The Dos and Don’ts of Headshot Retouching

headshot retouching

A headshot is a part of a photograph that shows a person’s appearance with the aim of casting or branding. On the other hand, retouching deals with improving a photo’s quality.

Retouching a headshot is a vital thing that should be done carefully. Otherwise, it can destroy the look of a person. In that case, you can hire a professional retoucher or do it independently.

It doesn’t matter who retouches your headshot. A few things must be kept in mind when a photo gets touched up using photoshop.

In this write-up, we have demonstrated The Dos and Don’ts of Headshot Retouching. Hopefully, both professionals and nonprofessionals will get benefitted. 

The Reasons Behind Retouching?

Why should you retouch your headshot? A headshot portrays your personality and confers a good impression on those you want to impress.

Besides that, retouching changes the look of your image by polishing what you need to have your best image for several purposes.

Suppose you need to attach a photo on your CV that will be sent to a multinational company. Will you attach your headshot photo, which is not polished properly? Not, right? In that case, you have to retouch it correctly.

In addition, if you are a candidate for an interview and need to show an image, you don’t show your full image. A headshot is necessary then, and it should be retouched; that will look professional.

So, to enhance the quality of your headshot, make it more natural, and give it a more professional look, retouching your headshot is mandatory.

However, retouching your headshot can be done on your own using Photoshop, or you can take headshot retouching service, which will cost a certain amount of money.

The Dos and Don’ts of Headshot Retouching


What you should do and what you shouldn’t do while retouching your headshot has been demonstrated in this segment. If you follow the instructions below, your headshot retouch will become top-notch.

You Should Do:

  • Do Use The History Brush
  • Do Use The Pen Tool
  • Do Experiment With Tools That Don’t Use Normally
  • Do Use The Liquify Filter
  • Do Use Healing Brush Tool
  • Do Eliminate Background With Magic Tool
  • Do Select an Adjustment Layer

Do Use The History Brush

Over-Blurring a subject is a mistake that usually can happen. To fix it up, the history brush can be used. It never hurts to take incremental snapshots in the history plate when you work.

The brush is closely associated with the history plate; that only requires setting up the history brush’s source to know where it will sample from.

This can be done just by pressing the open box, which is next to the layer in the history plate. Because of that, it is best to snap using the icon that is outlined in red.

In this way, you will be able to know exactly what the headshot will look like before you execute the history brush.

Do Use The Pen Tool

A pen tool is a vital tool that you will need to retouch your headshot. The pen tool is the best when selecting small areas such as your eyes and teeth.

To use the tool, just bound the object, then move to the Path Tab. Now, right-click on the work path, and then go for the “Make selection.”

You can also select the “Load Path as Selection” option while the path layer is active under the Path tab.

Do Experiment With Tools That Don’t Use Normally

This may be weird to hear, but believe me, this method works fine in the case of retouching.

For instance, recently, I discovered that the Extract filter works great. From then on, this tool has been used several times.

It is an amazing tool for hair that will help you quickly outline the area with the marker, and fill it in.

Note: The Extract filter is not available in CS4 but can be copied from the CS3 Plug-ins.

Do Use The Liquify Filter

If you can use the Liquify Filter property, It can replace several tools. For example, the Forward Warp Tool [Included in Liquify Filter] is much more accurate than the Smudge tool.

On the other hand, the Twirl Clockwise Tool outplaces the Twirl Filter, discovered in Distort. They are just several examples.

This filter lets you freeze areas you wouldn’t like to be affected. The great part of the filter is that if you go for bloating a certain area of your headshots, there is a reconstruct button to correct it.

Do Use Healing Brush Tool

Using a Clone Stamp tool for matching colors is not a wise decision as a photo editor. In that case, the Healing Brush tool can be used. It is similar to the Clone Stamp Tool but more intelligent than that.

You can use the tool to mix the new area with the sampled area and consider the tonal qualities where the Clone Stamp is a copy-paste only. Before using the tool, you must make sure that you have changed the sample drop-down to all layers.

It is considered the most crucial part because any changes you make won’t affect your original image.

Do Eliminate Background With Magic Tool

The maximum time we use selection tools to remove objects. Do you know you can use the Magic Eraser Tool as well?

You don’t need to use it always, but it is the right choice if you have perfect headshots without the worst background, like a messy bedroom.

Do Select an Adjustment Layer

Why should you choose an adjustment layer over an adjustment? The purpose of it is simple. If you don’t like your adjustment, you can delete the layer. This keeps you away from losing a considerable amount of work.

You Shouldn’t Do:

  • Don’t Rely on Clone Stamp Tool
  • Don’t Use Gaussian Blur Tool To Accomplish All Work
  • Don’t Avoid The Selection Tools
  • Don’t Overlook Quick Masks
  • Don’t Be Bashful With Creating Clipping Masks
  • Don’t Stop At Brightness & Contrast to Color Correct

Some Basic Dos and Don’ts of Headshot Retouching


  1. The Appearance of Dark Circles Should Be Reduced Under Eyes.
  2. Make Sure You Have Removed The Yellow and Red From your Teeth & Eyes.
  3. The Wrinkles Appearance Must Be Reduced
  4. Remove Distracting Hairs
  5. The Acne and Razor Bumps Should be Erased.
  6. Increase The Color and Contrast.


  1. Skin Softening Filters Should Not Be Used.
  2. Don’t Shrink Natural Features
  3. Don’t Need to Change Hair Styles or Color
  4. Don’t Remove Disheveled Cloths.
  5. Don’t Eliminate Permanent Facial Features.

A Quick Tips While Retouching

We have shared some tips that you can follow while retouching your headshots. These includes:

  1. When working with several layers, lock them.
  2. Files save in iterations
  3. Use the history panel rather than “Ctrl+Z” to move to previous or later states.
  4. Clone in separate layers to keep the original image safe from damage.
  5. Edit in RGB, which is more edible than others.
  6. Give names to your layers.
  7. Don’t forget to use Dust & Scratches tools.

Final Thought

Headshot retouching is a task that should be done carefully. Because the look of the image depends on the retouch, if it doesn’t retouch correctly, you’ll look weird in the photo.

A headshot photo shows the personality of a person. So, It should be retouched to maintain quality. Otherwise, the originality of the photo will change.

However, throughout the article, we have demonstrated what you should and shouldn’t do while retouching. If you can follow these, you’ll have a better result.