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4 Steps to Picture Perfect Skin in Lightroom

We all want to look our best in our portraits. As a woman and a photographer, one of the important parts of my photo is my skin. I want my skin to look beautiful and possibly have a few less wrinkles or acne than I have in real life.  I don't want to look like someone else, just the best version of myself that I can.  

If you are wondering how you can help your clients/portrait images have picture perfect skin in Lightroom, just follow the few steps outlined below.


One of the most important parts of beautiful skin happens the moment you click the shutter.  Having a good exposure out of the camera helps you to have bright, creamy skin tones to begin with.  Good exposure reduces the amount of noise in your image. Generally, I like my histogram to have the peak in the center or slightly to the right.  Something like this:

 4 Steps to Picture Perfect Skin in Lightroom

Of course, there are exceptions to this.  The image we are going to process today is actually quite underexposed and not the ideal.  Even with this issue we can still get very pretty skin tones.  


This is the first step to beautiful skin.  In this step I clone out any blemishes and dark spots.  On more mature skin, I may even clone out a few wrinkles and adjust the opacity of the clone tool to help it look natural.  

Picture perfect skin in Lightroom

When using the Clone/Heal tool, I typically want the smaller inner circle of the brush to be just slightly larger than the blemish I want to remove. For smaller skin blemishes, I generally use the Heal brush.  For larger skin blemishes or blemishes close to the edge of the face, I generally switch to the Clone brush.

Remember that the goal is natural and beautiful.  Don't go overboard and clone every wrinkle and pore on a woman's face.


Once I have the blemishes removed, I begin using Lightroom's brush tool to smooth the skin and reduce any under eye circles or wrinkles.

The Perfect Portrait Brushes are an invaluable tool here!  There are three brushes in this set that I use over and over just on the skin.  The first brush from this set that I use on the skin is PP Skin UnderEye Circles.  I didn't need it on this photo today, but I use it on my own photos all the time. People of all different ages can have under eye circles and this brush works beautifully to correct them. PP Skin Wrinkle Reducer works wonders on more mature skin or anyone with wrinkles.  I make this brush super small (just slightly larger than the wrinkle) and carefully brush it over the wrinkle I want to reduce.  I don't do this for EVERY wrinkle.  I pick and choose a few to help out!

Picture Perfect Skin with the Perfect Portrait Brushes

The last brush I use on almost every female portrait is PP Skin Smooth.  On this image brushed it all over her face avoiding the eyes and mouth.  This brush is adding a slight reduction in clarity to the skin pixels.  We don't want to reduce clarity on the eye or mouth—things we typically want as sharp as possible.  If a portrait is a close up, I may choose to run apply this brush more than once—though sometimes I will reduce the flow the second time I apply it.  That is exactly what I did in the image above.


As the final part of my portrait, I add any presets that I want to my image.  In this image, knowing that it was underexposed I chose to run Base 3 | Bright Base from the Color Luxe Collection and Buff from the Pretty FILM Pastels Collection.  

Picture Perfect Skin using Lightroom Presets and Brushes

I love how this combination of presets helped to make the skin and the subjects face the focal point of this portrait.

Picture perfect skin is completely attainable in Lightroom.  Please feel free to share any tips you have for getting beautiful skin in Lightroom!

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