We’ve probably all been guilty of not using sunblock, but there is no reason for a sunburn to ruin the subject of your photo. If you don’t fix the sunburn, you risk it becoming the unintended focal point of your photo and a potential blemish in an otherwise perfect shot.
The severity of the sunburn dictates the editing tools and techniques that you’ll want to use.
Most sunburns can be removed with a combination of hue, saturation and luminance adjustments. The color of the sunburn determines your first move. If it is a normal reddish sunburn, pulling out some of the reddish hue is a good start. Severe sunburns may be purplish, so you must focus on removing that hue.
Minor sunburns can be very close to skin color, so be careful with altering orange or yellowish hues without masking as this may alter the entire facial tone. In these cases, luminance adjustments become especially important so that you have less variance between the lighter skin tones and darker sunburn areas.
If I need to edit a photo with intense sunburn and severe suntan lines, I default to using Photoshop for a combination of feathered masks, clone stamps, and HSL adjustments. But for most cases, quick HSL adjustments can be done in Lightroom or Luminar 4.
What I like best about Luminar 4 is being able to make powerful adjustments using the AI Skin and Portrait Enhancer tools. This allows speed and quality to coexist in my workflow.
In this video tutorial, I show you how to use Luminar 4 to quickly remove a reddish sunburn on a face by masking the area, adjusting the red saturation in the color panel, and touching up the photo with AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer.