Top 10 essential skin retouching tips for fashion pros How to create perfect skin in photography


Skin retouching

Sometimes, you can have the most talented makeup artist, but the camera still picks up on blemishes and pores, preventing your models from having smooth skin in photos. Thanks to photo editing software, we can smooth blemishes over with a quick skin retouch. Although Photoshop is capable of a whole host of editing capabilities, it is known by many as skin Photoshop and retouch Photoshop for its legendary ability to make anyone’s skin look great.

If you’re interested in Photoshop for skin retouching, you’ve found the right post. Here, we will be going over some of the fundamental skin retouching Photoshop actions, such as Frequency Separation and Spot Healing. 

1. Airbrushing

If you’re thinking it is possible to even skin tone in Photoshop, then you are correct. Using the same concept as traditional airbrushing, you can make skin look flawless and even in a digital photo. In Photoshop, go to the Toolbox and select Brush or another painting tool. On the Options bar, activate the airbrush mode by clicking the box so that a tick appears. Set the ‘Flow’ amount, which regulates the speed at which the tool applies paint.

How to get perfect skin in photos


2. Spot Healing

In Photoshop you can use the spot healing tool to cover up blemishes. In the Layers panel, select the layer that contains blemishes you want to remove. Go to the Tools panel, and select the Spot Healing Brush tool. In the options bar, adjust the size and hardness of the Spot Healing Brush tool to adapt to the item you’re trying to cover and then click on a spot or drag over an object you want to remove.


3. Avoid ‘painting’ over blemishes 

When using the spot healing tool, you should avoid painting over blemishes. Instead of dragging your mouse over areas, simply click on the blemish you are trying to remove. This will Spot Heal the blemish without creating a large, smoothed-over area that is incongruous with the rest of the skin texture. Clicking looks much cleaner.

4. Work on a new layer

When applying the spot healing method, always create a new blank layer to preserve the original image. This way you make alterations to the new layer, and keep the original image the same.

To create a new layer, click on the New Layer button on the Layers palette or press Ctrl+Shift+n (or Cmd+Shift+n on a Mac computer). Ensure that the drop-down menu for the Healing Brush labelled ‘sample’ is set to Current and Below.

5. Frequency separation

Frequency separation is another Photoshop technique used to even the tone of your image using two composite images. You can make someone’s complexion clearer, make dry or oily skin types have a balanced skin texture appearance, and reduce wrinkles. And as well as skin, you can use it to make your backgrounds look smoother.

6. Go easy on the frequency separation

Pictures edited using frequency separation can look so smooth and perfect that their skin texture takes on a plastic appearance; especially when frequency separation is applied to a wide surface area. Therefore, you should use this method sparingly to keep the skin looking natural.

7. Clone Stamp to cover up dark under-eyes

If your model has dark under eyes, you can easily rectify this using the clone stamp tool. Using the Clone Stamp Tool you can also paint part of one layer over another layer. Use the Clone Stamp Tool to cut a skin texture sample from an unedited spot on the face. Then, paint this texture over the under-eyes to match it to the skin tone.

8. Use a soft brush for Clone Stamping

As with Frequency Separation, Clone Stamping should be used sparingly as it can have quite extreme effects. To keep the result looking as natural as possible, select a soft-edged brush to help the Clone Stamped area blend in well.

Skin retouching techniques


9. Dodging and burning

You can use Photoshop to make an image look darker or lighter, using dodging and burning. You can use dodging and burning techniques to make skin look radiant and plump. Do this using the curve adjustment layer to change the exposure to a brighter one. Then you can dodge and burn using the layer mask and brushes to your taste. This is a more subtle technique than using the designated dodge and burn tools, but these can be useful in altering shadows and highlights on your model’s face. 

10. Using adjustment layers to change colour and tone

You can adjust the image colour and tone of your photo using adjustment layers. Go to the Adjustments panel, and then click on the tool icon for your desired adjustment.

    • If you want to correct tonality and colour, you should click Levels or Curves. 
    • To adjust the colour of your image, you should click Colour Balance or Hue/Saturation.
    • To make a coloured image black and white, click Black & White.

Finally, in the Properties panel, amend the adjustment layer tool settings as desired.

Now that you have all the skin retouching basics covered, you are on your way to having smoother skin in photos. However, these techniques do require a bit of practice to master, so the sooner you start, the sooner you will learn. 

If you require an expert photo editor, why not let a professional take care of it for you? Splento offers a retouching service at just £0.49 per photo. Contact a member of our team today and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


1. What is skin retouching in fashion photography?

Skin retouching in fashion photography involves editing skin to remove imperfections, smooth texture, and enhance features while maintaining a natural look. It’s a critical step to ensure models look their best in fashion shoots.

2. What tools are best for skin retouching in Photoshop?

Photoshop offers several tools for skin retouching, including the Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, and Dodge & Burn. Each tool serves a different purpose, from removing blemishes to enhancing highlights and shadows.

3. How can I avoid over-retouching skin?

To avoid over-retouching, use a light touch with tools, zoom out frequently to check the overall look, and compare with the original image. Aim to enhance the model’s natural features rather than creating a plastic look.

4. What is frequency separation in skin retouching?

Frequency separation is a technique that separates an image into high and low frequencies, allowing retouchers to work on texture and color independently. This helps achieve a smoother yet detailed skin appearance.

5. How do I deal with different skin tones in a single photo?

Use selective adjustments with tools like the Lasso Tool or Layer Masks to individually retouch different skin tones. This ensures consistency and natural blending throughout the image.

6. What is the role of Dodge & Burn in skin retouching?

Dodge & Burn involves lightening (dodging) and darkening (burning) specific areas to enhance contours and features. It’s a subtle way to add depth and dimension to the skin, making it look more natural and three-dimensional.

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