Photoshop, when used responsibly, is awesome. A few clicks and you’ve removed the dark circles under your eyes, thinned out your cheeks, and erased that awkward-angle double chin. Boom, perfection! But what about in real life? There is no magic software to erase imperfections when you’re out on a first date or heading to a job interview. That’s where makeup comes in. Graphic designer Erin Westfall and Shana Mauk, senior director of beauty and education at Anisa International, gave us their tips for Photoshopping your look — without the computer.
Did you have a pimple or two (or three) in every school photo from seventh grade onward? Bet you wish the photographers had made use of Photoshop back then! Westfell frequently uses the Spot Healing Brush tool to erase blemishes from her clients’ images. To re-create the effects at home, she recommends applying a medicated antibacterial spot-treatment which will reduce inflammation, diminish redness, and prevent future breakouts. Choose one that doubles as cover-up.
The camera has a way of adding ten pounds, but digital enhancement tools have a way of taking them right off. Want the effects of a slimmer face right now, no juice cleanse necessary? Try contouring. This technique highlights your cheekbones and enhances your best features while disguising imperfections. The art of contouring may seem intimidating if your biggest makeup trick is smudging your eyeliner with your fingertips for a bit of edge, but it’s actually quite simple. “The key to contouring like a pro is proper skin preparation and having the correct tools,” says Mauk.
Check out our in-depth facial contouring how-to guide >>
Mauk advises prepping the skin by exfoliating at least once a week, preferably at night, to leave time for redness to dissipate and skin to soften. The smoother your face, the easier it will be for you to apply product to your bare skin. When choosing your product, consider sunless tanner, which is longer lasting than bronzer. Look for a tanner specifically designed for the face rather than one for the whole body, and stick to a product with low-impact color, or make your own SPF version by blending sunscreen with a pinch of mineral bronzer. Just a light bronze shade will do the trick — anything too dark and you’ll show up at the office looking like an orange Muppet.
Don’t be intimidated by complicated guides to contouring — you simply need to know where to start. For high impact with minimal effort, apply product to the places where the sun naturally hits your face. This includes the cheekbones, the upper corners of the forehead, and the jawline. Use a small amount of blender to buff the tanner into the skin without leaving harsh lines.
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If you’re someone who needs to work for your smooth skin, Photoshop’s High Pass filter is a dream come true. On a day-to-day basis, Westfall recommends another dream come true: BB cream. For the uninitiated, BB stands for “blemish balm.” These creams are a sort of all-in-one designed to help you overhaul your 15-step skin routine by acting as a concealer, foundation, and bronzer at once. If you’re lacking any serious skin issues, BB cream is perfect for smoothing out your skin and giving you that Photoshopped glow.
Shine serum is another way to polish your look, with the added bonus of moisturizing and hydrating your skin. If you’re more of a dew-drenched fairy queen than a sun-tanned beach bunny, shine serum is the way to go. Mauk recommends using a daytime serum and applying with a concealer brush. Pump the product on one side of the brush and press or pat onto the skin, focusing on the center of the face and moving outward. The patting or pressing technique prevents the product from fully absorbing into the skin, meaning it will take longer to dry, giving you a dewy appearance.
Read up on how to apply sunless tanner to your face >>
Dark circles and bags under your eyes may seem like a fact of life by now. After all, you’ve had them permanently since you first began pulling all-nighters in college. Westfall uses the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop to even out skin tone under the eyes, but you can wake up your look all on your own by using antioxidant-infused eye pads. Once applied to the eyes, they soothe and tone sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for products that contain natural ingredients like green tea and cucumber, which will have you appearing wide-eyed before your first cup of coffee.