Give Your Skin that Beautiful “Dolphin Skin” Sheen

November 18, 2021

The new “dolphin skin” trend has taken over the world, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want that gleaming, fresh-out-of-the-water look? You can achieve that beautiful dolphin skin glow with these dermatologist-recommended tips.

What is the Dolphin Skin Trend?

Picture a dolphin coming out of the water, with its skin glistening and glowing as the sunlight reflects off it. Now imagine your own skin with a similarly dewy, hydrated sheen. This is the “dolphin skin” look that everyone is raving about.

As our board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brandon Kirsch told HuffPost, “I think ‘dolphin skin’ is an appearance people have actively pursued for a long time, and now a name has developed as a way to provide techniques to achieve it.”

How To Achieve the Dolphin Skin Look

It’s possible to achieve the dolphin skin look using both good skin care and makeup products.

Skin Care

Getting a glowing complexion begins with exfoliation. Exfoliating your skin gets rid of dead skin cells and reveals the healthier, younger skin underneath.

“Using an exfoliant, like a retinol or [an alpha hydroxy acid], will really help shed the top layer of epidermis to make skin softer and more radiant,” says Dr. Kirsch.

However, it’s important not to overdo it. Both retinoids and exfoliation can be extremely drying to the skin, which may prevent you from achieving a hydrated sheen. Dr. Kirsch recommends using them in a measured approach and letting your skin build tolerance, as well as combining exfoliation with moisturization.

Moisturizing helps your skin look and feel hydrated and plump. Dr. Kirsch recommends using the “moisture sandwich” technique: apply moisturizer, then use your chosen retinoid, then add another layer of moisturizer on top. This will help to mitigate dryness and keep your skin freshly hydrated.

Here are some dermatologist-recommended skin care products to hydrate and brighten your skin.


Careful makeup application is the second step to getting the “dolphin skin” look. If your skin tends toward dryness, start with a luminous primer and foundation. If your skin tends toward oiliness, use a matte foundation and strategically add shine afterward to keep your complexion glowing, but not greasy.

A great way to set the foundation for your glowy look is to use a tinted sunscreen. Hydratint Pro Mineral Sunscreen SPF 36 by Alastin is an all-mineral, lightweight sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum coverage with an oil-free, universal tint, making it perfect for use as a makeup primer or in place of makeup. The EltaMD UV Glow Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 36 is another tinted, all-mineral, broad-spectrum sunscreen that instantly brightens and hydrates the skin for a dewy, luminous glow.

To finish off your look, it’s best to add shine to targeted areas to provide a beautiful gleam. Use either a cream or powder highlighter to bounce light off the bridge of the nose, between the brows, the temples, the chin, and the tops of the cheekbones. Adding a clear balm or gloss on top will give a true dolphin-like sheen.