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The Less is More Approach to Master Skinimalism in Photography

Being comfortable and loving your skin has taken a different form: skinimalism.

Skinimalism, or skin minimalism, is the latest beauty trend taking over the internet. But it’s not your average airbrushed, soap brow, graphic liner beauty trend with more products. Skinimalism is all about ditching the layers of products and embracing our skin as it is – ‘flaws’ and all.

The ‘no makeup’ look has been trending for quite some time. Plus, after a year or two of experiencing the ‘work-from-home’ life, many have gone through days makeup-free to let our skin breathe. People are going out less and are practicing skin minimalism and using lesser products than before, and it’s genuinely refreshing.

Here’s our less is more approach to master skinimalism in photography:

Skinimalist makeup

Ginger-haired woman wearing a white sweater while touching a hand to her face

Skinimalism can be considered the evolution of the ‘no makeup’ trend by embracing our skin’s natural textures and marks. Skinimalist makeup focuses on minimal coverage and perhaps just a touch of concealer to even out the skin tone.

Using cream blushers instead of powdered blush can give off a more natural look while keeping that youthful glow that skin minimalism appreciates. Instead of putting on a layer of a full-coverage foundation, let the textures of your skin come through. The skin has texture, and it’s more than okay for us to normalize different skin textures.

Photographing skin

Woman with vitiligo smiling

The skin is notoriously difficult to photograph and equally as challenging to retouch. Skin comes in countless tones, shades, hues, and saturation. More importantly, there are two main keys to identifying skin color — overtones and undertones.

The skin’s overtones are easily identifiable — fair, light, tan, medium, medium-deep, deep, deep, dark, and more. Then there are the more subtle undertones — cool, neutral, olive, warm. Or even skin conditions like vitiligo (where white patches develop on the skin because of a lack of melanin). Put everything together, and skin is a broad spectrum.

Portrait of a young black woman laughing and holding grapefruits

That said, it’s essential to portray the subject’s skin as close to life as possible. To help you out, we’ve put together two important tips:

Tip #1: Always shoot RAW

RAW files provide far more image data that allows you to capture images at the highest level of quality. The amount of information in the image will enable you to edit flexibly, a characteristic especially helpful when dealing with the intricacies of skin tone and its textures.

RAW files are also the best way to achieve natural skin tones and capture unique skin textures. Whether it’s blemished skin or freckled porcelain cheeks, it’s all in the details.

Tip #2: Have the right exposure 

We know a subject’s skin tone can fall anywhere on this broad spectrum. So, knowing how to expose the subject’s skin tone correctly is crucial.

Study and learn how to shoot a variety of skin tones and textures. The exposure of the frame and the white balance significantly affect the colors captured in the image. If underexposed or overexposed, the skin color wouldn’t look true to life. Without the proper exposure, you might’ wash out’ your subject or change their skin tone as a whole.

You can also use the false color feature on your camera, light modifiers, reflectors, and other accessories that might help to capture the subject’s skin accurately. These tools are at your disposal to help you capture better photos, so don’t be afraid to use them.

Skin retouching

In a world where faces on magazine covers or Instagram posts are highly touched up and airbrushed, that’s not what we want to do here with skinimalism. You might’ve gotten used to it and tend to go heavy on the retouching. 

But hold back on it. Use the spot heal tool for very minimal removal of any scratches and blemishes. Leave the wrinkles alone! Here, wrinkles and delicate fine lines are to be embraced. Let the skin breathe and allow acne scars or freckles to show themselves in all their glory.

Less is more

More isn’t always better. Over the years, we’ve been bombarded by an onslaught of heavily airbrushed photos and full-coverage makeup that we’ve forgotten how the skin looks naturally. How skin ages and comes in a whole wide range of tones.

But now, more are learning to embrace their skin’s bumps and blemishes. So let’s follow the philosophy of less is more and leave these perceived ‘flaws’ alone. We hope these quick tips will help you better navigate the world of skinimalism for however long the trend is here to stay.


Thinking of ways to showcase natural skin in your content? Check out this stock photo guide on embracing skin positivity! If you’re not sure you’re getting the right photos for your content, check out 123RF’s guide on our advanced search filters to get your perfect stock photo!

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