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News & Insight

Amazing ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Photos: Make-up Artist Transforms a Face Without the Use of Photoshop

By Hanssie on October 7th 2013

There has been much debate about the gratuitous use of Photoshop to drastically alter the look of a fresh faced model. A makeup artist in Russia though, transforms a face with nothing more than the tools in his make-up kit. Vadim Andreev’s work is so flawless, you’ll be shocked that some of these images were not retouched on the computer.

[Learn how to shape and modify the quality of light to achieve any stylistic vision by checking out our Lighting 101]

Admittedly, in many of these photos, the angles and the lighting aid in the remarkable transformation of these women, and there is much speculation as to whether or not makeup alone can produce these radical results. Others believe that the before photos look better, because in the ‘after’ photos, the women have too much makeup on.

In an article I posted last week, about a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo that sparked debate on Reddit, many of our readers also had some very differing opinions about the power of makeup and Photoshop. Whatever your opinion may be, I think one commenter made a great point,

“The reality is no one wants to be captured badly in a photo. And a photo is forever…I think the important point to maintain, is to inform young children and teenagers that this is make believe.” ~ C.Y. Pennick

As always, I’d like to hear your opinions on the matter.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Andy Martin

    Ok. Lets do this! Give us a good “before” photo of these women and then lets compare the after. That makes sense doesn’t it? In these types of examples the before photos are always as bad as they possibly can be so that the after photo looks that much more amazing. It is not fair to anyone.

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  2. David Hall

    what an amazing difference of before to after.

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  3. tami

    If your hair is balding or thinning, all you have you have to do is use something as simple as an eyeshadow that matches your hair and fill in the spots. Women in the 17 & 1800s were natural. No makeup, shaving, deodorant – ugh!

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  4. saint_91

    Mixed bag… some of them look better in the after shots. Some of them look worse!

    But I’m not a huge makeup fan. I like women, not face paint. Sometimes it can look nice, but I’d prefer a world where it was rarely used.

    I’m convinced that a lot of skin problems are down to the very cosmetics women smear their faces in. When I travel to countries where women don’t wear makeup routinely, I see good skin, and don’t see these kinds of problems as frequently.

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  5. Brittany

    I wear makeup pretty often. I have uneven skin tones and some mild acne. Wearing makeup has nothing to do with what other people think of me it has to do with what I think of me. Makeup gives some of us ladies with low confidence that little push to take on the day. It is beauty enhancing if you know what you are doing and don’t go overboard. These women are beautiful and the ARTIST that transformed them did fabulous work. This is not meant for everyday wear it is meant for artistic photography. Beautiful artistic portraits. Would love to have this done myself for the fun of it.

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  6. Justin

    They look really good, imagine meeting them in the street, but when you take them home …

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  7. Dee

    You can tell that these photos were edited. Maybe “Photoshop” wasn’t used, but a photo editor was. You can see it from the first picture. The women has moles on her chest in the before picture, and in the second they are miraculously gone!!! I highly doubt the make-up artist dumped a half inch of foundation on her chest to cover up the moles. This is ridiculous.

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  8. Alicia

    I think the point of this article is to spotlight talented MUA’s and nothing more.

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  9. BasementCat

    This is ridiculous. YES, THESE IMAGES HAVE PHOTOSHOP. Look at their eyes, a make-up artist can’t add contrast to the actual eye. And a lot of the shadows of the face can’t be completely removed with make-up alone, they’ve clearly had Photoshop.

    I work in Photoshop every day, every single one of these images has some Photoshop use in it.

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  10. Jack

    “The reality is no one want’s to be captured badly in a photo”? No no, the reality is everyone wants to be someone else. Let’s get that much straight.

    Everyone is on an endless search for security, acceptance, and affirmation. It’s a deep problem in our heart, most of the time we don’t see it and know it’s there. Women want affirmation for who they are, but if only they could be “x”. They feel they’re more likely to get it if they can just hide that “thing” they see wrong with themselves. The nose, the bags, the complexion, whatever. It’s awful, and this article is distorted.

    I know this resonates with a lot of women out there, ha all my siblings are sisters…I know.

    Don’t feel like you have to be someone you’re not, ladies. Life is too short for that, and life is greater than that.

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  11. Andrea

    Okay going to comment :-) I absolutely love make up as an art I think it’s fun to play around with it just even the fact that you can change I shape of your eyes or nose is incredible. The only area I disagree with this is even if it’s not photoshopped some of these girls don’t even look like themselves afterwards. I’m always an advocate of people feeling beautiful how they are not, needing to change the way they look entirely to feel good about themselves. These girls were already pretty just a small amount of make up would’ve highlighted their beauty(: It wasn’t necessary to put on pounds of makeup. I’m not anti-makeup, but a little can go along way and you can still be recognizable as yourself. Some of these girls look like they may just need somebody to teach them how to take care of their skin and hair. In the end the girls still look unnatural and we still are telling people they have to change the way they look to be beautiful. That there is a set rules of what beauty is. Sorry I’m sure some of you disagree, but we to have start teaching and embracing true beauty! I know there was note at the top of the page it said it’s important to tell our children “…this isn’t a real …” what your seeing in front of your face on a daily basis on TV and magazines the visual can be more powerful than the words. What’s that good old saying a picture is worth 1000 words. Not to mention kids are growing up with all this is their perception of reality. Okay thank you I’m done now :-)

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  12. Ashley

    What happened, in the first before and after, to the girl’s moles and freckles on her chest? Looks like those were brushed out in post.

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  13. Rod

    I don’t really see the merit in this aside from a technical standpoint. Most of the girls look fake after. What does it say for happiness with one’s self if you can’t feel good without undergoing 5 hours of make up.

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  14. Kelsey

    Oh good, I’m glad we found a way to make unattainable beauty attainable, it would have been a shame if society had re-thought it’s beauty standards in a way that promote healthy self-image for women. Plus it’s good for the economy! Women will feel pressured to buy MUCH more make-up now that it’s clear that they can look like the women in magazines, and should if they want to be loved and accepted.

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  15. Vicco

    Sorry guys,
    yes, the transformation is incredible, **but** ….. of course these Ladies are shopped!
    I can see that in the eyes and regarding some other details!

    Anyway, cool pre/post shots!

    cheers, Vicco

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    I am a make up artist and a photographer, you don´t need photoshop to do pictures like this but definitly good light for the “AFTER” picture, Without this light… it will not come out this way like in these pictures. (Having bad light to bring out the eyebags etc. in the “BEFORE” picture sure helps to create a bigger contrast.

    CONCLUSION : of course you improve with make up, but it is the combination with the light that makes it magic.

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  17. Alexandra

    I’ve been strolling through these comments and I’m pretty fascinated.
    Don’t you think it’s kind of “scary” that Photoshop has become so overused that no one can actually believe when something is done without anymore?

    Well, I have to say, before I got into design (which was my final goal ever since I can think) I actually went to a Cosmetic College and graduated as a visual artist / cosmetic. We actually did learn a lot about make up and even though I had been pretty comfy with make up before (I love playing around with color, even if the medium is myself), I learned stuff I never even thought was possible.
    We learned how to actually re-shape a face, how to make the eyes look brighter and bigger, how to make lips look “fuller”, how to practically hide bumps, scars, speckles and even shape related things like a big bump right upon the nose ;)

    So, I adore Photoshop and yes, these images look so perfect they might as well be photoshopped.
    But let me tell you: Doing this without Photoshop IS definitely possible ;)

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  18. Justine

    Where did the moles on her chest go on the first before and after. I think these are beautiful women and the makeovers look fabulous, but the first pic has been photo shopped on her chest. LOL Even the gal with acne you can see where they covered it up, but her moles are completely gone.

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    • Alexandra

      Yup, it’s called camouflage and it’s a make up technique :)

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  19. Marthi

    Son trabajos fabulosos, en mi opinión es extraordinario poder contribuir a mejorar la belleza de todos los modos posibles, maquillaje, photoshop….. son herramientas MAGNIFICAS¡¡

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  20. Morigor

    I’m fortunate (or unfortunate?) to live in L.A., and the amount of tricks that can be used to completely transform someone is mindboggling. It’s fascinating actually. Makeup, wigs, eyelashes (i’m not even going to go into special FX and prosthetics) are used as fashion accessories in this city, like shoes or bags. It is an art, and a good makeup artist can make even the most unsightly canvas beautiful. Professional photography and lighting can also look so perfect that it looks Photoshopped when it’s not.

    It really is unfair to men who can’t tell when a woman wears makeup, when they wake up next to her the next day after she takes it off. But I find it kind of hilarious.

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  21. Not photoshop

    1st one she’s very very beautiful…the others are too. but this is not photoshopped on the second to the bottom you can tell where she has the pimple on her chin, its very well blended but even in the lighting you can still see the raised area…if these were photoshopped why not edit out the “pimple”? The right contouring and highlighting and primer, not to mention the HD setting powders…make a huge difference. I should know since I am a huge makeup enthusiast!

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  22. Mariah

    90% of the time I don’t wear make up basically because of the time it takes to put on and take off. When I do put on make up for special occasions or an evening out, people, especially men, act like idiots and fawn over me. Without make up, they don’t give me a second glance. I imagine it’s the same story for the women in these photos. Men can say they prefer a natural look, but my experience is otherwise. And I have had my make up done by a make up artist before, and they can get these results with contouring and make up alone. I believe these are honest photos without retouching of any kind.

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  23. Chris Harmon

    These were still Photoshopped. #6 in particular.

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    • Lisa

      defintly!! her hairline is more filled in and straight.. where the left its not straight at all. and thinning

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  24. kirstyn

    If anyone doubts the ability of a good makeup artist. All I myself can say is go take a look at some drag queens. Those men transform themselves damn neae flawlessly into convincable women without photoshop. Nuff said

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  25. Sarah C

    Gobs of make up or Photoshop retouching – still make believe.

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  26. Tiffany

    I do have a certification as a make up artist and I do photos as a hobby.
    Makeup can transform anyone is you know how to use it and apply it. Someone mentioned contouring and highlighting which is a trick just as dodging and burning in photoshop is…same concept. Look at the lighting in the pictures…the before pictures have some terrible lighting and the after pictures have way better lighting and of course it would. Lighting is a trick too that many companies use in many before and after pics to create harsh shadows in before pictures and to be almost right in front and filtered to create the best lighting when taking a picture.
    You’d be amazed to see what make up can do.
    If yo have time and are on facebook check out a guy named Rico the zombie boy…head to toe in tattoos and with a little help from make up (dermablend which is a fantastic concealer..coverup) all his tattoos are gone and you wouldn’t even know he had any.

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  27. Ryan Cooper

    Wait! hold the presses? You mean if you take a woman with no makeup on, shoot her in bad light, at a bad angle, with bad composition, and a bad focal length then compare it to an image taken in amazing beauty light, with a portrait lens after make up has been added that there is a radical difference between the two?

    If they really wanted to show the impact of makeup the before any after images would be taken in almost identical circumstances with the only difference being the makeup.

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    • Katie

      If you look up Vadim Andreev’s on google image search you will see people before and after with the same lighting conditions with a drastic difference to it, its not just the lighting and camera gear. Good make up artist make a big difference.

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  28. Shelleybelly

    Ok, I’m off to the store to buy some new makeup! :)

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  29. M. Lynn

    Too any of you who think this is photoshopped.. It’s not. Go on YouTube and search highlighting and contouring tutorials. I’ve seen a ton f them and they show you how it’s done. It’s unreal what makeup can really do. These woman are beautiful both before and after and it’s sad that people (men in particular) think that the before photo is unattractive. Well reality is…. Most all woman look like this before any sort of makeup. Oh and guess what….. All those “beautiful celebrities” look like that as well…
    I think there’s nothing wrong with makeup what so ever…but woman are just as beautiful without. This makeup artist is very talented

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  30. Angelia

    Can you send the makeup artist to my house ……………… PLEASE??? O_o

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  31. Brea

    The way they make people’s face, nose, etc look smaller is through the use of highlighting and contouring. It’s a makeup trick that uses darker and lighter shades to shape the face….down either side of the nose to make it look thinner, below the jawline to make it look higher, around the temples to make the face look smaller, etc. There are many videos and articles out there that illustrate this ‘illusion’ that is created (it’s similar to using lighting to shape someone’s face).

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  32. Anashta C.

    This is all fake. Compare facial structures, such as chin shape and face width. Someone went to a lot off work to sell this story.

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    • Evelyn

      you obviously don’t know the magic of contouring. This is some amazing contouring btw <3 she was accentuating the hollows, and the higher planes of there faces. and she add a darker color to create more depths to the hollows, and a lighter (highlight) color to the higher planes to make them stand out more.

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    • Katie

      Not to mention the angle the photo is taken drastically changes people face shape.

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  33. iliketag

    I’m inclined to believe an article like this when it says there’s no post production done. Maybe I’m being naive but I think makeup artists boasting about their skills in their trade wouldn’t want to be caught in a lie like that. I could be shattering to their business!
    A lot of these women do have the advantage of superb facial structure and the makeup is done to highlight that. It is a LOT of makeup, that I absolutely agree with… but I’m on the fence about the “too much” thing. My thoughts are that it varies so much that there really is no way to say “Yes, that is too much make up” conclusively. Personally, I don’t wear it… with the exception of getting dolled up for a wedding or a special dinner, and even then, it’s a little eyeliner, some mascara and lipgloss. I don’t wear it for two reasons: I do not like the time/effort it takes to put on and maintain and I simply don’t know how.

    The professionals who put together these beautiful color combinations and accentuate cheekbones properly are incredibly talented individuals. I’m also positive some of these women are wearing fake lashes. But, great for them nonetheless!

    I think it would be better if the two shots were of similar quality. Same posing, same professional equipment – to really show what makes the difference. In some cases, the way a woman lifts her jaw or turns to her “good side” can make all the difference in their features. Noses become more petit, jawlines more defined, etc.
    I’m still impressed regardless of whether or not the image has been post processed.

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    • Joy

      I agree. Why is it that the before & after shots tend never to be the same quality? Lack of smile in the before? Huge smile in the after. Lighting, posing all different. Better comparison if it were of the same quality.

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  34. PictureZealot

    Even this brings up all kinds of questions. Should someone with no makeup on be referred to as ‘frumpy’? I wonder how much pressure women feel to wear makeup and how much they should wear? I’m glad I’m a man.

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    • Angelia

      I didn’t use to wear makeup … but then the ol’ hormones went out of whack and the acne went crazy. As a result, I wear makeup in public. I have to. :(

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    • Mau VC


      I truly believe a good photographer could do wonders with all those faces without makeup and very little post.

      Why the before shots are always so bad (photography wise) and the after look so well lighted and exposed?

      Makeup and post production are quite helpful for many thing but good photographers can do magic without them.

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    • vasilyec

      Yes Jeff, any woman who doesn’t wear make-up should be referred as “frumpy”, especially those who don’t posses a natural beauty (about 90% of us). I think women who advocate going “au naturel” are just lazy. We are not make-up artists, and cannot do fabulous job as shown above, but a little effort surely does help. For me a woman who doesn’t wear at least a minimal make-up, just shows that she doesn’t care (not only about her looks, but also about lots of other things in life as well)

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  35. dave b.

    anyone who doesn’t think these “afters” weren’t heavily retouched is drinking his/her bathwater…

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    • Katie

      I work in the photography industry and see make up artist transform peoples faces everyday without the use of photoshop. You can use make up to paint a believable six pack on a person, why wouldn’t you be able to paint someones face in the same fashion?

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  36. Kim

    I struggle to believe there was NO photoshop. The eyes on some are clearly whiter.

    What’s disturbing is that I find myself saying, “Oh, she’s so pretty now.” But who-dolly-dang-it, there is a tonne of makeup on the girls and it’s just NOT natural.

    So basically, what I’m saying is, I find what is unnatural beautiful. Thanks media. Thanks a whole stupid lot.

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    • Angelia

      Maybe better lighting … or they used Visine? Hard to say.

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    • Joy

      …..It is a lot of make up. A lot. A natural touch of make up is always good. Agreed – who wants to take a bad photo? None of these ladies (I assume) are in the fashion industry – where perfection is a must. Keep it natural – with the hair & make up. Don’t over-do it. My opinion only.

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    • Jane

      It looks like they are using photoshop, using a typical dodge/burn technique:

      Above is a link on how to achieve that look, its pretty standard.

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  37. Nico

    I’d like to know how they created eyelashes for the 6th, who didn’t have ones, did they paint on her eyelids?

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    • Arielle

      They probably just used false eyelashes.

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    • Kat Forhan

      Just flash lashes and a really great blending job on the eyeshadow :D.

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    • Katie

      It’s a brush you can use in photoshop. The article is either lying about not using photoshop, or being misleading by not using the word “Photoshop” and using some off brand editor. I’m a photographer and I edit many pictures just like this. I can tell you all the exact tools that were used for these photos. In fact, every photo is edited to the extreme. Not sure why this artist wants to lie about her work. It looks like its still very nice makeup with out the editing.

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    • Morigor

      It cracks me up that most men don’t know that a lot of women wear false eyelashes. Its a huge part of getting a finished look with makeup, and I guarantee you every single girl in these pictures has false lashes on (in the post-makeup pics). Unless a woman has naturally freakishly long eyelashes, natural eyelashes tend to disappear the moment you put eyeliner and most styles of eye makeup on. Especially in pictures. Almost every model and celebrity wears them, as well as most girls you see at bars or clubs.

      So no, its not photoshop, its just a nice pair of false lashes.

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  38. Bubby Jim

    4th girl from the top looked pretty before and stupid after.

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  39. Christopher Split

    I love it… I love the fact that anyone can have a photo that looks great and makes them feel great. everyone is a canvas that has many possibilities. This also teaches young women that they are great just the way they are…the makeup is an enhancement but the beauty is truly underneath.

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    • Kees van Surksum

      Sorry, can’t follow your argumentation … On the left side we see attractive women ‘as they are’ on the right Barbie dolls as an example of how media tell us what they should look like. How can anyone gain self-esteem, being constantly told of what they ‘should’ look like??

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    • Ben

      Yea Split…not following you, at all. These pictures do exactly the opposite of teaching women that they are great just the way they are. Why do you think women want this kind of extravagant make up in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible work and the make up artists are very talented, but your comment just doesn’t make sense, at all. The whole canvass thing esp, it’s the problem. If we didn’t see women, or men, as a canvass that needs added to or improved upon, maybe we’d appreciate inherent true beauty a little more often. Baffled by your analysis, truly. Let’s face it, we men are shallow. These picture comparisons don’t help.

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