We all know by now that retouching is a bit of an epidemic in the media. Whenever you look at promotional materials or magazine photographs, you know that they have been given at least a few hours in Photoshop before getting to your eyes. It’s all make-believe, and the reality is often very different from what you see before you.
The sad (or perhaps uplifting, whichever way you look at it) truth is that no one is perfect. Even the most beautiful, hottest, and perfect seeming celebrities have their rough days, just the same as everyone else. Sometimes those rough days are captured because they happened to have a photoshoot booked in, and some poor retoucher has their work cut out to correct all of the issues that they see. Sometimes they happen to go out and get stalked by the paparazzi on the one day that they weren’t looking their best. But one way or another, those rough photographs sometimes manage to make their way out of someone’s hard drive and onto the internet.
We have found 15 examples of the hottest celebrities out there having a bit of a rough day. If you don’t want to have your dreams spoiled, look away now. On the other hand, if you want some proof that those gorgeous and glamorous celebs are actually just as prone to getting spots and having greasy hair as the rest of the world’s population, then prepare to feast your eyes. Even Victoria’s Secret models can have a blemish or two.
15 Gwen Stefani
From the looks of this shot, Gwen really needs to think about getting some more sleep – and maybe work on her cleansing routine as well. She looks exhausted with dark rings around her eyes, and her skin is far from smooth with multiple lumps and bumps. This was eventually re-released as a retouched photo, but the original version is actually quite shocking. Gwen is definitely considered to be a super hot female, but in this shot, she just looks like she has been working too hard and not taking enough care of herself. You can also see shadows across her cheeks where she is starting to look gaunt. She may be aging incredibly well, but that is not a trend that is likely to continue if she doesn’t look after her skin and get some shuteye now and then. Hopefully this was just a bad day for her, and not an indication of how she normally looks.
14 Britney Spears
Let’s be honest, we all knew Britney didn’t look as good as she pretended to during her breakdown period. We had all seen the shots of her stumbling around without makeup and with unwashed hair, and she was, quite frankly, a mess. But even when they got her into a photo studio, you can see that all of the hair and makeup in the world wasn’t enough to sort her out fully. While the retouched version does look ridiculously retouched, we can see a fair few indications that Brit was not doing her best. She has cellulite on her legs, and a nasty tattoo on her lower back which is never any indication of class. It looks like the face may already have been retouched in this leaked version, but you can also see that the photographer has used the trick of overexposing the image slightly to make a lot of her skin imperfections disappear even before editing.
13 Lady Gaga
Oh, wow. As if you needed any further reminding that things are not always what they seem behind the scenes, there’s this edition of Vogue. On the cover, Gaga stands resplendent in a purple figure-hugging gown giving her an hourglass shape with a fishtail, and her hair is in a powdery puffed wig. But the reality was very far from the finished product. Instead, her gown was more of a red colour, and it certainly didn’t change her figure quite so neatly. Her hair is also what can only be described as a fluffy mess. Even her face is different – it seems that they might have added makeup in post-production. While the magazine cover looks quite majestic, this was not a great day on set for Lady Gaga. Knowing her and her fierce stance on beauty, however, we’re convinced that she would be just as happy with both of the shots and the way that they represent her.
12 Nikki Webster
In case you’re not aware of who Nikki Webster is, she’s big in Australia for her career as a singer. She sang in the 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony aged just 13, and since then she enjoyed fame on a larger scale right through to 2009, when she started focusing on running a theatre school. This photo is a great example of how the pressure to look good can actually wreak havoc on a woman’s body. Far from the picture of health that you see on the right, the original photo shows bones protruding from Nikki’s back and shoulders in a way that looks uncomfortable. True to the magazine industry’s standards, the retoucher has slimmed and smoothed Nikki down further, rather than adding weight to make her look realistically healthy. They have also smoothed down the skin on her legs and changed her skin tone, removing the pink and red shades as well as the visible veins in her legs.
11 Jennifer Lopez
When these photos were leaked to the public, along with a full set of others, it was very clear that JLo really does have a great body to be jealous of. Her toned arms and legs are very visible here, so you can trust a lot of what you see in her photos in that regard. But it’s also almost startling how tired and fragile she looks. She has huge dark circles under her eyes which tell the tale of a lack of sleep and a hard physical regime. Her skin does have something of a glow about it, but it’s more oil on her face than health, it seems. It’s not the image we expect from her of a healthy and happy woman.
10 Katy Perry
In total fairness to Katy Perry, she doesn’t exactly look rough here – just a lot rougher than we’re used to seeing her. Her skin is obviously going through a bad patch with a lot of raised bumps all over her chin, cheek, and forehead that cannot be covered totally by makeup. Like most of the beautiful women on our list, she also looks exhausted from the busy schedule that she has to follow in order to stay famous and keep making money. The retoucher has even gone so far as to change her eye colour to a brighter blue, which doesn’t seem quite necessary. You can also see that the lines on her face are a lot deeper than they appear in the finished picture, although she doesn’t look old in the original. Embarrassingly, the retoucher has not noticed the wonky fake eyelash which probably should have been corrected in the ‘after’ shot, instead leaving it intact.
9 Penelope Cruz
Maybe we should all just let Hollywood have a week off – that way everyone might catch up on the sleep that they are so clearly missing. Penelope Cruz looks absolutely exhausted in this shot, with dark rings under her eyes so big that you could probably see them from space. It has the effect of aging her terribly in the original shot, even though she does not have many wrinkles or deep lines to remove for the finished version. Her skin also looks patchy, as if the makeup artist had a hard time smoothing it out. When she was invited to do this photoshoot, it must have been a busy week. We can’t imagine how stressful it might have been to have to show up in front of a camera knowing that you haven’t had enough sleep for a while, and that it shows on your face quite clearly.
8 Kim Kardashian
This one is a little bit older, but mostly only because these days Kim wouldn’t dream of so much as going downstairs in her own house without a full face of makeup on. Not only has the original image not been photoshopped, but she is also not wearing any makeup at all. We can therefore see that she has terribly uneven, blotchy, and spotty skin. The red blemishes really stand out against her face, and without the makeup we are used to, she looks a lot younger and (you guessed it) more tired. Even her famous eyebrows are really not having a good day of it, appearing patchy and misshapen. This is a stark reminder that if you want to project an image of perfection, you can’t have even so much as one day off. We have to wonder whether Kanye even gets to see the girl on the left these days.
7 Jessica Simpson
Oh, dear… that’s all that we can say. Jessica Simpson has always been known for her pretty face and cute body rather than anything going on upstairs. As well as saying some fairly stupid things in real life, she’s often been cast often in the most ditzy of roles. This really is a case of just her looks getting her by – but if the unretouched shot on the left is anything to go by, maybe there’s a reason those roles have dried up lately. Without makeup and with messy hair, Jessica looks totally unrecognizable. If you saw this woman on the street, you would have no idea who she was – she even looks more like she might be Ke$ha than herself. Her skin is fairly bad in this shot too, as you can see blemishes and bumps over her cheek and nose. Better find a makeup counter stat if you want to stay famous, Jessica!
6 Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz has always been vocal about her struggles with acne. She’s very open about the fact that it has ruined her skin again and again, and she has often been spotted by the paparazzi with a face that more closely resembles a pizza. Her fresh-faced red carpet look is very different to that, which is a testament to the power of makeup as well as the retouching that goes on to keep her perfect every day on her film sets. In this natural and unretouched shot, she is definitely starting to show her age. She also has areas of red skin, such as on the end of her nose, as well as a less than smooth appearance. One thing is for sure – beneath all the makeup, the studio lighting, and the retouching, Cameron is a lot more normal than you would think from seeing her on screen. In real life she may look pretty, but nothing like as glamorous as you would expect, and you wouldn’t necessarily think of Hollywood when you saw her.
Wow. We knew that Madonna wasn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore, but this photograph demonstrates just how cleverly a star’s image can be manipulated to make us thing that they are doing a lot better than they really are. Here, before Photoshop comes into play, Madonna seems to age about 40 years. All of her wrinkles are removed, including the deep veins and notches near her eyes. Even her mouth has changed shape, gaining the trademark pucker effect that comes with age. The woman in the black and white publicity image is hot and youthful, with more than a touch of mystery. The real thing looks more like a grandmother. It’s pretty terrifying that this level of retouching exists. Everything we think we know is a lie. Jennifer Lawrence is probably about 50 in real life if this is anything to go by. What can we even believe in anymore?
4 Lindsay Lohan
When we talk about unretouched images, normally we’re seeing the leaked first versions that came out of the camera before Photoshop was applied. And then there are the other kind of unretouched shots. The kind that can’t be retouched for legal reasons. Yes, we’re talking about mugshots. Ms Lohan has been in her fair share of trouble over the years, as this progression of images shows, and she certainly isn’t looking any better as time goes on. While she occasionally finds work and manages to look like a normal star, the truth behind the scenes is far more disturbing. If you didn’t know that it was Lindsay, you would just think this was someone arrested for shoplifting or prostitution to fund their drug habit. It’s a sad tale of a young woman who has gone so far off the rails she’s probably forgotten what the rails looked like in the first place (and so have we).
3 Rose Byrne
There’s no denying that Rose Byrne has good looks, no matter what kind of state she appears in. But here we can certainly see that she has her off days. It looks as though Rose was totally startled by the appearance of the camera, and she definitely wasn’t expecting to get photographed that day. Her hair looks messy and unwashed, and the lack of makeup on her face reveals blemishes, open pores, and bags under her eyes. She’s also wearing what looks like comfort clothing rather than anything chosen for style. The way her hand rests on her cheek almost makes it look as though she was trying to hide her face after realizing there was a photographer looking at her. It looks like Rose had just nipped out, possibly to get her early morning coffee before actually getting ready for the day – but cameras can lurk around any corner when you’re famous!
Oh, no… not Queen Bey, too? Sadly, yes. The perfect image of Beyoncé that we see on magazines and on album covers is nothing more than a fabrication. These images were taken for a makeup advert, and as you can see, all of the slap in the world wasn’t enough to get her looking that shiny and smooth. She has obvious bad skin right across her cheek, chin, and beside her eyes, and she also has a lot of freckles or sun-spots leaving their mark on her face. The makeup itself actually looks fairly awful, which is no doubt why they retouched it to such an extent for the ad. And like all the rest, those bags under her eyes suggest she could do with a good night’s sleep. The good news, at least, is that the most visible lines on her face are laughter lines, which are probably the nicest wrinkles to have.
1 Jennifer Aniston
Aniston in this case tells a very different story from her original photo to the one that ended up on the cover of Madison. The highlights have been pushed up so far that you can no longer see the scene behind her, and they have also removed shadows from her face and in her hair. The original version is a lot darker and her hair looks unwashed, while her skin really looks like it has been left out in the sun for too long. She’s very tanned and her face is etched with deep lines. Far from the happy smile that was chosen for the cover, she looks worried or even a little scared. She looks older and less healthy, and while she has a casual look on the magazine, in real life she looks to be desperately clutching her cardigan.