We all want to look our best in photographs. Unfortunately, not all individuals are blessed with flawless skin and a perfect smile. That is where photo retouching software comes into the picture.

For our buying guide, we selected applications that allow you to perfect a subject in a portrait. These applications range from very basic programs with one or two tools to more advanced software with numerous photo editing tools. However, all of the applications we selected are easy enough for amateur photographers and those with little to no photo editing experience to learn and use.

The image retouching software in our guide focuses exclusively on the face: removing blemishes, smoothing uneven skin tones or defining a particular facial feature. With the software we've selected, you can create professional-looking portraits with just a click of the mouse. You can also refer to our articles about photo retouching to better understand this fun and exciting process.

Best for Applying Makeup

One of the advantages to using image retouching software is that many applications provide full cosmetic makeover capabilities. FaceFilter3 is one of the best applications to apply makeup and enhance a subject. With this application, you have full control of almost every aspect of your subject's appearance. You can adjust a subject's eye color, add eye shadow and lipstick, adjust skin color, and even manipulate hair color.

In addition, this picture retouching software provides side-by-side before-and-after capabilities so you can view your image before you added any touches and the image with all of your enhancements. And FaceFilter3 ensures you don't make too many adjustments so your subject is unrecognizable.


With FaceFilter3 from Reallusion, you can easily retouch your portraits into works of art. This photo retouching software features a full-service cosmetic makeover feature, facial reshaping and some basic photo editing settings to help you make the perfect picture. It also positions your before and after photos side by side to help you see just how much you've edited your photo.

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Best for Facial Changes

Some individuals refuse to be photographed. They're concerned about a certain feature, or they want to appear slimmer in photographs, so they opt out of making lasting photographic memories. With photo editing software, though, you can encourage friends and family who may be self-conscious about their appearance to be photographed and touched up.

Software developer Cyberlink offers numerous photo editing applications. Some of their products, such as PhotoDirector, provide facial reshaping capabilities. With this tool, you can reshape a subject's face to make it appear slimmer. You can create a more defined chin or make a round face slightly more oval. In addition, you can remove blemishes, wrinkles and other unsightly spots. And if your subject wants to adjust his or her skin color, you can make those changes as well.


Software manufacturer CyberLink provides a handful of photo editing applications to help you retouch and perfect your photos. In addition, applications such as MakeupDirector include a complete makeup kit that allows you to add makeup art to the subjects in your photos.

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Best for Special Effects

Some products not only focus on perfecting the facial appearance of your subjects, but they provide tools to add a particular effect or filter to the entire image. Nova Development provides numerous applications for retouching photos.

A handful of these image retouching products allow you to add special effects to your entire image quickly and easily. For example, some advanced effects include blurring the image's background so your subject stands out, adding a monochrome background while keeping your subjects in color or even just adding an entire watercolor theme to the image. The type and number of special effects varies based on the software application.

Nova Development

Nova Development makes many software applications, including numerous digital photography programs. These products range from photo recovery and fixing blurry photos to enhancing images. Some applications, including Photo Explosion, allow you to edit and retouch photos to create images you are proud to share.

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Individual Applications

When looking for the best photo retouching software, be aware that some applications are extremely basic. These products focus solely on removing red eye, for instance, or reshaping the subject's face or applying makeup. They can perform one type of photo retouching function but not all.

If you only want to complete one type of task with your photos, such as removing red eye, then these limited applications are ideal. However, some companies offer photo retouching packages where you can get four or five of these limited applications in one package or suite. Before purchasing any software, consider whether you need an application with a narrow focus or if a photo retouching software suite is more ideal for your specific needs.


Photo editing software should be easy to use, as it is task specific. After a long photo shoot, the last thing you want to do is individually edit each picture. With the best image retouching software, you can import several photos and enhance all of the pictures at the same time, making slight adjustments throughout. The best software also offers a side-by-side before-and-after preview of your image. In addition, you should be able to discard changes. If you've never used photo enhancing software, auto-detect features and adjustable facial feature points make editing several photos easy as well.

Customizable adjustment settings and preset adjustments can both be useful depending on your editing preferences. Having both options allows you to use the program's template settings for quick retouching situations or to save the settings you've customized for future pictures.

Help & Support

Photo retouching software, as with any other software, has a learning curve. A good help and support system from the manufacturer is essential: online tutorials; FAQs and a user manual ensure you're utilizing every feature the software offers. It is also an added benefit when software providers have live chat support on their website, along with other means of reaching a support representative quickly and directly.

The best part of using photo enhancing software is the changes can look so subtle and natural that no one will even notice your photos have been touched up. You can create magazine-quality family portraits, senior pictures or headshots, using photo retouching software as your secret weapon.