Dolphin Skin Is the New Beauty Trend Flooding Your Social Feed. But…What Is It?

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From glass skin to yoga skin (yup, that’s a thing), there’s always a beauty trend making its way through our social feeds. But the newest one on the block has an unexpected inspiration source: dolphins. Yup, dolphins just became the influencers of 2020. Here’s everything you need to know about the new craze, including how to do it right at home.

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Ok, So What Is Dolphin Skin?

If you’re all for glowy skin with a luscious sheen, this beauty trend is for you. Coined by celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips (who has worked with celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner, to name a few), dolphin skin is all about pulling off a ”wet look,” similar to how a dolphin looks when it emerges from the water. You want to aim for shine and a silky-smooth finish to channel your inner, uh, dolphin, without having to dive into your nearest pool or beach.

Got It. So, How Can I Get The Look?

Any creamy, sheer or shiny beauty product (i.e. primers and blushes) will get the job done, but a good liquid highlighter is the real star. You want to come out as illuminated as possible without looking oily. But really nailing the look starts with your base, so keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized throughout the day is key. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.

1. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. “Regular exfoliation is key to a glowing complexion,” NYC board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King told PureWow. Prepare your skin by removing any dead skin cells so that your face is smooth and polished.

Get the exfoliator: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment ($24); Skinceuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub ($31); Moon Juice Acid Potion Resurfacing Exfoliator ($42) Goopglow Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator ($125)

2. After exfoliating, continue with your skincare routine. The key is finding a serum that contains hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or squalane. After applying a serum, grab a moisturizer that seals the serum underneath and maintains your skin’s moisture. And if you want an extra boost of shine (and a dewier finish), complete the routine with a face oil.

Get the hydration: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($7); CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum ($13); INNBeauty Project Next Level No BS Moisturizer ($28); Mara Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil ($72); La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizer ($190)

3. Next, start your makeup routine with a rich primer. Smoothing the surface will prep your skin for maximum dewiness throughout the rest of the process.

Get the primer: e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer ($8); Glossier Futuredew ($24); Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer ($30); Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer ($38)

4. Swap your matte foundation with a creamy or liquid formula—anything dull or powdery misses the mark. (Tip: Mix your foundation with your highlighter to really boost the glow.)

Get the foundation: L’Oreal True Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup ($13); bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick ($32); It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation ($39); Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint ($46)

5. Now, it’s time for higlighter. Reach for a high-shine liquid highlighter and don’t hold back on how much you layer. You’ll want to apply it along the highpoints (think: cheekbones, brow bones, cupid’s bow) so the light reflects off the skin in all the right places for a natural shine.

Get the highlighter: NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator ($7); Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter ($18); Glossier Niteshine ($20); CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops ($42); Marc Jacobs Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter ($42)

6. Keep the glow going with a sheer blush, illuminating bronzer and a glossy lip.

Get the blush: Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush ($20); Stila Convertible Color ($25); ICONIC London Sheer Blush ($26); Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek ($28); Perricone MD No Makeup Blush ($35)

7. Complete the look with a hydrating mist or setting spray. It’s important to reach for an alcohol-free spray that won’t dry out your makeup.

Get the setting spray: Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer Water ($15); Claudalie Beauty Elixir ($18); MAC Prep + Prime Fix + Prime and Setting Spray ($29); Lancome Fix It Forget It Setting Spray ($34)

How Is Dolphin Skin Different From Glass Skin?

The dolphin skin look definitely took inspo from the Korean skincare trend, but its focus on using makeup is the big difference. While they both strive for a smooth, luminous complexion, dolphin skin relies on a highlighter and blush combo to really achieve the sun-kissed glow, while glass skin is more about skincare.

Anything else I should know?

Since you’re achieving a naturally glistening look, avoid any mattifying products that might dry you out. Also, skip any glittery or shimmery products—since they’re clearly artificial, it takes away from the overall idea. It’s all about a creamy, dewy texture to make the trend work. And yes, anyone can get dolphin skin. You don’t need to have clear, “perfect” skin to try it out. So, what are you waiting for?

about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...