For photos taken with my Point & Shoot camera, the flash often leave people in the photo with a 'shiny skin' effect. Other than not using the flash (or at least moving the flash off the lens-axis), what's the best way to reduce the shiny skin effect with Lightroom?


The old way of solving this problem, I mean before digital post-processing, was to apply foundation cosmetics on the model face. This is still used for TV shows.

  • Standard cosmetics don't necessarily reduce shine. You can buy anti-shine specifically for this task. It's a kind of clear gel that dries in seconds (though you can get it in colours too, but that tends to restrict its use). I always carry some in my bag. Look for 'movie quality', 'camera ready' or similar in the advertising. It's not expensive & is invisible in use, so anyone can wear it.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 19 '20 at 10:39

For this photo of my brother and his girlfriend, I used the brush with brightness set to about -10 or -20 (very subtle) with a large feather and the clarity at about -35%. This smoothed out any little specular bumps on their skin and brought down the shininess of the highlight themselves. I'm sure there might be better ways but I ended up with something that I think looks much better.

This was taken on a Canon 50D with the 18-55mm kit lens using the in-built flash.

Flickr - Matt & Amelia

Here's the original.

Matt & Amelia Untouched


Although you could fix this problem in lightroom with reasonable results, you can fix it when taking the picture.

The flash is too hard and overexposes certain parts of the face (and reflects in the eyes), a easy fix is to diffuse the intensity of the light, sometimes this is possible by tweaking the flash intensity but what always works is just put a piece of thin paper in front of your flash. I've advised this to some friends with a P&S and the results are very noticeable and some of them now have a white paper taped in front of the flash.

You should check that the warmth produced does not burn your paper, and if you have a popup flash, you could try the DIY diffuser using a old film canister idea.


Intriguing question. Only way I know how to solve this "well" is with a circular polarizer filter attached to the lens, however I am not sure if this is possible with a P&S.

If you wish to try fixing the problem somewhat with Lightroom, I would try using the selective editing brush (the last tool on the right under the histogram). With this tool, you can essentially "paint on" a variety of color and tone settings. You could try painting on "Highlight Recovery" just in the areas where you need it, leaving the rest of the image unaffected. I am not sure if this will solve the problem, and you might need to tweak some other settings such as color temperature and/or saturation, as recovery has the tendency to shift colors when a single primary (such as reds/yellows in skin tones) dominate.

  • 1
    Yeah I have found I can't really use the global Recovery setting when dealing with portraits or skin tones in general. It makes them a little pink and not too flattering... Sep 8 '10 at 0:29
  • You can usually compensate for that with adjustments to temperature and tint. The selective editing brush can brush on multiple adjustments simultaneously, so you might need to experiment a bit. The key is to recognize that recovery will try to recover only what is "blown", so if reds and yellows are considerably more blown our than blues and greens, you get a color shift. Simultaneous adjustments to temperature and/or tint along with recovery can usually correct that.
    – jrista
    Sep 8 '10 at 1:08

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