The above shows a 'before & after' close-up at 300% zoom, though for the sake of my eyesight this was retouched at 500%.
Lighting for the shoot was superb and skin condition/makeup was pretty good to begin with, but with the greyscale aids and a little contrast bump, skin is not a pretty thing beyond 100%!
The top 2 layers are just a visual guide to better show uneven areas, these are hidden when finished ;)
The 'fix' layer group is the important part! A dodge mask lightens the whole image, the burn mask darkens it - each of these can be rubbed through to smooth the greys.
With the greyscale turned off the original image is much lighter, many of the fixes will look minimal/unnoticeable in colour...but if it's worth doing it's worth doing properly!
Main aim is to create a flawless complexion that still retains texture to at least 100% view. It's non-destructive and absolutely no blurring or cloning is used.
I also had the pleasure of working on images for the lovely Victoria Beckham... I mean, Gill Penny, who looks more posh than Posh and makes for a great model. Was a real honour to meet her and MUA Kelly Smith. Both highly recommended for their respective talents!
These images (and many more to come) were shot by super Stu Keating in his super (Macclesfield) studio. An example of a photographer whose experience really shows - creative and competent in setting up perfect lighting and directing models to get the right shot first time. Also a laugh to work with, which I'd consider equally important!