Why Are We Obsessed With Unicorn & Mermaid Makeup?

Unicorns used be a thing resigned to the bedrooms of young girls; they were the topic of fantasy films and fairy tales. A decade ago if you’d have said you wanted to dress up like a mermaid people would’ve given you a strange look and asked if you were going to a costume party that weekend, but over the last few years fantastical beauty and fashion has become incredibly mainstream. You can’t step into a store without seeing a tee emblazoned with ‘I’m Really A Mermaid’ or a unicorn coloured bobble hat, and you can’t wander through the aisles of Superdrug without being overwhelmed by multi-coloured highlighters and purple lipgloss. We’ve had everything from unicorn frappacinos and bagels, to the resurgence of My Little Pony – and it’s not just teenagers that it’s appealing to. Fully grown women are applying all manner of fantastical eyeshadows and sticking glitter to their cheeks. So why have we all suddenly become obsessed with shades of blue, pink, purple and green, and why are glitter sales at an all time high?

Without a doubt, the answer is escapism. The last couple of years have been incredibly hard going, with everything from Brexit and Trump, to countless terror attacks, losing our beloved celebrity heroes one after the other and endless stories of sexual assault and misconduct; many companies have closed, many of us have fallen on hard times and even more of us are downright feeling blue because our social feeds are full of negativity and sorrow. Makeup has long been a form of escapism and allows us to create a ‘mask’ that we show to the world; it’s a way of sprinkling a little happiness on our lives or adopting another identity (temporarily) that gives us confidence.

It’s a celebrated fact that the beauty industry sees an increase in revenue when the rest of the economy is suffering, as we look to get that affordable hit of happiness. Jess Weiner (a brand strategist who helped give Barbie a body positive makeover) said to Refinery29: “Women are in need of fantastical magic in their lives right now, because we’re surrounded by culture and politics that are very bleak and dark and oppressive. Unicorns are rare, they’re powerful and they’re imaginary – so they’re capable of anything. And they do have a certain girly undertone because many of us associate them with our childhood, so they’re unapologetically feminine. Why wouldn’t we own something that’s just for us and inspires us to believe in our otherworldly capabilities?”

As the beauty industry looks to create new ways of creating excitement, the holographic and multi-coloured mermaid and unicorn trend started to tick all those boxes. It filtered down from the likes of Too Faced, Tarte and Lime Crime before hitting more affordable and high street brands including Spectrum, Makeup Revolution, Real Techniques and Barry M. It’s bold, it’s bright, it’s fun and it encourages experimentation. In a climate that’s driven by what’s being shared on Instagram and what looks can go ‘viral’ across Pinterest and Facebook, these fantastical products and looks were just the ticket. Driven by bloggers and the increasing number of ‘unicorn makeup tutorials’, what could have been a flash in the pan has evolved into an ideology that’s not going anywhere fast. 

Some of my recent faves have included Barry M’s new ‘Under The Sea’ nail paint (£3.99) and Holographic Lip Toppers (£4.99) which are affordable and wearable; they allow you to dabble in the trend without getting your mermaid’s license, actually enhancing an otherwise nude look and being perfect for transitioning into spring. The new Real Techniques Brush Crush collection (from £9.99) is also a dream, providing lots of glitter and unicorn tinted bristles so you can dabble in the magestic from the comfort of your dressing table, while the INCredible ‘In A Dream’ glosses (£8.00) work beautifully either alone or as a topcoat over lipstick to boost the colour and make you feel totally on-trend. (Read my full feature on the brand here!)

Makeup Revolution’s Unicorn Heart Highlighter is an affordable way to test out the trend, while even the likes of MUA, Elf and Essence are dabbling in these multi-coloured pans. Ciate have their very own Glitter Flip sparkly lipgloss, and Guerlain has been busy creating a subtly shimmering strobing palette that appeals to our inner mermaid. Basically, the trend is taking over in a big way – have a wander through the usual high street and department stores and you can’t miss what’s on offer!

Although they may not always be my cup of tea (considering I spend most
of my time working from coffee shops I may get some strange looks if I
wandered into Starbucks with purple lips and glitter in my hair,) I can
admire from afar and enjoy the little bits and pieces that subtly add
some magic into my routine. That’s the beauty of a trend: that you can
adopt the bits that work for you and have fun with your makeup in
whichever way puts a smile on your face.

Unicorn and mermaid makeup isn’t just for kids; it can sprinkle some much needed magic into the most boring and grown-up of us, every single day.

Are you a fan of this trend? Which other fantastical products have you discovered and think I should check out? (I’m a sucker for fab packaging!)


Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  



  1. last year's girl
    February 13, 2018 / 10:02 am

    Try wandering into your law office job with glitter lips and purple hair, haha. I think they've gotten used to my eccentricities by now though!I'm 100% in favour of a trend that makes it cheaper and easier to add a little sparkle to my life – although my favourite sparkly product is Kat Von D's Glimmer Veil lipgloss. It's not cheap, but it has amazing staying power – and the colour range sits perfectly with my current gothic unicorn vibe.Lis / last year's girl

    • Hayley Hall
      February 13, 2018 / 10:18 am

      I love that – gothic unicorn! 😀

  2. Lucy Cole
    February 13, 2018 / 11:18 am

    This was such an interesting post to read, but so true! Every gal needs a bit of mermaid and unicorns in their life!xxLucy | http://www.lucy-cole.co.uk

    • Hayley Hall
      February 13, 2018 / 3:31 pm

      It's such an interesting phenomenon isn't it! Glad you enjoyed.

  3. Candice Petersen
    February 13, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    Those brushes are absolutely stunning!Candice | beautycandyloves.co.za

  4. Karen Sadler
    February 14, 2018 / 11:01 am

    Another great post, thank you! I'm not your usual demographic, (57 & counting) BUT enjoy immensely your posts, especially the snaps. You're frequently my lunch-at-desk companion…

  5. Emerald Dove
    February 22, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    You write so well – loved this piece!! Unicorn stuff really isn't my cup of tea tbh but I totally get what you mean about escapismwww.theemeralddove.co.uk

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