Skin retouching: the low down

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So, this is an important topic. A lot of men and women feel nervous about the retouching work done to their portraits, wondering whether or not the finished result will look like them or some plastic doll version instead.

And that's a fair concern. We've all seen photos of our favorite celebrities that have been retouched to a point where they're barely recognizable...crossing into the uncanny valley of portraiture.

If you're like me, you wouldn't want a photo like that. You'd be embarrassed to show your friends, your family, your Linkedin community. And because of that you may have some reservations regarding your photos...

"Will the portrait even look like me?"

"Is it bad to want great skin, or will it be obvious to everyone I know that it's retouched?"

First off, the amount of work that goes into magazine retouching is IMMENSE. Bodies are reshaped, faces are sculpted, necks elongated and skin smoothed to the point of plasticity. They're designed to bring the subject into conformity with a ridiculous notion of what beauty is.

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But retouching doesn't have to be like that...it shouldn't be like that. Retouching is intended to enliven and enhance the photos while correcting any issues with distortion. Its goal is to bring out the dazzling beauty locked inside the unedited picture; like a puzzle.

That's why skin editing isn't about plasticity or impossible smoothness. It's about retouching things that aren't permanent features...things like acne, shadows, shine and dry flakes.

No two people have the exact same skin and to try to fit ever person into a single, standard beauty box is silly.

So is it bad to want great skin? Of course not. It's bad to want plastic skin. Great skin is your skin relieved of temporary blemishes. It's skin that's enhanced simply to help its intrinsic beauty shine all the more brightly.

Remember, your portrait is edited in order to bring forward that special verve that makes you you. It's meant to be an affirmation of everything you love about yourself. A visual documentation of who you are as you are now.

It's not meant to be digital plastic surgery nor is it meant to hide your true self behind a strange mask of resemblance. Portraits aren't sculptures, they're not oil paintings. Portraits are you and they only work when you're ready to embrace and love yourself. Because an image that hides who we are while showing off unobtainable perfection isn't worth while, it only harms us in the long run.