How To Get The 'Dark Mermaid' Look Going Into 2023

At first mention, the "dark mermaid" hair, makeup, and fashion trend might sound slightly disconcerting. Does it entail scales and a fishtail? Must we swim out to the depths of the ocean and wait in a hidden cove for centuries, to accost an unsuspecting sailor? The good news is that, no, none of these things are requirements. And the other good news (there is no bad news!) is that the dark mermaid trend is cool, achievable, and one to keep on your radar for 2023.

You might have noticed that ancient Greek mythology and folklore are having a moment in fashion and beauty. There is something fascinating about transforming ourselves into a being out of this world — a being that is magical, powerful, and perhaps not beholden to the mortal contracts we are each beholden to — that is undeniable. The dark mermaid trend evokes a sense of secret strength or knowledge that the average person cannot access. Therefore, its repertoire of evocative silhouettes, cool, dark, and metallic color palettes, and slick hairstyles reflect this sense of mystery. And the trend itself is usually more subtle than seashell bras and sequins, taking after the original 19th-century story of "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen, which is dark and twisted.

The dark mermaid trend was found all over the runway for SS23, from certain Dilara Findikoglu looks, to the gill-like cutouts in Dion Lee's show, and even a moment or two in the Gucci show (G-Club). 

Julia Fox dips into dark mermaid

Perhaps one of the patron saints of the dark mermaid trend is Julia Fox. Everything about this look — the look she wore to the Diesel fashion show in Milan this September — is awash in the dark mermaid aesthetic. First, her hair. Streaked with a grayish, icy blue and slicked down with product, Fox's hair looks as though she's emerged from a deep ocean ravine to walk the red carpet. 

Next, her signature bold, graphic eyeliner, bleached brows, and coral blush pair well with her hair, emphasizing her features and invoking a supernatural scene. And her outfit, a slick, painted jacket, matching mini skirt, and gloves, features a glistening effect, such as that of the ocean. The tight fit of the outfit looks almost like a second skin, while the jacket also features bodice cups, reminiscent of the seashell bras mermaids have oft been depicted wearing in popular culture. 

Alexa Demie nets the aesthetic

Alexa Demie is another patron saint of the dark mermaid trend. Her hair is cropped and slicked back with a product that creates a high-shine effect, while her makeup — simple, matte, with bold brows and high-shine lip gloss — borrows from the trends of wet hair and glazed makeup. Its simplicity also places the focus on her ensemble. Demie wore this black, Balenciaga catsuit with a sparkling, netted dress overlay and pointed-toe heels to the Academy Museum Gala in October. The overlay conjures scales or netting, while her heels could give the effect of a tail, elongating her figure. The color — black — also adds to the sultriness of the aesthetic. 

Alex Demie drenched with style

Another Alexa Demie look that fits the dark mermaid aesthetic is the vintage, semi-sheer, metallic black Norman Norell look she wore to a "Euphoria" FYC event in April. Demie again wears her hair slicked and high-shined, with a subtle curl to a few strands of hair laid on her face, as if she had just gone for a swim. A coral lip adds to the sea-inspired aesthetic, while the silhouette of her dress is the real star of the ensemble. 

While fitted around Demie's waist, the dress hangs to floor length, while its sleeves drape over her arms. In combination with its glittery material, the dress has a wet, dripping effect, while the sheer fabric adds intrigue that is quintessential to the dark mermaid trend. 

Blumarine blew us away

Blumarine — not to be confused with the 2006 hit movie "Aquamarine" about a mermaid — is an Italian brand cited by V Magazine as honing in on the mermaid aesthetic in its SS23 collection. Featuring body-conscious, often floor-length silhouettes, an excess of draped and flared styles, and sheer effects either made with thin or knitted fabric, this Blumarine runway show is indeed an excellent inspiration for the dark mermaid aesthetic. This look in particular, which features a knotted blazer top, long fabric flowing in an ethereal drape, and flared pants is the ultimate modern mermaid. Not to mention, the long flowing hair worn by the model adds to the overall look. 

Julia Fox embodies the trend

While this look might not be suitable for everyday wear — unless of course, you're Julia Fox — we could not not include it. This is Julia Fox, an actual modern mermaid, in a dress designed by Parsons student Weiræn for the Parsons MFA Student Show this September. The bodice is made of clear acrylic, while the skirt overlay features a metallic, icy blue thread draped to the floor, culminating in none other than a fishtail shape. The bag Fox carries matches with an acrylic handle and the same mesh-like fabric. Again, elements of the dark mermaid theme are at work: sheer fabrics, draping, overlays, shimmering metallics, and modern shapes. 

Mermaid aesthetics for short hair

While mermaids are often depicted with luscious, flowing hair, this does not always have to be the case, especially when translating the trend to suit your own needs. For short hair, finger waves (such as those worn on @allyiahsface on Instagram), are a classic hairstyle that lends well to the dark mermaid trend. With waves like the sea, yet refined and sleek, finger waves are full of visual interest, though they take real technique to achieve properly. If you have never tried the hairstyle before, here's how to do your own finger waves at home. It is essential that you use hair gel, mousse, and a comb to achieve the look, both to maintain the style and to give it a shiny effect. We love this sophisticated style that is whimsical, flattering, and timeless.

Mermaid aesthetics for long hair

For long locks, dark mermaid hair can be created with subtle waves and slick strands, like this look from @nagam_z on Instagram. The goal is for your hair to strike just the right balance between disheveled and polished — as mermaid hair can also be effortless, styled by the wind and sea, of course. For this reason, we recommend hairstyles for long hair that do not use heat. And there are many ways to get beautiful curls and waves without heat, including braiding or twisting your hair and leaving it as so until dried. These techniques feel true to the natural elements the dark mermaid aesthetic pulls from. You can also add a few braids in your hair for further texture and interest. 

Wavy blue mermaid eyes

When it comes to mermaid makeup, the world is really your oyster. (See what we did there?) But, in truth, any makeup that includes a splash of color, wavy shapes, and a pop of glistening skin or lips could hit the mark for the dark mermaid trend. As a reminder, your makeup does not have to be glittery or sparkly to be mermaid-like or have visual impact, unless you want it to be! This makeup by @tias_mua on Instagram is a perfect example of a look that combines a matte eye and glistening skin for a gorgeous, high-contrast effect. The shape of the eye is carved out with a dark blue liner and transitions to a light blue toward the inner corner. This look reminds us of the eye of the storm over the sea — a place where, in the center, we might find a dark mermaid.

Multi-chrome mermaid eyes

When we think of the dark mermaid aesthetic for makeup, multi-chrome shadows also come to mind. Makeup artist @color_endeavor has tons of gorgeous multi-chrome looks to scroll through for inspiration on Instagram. We love how simple and sophisticated this look is, featuring a pop of multi-chrome metallic in the innermost corner of the eye and a little shimmer in the middle of the lid. Sea green, lavender, and brown shadows add depth around the eye, while a dark gray liner flicked in a short wing adds a lengthening effect. The strength of this makeup look is that it is delicate: subtle color, subtle shimmer, and subtle wing, which all enhance the natural features of the eye in an entrancing way. We think this is what the natural eyes of a dark mermaid must look like, therefore making the look supernatural to us!

Irresistible glossy mermaid eyes

But if you are looking for bold, the dark mermaid aesthetic has plenty of space to make a statement. Complete with dark teal shadow and liner per @melodychantler on Instagram, glossy lids are definitely a look we think is fit for a dark mermaid. And glossy lids can be worn in a number of ways: completely bare with just the shine, with a pop of color on either the eyes or lips or with a shimmery shadow for an extra glisten. Combining glossy lids with an iridescent or multi-chrome shadow is sure to capture attention. Any of these elements could be tried on their own, or mixed and matched with other mermaid makeup inspirations.