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Challenge #2 Results Overview

As we wrap up our second RA Beauty Retouching Challenge, I am pleased to find that this time there were more submissions that I personally liked compared to the first round. This is such a unique opportunity for everyone interested in beauty retouching to see so many different artistic visions and skillsets applied to the same photo.

I hope everyone carefully reviews the submissions in the designated Challenge #2 album (in our private group) to make mental notes on skin tones, how skin texture was preserved (or obliterated in some cases), how certain details were approached, what was removed and what was left in, and evaluates how each version aligns with their own visual preferences.


Based on the members’ votes (currently 74 likes), Mia Křižková‘s submission is, hands down, the winner in this round (image on the right). Mia is an active member of the RA community and it’s especially joyous to see her win. Congratulations, Mia!

Our previous champion Axelle Manfrini voted for the submission by Natalia Kaszuba‎ turning the 26 likes under Natalia’s retouch to 35 with her x10 voting power 💪

I’ve also shared a few notes on the submissions that I thought were better then most here and recorded my own retouching of the Challenge image (the result is in the feature image of this blogpost). You can watch my workflow overview video below 👇

Let’s go for round #3!

Challenge #2 winner, submission by Mia Křižková


Photography and retouching are subjective just like any other type of arts. But there are also certain rules and requirements for those who are interested in commercial application of this craft.

There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind while reviewing the submissions in the Challenge #2 album:

  • some beginner retouchers mistakingly assume that the greater the difference between the original photo and the retouched version, the better the retouch, which couldn’t be further from the truth in professional beauty retouching. Professional retouchers work with the images that were produced by professionals and typically don’t require extreme manipulations, especially when there are no obvious lighting or makeup mistakes to fix in the image;
  • very many participants focused on the face and completely ignored the look of the stick-on nails that did not fit the model’s nail beds. It’s a very quick and easy fix in post, so when such details are ignored it tells me that the retoucher does not possess the necessary level of attention to detail or does not understand what is commonly considered a distraction and should be addressed in beauty retouching;
  • some retouchers cleaned up the hairline along the forehead but either went too far and made it look too unnatural, or didn’t address it at all. The middle ground here would be the best approach;
  • most participants did not address the difference of the skin tones between the face and the hand. The skin tones don’t have to match absolutely, but adjusting the color and luminosity of the skin on the hand to bring it a little closer to that of the face will always elevate the overall look of the image;
  • most participants did not address the overdrawn upper lip at all and while it is arguably a mistake, I personally view it as such and always try to correct it. Makeup artists often attempt to visually correct or enlarge the shape of the lips by painting with lipliner or lipstick outside of the natural lip outline. It may work well in person or in a video, but in beauty photography, direct strobe lighting will always create a highlight and a shadow along the lip outline and give away this makeup trick. To me personally, it looks a little sloppy regardless of whether the makeup artist meant to overdraw or it happened unintentionally, so my core makeup artists always know not to do that when shooting with me. It is much easier to correct the lip shape in post, if that is necessary.

The other important note I’d like to mention is that if retouching is your hobby and you enjoy expressing your artistic vision through manipulating faces, altering makeup, replacing colors, etc. – there are no rules and you are free to do whatever you please (as long as you have explicit permission to retouch an image that you did not photograph, otherwise it is unethical and illegal).

If, however, you want to or plan on becoming a creative professional in the beauty retouching field, you need to understand a few important concepts, and I will write more on that in my next post.

In the meantime, we will begin preparing for RA Beauty Retouching Challenge #3, for which we have a few exciting images from the talented photographer & retoucher Alex Malikov to choose from!

Stay tuned for the new round announcement! 🥂🍾


As I wrap up all of the commercial retouching for the campaigns that I was fortunate to photograph right before we all got locked down, I am now enjoying the slower time, revisiting my personal shoots and participating in our retouching challenges.

I hope you are staying safe and well, and investing more of your time into the activities that you enjoy but never have enough time for 🙂

Photography & Retouching by Julia Kuzmenko McKim 

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