For me and my photography understanding, skin retouching is a huge step in the process of getting to my final image. As a beauty photographer, I pride myself on showing natural clean skin in all my images. I don’t have the privilege of always being able to work with “real,”agent-represented, models.

Sometimes the clients that sit in front of my camera are your “normal, average” faces and they don’t always have the best skin. It’s not their job to keep their skin clean and clear and they don’t have access to all the high-end product models do, so it adds another layer that I need to be able to fix.

Three steps

I have three main things that I like to do to every image to makes sure that my client’s skin looks the best in its natural state.

  1. Blemish removal: Cleaning up anything that would not naturally be there on their best skin day. This includes pimples, dry skin, redness, scars, evening out skin texture, etc.
  2. Eye enhancing: Making sure eyes are the focus in the image, eliminating dark circles and enhancing their iris color.
  3. Dodging & Burning: Highlighting and contouring their face with light, fixing any random specs of light on the face from makeup and smoothing out the transition for highlights to shadows on the face.

AI Skin Enhancer

These three things might seem like a lot but with Luminar 4‘s Portrait Enhancer allows you to do all three and then some in a matter of seconds to your image.

The first thing I do is go in with the Clone & Stamp tool. The Clone & Stamp tool lets you sample skin from one part of the image then click and paint that skin sample into another part of the image to add those same textures into a new area.

Once I have gotten the skin cleaned up nicely I will use Luminar’s AI Skin Enhancer slider. This slider is great at softening the skin but maintain detail, which is awesome because I don’t want my client’s skin to look like a doll. This slider is also really great at only affecting the skin in the images and not effecting the eyes or eyebrows.

Portrait Enhancer

The final step in my editing process using Luminar is Portrait Enhancer. This is probably one of my favorite tools in Luminar. In the Portrait Enhancer tool, I immediately start working on the eyes.

I love Luminar’s Red Eye Removal slider — it beautifully removes red veins and irritation to the eye without removing the redness that is naturally in the corner of everyone’s eyes.

I will then just move down the line and pump up the Eye Whitening Enhancer and then got the Eye Enhancer slider. This slider is a must for me. I love the saturation and clarity that it brings to the iris. I use this slider on every one of my images.

The final slider I use when retouching eyes is the Dark Circle Removal slider. Now for me, this slider can sometimes be tricky. Must of my clients have makeup on and some of that makeup is on their lower lash line. At times that makeup can enhance my client’s dark circles. So when working with this slider I recommend moving it a little at a time so you can see when it starts to affect the look of their makeup as well.

Dodging and Burning

The final step in my portrait retouching is Dodging and Burning. This topic alone could be its own article but for now, I will keep it short and sweet. For those of you speak tech Wikipedia says this:

“Dodging and burning are terms that come from analog photography, it is a technique used during the printing process to manipulate the exposure of a selected area(s) on a photographic print, deviating from the rest of the image’s exposure. Dodging — lightening, burning — darkening.”

Basically, Dodging is like using a highlight on someone’s face. When women highlight their faces with makeup they like to highlight in their “T” zone. Burning is contouring the face, slimming the face, or creating depth to the face. Women tend to contour under their cheekbones, jaw and down their nose.


These three steps combined together are a must when I am editing a portrait, so the fact that Luminar 4 has 12 tools total for editing portraits is incredible. Their unique human-aware technology means that when I batch edit, my preset automatically adjusts to each new photo! This makes editing incredibly easy and fast. Pre-order your copy of Luminar 4 and try it for yourself — I promise you’ll love it!