Grab your flounder fish and singing crab besties (we all have them, right?) and swim out into the ocean with mermaid skin, a gorgeously shimmery trend that makes you look every bit as beautiful as Ariel emerging from the depths in that sparkly gown at the end of The Little Mermaid.
Mermaid skin is an emerging beauty trend inspired in part by wet look “shower makeup,” where users drench themselves in ultra-dewy skincare and makeup to look as though they’ve just stepped out of a long, refreshing shower, as well as the fact that mermaidcore is set to be one of the biggest trends for 2023. It takes the viral glazed donut skin trend popularized by Hailey Bieber one step further, building on the ultra-dewy and shimmery editorial makeup we've seen in photoshoots and magazine spreads with lots of ethereal, otherworldly shimmer as though you, too, are an enchanted creature who lives amidst the coral reef and swims with the dolphins.
Dewy, sparkly makeup never really goes out of style, though matte, ‘90s-style makeup looks do steal the spotlight on occasion, and definitely deserve a spot in your beauty routine too. But when you’re dreaming of something straight out of a fairytale, mermaid makeup bumps up the sparkle to a fantastical level and is the perfect way to channel your childhood dress-up days into a stunningly shimmery reality.
How to Get Mermaid Skin
TikTok user and makeup artist Zoe Kim Kenealy broke down the mermaid skin effect in a how-to video, saying that the key to the look is to create patches of glitter or shimmer where there would traditionally be scales—a la the Rainbow Fish of childhood literature lore. “The goal of mermaid skin is to make your skin look like it’s glimmering or shimmering on its own,” she explains. Zoe uses about-face’s Fractal Glitter Eye Paints ($16) to craft her mesmerizing mermaid skin and eyes, specifically calling out the oceanic teal shade All About the Benjamins. The paints have a mousse-like texture so they’re easy to apply with your fingers and melt into skin, and the shimmery, multidimensional pearlescent glitter finish captures the light in the most beautiful way. Another TikTok user, Delsin DePuy, used a gorgeous spread of near-holographic pastel and jewel-tone shimmers from Byredo for a truly otherworldly “siren skin” look.
If you’re loving the Ariel-esque look and want to recreate it on your own, look for products with a creamy, buildable finish or microfine sparkle, not a heavy or chunky glitter gel. Mermaid skin is all about that dewy, wet-look texture, so prep the skin with lightweight, radiant finish serums and primers to really maximize that sea siren glimmer.
As for makeup, your selection is truly as wide and vast as the ocean. For an all-over wet looking glow, start with an illuminating serum like the Isamaya SkinLacq ( $78) before patting on a shimmer in more concentrated areas. The Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact ($52) is one of the OGs of shimmer with a superfine formula that lights up your face like the sun on ocean waves.
For a sparklier look, trust TikTok and reach for the Urban Decay 24/7 Moondust Glitter Eyeshadow ($24), which is easy to apply with your finger and gives skin and eyes the most beautiful wash of sparkle without looking chunky. For an extra glittery finish, try Make Up For Ever’s Star Lit Diamond Powder ($26), which can be applied with your fingers or a brush or mixed into moisturizer depending on how much shimmer you’re looking for. Then swim away, you beautiful sea creature.