15 Deceptive Photo Tricks That Make Models Look Flawless

How do always look so flawless? One word: Photoshop. By now, we all know that what we see on magazine pages is not real, but you may still be shocked by the unbelievable photo tricks that make celebrities look flawless. 

Photoshop tricks have been used by retouchers for years to make models look thinner or more curvaceous. But it’s not all retouching – there are some other tricks employed by the fashion industry to make models look better. We can thank Kim K for revealing her contouring secrets, but stylists have used bronzer, hair extensions, fake eyelashes, padded bras, and the art of perfectly tailored clothes for years. 

So before you start shaming into yourself for not looking like all those models, remember that even those models don’t look like those models.

Swimsuit Models Wear Push-Up Bras Under Their Bathing Suits

As a Photoshopper for Victoria’s Secret explained, “They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit,” then retouch it out later.

“When you’re wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form [can] you have cleavage,” she explained. “It’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.”

Breasts Are Altered In Photoshop

No one’s breasts look like that – not even the model’s breasts. In most cases, the shapes of breasts are retouched to look rounder, bigger, or higher. They sometimes even remove nipples, according to one retoucher.

Models Wear Hair Extensions

“The first thing they do is they put in [hair] extensions,” explained one Photoshopper. “I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair.”

Fake Lashes Are Used in Mascara Ads

Despite numerous run-ins with the National Advertising Division, cosmetic companies like CoverGirl and L’Oreal still use false lashes in the majority of their mascara advertisements.

All of Their Clothes Are Custom Tailored

As Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear explained to a woman that had won a consultation with him, everything you will ever see on a celebrity’s body, including outfits for when they’re just out and about and caught by a paparazzo, has been tailored to fit them. So don’t be surprised if you don’t get the same fit buying off the rack.

Models Stop Drinking Water Before Runway Shows

As Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima explained, she stops drinking water twelve hours before the show. “No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that.”

She also abstains from eating any solid food for nine days before a show, subsisting only on protein shakes.

Create Shape with Makeup Contouring

While Kim K might have made makeup contouring famous, it’s a trick that makeup artists have used for years. As Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist Rob Scheppy explained, “It’s a technique I’ve known about and used, especially for photo shoots. I started my career in Miami and models would come in and want to look a certain way, so I’d have to figure out ways to correct certain features, or enhance them.”

As the “Baron of Bronzing,” Jimmy Coco, explains, it’s all about the bronzer:

First, I match their darkest area of skin tone. Then I use different volumes of spray pattern to do enhancements and contouring by shading in lines… You can make someone look much thinner by darkening the outside of the body, like, if there’s a problem with the hips.

Hairy Armpits Are “Shaved” in Photoshop

While some models have gone through laser hair removal, they’re not completely hairless.

“They come to these photo shoots and, like, they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits,” explained one Photoshopper. Luckily, retouching can hide hair as well as stubble or little bumps left over from hair removal.

That “Dewy” Look Is Created by Smearing Their Faces with Lip Balm

One makeup artist shared her tip for that models’ skin glow. “I hope you’re ready for the answer: mostly it’s greasy, shiny, lip balm,” she said. “Yep. We’ll often put it all over the eyelids, cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and the top of the lips. Sometimes it goes on the lips, too, but not always.”

Models Exfoliate Their Lips Until They Bleed

As one makeup artists shared, many models have dry lips just like the rest of us. But there’s a trick for smoothing them out:

One of the most effective methods I’ve found is to remove the top layer of dryness first with makeup remover. Then I apply a thick coat of lip balm. After letting that soak in for a bit, I have the model scrape her lips (rather aggressively) with a clean mascara wand. Then I use more makeup remover to remove the debris and follow with another layer of lip balm. Yes, sometimes they bleed, but we try to avoid that.

Body Parts Get Swapped Out in Photoshop

Photoshop artists often swap body parts to fix awkward-looking stances. “There’s a lot of the switching bodies up,” explained one retoucher, giving this common example:“‘Can you change these arms with a different girl’s arms, because her arms are making it look like she’s, like, picking her butt’ – or something.”

Awkward gestures are often fixed this way: “A lot of the time, retouching isn’t about trying to make a body look ideal, but also to avoid criticism of the image.”

Teeth Are Whitened in Photoshop – or with Banana Peels

While most teeth get whitened in Photoshop, you could use this trick from New York-based cosmetic dentists Marc Lowenberg, Gregg Lituchy, and Brian Kantor: rub a banana peel on your teeth. According to the dentists, “Banana peels have been proven to naturally whiten teen, so rip off a piece of the peel and get started!”

Whiter Eyeballs Are Created in Photoshop

While you could use these products to get whiter eyeballs, most ads just rely on Photoshop.  “Nobody has really white eyes” explained one retoucher. “And every company wants that because they think it looks brighter, but I think it looks really crazy.”

Photoshop Is Often Used to Make Models Fatter, Not Thinner

Wanna know how to get that curvy bum you’ve always wanted? Ask a retoucher to plump it up in Photoshop. Most models are very thin and have A-cup breasts and few curves, so, as one Photoshop artist explained, she was typically asked to make breasts fuller and butts more plump-looking.