5 steps to Perfect Smooth Skin in Photoshop

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Katty Ros

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Welcome to a step-by-step tutorial on achieving natural skin retouching using Photoshop’s Skin Smoothing filter. This guide will navigate through the initial preparations to the final adjustments ensuring your photos come out flawless without needing advanced retouching skills.

Initial Setup and Preparations

Starting with a Clean Base

Why Removing Blemishes First Matters:
When you begin retouching, it’s crucial to start with a clean base. This means removing any blemishes, spots, or imperfections before applying any filters. These initial imperfections can dramatically affect the texture and outcome of the skin if not addressed first.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Spot Healing Brush Tool: Perfect for cleaning up the skin. To use it, create a new layer named ‘blemishes’, select the tool, adjust the brush size and hardness to suit your needs, and carefully click on the blemishes to remove them.

Creating a Smart Object:
After cleaning, ensure to convert your layers into a smart object. This allows you to maintain non-destructive edits and return to make adjustments if necessary.

Applying the Skin Smoothing Filter

Activating the Filter:
Navigate to Filter > Neural Filters > Skin Smoothing. Adjust the blur slider to control the intensity of the smoothing effect—typically setting it around 50 works well for a natural look.

Output Settings:
Important—set the output to a new layer mask. This maintains the original details of the image and allows for further fine-tuning.

Refining the Filter Effects

Preserving Essential Details:
Skin Smoothing often softens details you want to keep sharp, like eyelashes and eyebrows. To restore these:

  1. Select the Mask Layer: Click the mask associated with your Skin Smoothing filter layer.
  2. Brush Tool Adjustments: With the brush tool, paint over the lashes and brows with black to reveal details underneath.

Advanced Retouching Techniques

Even Skin Tone Adjustment

Using Soft Light for Subtle Enhancements:

  1. Create a New Layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light.
  2. Select a Brush Tool with low opacity (around 5%). Using white, gently paint over shadowed areas to lighten them, enhancing the skin’s uniformity.

Enhancing Details: Switch the brush color to black to deepen the eyebrows and lashes, adding definition and focus to the face.

Texture and Detail Enhancement

High-Pass Filter for Texture:

  1. Merge Visible Layers while holding the Option key (Alt on Windows) to create a composite layer.
  2. Apply the High-Pass Filter (Filter > Other > High Pass). Set the radius to 2-3 pixels to subtly enhance textures without over-sharpening.
  3. Change Blend Mode to Vivid Light to make the texture details pop.

Final Glow Effect

Curves for a Soft Glow:

  1. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and lift the central part of the curve slightly to brighten the image.
  2. Adjust the Layer’s Blending Options for the Curves layer to refine the glowing effect, focusing it on lighter skin areas for a radiant look.
  3. Paint the Glow: Invert the layer mask to hide the glow; then with a soft, white brush, paint over the areas where you want the glow to appear.


Through these steps, you’ve learned how to enhance skin texture and tone meticulously, ensuring the skin appears naturally smooth and radiant. Remember, the key to successful retouching is subtlety and precision—avoid over-processing by adjusting opacity and blending modes as needed.

Final Tips:

  • Always create new layers for different adjustments to maintain control over the editing process.
  • Regularly save your progress to avoid losing changes.
  • Experiment with different settings to find what works best for your image.

By following this guide, you’ll be able to transform any portrait with naturally retouched skin that looks flawless yet realistic. Whether you are preparing an image for a professional portfolio or improving photos for personal enjoyment, these skills will undoubtedly elevate the quality of your retouched photos.

Stay tuned for more tutorials that delve deeper into the power of Photoshop for photography and retouching. Don’t forget to like, comment, and share if you found this tutorial helpful!


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Katty Ros

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