Everything you need to know about dolphin skin

We take a dive into the beauty trend making waves right now. From glossy skin to amped up highlighting, it’s time to get wet, wet, wet!

Hair & Beauty

A radiant complexion is always in fashion. In 2020 it was all about achieving ‘glass skin.’ This year? Well, there’s a new highlighting technique taking over Instagram - and it’s called ‘Dolphin skin.’ This super-smooth glossy look combines both the art of skincare and savvy make-up tricks to create a wet-look, glowing complexion. So, let’s go back to the drawing board with our highlighters and take on the beauty trend that’s making a big splash.

How to get dolphin skin

Aptly named after Dolphins because of their smooth and reflective skin, this trend is all about achieving a “luminous, glistening, fresh-out-ofthe- water make-up look” says Mary Phillips, the A-list celebrity make-up artist who named the look after seeing it all over social media.

Dolphin skin

An adaptation to the 2017 Korean skincare trend that had complexions looking almost wet, the key to nailing this look is to ensure that the skin is really smooth and to layer up your make-up for a multidimensional glow. It’s not just about adding a touch of highlighter at the end of your makeup application, but using each layer to achieve hyper-radiant results. “Your face should have a heightened natural glow that doesn’t look oily,” says Pat McGrath artistry manager Adeola Gboyega. “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.”

Following on from our feature Melanin Drip, a glossy and glowing complexion is universal and can be carried off by all skin tones. So whatever your usual go-to make-up look, here’s how to achieve gorgeous, glowing skin in 2021...

Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate
Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate (£52)


It is important that you don’t skip this step, as exfoliating will help create a silky soft, smooth skin look. Opt for a chemical exfoliator, such as the Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate (£52), which is a gentler way to exfoliate without causing irritation. This formula will gently dissolve any dead skin cells or build-up and result in a smoother look with even texture.

Estée lauder Advanced Night Repair
Estée lauder Advanced Night Repair (£60)


One of the key features of this look is a plump and hydrated appearance. A moisturiser alone will only sit on the top layer of the skin, so invest in a hydrating serum for optimum results. A good one will contain hyaluronic acid and control the secretion of sebum so the skin’s surface is hydrated but not too oily. The Estée lauder Advanced Night Repair (£60) will help plump and smooth out your skin while you sleep.

Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum
Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum (£35)


A glow-enhancing serum is also an important step as it will help to boost brightness and radiance while creating a smooth base for makeup. The Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum (£35) contains all the must-haves including vitamin C to counteract dullness. Use as a primer to allow make-up to glide on effortlessly.

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish
Pat McGrath Skin Fetish (£60)


A base with added skincare benefits is an easy way to achieve a radiant complexion. Formulas that combine make-up with skincare are a great option because not only do you get a fresh-faced finish, but the quality of the skin will improve over time too. Look out for lightweight formulas that are breathable, as it’s better to apply a thin, even layer of foundation and add coverage where needed. Bases with diamond powder are fantastic for brightening and providing a soft-focus effect to minimise the appearance of imperfections. We recommend Pat McGrath Skin Fetish (£60).

Uoma Double Take Contour
Uoma Double Take Contour (£34.50)


Adding a highlighter will enhance your complexion and create glowing skin instantly. Apply the highlighter to the areas of the face that you’d like to bring forward such as the cheekbones, browbones and bridge of the nose. Not only does highlighter add an extra dimension, but it also serves as a way to brighten up a dull complexion. The Uoma Double Take Contour (£34.50) stick is dual-ended with a highlighter to add luminosity as well as a transparent balm to accentuate and create a dewy, wet skin look.

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush (£19)

Add some colour

Use a cream blusher such as Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush (£19) to finish off the look and add some colour. A cream blusher will give your skin a natural flush, however to really glisten, add a clear layer of lip balm. This will really finish off your ‘just-emerged-from-the-water’ look. Lastly, set everything in place with a facial spritz so your masterpiece doesn’t slide off.

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