How to Whiten Teeth and Eyes: Simple Steps in Lightroom

Feb 11, 2024 | Photography Tutorials

Have you ever looked at a portrait you took and wished you could make the subject’s smile a little brighter?

Learning how to whiten teeth in Lightroom is an easy way to enhance the aesthetics of any photo where teeth are visible.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  •     How to use Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush to target and whiten teeth
  •     The best settings to adjust, like Exposure and Saturation
  •     Tips for realistic teeth whitening in both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC
  •     Steps for saving custom presets for consistent teeth whitening
  •     How the same method can be used to whiten eyes subtly
how to whiten teeth on lightroom

With a few simple steps, you can use Lightroom’s powerful selective editing tools to whiten teeth and eyes in portraits and look your best in photos.

The adjustment brush gives you control to enhance smiles naturally. Read on to learn how to whiten teeth and take your portraits to the next level!

Step 1: Select the Adjustment Brush

First, open the photo you want to edit in the Develop module. Click on the Adjustment Brush tool in the right panel or use the keyboard shortcut “K.” This allows you to selectively edit specific parts of the photo.

Select the Adjustment Brush

Step 2: Choose the Teeth Whitening Preset

In the Brush Adjustment panel, click “Effect” and select the “Teeth Whitening” preset from the list. This sets the Exposure higher and Saturation lower as a starting point.

Choose the Teeth Whitening Preset

Step 3: Customize the Settings as Needed

The preset alone may not be enough for significant discoloration. You can further tweak the settings:

Exposure: Increase up to +0.75 to brighten teeth.

– Temperature: Decrease it to -20 to reduce yellow tones.

– Saturation: Decrease -40 to -100 to remove color cast.

Customize the Settings as Needed

Step 4: Set Brush Options

Adjust brush Size from 10-30px based on tooth size. Use 0-25 Feather for a sharp edge. Check “Auto Mask” to avoid going over tooth edges.

Set Brush Options

Step 5: Paint Over the Teeth

Zoom in close on the teeth for accuracy. Use the brush to paint over each tooth, toggling the mask overlay to ensure you stay within the lines. Use Erase if needed.

Paint Over the Teeth

Step 6: Review and Tweak

Zoom out and review the overall photo. Make minor adjustments to the settings as needed until the brightening looks natural. Take breaks for fresh eyes.

Review and Tweak

Step 7: Save Custom Preset

Once satisfied, click the Effect drop-down and “Save current settings as new preset” to reuse every time.

7 Tips for Realistic Results To Whiten Your Teeth

#1 Use Subtle Adjustments for a Natural Look

It’s easy to get carried away and over-whitening teeth, which looks highly fake and unnatural. Make minor, gradual adjustments to the sliders to subtly brighten teeth. Build up the effect slowly and resist the urge to overdo it. Getting a natural yet enhanced look takes patience.

#2 Match the Existing Lighting and Color Tone

The teeth’ brightness and color cast should match the photo’s overall lighting and color tone. For example, don’t make teeth extraordinarily bright and white if the image has dark, moody lighting and muted tones. Keep them natural to fit the mood of the photo.

#3 Customize the Brush Settings Per Photo

Refrain from reusing the same teeth-whitening brush preset on every photo. Each image is different based on lighting conditions, skin tones, level of discoloration, and the look you’re going for. Take the time to customize the brush settings like Exposure and Saturation for each photo to get the best results.

#4 Isolate Teeth Whitening First

Try whitening the teeth as an early step before you apply other global adjustments like camera profiles, tone curves, or color grading. This prevents unintentionally affecting the photo’s skin tone or overall color and mood. Isolate the teeth adjustments, and then do further editing.

#5 Whiten Eyes with Caution

Use the same Adjustment Brush tools to whiten eyes, but avoid adding too much exposure, which can create an artificial bright spot rather than reduce color. Focus on lowering Saturation and Temperature for natural eye brightening.

#6 Check On Multiple Screens

Since you’ll be working zoomed in, be sure to also evaluate the final image at full size on various displays. Colors and brightness can shift across devices. Review desktop and mobile to ensure the whitening looks balanced on different screens.

#7 Take Breaks for Fresh Perspective

Spend time zoomed in working on details, but pause regularly to evaluate the overall image with fresh eyes. Step back and check that you haven’t overdone the whitening. Getting lost in the details can lead to overediting, so take breaks.

Whiten Eyes for a Bright, Natural Look

Here are quick steps to subtly whiten eyes in portraits using the same Adjustment Brush:

Choose a Small Brush Size

Eyes have intricate details. Use a brush size between 10-20px for precise application.

Lower the Temperature

Decreasing the Temperature slider to -20 reduces yellow/red tones that can make eyes appear dull.

Minimal Exposure Increase  

Boosting Exposure can overly brighten eyes. For a natural look, increase exposure to only +0.2.

Reduce Saturation

Lowering Saturation by -40 takes out discoloration while keeping things subtle.

Avoid Density/Contrast Changes

Adding Density or Contrast creates an artificial look. Keep those sliders at zero for eyes.

Check Each Eye Individually

Remember to whiten each eye separately. Eyes can differ in color/brightness.

Conclusion For Whitening Teeth and Eyes in Lightroom

Whitening teeth and eyes in Lightroom is easy with a few simple steps. Utilizing the Adjustment Brush and customizing the settings can subtly enhance portraits and make your subjects look their best.

The key is to apply the changes to the teeth and eyes selectively. This maintains a natural, realistic look while reducing discoloration and yellow tones that can detract from a smile. Mastering the brush tools gives you total control.

Don’t go overboard into artificial territory. Minor, gradual adjustments are the name of the game for natural results. With practice, you can whiten subtly but effectively in a few clicks. A brighter, whiter smile takes your portraits to the next level and leaves a lasting great impression.

Now, you have all the techniques to whiten teeth and eyes in Lightroom quickly. Brighter smiles await! Feel free to refer to this tutorial anytime you need a refresher on making those pearly whites pop.

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Stacy WItten

Stacy WItten

Owner, Writer & Photographer

Stacy Witten, owner and creative force behind LensesPro, delivers expertly crafted content with precision and professional insight. Her extensive background in writing and photography guarantees quality and trust in every review and tutorial.






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