It may not be a fountain of youth, but Photoshop is the secret of beauty experts everywhere. Here’s some tips on  how to reduce wrinkles and make the people in your pictures look younger in virtually no time at all.

Whatever you might think about using photo editors to create an unrealistic standard of beauty, the fact remains is that it’s done every day by professional image editors. And today we’re going to show you some tricks that even the pros use to keep models looking young. So open up Photoshop or GIMP and get ready to take some years off. Keep reading!

How To Take Years off of a Face

We’ll be covering three easy tips to make faces look younger while keeping an image looking realistic. Start with an appropriate image, preferably high resolution, and open up your favorite image editor. Today, we’re using Photoshop, but GIMP users can follow along and use this same method, since GIMP has all of the tools and blending modes we’re using today. Let’s begin!

Tip One: Reducing Wrinkles

The common denominator of most wrinkles is that they’re darker than the rest of the skin tones. In order to make a person look younger, the first step is lightening the shadows in the wrinkles.

Obvious methods, like using the dodge tool dodge tool (Shortcut key )can sometimes be effective, but will desaturate your image. Notice how the area where the wrinkles are being removed is becoming gray.

If this desaturation is okay with you, you can use the dodge with the setting on “Shadows” as shown above to affect the darkest areas the most. There are better methods, though.

Try this instead: Since the desturation isn’t okay, this method is slicker and more professional. Create a new layer and set the Blending Mode to “Lighten” as shown.

In your new layer, use the eyedropper to grab colors that are lighter than the shadows in the wrinkle areas.

With the brush tool (Shortcut key ) use the colors you pick from the image and paint into the “Lighten” layer. Reduce wrinkles and texture by lightening them, but don’t go overboard. Start with darker colors and change to lighter colors as you go. It’s recommended to change the color you’re painting with multiple times to match the skin tones and keep the image looking natural.

Use whatever size brush suits you, but you’d be better off using a very soft brush when you paint. With the brush tool selected, right click to set your brush to 0% hardness.

Done carefully, this technique (or others that lighten these kinds of shadows) can reduce the impact of heavy wrinkles and make a subject look considerably younger. Be careful not to push it too far, or it will look excessively Photoshopped.

Tip Two: Reducing Shiny Skin Highlights

Again, an attempt to use the burn tool on the image to remove the shiny skin highlights is a failure. The skin tone instantly turns gray and has to be undone.

Even a setting on “highlights” creates serious problems. This technique can sometimes be effective, but, again, there are better methods.

Try this instead: Create a new layer with the blending mode set to “Darken” as shown above. This can go on top of your other layers without any trouble.

Grab a mid tone that is slightly darker than your highlight areas and use the brush tool to paint into your “Darken” layer.

Subtly darken your highlights. Your intention is to reduce the detail in the highlights, smoothing out skin imperfections. Be careful to keep your image looking as natural as possible.

Again, the brush tool should be set to a 0% hardness. Set it by right clicking with the brush tool active.

The reduced highlights can also make a person look healthier, which adds to the illusion of youth.

Tip Three: Softening Details and Harsh Wrinkles

With the wrinkles reduced in both the highlight and shadow areas, we can take our image one step further by reducing and softening detail throughout selected areas. Here’s how.

Press     to copy your image as it appears and place it on top of all your adjustment layers. It should do it automatically—this is one of the so-called “hidden” shortcuts in Photoshop.

Navigate to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to create a blur on this layer. Adjust it until the image loses detail in the worst areas, but not altogether. Press OK when you’re satisfied.

Find the in the layers panel, then Alt + Click the icon to create a new layer mask set to masking everything out. The blurred copy of your image should disappear. At this point, we’re going to selectively bring back parts of it to soften the most textured parts of our image.


Grab your brush tool again and paint white into your layer mask. Use it in areas where the details and skin textures are making the face look older and more weathered. Don’t overdo it or you’ll make the image look phony.

Only paint into your wide areas and keep away from edges to keep them sharp, unblurred and clean.

Comparing Our Finished, Tweaked Image


Our final image is a pretty impressive and convincing transformation. We haven’t turned her into a twenty year old, but these simple tricks have definitely taken years off. Got any tricks of your own? Let us hear about them in the comments below.

Image Credit: Woman by Francois Bester, Creative Commons.