I’ve noticed lately, especially with some of the new younger crop of emerging photographers, a trend to apply a heavy-handed use of skin retouching techniques.
I’m sure we’ve all seen examples where the subjects face looks like plastic and too smooth to be real. The problem as I see it is that the retoucher is applying blur. The issue with this technique is that we completely lose all skin texture to the point of being unrealistic. Not only that, but if you zoom in, you’ll notice very soft eyebrows and eyelashes.
There are some excellent Photoshop plugins such as Portrait Professional by Anthropics Technology and my favourite, Portraiture by Imagenomic that can help you with your beauty / skin retouching workflow.
Even with these excellent tools, you still need to go easy with them. Go ahead and get rid of blemishes, pimples and wrinkles and then start working on skin softening with the above mention tools but be gentle and keep it real.
Of course, the plugins are like having your camera on “P” mode. You’re allowing the technology behind them to make all the decisions for you. Get to know and learn what is happening behind the scenes so that you can be in control and make your own decisions.