What Are the Best Tips for Retouching Skin?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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The best tips for retouching skin are to start with a high quality photo, edit cautiously, and use an advanced editor. Low-quality photos are difficult to edit, and the results usually do not look realistic. Editing cautiously is necessary to avoid going overboard, which can make the subject of a photograph look plastic. In addition, an advanced photo editor program is generally needed to make subtle changes. Website-based editors and basic paint programs are usually not designed with skin retouching in mind.

It is easier to make subtle changes in a high quality digital photograph than a low quality one. A person can zoom in and target the problem area exactly, which is not possible with really low resolution pictures. Low quality photographs can be identified by their pixelated or fuzzy appearance. Their file sizes are usually small and quick to download, whereas high-quality photos are large and may take several minutes to download on fast Internet connections. It is still possible to edit a low-quality photo, but beginners are best off playing with high-quality ones, especially since low-quality photos need more work than skin retouching.


Photographs are sometimes changed too much, resulting in too-perfect skin that looks plastic. In general, photos of people are retouched to make the subjects look more attractive, but this goal is not met if they look fake instead. Making small, gradual changes and avoiding unnecessary ones can lead to a photograph and its subject looking more attractive rather than less, while still appearing untouched. Drastic changes can cause viewers to realize a photograph is edited, but small subtle changes are more believable.

Advanced photo editing programs are more effective for retouching skin than programs with fewer features. It is important to make changes subtly for an edited photograph to be believable, so a professional editor must have access to a program with the right tools. Some photograph editing programs allow a user to only make basic changes, like remove red eye and apply artistic filters. These programs usually do not provide the tools necessary to effectively retouch skin.

Retouching skin can be done in hundreds of ways, with most professionals favoring a specific method and editing program. Some methods are simpler than others, while some methods are more effective at resulting in a realistic-looking subject. In addition, the programs themselves can differ significantly in features, layout, and price. Novices should experiment with photo editing tutorials on retouching skin to discover what works for them. Advanced photo editing programs are generally expensive, but these too can be experimented with by using free trials.


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