Investing in a good hair stylist for your photo shoot will save you a lot of time in post production, notes leading burlesque and fashion photographer Tigz Rice.
However, even on a good hair day, you may still have fine flyaway hairs to clean up, gaps between hair curls or even stubborn fringes that just won’t stay where you want them to.
In this tutorial, we’ll be covering a range of techniques to achieve flawless locks.
Time to complete
20 mins - 1 hour depending on retouching experience
Photoshop (any version)
I’m going to assume you’re working with a Raw image here, so the first thing we’ll do is to use Camera Raw to correct any exposure or white balance issues and crop where necessary.
If you’ve got Photoshop CC, you can do this on any type of image using the Camera Raw filter (
Filter > Camera Raw Filter).
Now we’ve got a correct exposure, select the Clone tool at 100% opacity and work around the outer edge of the hair to remove any stray or fly-away hairs sticking out from the main shape of the hairstyle.
See the next step for the end result of this.
This is what our shot looks like after removing stray hairs.
Tip: For a more realistic hair line, leave the odd stray hair in the shot, particularly around the crown.
Select the Spot Healing Brush to get rid of any stray hairs in the main section of hair.
In particular, look for any obvious hairs travelling in the wrong direction.
Once we’ve got rid of all the fly-away hairs, we can now focus on filling in sections of hair that are missing, such as the central section of the fringe.
To start doing this, create a new blank layer so we can work non-destructively.
Select the Clone Stamp tool and hold down the Alt key to bring up the target picker. Navigate to a section of hair near the area of fringe you will be fixing and click to select the specific pixels you want to clone.
Once you’ve made your target selection, brush over the fringe at 100% opacity.
Highlight both layers in your Layers panel and use the shortcut
Cmd/Ctrl + J to create duplicate copies. Your Layers panel should now look like this.
Cmd/Ctrl + E will then merge these two new duplicate layers together so we can work on a non-destructive copy of our retouching for the next few steps.
To add volume to the hair, go to
Filter > Liquify and select a large brush. Gently pull out the edges of the hair to add volume, using short brush strokes to form a gradual effect.
Tip: If you’re working on an image with a patterned or busy background, you’ll need to keep an eye on how your changes are affecting everything else in the image.
Still in the Liquify dialog, switch to a smaller brush and start to correct the edge of the fringe, pulling long strands of hair up and short strands down neatening the length.
Again, doing this in small increments will achieve a more natural looking effect.
When you’re happy, press OK.
At this stage the hair is looking much neater, but we want a much sharper finish on the fringe.
Duplicate the top layer in the Layers Panel and rename it to Frequency Separation.
For this step, you’ll need an action to split your colour and texture into two separate layers, plus another blank layer for non-destructive retouching. You can learn how do this in steps 4-8 of my
Frequency Separation tutorial.
Click on the ‘High Frequency’ layer. Select the Clone Tool at 100% opacity, with Sample in the Options Bar set to Current Layer.
Alt-click the skin of the forehead to set your target texture and straighten out the edge of the fringe.
Now click on the ‘Low Frequency’ layer. Select the Clone Tool at 10% opacity with the Sample set to Current and Below.
Select the skin of the forehead as your target colour and fix any colour issues below the new edge of the fringe.
Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N to create a new layer and name it 'Highlights'. Set its blending mode to Overlay and tick the box to fill the layer with a 50% grey.
This is a non destructive layer that will allow us to dodge out blemishes whilst preserving the original image. Click OK.
Using the Dodge tool, set to Highlights at 5% opacity, brush over the highlights in the hair to give them extra shine.
Once the hair is retouched, you can now go on to make any changes to the rest of your image.