Despite what you might think, you don’t have to identify as a Disney adult to partake in the ‘mermaidcore’ beauty aesthetic that has been sweeping the internet since The Little Mermaid live-action remake hit theaters earlier this year. No seashells or fish netting in sight, the mermaid-inspired hair and makeup looks flooding the New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024 runways are more referential than literal, offering soft, ethereal ways to partake in the trend next season.
Staying true to overarching nod to the wonders and trials of girlhood, Sandy Liang’s rhinestone barnacle makeup and damp waves transformed models into wistful mermaids. On the other hand, the bold blocks of blue eyeshadow on the models at Mansur Gavriel’s 10th anniversary presentation demonstrated that mermaids can, in fact, be ‘clean girls’, too. And ocean-inspired beauty can’t be a bonafide trend without a traditional wet-look hairstyle, as seen at Jason Wu, where models’ hair was saturated with gel and serum to create the show’s ‘shipwrecked finger waves’.
Keep reading for a full rundown on all of the mermaid-inspired beauty looks that have hit the NYFW S/S ‘24 runways, including the key products the lead makeup artists and hairstylists used backstage to execute them.
Sandy Liang’s Rhinestone Barnacle Eyes
“But a mermaid has no tears and therefore she suffers so much more,” the quote found on Sandy Liang’s mood board for her Spring/Summer 2024 show summed up the inspiration for the collection. Along side images of Celia, the depressed youngest daughter of The Virgin Suicides, anime mermaids, and iridescent seashells, the melancholy beachy vibes of the show translated into a beauty look consisting of fresh lit-from-within skin, rhinestone barnacle eyes, and damp, slightly wavy hair.
“They’re randomly placed, but a little unnoticeable until the light hits them — it brings the whole mermaid fantasy to life,” Jocelyn Biga, Estée Lauder, director, global pro artistry, tells TZR backstage. Aside from the rhinestones, the cheeks were given a natural flush that “looks as if you’ve been outside in the sun a bit.” To achieve this, Biga added the Pure Color Envy Blush to the front of the cheeks using a brush damped with the Micro Essence Skin-Activating Treatment Lotion, then tapped it in with her fingers so the product mixed with the natural oils of the models’ skin and their foundation base.
Hairstylist Evanie Frausto used BREAD Beauty Supply products and Tangle Teezer hair tools to saturate the models’ hair for a just-dipped-in-the-ocean finish, and adorned some of them with bedazzled flowers behind the ears. Nail artist Holly Falcone further drove the mermaid theme home using KIKI World to give the models a pearl manicure complete with the same barnacle rhinestones scattered on each finger.
Jason Wu’s Shipwrecked Finger Waves
“There is a deconstructed element to this collection. In speaking with Jason Wu, I wanted to create a look that felt like the models just emerged from a shipwreck,” says celebrity hairstylist Jimmy Paul in a statement of the ‘shipwrecked finger waves’ he created for the designer’s Spring/Summer 2024 show. Paul turned to TRESemmé products to create the wet, fluid deep-side parted waves that simultaneously accented the models’ unique hair textures. Specifically, the Mega Control Hair Gel and Keratin Smooth Shine Serum for the foundation and scrunching in the Extra Hold Mousse for hold and texture.
Mansur Gavriel’s Ocean Blue Eye Makeup
‘Clean girl’ and ‘mermaidcore’ don’t seem like two trends that would ever collide, but as Mansur Gavriel demonstrates, there is in fact, a simple, pared-down way to embrace aquatic-themed makeup. Kanako Takase, global creative director for ADDICTION TOKYO, used the brand’s The Eyeshadow to add blocks of matte sea blue and seafoam green eyeshadow to the models’ eyes for an elegant pop of color. A few coats of The Mascara Primer Curl Fixer was a final touch for further definition.
Anna Sui’s Post-Swim Eyeshadow & Waves
To complement the underwater theme of the collection, makeup artist Dame Pat McGrath and hairstylist Garren transformed models into mermaids that look like they just emerged from the ocean. On the makeup front, McGrath gave models bold blue eyeshadow brushed out in wing and accented with splashes of yellow and purple to mimic the iridescence of fish scales. For hair, Garren created fluid, wet-looking waves using R+Co Bleu, specifically the Optical Illusion Smoothing Oil and Surreal Styling Serum.