How to Remove Eye Bags in Photoshop

In a perfect world, we’d sleep 8+ hours every night and wake up fresh-faced and dewy-eyed every morning. But this isn’t a perfect world so stress paints dark circles under our eyes and gravity tugs at the skin around them. 

Hey there! I’m Cara and while we may not live in a perfect world, the world of Photoshop is pretty close to perfect as you can get. Thus, today, we’ll look at how to remove eye bags in Photoshop. Surprisingly, it isn’t as difficult as you might think!

Note: I use the Windows version of Photoshop. If you are using a Mac, the workspace will look slightly different from the screenshots displayed here.

Step 1: Add a High Pass Filter

First up, let’s make a copy of the background layer by pressing Ctrl + J or Command + J. With your new layer still selected, go to Filter and choose Convert for Smart Filters. This turns the layer into a smart object which gives you the ability to edit the added filter later.

Go back to Filter and float down to Other. Choose High Pass from the filter options listed. 

Take the radius all the way to the left, then bring it slowly back to the right until you can just see the eye bags. Press OK when finished.

To finish up, go to the Blend mode in the box near the top of the Layers panel. It will say Normal right now, but you should change it to Overlay.

Your image will be visible once more.

Step 2: Add a New Layer with Clipping Mask

We need a layer between these two layers so select the background layer on the bottom. Then click the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel to place a layer between them.

You need to use a clipping mask to attach the High Pass filter layer to this new layer we’ve created. Hold the Alt or Option key while hovering over the bottom edge of the High Pass filter layer. When the cursor changes to a box with a 90-degree arrow, click to clip.

A little 90-degree arrow will appear to the left of the layer thumbnail to denote its clipped status.

Step 3: Paint Over the Eye Bag

To perfectly match your subject’s skin, select the eye-dropper tool from the toolbar on the left. You can use this tool to sample a precise color from your image.

To get an accurate sample, you’ll want to change the settings to take an average of the pixels around wherever you click. In the Sample Size box in the Options bar, choose 5 by 5 average or perhaps 11 by 11 average depending on the size of your image.

Make sure the Sample box is set to Current & Below to sample from your currently selected layer and those beneath. 

Click on a brighter area of the skin to sample the color. 

Now, switch to the Brush tool over in the toolbar. 

Turn down the Flow in the Options bar to between 5 and 10%. Then zoom in close on the eye bag and begin to paint over the area.

This will brighten the area and soften any harsh lines to naturally smooth the skin.

If the effect seems to be too much, you can bring down the Opacity on the middle layer. Remember, you generally don’t want to eliminate bags and wrinkles, just minimize for a more natural look.

And here’s our final effect.

There you have it! A simple way to minimize eye bags and remove dark circles under the eyes. Even if it was a rough morning, at least you can look fresh-faced in your photos!

Curious about other facial alterations you can make? Check out how to open someone’s eyes in Photoshop here or how to magically make them smile here.

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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