How to Get Dolphin Skin

There’s a reason glowing skin hasn’t gone out of style: beauty fads may come and go, but radiant skin is an important indicator of skin health. Lately, social media influencers have taken the idea to new levels: featuring a super-dewy look dubbed dolphin skin.

Time to test the waters (couldn’t resist) and try this TikTok and Instagram trend: read on, and we’ll show you exactly how to achieve dolphin skin.

A woman with glowing dolphin skin

What is dolphin skin?

The name says it all: dolphin skin is slick, plump and reflective — it almost looks like you’ve just emerged from the water. Though she doesn’t take credit for coining the term, the trend is commonly associated with celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips, whose clients include JLo and Kim Kardashian.

Fans of dolphin skin say it imparts a dewy, youthful glow that — when executed well — looks natural in person, and photographs beautifully.

What’s the difference between glass skin and dolphin skin?

These trends are quite similar: both strive for skin with a smooth, hydrated sheen. Here’s how they’re different:

  • Glass skin is originally a K-Beauty trend that features super-smooth, poreless, luminous skin achieved through skincare.
  • Dolphin skin is originally an American makeup technique that features a next-level, almost “wet” looking glow.

How do you get dolphin skin?

Any professional makeup artist will tell you that a flawless look begins with healthy, radiant skin. A smooth, clean complexion provides the perfect canvas for creating dewy, reflective dolphin skin — here’s how to do it.

What makes skin glow

We’ve talked about glowing skin before — and it really comes down to two main factors:

  • Healthy skin: this means skin is functioning optimally — it’s hydrated and moisturised, and protected from damaging inflammation.
  • Fresh, young skin: a buildup of old, dead cells on the skin’s surface doesn’t reflect light well, whereas skin with a robust cell turnover creates a smoother surface.

Skincare you need for dolphin skin

Sticking to a consistent skincare routine that follows a cleanse, treat, moisturise philosophy customised for your skin’s needs will help achieve that radiant glow. Here are a few of Dr. Sandra Lee’s favourite ingredients for the job:

Skin Drink and Salicylic Acid Cleanser for dolphin skin prep by SLMD Skincare

Steps for creating the dolphin skin look

As we mentioned earlier, achieving dolphin skin requires a combination of the consistent skincare routine we just talked about, plus a specific series of steps.

Step 1: Cleanse with a mild chemical exfoliating face wash, then apply a hydrating serum and moisturiser (try SLMD Skincare Facial Moisturizer, plus sunscreen for day).

Step 2: Swipe a light-diffusing primer or liquid highlighter along the cheekbones and bridge of your nose.

Step 3: Apply a thin layer of illuminating foundation over your entire face. For even more glow, mix in a drop or two of Skin Drink.

Step 4: Blend a neutral cream blush onto cheeks.

Step 5: Add a second layer of non-shimmer highlighter along the cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, the brow bones, and cupid’s bow.

Step 6: Finish with a very light layer of translucent powder to set, and a swipe of nude gloss on the lips.

Dr. Lee’s last word

I’m all in favor of these social media trends that are embracing the look of healthy, radiant skin. It all starts with great skincare: when you follow a simple cleanse, treat, moisturise philosophy, your best skin is certainly within reach. When creating trendy makeup looks like dolphin skin, just make sure you use non-comedogenic cosmetics, and ALWAYS remove it all before you go to bed.

—Dr. Sandra Lee


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