Adobe Lightroom

How to Retouch Skin in Lightroom – Portrait Retouching

May 20, 2023 by

Lightroom gives you the ability to beautifully retouch a portrait. You can remove blemishes, smooth skin, soften wrinkles and reduce dark circles all without making your subject look fake or “Photoshopped”.

I’m going to walk you through a portrait editing session using an unprocessed photo.

How to Retouch Skin in Lightroom

Here is the before photo. She is a beautiful model, but there are some skin imperfections such as blemishes, a scar and enlarged pores.

We are going to enhance her skin and give her a polished, but not fake, look. This means we are going to leave subtle hints of imperfections. you might prefer to go further and trade realism for perfection. This makes sense in some cases but is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

The first thing we are going to do is go the adjustment brush (upper right) and set the exposure and other settings as shown in the following screenshot. We are going to brush this over her skin and eyes only to brighten the skin without changing the entire photo.

Next, go to the spot removal brush and set it to Heal. Make sure that the brush size is only slightly bigger than each blemish and click once over each one. We aren’t trying to remove every pore or freckle here. Just the actual imperfections such as blemishes and scars.

Now go back to the adjustment brush. We are going to lessen the circles under her eyes. Use the settings in the following screenshot and brush over the under eye area.

Now we will smooth the skin with the adjustment brush. Use the following settings and then brush over large areas of the face to smooth the skin. Avoid the eyes and lips. You want these to stay sharp. Set the size of the brush to whatever you need and the flow somewhere between 15 and 50. I’m using 40 for this photo.

The final result looks very natural.

The final result is very natural.

How to Retouch Skin in Lightroom

retouch skin adobe lightroom

When retouching skin in Lightroom, it's important to exercise caution and avoid excessive editing. Here are 5 steps to retouch skin in Adobe Lightroom.


  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Computer
  • High-Quality Monitor
  • Digital Photos
  • Graphics Tablet (Optional)


  1. Import and Select the Photo: Import the photo you want to retouch into Lightroom. Once imported, select the photo from the Library module and switch to the Develop module for editing.
  2. Spot Removal for Blemishes: Use the Spot Removal tool (keyboard shortcut Q) to remove blemishes, spots, or other imperfections on the skin. Adjust the brush size to match the size of the blemish, and click on the spot to automatically heal or clone it. Repeat this process for other visible blemishes on the skin.
  3. Adjust Skin Tone and Texture: Fine-tune the skin tone and texture using the Adjustment Brush tool (keyboard shortcut K). Increase the Clarity and Texture sliders to enhance skin details, while decreasing the Saturation and Vibrance sliders slightly to reduce any excessive redness or discoloration.
  4. Smooth the Skin: Reduce the appearance of skin imperfections by smoothing the skin using the Skin Smoothing feature. Create a new brush adjustment by clicking on the New button in the Adjustment Brush panel. Increase the Sharpness slider slightly and decrease the Clarity slider to smooth out the skin. Brush over the areas of the skin you want to retouch, such as the face or neck.
  5. Fine-tune and Export: Review the changes you made and make any additional adjustments as needed. Use the Zoom tool (keyboard shortcut Z) to inspect the image closely and ensure that the retouching looks natural and seamless. Once satisfied, export the retouched photo in the desired file format and resolution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you touch up skin with Lightroom?

Yes, Lightroom offers various tools and adjustments that can be used to touch up skin in photographs. It provides options like the Spot Removal tool, Adjustment Brush, and Skin Smoothing feature to reduce blemishes, even out skin tones, and enhance the overall appearance of the skin.

Can you make a person’s skin look clearer on Lightroom?

Yes, Lightroom provides tools and adjustments that can be used to improve the clarity and appearance of a person’s skin in photographs. By using features like the Spot Removal tool, Adjustment Brush, and fine-tuning the tone and texture settings, you can reduce blemishes, smooth out imperfections, and enhance the overall clarity of the skin.