Retouching can make you look good but how far is too far?

We all know that magazines retouch photos. Whenever I look at the cover of my favorite beauty and fashion magazines I can't help but be simultaneously filled with jealously over the star's beauty and a God-I-wish-I-looked-like-her feeling. And then I remind myself: she was probably heavily photo-shopped.

I remember once seeing a story in a magazine about how much retouching they do. They took one of their normal, healthy fit staffers and did a "before" and "after" photo. In one, she looked pretty average but cute. In the second, they revealed that typical retouching includes narrowing the waist, increasing the breast size, whitening teeth, getting rid of unwanted hair and making hair shinier. In the end, she looked fantastic—but a little plastic, too. So how much retouching is going too far?

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I won't lie: I've had a retouching iPhone app on my phone for a little while. I know there are plenty of them out there, but the one I use is pretty simple: it removes unwanted objects. You know, like weirdos in the background. Or, often for me, it's a runaway stray hair or a new pimple.

Okay, so I'm a little vain, but a recent Glamour survey found that 60% of women say it's okay for a woman to retouch her own personal photos. I wouldn't want to make myself look like a Barbie doll by making my boobs bigger or my waist smaller, but I like having the power to make myself look like my best self—both in real life with makeup and with a few simple retouches when all else fails.

But I wouldn't take it too far. Where I do go, though, is reminding myself that nobody looks as perfect as they do in the pages of a magazine. Even supermodel Cindy Crawford once said, "Even I don't look like Cindy Crawford in the morning." And if she can't look perfect, at least I can take some comfort in making myself look pretty but know that I won't be living up to those magazine standards.

Have you ever retouched one of your own photos to make yourself look a little better?

Images via J U S T Y N A/flickr

Topics: covering dark spots  covering scars  cosmetics