Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Retouching in real time.

I suppose this post is duel purpose. 1. I want to show you some make-up I did on my big sister Claire at the weekend for a Burlesque night and 2. I thought this would be a particularly good opportunity to talk about retouching.

As you can see from the picture above, my sister is naturally beautiful. My two sisters are probably my favourite people to perform make-up on because they both look so different, but they can carry off so many looks. My sister Gael has her own style, including her make-up which I completely respect and although she lets me 'soften' her look out of interest time to time, It literally makes me cry with laughter when she looks in the mirror after its finished and shouts "EUGHHHH!! ITS DISGUSTING!!" (probably with much more swearing involved than I have indicated, haha) She definitely isn't a girly girl.

Firstly, the burlesque look I did on Claire product and technique wise, is very much identical to the 'Dita Von Teese inspired look' I posted a few weeks ago. Main differentiating factors are: Much less brow, a lot more highlighter and a higher end base for longevity. I have stated before I prefer using a higher end base for nights out SOLELY for performance. It has nothing to do with the actual FINISH or aesthetic of the product. 

On Claire, I used both Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation and Estee Lauder Mineral Rich loose powder. My sister did point out that although she liked the finish of these products, last time I did her make-up she felt they sat quite heavily around the hairline - something I had not noticed before but thought I better mention. E.L Double Wear is a full coverage foundation, which is why many may find it too heavy and ultimately it can appear heavy round the hairline on certain skin types. My advice for getting rid of that effect is to use a buffing brush instead of a flat foundation brush to apply your base. I used a buffing brush this time round with Claire and she had no complaints. :)
I actually had the idea to do this post before I even took the pictures of my Sister with her completed look. The issue of retouching is such a current topic in the advertising of beauty products and appears to be receiving increased scrutinization now more than ever. Many super brands have had their make-up advertisements pulled because the models or celebrities endorsing these products looked like actual plastic.

There are three reasons why these adverts no longer affect me:

1. Even an amateur knowledge of photo manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop has taught me how simple it is to make people look unrealistically flawless.

2. Both my age and an in depth study of consumer behaviour, fashion branding, marketing/advertising and fashion communication has taught me to be slightly more assertive to unrealistic product claims. (I guarantee the next mascara advert you watch will have the tiniest text in the corner of the ad stating 'Filmed with lash inserts')

3. It would be simply ridiculous for me to think that buying a foundation or make-up product whether high end or high street is going to make me look like Julia Roberts.

That being said, this wasn't the case when I was 15 or 16, and that is the danger in retouching, providing an unrealistic and completely fake image for young men and women to strive for, which could ultimately develop in to an inferiority complex. Of course its not just in the beauty industry but across all industries. I'm sure all of you know that you are allowed to apply anything to food before taking a picture of it for an advertisement - you could cover it in poo if it made it look better. People think 'Mmmmmm', you get it out the packet and it looks and smells like it's been sat on for the past month. Well - it seems its much the same in the beauty industry.. Super brands know they have that power, so be one step ahead. You are after all, the customer, their business would not exist if it were not for you.

Lets get down to it: here is my sister, un-edited un-touched, after I had completed her make-up.

Here is my sister after I spent 2 hours retouching the photograph:

Now, I do not claim to have a vast knowledge of Adobe Photoshop: This is simply for post purpose.. So I will short list what I did to the photo so you can gain a small idea of how unrealistic retouching is:

  • I made her eyes 5% Bigger
  • I made her lips 5% Bigger
  • I changed her eye colour to a brighter blue
  • I filled in patched in her eyelashes
  • I softened her skin
  • I sharpened her eyes
  • I removed all stray hairs
  • I removed imperfections
  • I made her hair more voluminous
  • I extended her eyebrows and filled in patches
  • I applied highlight to the most attractive parts of her face
  • I added extra sparkle to her eyes
  • I darkened her pupils
  • I intensified her lip colour and tidied it up
  • I removed shadows to the face
  • Finally I darkened the background to make her stand out.
Did she need retouching? No. Is she beautiful already? Yes. Does it look like Claire? No. Is it Unrealistic? Yes. In fact - although I enjoy working with Photoshop, I don't like this photo of my sister because there is no emotion - The more beautiful photo is her in her natural state. Its too pristine, too perfect - she does not look human. This is all primarily because she does not need retouching and neither does anyone else.


  1. wow this is amazing :) i really would love this to just experiment on :D xx

  2. Wow, you've got some pretty amazing photoshop skills there.



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