Life & Culture

Exploring the world of mermaid beauty

The beauty industry is in thrall to sea sirens and these mythical creatures have surprising links with our tribe


Wide picture of a dreaming mermaid against waterfall background

The beauty industry has a long-held fascination with mermaids which isn’t swimming off any time soon, according to the recent SS24 catwalks.

At Prabal Gurung, models sported flashes of bright aquamarine through their tresses; while in New York, Sandy Liang sent an array of sirens down the runway, with glistening skin (embellished with a few rhinestone “barnacles”) and flowers tucked behind their ear.

And at Anna Sui, models had eyelids emblazoned in mesmerising green and gold, together with coral-flushed cheekbones.

Not to mention of course, the release of the live action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid earlier this summer, causing a tidal wave of marine-inspired red carpet looks and ensuing press releases with the subject line “Mermaidcore” deluging my inbox.

While mermaids are constantly providing a source of inspiration for the beauty world, there are some interesting crossovers between mermaid mythology and Judaism.

It’s debatable whether Torah scholars believed in the existence of mermaids, but in the 11th century, the commentator Rashi wrote about marine animals “half of whose bodies are of human form, and half in the form of a fish.” He refers to them in French as sereine, which derives from the Latin siren.

Creatures who are the objects of fear and fascination in equal measure, the “otherness” of mermaids definitely strikes a chord where our own community’s history is concerned.

The Little Mermaid story itself can be a parable about assimilation: she wants to leave the safety of her sea folk and walk among humans, even though her father warns her she will never be accepted by those “barbarians” who will do her harm.

I never understood why Ariel would want to leave her unique life under the sea with its seashell bras and singing crabs, just to live on land with drippy Eric.

The original Hans Christian Anderson fairytale has a much darker ending than the Disney version – which could be read as a cautionary tale about not leaving your community.

Perhaps there should be a new version of The Little Mermaid in the style of Crossing Delancey with Ariel meeting an underwater version of Peter Reigart who convinces her to marry within her own community. Too niche?

Mermaid beauty is not just for 15-year-olds and it’s not just for spring or summer.

If sporting aqua marine hair doesn’t float your boat, you can always try a pop of sea green eyeliner. Israeli brand Gen See have just launched a gorgeous line of Cruise Liner Pencils (£19 each), the Miami 04 Metallic Teal shade is flattering on all eye colours and practically smudge-proof.

If you want to give your hair a bit of a slick, wet-look vibe, I definitely recommend Dizziak’s new Oil Mist (£22) which smells absolutely incredible.

And if that doesn’t tickle your gills, Rimmel’s glittery nail polish in Mermaid Fin (£3.99) has enough sparkle to see see you through the upcoming party season and beyond.

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