Removing Blemishes

Blemishes have the power to cause us great embarrassment - think of the phrase, “Pizza face”? Blemishes are usually temporary anyway, so why remember them forever in a photograph when we can easily get rid of them.


Step 1

Removing Blemishes Step 1

Open up your photo, and then double-click on the Zoom Tool to bring your image to 100% (it’s best to work at least 100% when editing, so you can accurately see how you’re modifying the image). Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool J and change the size to just larger than the blemishes you will be removing and start clicking on the obvious blemishes.


Step 2

Removing Blemishes Step 2

Well-defined, individual blemishes should be easy to remove using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. However, when the skin is red, scarred or inflamed over a larger area of the skin, use the Clone Stamp Tool S at 0% Hardness, the Size at 40 (Size varies depending on where we are on the face), and the Opacity at 30%. When using the Clone Stamp Tool, hold the Option key (PC: ALT key) and select an area nearby where you are cloning, and, as much as possible, try to select something with the similar lighting, shading and, in this case, freckling on the skin as where you are cleaning up the skin.


Step 3

Removing Blemishes Step 3

By using the Clone Stamp Tool, you will usually lose the texture of the skin. Select the Patch Tool and select an area of skin that has the texture you need and drag the selection to the area that needs texture.


Step 4

Removing Blemishes Step 4

Click at the top of the History Window (in order to see the image as it looked when you first opened it), and click again on the last bar in the History Window, going back and forth a few times (so you can see the “Before” and “After”). (REMEMBER: do not perform any other action until you click on the last bar of the History Window and it’s highlighted again, otherwise, you will erase everything that was showing on the History Panel!)


Step 5

Removing Blemishes Step 5

Now that the major skin issues have been cleaned up, look at the rest of the skin to see what else needs to be cleaned up. In this example we want to do the following: •smooth out the whiteness around the subjects lips •remove the white spots on the lips •smooth out a line of redness around the subject’s left nostril •soften some dark freckle patches on the nose •soften the shine on the tip of the nose •clean up anything else that’s distracting. We used the Clone Stamp Tool (same settings as before, except for Size which varies depending on where on the face you are working — 0% Hardness, 30% Opacity).


Step 6

The only other issue with this image is that the lips are a bit too red. Select the Brush Tool B at Size 10, Hardness 10, Opacity 20%. Click and drag the cursor over the lips one time. Select the History Brush Tool Y at Size 10, Hardness 10, Opacity 30%. Click and drag the cursor over the center between the upper and lower lips (where the lips touch each other). And finally, select the Clone Stamp Tool (same settings as before) and smooth out any unevenness that is distracting.


Before & After Removing Blemishes

Before Removing Blemishes
After Removing Blemishes



A person’s confidence is often dependent upon how their skin looks. However, keep in mind that a man’s skin is usually not as smooth as a woman’s. And when there are freckles, as much as possible, remove only the blemishes and keep the freckles. For anyone who has suffered through skin issues, you know that when you change your skin, you change your life! Removing skin blemishes with photo retouching is a simple way to make people feel better about the photograph.

Attila Kun

Attila is the founder and editor-in-chief of Exposure Guide. He is an avid photographer, graphic designer, bedroom DJ and devoted Mac addict. Attila got his first DSLR camera, a Canon 10D, back in 2003 and he has been hooked on photography ever since.