Photoshop Tutorial: Advanced Skin Softening

The tutorial below will show you how you can softening the skin tones and lowering the contrast at the same time.


Step 1.) Press ctrl-j to make duplicates of your background layer in your Layer Pallete. Now that you have ‘layer 1 copy’ and ‘layer 1’, hide the ‘layer 1 copy’ by clicking the eye icon and change the ‘layer 1’ layer mode to Darken.


Step 2.) Apply 45 pixel gaussian blur filter to your ‘layer 1’ ( filter > blur > gaussian blur)


Step 3.) Now hide the ‘layer 1’ by clicking on the eye icon, and make the ‘layer 1 copy’ visible by clicking the empty box on the left. After that, change the ‘layer 1 copy’ layer mode to lighten.


Step 4.) Apply the 65 pixel gaussian blur to ‘layer 1 copy’ (filter > blur > gaussian blur)


Step 5.) Hide your ‘background’ layer and create a new layer above the ‘layer 1 copy’ layer


Step 6.) Now you want to merge ‘layer 1 copy’ & ‘layer 1’ and create a flattened version in your ‘layer 2’ by selecting ‘layer 2’ first, then pressing the alt key and at the same time go to layer > merge visible. Or you can just press alt +shift +ctrl +e.


Step 7.) Hide ‘layer 1’ and ‘layer 1 copy’ and make your ‘background’ layer visible. Lower the ‘layer 2’ opacity to 35% or 40%.


Step 8.) Mask the ‘layer 2’ to keep the detail areas such as eyes, lips, eyebrows, hair by clicking on the add vector mask button on the bottom of your layer pallete.


Step 9.) Choose the soft-edged brush, and start to paint the layer vector mask to black to the areas that you should have full detail. Mine is pretty much everything but the skin.


15 Responses to “Photoshop Tutorial: Advanced Skin Softening”

  1. Shiva says:

    Very useful and simple tutorial

  2. gee says:

    It’s simple and it works, but it’s definitely not professional. You dont see gaussian blurs on magazines. Patch tool + ctrl+f makes much, MUCH, better results. You can see that the image is ‘shopped with gaussian blur, but if you do it well, you wont see it with patch tool.

  3. Debi says:

    Very good! Thank you!

  4. rwr says:

    hmm but why to do so when first pic looks a lot better, sharper and juicier than second…

  5. Lauczi says:

    thanx! It helped my mum to be younger 😉 😀

  6. Mike says:

    gee, can you explain how to use patch tool+ctrl+f to get better results?


  7. lewis says:

    Nice. Used in combination with the patch tool this works pretty well. I also found that copying the original image to a new layer, put in a 10 – 15 pixel gausian blur on it, setting it as an “overlay layer” at about 40% opacity and putting this over the top helped to restore some of the colour and tone lost during this technique 🙂

  8. elilil says:


  9. blaa says:

    Too bad it makes it look like the picture is not as sharp as it used to be

  10. Bernie says:

    Thanks a lot. Brilliant and simple but incredibly effective solution to an issue I’ve struggled with for a long time.

  11. Kaya says:

    Extremely complicated compared to other tutorials out there. I don’t care for this version–the Gaussian Blur (in my opinion) shouldn’t be used to soften skin.

  12. Robyn says:

    Excellent tutorial! Very useful.

  13. Yogesh.KR says:

    Pretty complex one but very useful.. thanx a lot.

  14. Dana says:

    Nice technique but as one guy said. I didnt like the fact that although the skin looked blurry, it really didnt do much for wrinkles or freckles or spots on the face. However, if you make a duplicate layer, then use the overlay mode and then use the high pass filter. Next you select the brush tool and use it to bring back the details in the eyes, lips and hair highlights, not to mention any jewelry or fingernails you wiill get a much better end result. Also, you can add a vector mask when using the brush tool and dial back the opacity to lessen the softning effect for a more natural look. Last of all add a slight amount of smart sharpening to sharpen up the overall photo. One more thing is to add around 10 or less contrast to make it pop.

  15. skin dm says:

    Everyone loves it when individuals get together and share views.
    Great site, stick with it!

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