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What is dolphin skin? What to know about the viral beauty trend

Here's how to get the dewy look.
Woman touching her face while looking in the mirror
Getty Images

First, there was slugging. Now, there’s "dolphin skin," the latest animal-inspired beauty trend to make its way across our social media feeds.

Just as you might expect, the goal is to make your skin look as shiny and smooth as the marine mammals. "Dolphin skin is the ultimate glowy finish, as if you just stepped out of the water, and your skin is radiant, fresh and luminous in all of the right places," celebrity makeup artist Katie Mellinger told Shop TODAY.

Because of that, it's the perfect look for the summer. Makeup artist Cara Lovello added that it's a great choice for a pool or a beach party. "It doesn't look cakey, it's just light and fresh and people will wonder if it's a natural glow from your sunscreen," she said.

We asked the two makeup artists to walk us through the steps and the products that you can use to achieve a glowing “dolphin skin” look.

To prep

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24-Hour Miracle Cream

Making sure your skin is properly hydrated is key and Lovello said she likes this cream, which works as both a moisturizer and a primer. Suitable for all skin types, it nourishes, softens and protects skin with the help of ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera and beeswax.

Glossier Futuredew

After applying a face cream, Mellinger applies a glowing serum, like this one from Glossier, which she called "a power player for dewy skin."

NARS Radiance Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen

While the Embryolisse cream locks in moisture, this primer from NARS will help you get that radiant look that you’re after, Lovello said. The formula revives dull, tired skin to create the perfect canvas for your makeup look. Even better, it doubles as a sunscreen to provide SPF 35 protection.

For your base

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

You want to make sure to use a luminous foundation, and avoid anything matte or powdered, Mellinger said. "I use Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation, applying it with a damp sponge rather than a brush in order to achieve a sheer coverage," she added.

Ciaté London Dewy Skin Glass Glow Tint

For a cheaper alternative, Lovello also recommended this tint, which provides light coverage. It's made with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and yuzu and dragon fruit extracts.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

"I use concealer in the places that might need a little more coverage," Lovello said. "I like the NARS Radiance Concealer for that, it’s nice and lightweight."

Highlighter, contour and blush

Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Face Liquid Illuminator

After applying foundation, Mellinger applies a liquid highlighter to the highest areas of the face and anywhere else that needs an extra glow. "I use Kevyn Aucoin's Glass Glow Face and Body Gloss, dabbing it with my fingers to the tops of the cheek bones, down the bridge of the nose, just above the eyebrows, the cupid’s bow of the lip, and the inner corners of the eye," she said. "Avoid any areas where you don’t want to look too shiny, like the center of the forehead or the middle of the chin."

Kosas Color & Light Creme Blush

"Stay away from powder blushes as they will dampen your glow," Mellinger said. "Stick to cream blushes like the Color & Light Palettes by Kosas." To apply, tap color onto apples of your cheeks with your fingers and blend.

Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush

Lovello also likes this cream blush from Tower28. The shade that she suggested, Magic Hour, is currently out of stock, but she said that any light, pink or peach shades, "will always keep the skin looking sun-kissed and fresh."

GA-DE COSMETICS Velveteen Hydrating Foundation Stick

To contour, Lovello said that she likes to use a foundation stick. "It’s a lot easier to blend out and you don’t have to be as rough with the skin."

She uses this one on the cheekbones, forehead and outer areas of the face to add a touch of bronze. When selecting a foundation stick to use for contouring, Lovello said that the standard rule of thumb is to order a color three shades darker than your normal tone, though you can go even darker if desired.

NARS Highlighting Powder

Boost your glow even further by layering highlighters. Lovello applies this powder in the Fort de France shade. The lightweight powder seamlessly blends into your skin to provide subtle color and glow.

Benefit Cosmetics Cookie Powder Highlighter

This highlighter from Benefit Cosmetics will also do the trick, Lovello said. It's more pigmented than the above option, for a bolder look.

To finish the look

Ciaté London Everyday Vacay Coconut Setting Spray

Keep your makeup looking its best all day long with this setting spray, which Lovello said "smells amazing."

Kett Ultra Translucent Setting Powder

Mellinger, on the other hand, said she finishes the look with a translucent powder. "Nothing with added color to mess up all of your hard work," she added. She likes this one, which works for every skin tone.

For your body

Vita Liberata Body Blur

Your glow shouldn't stop at your face. That's why Lovello recommended this Body Blur Skin Finish, which provides a slight bronze and shine that will perfectly complement your makeup look.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50

Sunscreen is another quick way to get a glow, Lovello said. The lightweight formula will leave your skin with a light shine and is even water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, in case you actually want to take a dip in the pool.

Editor's note: Lovello's pick, the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Lightweight Sunscreen Spray, was recently recalled by Johnson & Johnson. We have updated this article with a similar option.

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