What is dolphin skin? A make-up artist breaks down the trend

Move over glass skin—dolphin skin is the latest complexion trend to take over Instagram

model with glowing skin
(Image credit: PeopleImages via Getty Images )

Move over glass skin, everybody's talking about dolphin skin in 2021. In short, this is a wet skin look that doesn't involve actually wet skin, but the ultra dewy make-up look that's all over Instagram and TikTok RN.

And although us mere mortals don't have access to a glam squad on the regular, thankfully one of our fave professional make-up artists is on hand with a quick how-to, so that you can recreate the trend yourself. 

Make-up artist Adeola Gboyega, UK Education & Artistry Manager for Pat McGrath Labs, has just shared a quick skin and make-up tutorial that'll give you dolphin skin in no time. Keep reading for her top tips...

What is the dolphin skin trend?

You know how silky smooth and shiny the skin of a dolphin is? As mentioned earlier, that's the inspo for this trend. The technique was popularized by make-up artist Mary Phillips, who makes up everyone from Hailey Bieber to Jennifer Lopez and Kendall Jenner.

"Dolphin skin Is the latest highlighting technique to give you smooth, plump and luminous skin, just like a dolphin," Adeola writes on Instagram, adding that it's "the latest trend for glowing skin". So, how do you recreate this glowing goodness for yourself, we hear you ask?

How to get dolphin skin

Read Adeola's top tips and watch her how-to video in full below.

  1. Exfoliate – "get those dead skin cells off, guys!"
  2. Hydrate – "go in with your favorite hydrating serum"
  3. Moisturize – "go in with a glowy moisturiser, love this stuff!"
  4. Foundation – "choose a radiant base; I mean, come on, look at my skin with this Pat [McGrath] foundation. It's everything!"
  5. Highlighter – "I recommend using a cream because it gives that skin-like luminosity"
  6. Lip balm – "which I absolutely love to use on my cheeks and lips"

Shop Adeola's Dolphin Skin products

Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate, $60, Sephora (UK £52, Lookfantastic)

A triple acid attack against dullness and dryness, this liquid exfoliant sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal a healthy-looking complexion.View Deal

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $75, Sephora (UK £60, Lookfantastic)

It's the stuff that sells 22 times per minute, this serum is hailed by many as the best in the business. View Deal

Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream, $65, Sephora (UK £60, Space NK)

Sunday Riley's CEO products have many a celeb fan, and this moisturizer brightens and evens out your complexion for a radiant finish.View Deal

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation, $68/£61, patmcgrath.com

Up there with the holy grail of foundations, this 36-shade, buildable formula has a silky finish for your best skin ever. View Deal

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Balm Duo, $48/£45, patmcgrath.com

Available in three different shades, think of this as a supermodel glow in stick balm form.View Deal

Who knew that 2021's beauty muse would be a creature of the deep?

BRB, off to perfect our dolphin skin routine...

Lucy Abbersteen
Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a beauty journalist who has written for titles including Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, InStyle and Woman & Home, and regularly contributes to My Imperfect Life. Most recently she was Junior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire. Covering skincare, haircare, make-up and wellbeing, her job involves anything from picking the brains of the world's top dermatologists to swatching the latest and greatest foundations. When she's not got beauty on the brain, you're most likely to find her spending time with dogs (her sister owns one very sassy cockapoo), reading or sleeping. She's also a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race, rosé and and house plants that stay alive.