Make a splash with mermaid 'siren skin' and wet-look hair – here’s how to get the look

By Fiona Embleton

Getty, Gucci S/S23.

Ethereal, gleaming mermaid skin is doing the rounds on the runways and TikTok – paired with ever fashionable wet-look hair, prepare to channel Ariel from The Little Mermaid

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Our obsession with mermaids is only gaining steam. First came the now-viral teaser of Disney’s upcoming remake of The Little Mermaid; hot on its heels came the spring/summer 2023 catwalks, which shaped up to be all about dewy shimmer, oceanic hues and aquatic hair.

Their sheer prevalence at the shows, coupled with a much-loved film reference, has made the mermaidcore aesthetic catnip for TikTok content creators – and cemented its status as the must-do beauty look come spring.

Etro S/S23, Getty.

Jil Sanders S/S23, Getty.

At Gucci, models sashayed down the catwalk with pearlescent faces, daubed with holographic highlighters. Arguably the blueprint for mermaid 'siren skin', the key when recreating the look is to lean on glossy formulas and those injected with finely-milled shimmer – anything too chunky or glittery takes the look into fancy dress territory.

Start by mixing a liquid highlighter such as Milk Makeup Bionic Glow into your foundation. Rose In Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter and Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlighter Stick both create a wonderful glazed effect when swiped over cheekbones.

Other designers zeroed in on oceanic shades of eyeshadow. At Etro, the palette encompassed all the shades that fish scales radiate when they catch the light. High-sheen cobalt winged liner was a stand out at Off-White while the lids of models at Jil Sanders were painted with swooshes of wet-look metallic silver for a look that bordered on startling.

Likewise, Byredo's jewel-toned Colour Sticks have gone viral on TikTok as a mermaidcore must-have thanks to Delsin DePuy, whose video amassed over 90 thousand views.

At Victoria Beckham, slicked back hair only added to the ethereal feel of her floaty pastel creations, and at Dries Van Noten, models looked like they'd just stepped out of the surf with their damp, salty-looking strands. While at Blumarine the inspiration was a tad more literal as a mermaid's long, wavy locks served as the new season's muse.

No matter your hair type, wet-look hair starts the same way: lathering right and a hefty dose of moisture in the form of hair masks left in all day to work their magic.

This is especially true if damp winter days make your hair frizz up – the result of porous strands that absorb moisture in the air. Start by using a sulfate-free shampoo since sulfates are essentially detergents that can sap strands of moisture. Then follow up with the Harklinikken Hair Mask, which includes olive, avocado and Abyssinian seed oils to deeply hydrate and plug the little gaps that cause hair to swell. Also good is the Boucleme Curls Redefined Intensive Moisture Treatment, a sulphate and silicone-free mask that is best applied to damp Afro hair, then wrapped in a warm towel to allow the marula oil to penetrate deeper.

Getty, Dries Van Noten S/S23.

Hair stylist Kalle Eklund told us that he relied on "mousse to get definition and separation," when he styled Alicia’s Vikander's wet-look hair for the cover of Vogue Scandinavia. "I always use the Oribe Trés Set Structure Spray as a spray-on mousse is easier to apply evenly throughout the hair and it has a soft, almost creamy texture."

As for those ubiquitous mermaid waves? According to Luke Hersheson, hair stylist and creative director of Hershesons salons, "using straightening irons, not curling tongs, creates waves that don't look too perfect or 'done'. Known as the 'flave' – flat wave - run the hair straightener down the length of your hair in forward and backward motions, creating slight bends down the mid-lengths."