite sea mammal. Mary tried out the look on Hailey Bieber at a BareMinerals photoshoot; she obviously looked perfection when made over as a dolphin, with slippery smooth cheeks and a rosy glow.

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"Your face should look like you just stepped out of the crystal clear ocean, gleaming and glistening," says Nick Lujan, global director of artistry for Kevyn Aucoin.

"Dolphin skin is hyper-glowing and youthful, super-plump and hydrated, with the makeup applied in sheer layers to keep dimension," adds makeup artist Lisa Caldognetto. "It looks effortlessly done but in actual fact, it takes an absolute full-symphony orchestra to achieve."

"It's all about building and enhancing dimension on the skin focusing on the high points such as the brow bones, the cupid's bow and most importantly, the cheekbones," says Lisa. You need to layer highlighter and coverage products to copy Flipper's complexion.

Queens of glistening makeup Iconic London created a Dolphin Skin Bundle, £49, with everything you need to create the slippery look; a sheer blush, illuminating highlighter drops and a seriously glowy setting spray.

If you ask us, dolphin skin sounds fairly similar to glass skin, the Korean skincare trend of 2017, the difference being that there are more steps to achieving dolphin skin – layers of iridescence and blush are needed to look like a dolphin (and you thought they were blue/grey) whereas glass skin was more about a dewy look than a wet look.

Any skin tone can rock the dolphin look, a glossy glowing complexion is universal.

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How to achieve the dolphin skin look

1. Start with an illuminating primer

You don't need flawless skin to get the look, you just need some seriously good skin prep, says Nora Zukauskaite of Lottie London. "Use a hydrating, illuminating primer to amp up your radiance, such as Lottie London's Coconut Primer, £7.96," she advises. We also rate Laura Mercier's Pure Canvas Illuminating Primer, £32.

2. Add a glow-giving foundation with highlighter drops.

Adding in liquid highlighter to your foundation at this stage really gets the glisten going. Avoid matte products like the plague with this look. Highlighter drops are a great option (hello, Iconic London), as is Benefit's High Beam, £15.50, when mixed in with foundation to get shine right from the get-go. Kevyn Aucoin's Glass Glow Face Highlighter, £26, is also a fab one to mix in with light foundations at this point.

Foundation wise you want something lightweight - Lottie London's Velvet Skin Tint Foundation, £9.95, blends nicely when mixed with highlighter.

3. Start layering your shine products

Once your base is in place start layering different textures (blush, balm and highlighter) onto the high points of your face; a variety of finishes will add depth to your shine and enhance dimension - think a pearlescent highlighter, followed by a clear balm such as Glossier's Original Balm Dotcom, £10, and a cream or gel blush for a youthful flush. Pat McGrath's Skin Fetish Highlighter and Balm Duo, £45, is a great thing to have in your kit here as it can be used for both the highlighting and the glisten-adding steps. Make sure your layers are seamlessly blended as you don't want to be able to see any edges of product.

4. Add a sheer finish

For the ultimate in dolphin skin, as a finishing touch press a very sheer amount of gel highlighter over the face in the areas you want to reflect the most light. Again, Kevyn Aucoin's Glass Glow Face Highlighter in Crystal Clear, £26, is a good option for this, or Glossier's Future Dew, £23.

Lisa suggests finishing with a clear layer of Dr Paw Paw, £6.95, for a final touch of water-look, followed by a facial spritz - we suggest Urban Decay's All Nighter Ultra Glow Setting Spray, launching this month.

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What not to use for dolphin skin

As well as avoiding matte products, sidestep highlighters that have large particle shimmer, advises Nick, as these will create more texture on the skin, defeating the smooth sheen you're trying to achieve.

Avoid glittery and shimmery highlighters too (luminous is better) and swerve setting sprays with alcohol in as this will dry everything out and defeat your skin goal. Super-rich creams should be avoided on dolphin days too, as they can make everything slide off.

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Do you need flawless skin in the first place?

Nope! If blemishes are getting in the way of slippery looking skin, it's simply a case of covering them up. "Even skin tone is essential for dolphin skin, so if you're concerned about your texture avoid applying anything iridescent in these areas as it can highlight it," advises Lisa. "Use a small brush to pinpoint cover blemishes. I love NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, £24, for normal to oily skin, or BareMinerals' BareSkin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer, £24, for dry skin."

MORE GLOSS: How to wear pastel makeup in the chicest way possible

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