Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Is retouching good or bad for makeup artists?
Here is a side by side comparison of the same model
She's fully photo shopped--but is that right?

BEFORE (your makeup)  AFTER (the wonders of photoshop)

As a makeup artist we all have days that just--well--suck.  Then to the rescue comes photo shop riding in on his big ole white horse to save us.  Yeah!!!! Right?  Well yes and no.

Many moons ago I had an artist  who wanted to assist me show me her book and based on her book she was hired to help me with a real important gig. She said she was comfortable working on all skin tones as her book reflected. She came highly recommended by a photographer friend of mine so I was like sure-- love her book, love her she's hired.    JUMP to the night of my gig, her job--she was left to do a beautiful group of young people. I come back from my rounds to see her sitting in the corner looking terrified, her kit isn't even opened. I thought something had happen to her. I rush over to her and ask her if she's OK and she replied  "DeShawn I can't do this--I don't know how to work on Black and Hispanic people." HUH? Well when I looked at her fabulous book it was filled with every nationality including some Black and Hispanics I was totally thrown. I said what do you mean and she repeated herself "I don't know how to work on them." DING! a light bulb went off over my head and I said to myself--HER BOOK WAS ALLLLLLLLL A (#$@%^ ) LIE!   It was the photo shopping not her talent. No time to even say anything I had to then split my time between my clients and now this group and give her a lesson on Black and Hispanic makeup on top of that. Do I need to even say that, that chic was never seen by my eyes again!!!!!!  (and you better believe I will have a article on hiring assistants)

Question: So when is retouching/photoshop an acceptable representation of your work?
Answer:  When you can reproduce what has been retouched.

In other words, if you use a photo that you know your skill level isn't up too--you're doing yourself as an artist a disservice. Why?, Because you cannot physically reproduce the shading, the contour/highlight, the correct foundation selection for your model and the list goes on that the photographer has added to get a good photo.  I have seen countless photos of befores and afters of  artists work and am always amazed when I see it posted on their site.  Knowing full well they didn't have a clue as to what the hell they were doing.  So be careful when you get so gleeful over a photo that you know in your heart you didn't do well or you can't even reproduce.  Passing off a photo like that can only cause you more harm then needed.  Instead use the photo as a lesson as what to do for the next time.

Please remember you are hired by what is on your site and in your book sometimes and if you think you can just wing it when you get on the job you are truly mistaken.  


  1. Thank you for this article! Very insightful. As a rookie I have experienced this double-edged sword! Another MUA was giving a critique of my work and commented on a noticeable difference in lip color on the model's lips. I looked at the pic again and noticed the same thing! This was an image from my very first photo shoot, so I compared the photographer's retouched photo to one I took with my own digital camera at the shoot and immediately noticed that the lipstick color was more richer,blended and even than the retouched photo! Not everyone knows how to retouch well I've learned and can actually take away from the photo instead of enhancing it.

  2. hi deshawn! thanks so much for this article. i don't know how to use photoshop at all; but as an emerging MUA i strive to make every client look like your pic on the right--i figure that's why the client hired me!!! blessings

  3. Thank you ladies :) IN this day of print makeup everyones images will be retouched and manipulated in some way including mine. I wrote this becuase I see time and time again God awful makeup transformed into true pieces of art and just wnated to warn artist to be careful not to let photoshop be the tool that is used to showcase their work. There is nothing better in the world then being a makeup artist and I just want us all to enjoy as much as we can. So lets all beat face to perfection!!!!!

  4. Thank You so much for this Article Deshawn. This is why I just continue to work hard to perfect my artistry. Most the looks you see today are retouched. Even celebrities complain about how they hate how some magazines retouch their final images. This also makes me side eye those MUA's who steal other MUAs work and pass them off as their own. At the end of the day someone will ask you to recreate a certain look that you claim you can do only to lose respect because you lied.

  5. Yea, for sure my before and after pictures are not retouched, but any photo shoots I do, the photographer of course photoshops them, but I agree. I have seen many makeup artists pass of their work and I can tell they use the Blur tool like crazy under the eyes lol

  6. When I first decided to do makeup professionally and make it a business I would look at other artist pics and wanted to create that gorgeous flawless skin. After seeing some artist work in person I realized that the work on their site was nothing they actually produced in person and there really was no product ie: powder, foundation or brush that was going to give me that same look. I've since learned to master my own technique and give 100% to the point where the photographer or retoucher job is easier and less photo shop needed.

    Thanks again for this post!

  7. When I first started I truly disliked Photoshop I wanted to see my work as it was on its own. I would ask the photographers for a few of the "test shots" and over time I could see the true growth in my technique and skills. Now I am comfortable with Photoshop. I know that I can do the work and that the image that I (or a client) ends up with was real...not created via Photoshop! Thanks for shedding light on this!

  8. *starts a slow round of applause* Bravo. BRAVO! You hit a MAJOR point that all artists should read. Thank you!


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