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Glow on, try it: How to nail the 'dolphin skin' trend

Skin prep is key to creating that glossy, 'fresh-out-of-water' makeup look you've seen on runways around the world

03 October 2021 - 00:00 By
'Dophin skin' with extra sparkle at the Preen by Thornton Bregazzi show.
'Dophin skin' with extra sparkle at the Preen by Thornton Bregazzi show.
Image: Ki Price/WireImage

We're just about ready to pack up the year, retreat to a beach resort and call it a day.

Thankfully, the runways are on the same wavelength as “fresh-out-of-water” skin has become a welcome staple at the fashion shows such as Peter Do, Preen and Head of State.

Aquatic mammals and mystical marine life (think dolphins and mermaids) sparked the inspiration for the skin texture du jour: one that looks wet, vinyl-like and ultra-reflective with a superhuman glow.

At the Alexandra Moura show, the models' skin looked plump and elevated with touches of gloss slicked onto the lids and brows, as if the face had been submerged in water, complete with wave-tousled hair. The addition of smudged-up mascara mixing with gloss on lids and lower lash line added to the illusion.

At Schiaparelli, skin gleamed with a misted, all-over wet glow, finished off with teardrop-shaped rhinestones pasted on the face to catch the light. It's all about extra high-shine skin that looks multidimensional, with balmy touches of reflection on the high planes and an overall layer of moisture.


While this look is more about using makeup to create the finish, skin prep is key for flawless application — and for the skin to receive all the moisture and product layering to follow.

Follow these steps:


Prep the skin by using a chemical exfoliator containing glycolic acid or lactic acid which will gently remove dead skin cells while infusing the skin with moisture.

The 'dolphin skin' trend as seen at the Alexandra Moura.
The 'dolphin skin' trend as seen at the Alexandra Moura.
Image: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images


Spray the face with a hydrating mist to assist products to glide onto the skin and make formulas look more emollient.


Layer on a hyaluronic acid-rich moisturiser. Make sure to massage it well into skin so that it looks soaked in and balmy. Add a hydrating primer if you need extra moisture.


It's all about layering, so tap a cream highlighter or two onto the high points of the face — cheekbones, nose, sides of the forehead, brow bone and eyelids — to create a light reflective look on the skin.

For a colourless, high-shine gloss, opt for Vaseline or sunscreen on facial contours instead of a tinted highlighter.

If a minimalist approach is more your speed, finish off by applying cream highlighter, clear balm, gloss or a shimmer cream eyeshadow onto the ball of the eyelid to amplify that wet glow.



Textured, slightly messy lashes that look almost fused together can give visual interest to glossy eyes.

Start by curling the lashes with an eyelash curler, then apply two to three coats of mascara as you normally would, making sure to work it in from root to tip.

Using a small fan brush, dust some translucent loose powder on the lashes to create a buildable base.

Finish off by applying another coat or two of mascara to clump up the lashes.


At the Peter Do show, silver played a subtle but powerful role in accentuating the models' glowing skin and wet-look hair.

A hue gaining much popularity on the runways and red carpets, a flash of silver eyeliner, shadow or glitter — placed either in the inner corners or sparingly on the under eyes — gives enough glint to make the skin's glow come alive and emphasise the texture's aquatic roots.

Create and complete your 'dophin skin' look with these beauty buys.
Create and complete your 'dophin skin' look with these beauty buys.
Image: Supplied


  1. Benefit High Beam Highlighter Liquid 10ml, R3,952
  2. Sorbet Face First SPF15 Anti-Ageing Foundation + Serum 30ml, R200 
  3. MAC Prep & Prime Fix+ Mist Original 100ml, R3,904
  4. Huda Beauty Legit Lashes Mascara, R4,555
  5. Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Diamond Dust, R395 
  6. Revlon Super Lustrous Glass Shine Lip Color in Sparkling Quartz, R149