Adjustment Brushes

Lightroom Retouching Tip: Fixing Hotspots

This is a quick tip with great results when you’re trying to remove shiny areas on your subject’s face.  Of course you could just use the Spot Removal tool with a big enough brush and just “heal” the hot spot away, but the problem is — it also removes the highlight as well. We generally want to keep the highlight, but lose the shine. Here’s how:


Above: Here’s our original image — note the shiny hot spots in her cheeks and forehead. Ack!


Above: When we remove the Hot Spot (using the Spot Removal Tool with a really big brush size in this case), it not only removes the hot spot, but unfortunately, we lose the highlights as well (and we want to keep the highlights – just lose the shine). Plus, the fix overall just doesn’t look very realistic (even after I manually moved the source circle to a better location. Probably should have used yesterday’s keyboards shortcut tip, eh?). 😉


Above: The trick to keeping the highlights but losing the shine is this: after you totally remove the Hot Spot, go to the Spot Tool’s options panel and lower the Opacity amount (circled in red above) enough so you clearly see the highlight but you don’t have the shiny look (as seen here where I lowered the Opacity slider down to 33%). This not only gets rid of the shine and keeps the highlight, the entire retouch looks much better. Pretty quick and easy. 🙂

By the way, I use this same technique when I have a subject who has a prominent mole or scar and I know if I remove it completely, their friends and family will know it’s been retouched, so I use the Spot Removal Tool to remove it completely, then I lower the Opacity amount, just like I did here, to bring back some of the mole or scar, so you can still see it’s there but it’s not so “in your face” (so to speak).

There ya have it — hope you find it helpful. 🙂






  1. Craig Keever 13 December, 2014 at 10:56 Reply

    So basically, the adjustment opacity is lowered as if it were on a separate layer, even though LR doesn’t support layers.

    • lyle 12 December, 2014 at 22:44 Reply

      I didn’t know how to sample from the photo rather than the color rainbow patch. that left mouse and drag from the patch into the photo to set color is really handy. Thanks.

  2. Dan Davies 11 December, 2014 at 14:06 Reply

    I use the same tactic when reducing “laughter lines” on faces – get rid with the healing brush then pull the opacity back and voila, lines are reduced, contrast is reduced but it still looks natural.

  3. Ross Chevalier 11 December, 2014 at 11:17 Reply

    Very useful tip that you’ve shared before, but not I think in the context of Lightroom. Opacity is a powerful slider to prevent the plastic look when retouching.

  4. Greg 11 December, 2014 at 10:50 Reply


    This is not a tip! Wait a second, I’m only kidding, I am enjoying your daily tips in for lightroom.

    I have a tip to share. I was doing Santa photos last Sunday shooting tethered into lightroom. My assistant was shooting and I was showing the photos and selling them. It turns out there is a place to uncheck auto advance in the shooting tethered menu. I did not realize this until the end of the shoot so every time I tried to show a photo from earlier it would jump to the last photo shoot. Anyway I have figured out for this Sunday when their will be 3times as many families.

  5. Dave Y 11 December, 2014 at 08:46 Reply

    I have really been enjoying these tips. I have to get crafty since I am not a big fan of photoshop, and I discovered this method out of necessity. I wish I would have known about this sooner, so I’m glad you are sharing it for others. Thanks for sharing these great tips, Scott.

  6. David Gregoire 11 December, 2014 at 07:38 Reply

    Great tip! keeps as much of the underlying detail as you want! Nice reference to “yesterday’s tip, just to see if we’re paying attention.

  7. Paul C 11 December, 2014 at 07:19 Reply

    Fabulous tip – there must be hundreds of occasions where this can be adapted to tone down a blemish. Have a great day, Scott

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