How to soften the skin without losing the texture in Photoshop – Two Methods

Method 1

In this Photoshop tutorial I will show you how to soften the skin while preserving the texture and other important details such as hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

Download the image used in this tutorial from here or use your own.

Open your image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer. First we are going to make some color corrections.  I always use Adjustment Layers to make color corrections instead of working directly on the image. That way I can always go back later and tweak the settings if I need to.


In this image I want to reduce the red and yellow tones so my first step is to add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer with the following settings:

Now add a Levels adjustment layer with the following settings:

Next we will adjust the contrast and brighten the image. Add a Curves adjustment layer with these settings:

Finally add a Photo Filter Adjustment layer with these settings:

Here is the image before and after adjustments:

Now when we are done with color corrections, it’s time to start the actual retouch. Click on the duplicated background layer to make it active. Select the Healing Brush Tool from the tools panel. Zoom in the image and carefully start removing the blemishes, pimples and any other skin imperfections. Take your time and be patient while removing blemishes. This step may take quite some time but it’s definitely worth it. Start with a small brush and change the size as you go depending on the area you’re fixing. Try to sample the source as close to the area you wish to clean up as possible and use small brush strokes rather than attempting to clean large areas at once. It’s much easier if you use a graphic tablet. I used only the Healing Brush Tool to remove all the blemishes, pimples and dark spots on the skin. Here is the before/after:

When you are done with removing the skin imperfections duplicate the layer and name it ‘sharp’. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and apply the following settings:

Add a layer mask to the layer. Select a round brush and set the hardness to 0 and the opacity to 15%. Now carefully paint with black over the areas that you don’t want to be sharpened, like the lips, jaw line, neck and nose.

Below you can see the image I started with and the final result:


Method 2

We will be using the same Photoshop document. Group all the layers except the background layer and the color adjustment layers and turn off their visibility. Duplicate the background layer.

As in the first method use the Healing Brush Tool to remove the skin imperfections but this time only the major blemishes. After you are done with this step, it’s time to soften the skin.

Duplicate the layer and name it ‘High Pass’. Change the Blending Mode to Overly and invert the layer (Ctrl/Cmd+I). Go to Filter>Other>High Pass and increase the radius until the blemishes disappear. Here are the settings for this particular image:

Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Push the radius slider to the left and then gradually increase the radius until you are satisfied with the result. With this particular image I used a radius of 10.6px

Stamp all visible layers (Command-Option-Shift-E (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E) and apply Unsharp Mask filter with the same settings as in the Method 1. Then add a layer mask and paint with black color over the areas that you want to smooth (like you did in the method 1).


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.


One Response

  1. akbari says:

    Thanks….very good!