Skin Retouching Tips for Photoshop

A few quick skin retouching tips to try in Adobe Photoshop.

The goal of every photographer is getting great-looking skin while still preserving that natural beauty that’s hard to get just right. While effective lighting and well-applied makeup are always the foundation of good-looking skin in photographs, retouching is taking it up to a completely new level.

Retouching isn’t a technique that you should over-rely on, but when you want to give your subject that extra polished look, it’s a godsend.

Here are a couple of go-to tips that will help you retouch when it matters most.

Graininess Is Good

We’ve been taught that grain in photographs is the bane of our existence, but that should be rethought. You see, in today’s industry, lots of images are outrageously clean and smooth, which sometimes looks unnatural and too perfect. You can blame digital photography and all the high-res screens we’re looking at!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.50.36 PM

Image from Tip Squirrel.

Bring some balance back to your subjects’ skin by adding in some grain to add depth and texture. Do this by going to the Layers menu and choosing New. Then, name your layer “grain,” select “none” for color, choose “overlay” for your mode, set the opacity to 100%, and check the “fill with overlay-neutral color” box.

Choose the new grain layer and, in the Filter menu, pick Filter Gallery. There, put the Contrast and Intensity to 30 each and pick Enlarged grain mode. Head to the Image menu and pick Adjustments to desaturate the grain layer. Put the opacity layer between 40% and 50%.

Use a Hue Adjustment Layer

You’ll need to apply a hue adjustment layer from time to time to correct the over saturation and excessive reds that dominate in digital photography.

To start, choose Reds and then push the Hue to the right until you remark the red tones quieting down a bit, usually between +1 and +3.

Now, choose Yellows and slide the Saturation down until the skin tone appears more natural, typically between -5 and -10.

Pick Master for all colors and bring down the Saturation a bit until any over-saturated appearance in your subject subsides, usually between -1 and -7.

The great thing about this hue adjustment is that you can experiment with it until you’re satisfied with the results.

Retouching for Better Skin

Use your retouching tools and techniques in Photoshop to get beautiful-looking and natural skin for better, overall images. The above techniques will add some realism and character to your photographs while also providing them with a more refined, polished appearance.

Also check out this post for some skin improvement techniques to try in Lightroom.

2 Replies to “Skin Retouching Tips for Photoshop”

  1. Melissa says:

    Awesome! I love techniques that focus on keeping the skin looking natural while retouching.

    1. Mike says:

      Thanks Melissa, really appreciate the kind words. Glad we could help!

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