Dove Speaks Out Against Retouching by Releasing an Anti-Photoshop Action

Skin care company Dove is speaking out on the issue of “fake beauty” being promoted in photographs through Photoshopping. Rather than address the issue directly at first, the company decided to speak out directly to those responsible for “fake” images by doing some clever guerrilla marketing. It essentially pranked retouchers through the Web by releasing a fake Photoshop beauty Action that undoes manipulation rather than creates it.

After years of celebrating Real Beauty and helping women find happiness in how they look, Dove decided to try something different. For the first time, we spoke directly to those responsible for manipulating our perception of beauty – art directors, graphic designers and photo retouchers – in a place only they could be reached.

The “Anti-Photoshop” action purports to be one that adds a glow to skin in portrait photos. Dove made the action available online through various channels, including Reddit:


Once a retoucher downloads the Photoshop Action, loads it into their software, and applies it to a photo they’re working on, the photograph is reverted back to its original, untouched state. A banner is also overlaid on the image, with the message, “Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.”


The action is actually still available for download over on MediaFire. The Verge tested it out, and writes that they “found that it was fairly ineffective. Despite the video above showing the step-by-step reversal, the action fails to revert any changes when dealing with a multiple-layer image.”

It is unknown how many retouchers actually fell for Dove’s prank. We’re guessing very few, as the Reddit thread has a total of 1 upvote at the time of this writing.

  • just a thought

    isn’t this a virus?

  • Matt

    No, but could be classified as malware. I understand the intent, but sabotaging someones work is not right. Even if it is less than effective.

  • MMielech

    OK, a challenge to everyone. Go down to the mall, look around, and imagine most people walking around with just a swimsuit or bra and panties on. Now, do you want that image you just conjured in an ad or on the cover of a magazine, untouched by a skillful retoucher? I thought so.

    Or, think of it this way. Do you think Dove marketing people will use just anybody for their ads? Nope. They are always searching for the so called everyday person with, coincidentally, perfect skin, and, maybe a little heavy, but, you know, not too heavy. Now, aren’t they doing a form of pre retouching, when that perpetual contest is always on?

  • 32312312312

    yeah its an virus,…. like your idiocy…

  • El

    Things is, graphic designers get paid to make this photos look like the companies they work for wants them, it’s their job not their hobby. So no matter how much you really like a natural looking picture, it’s not up to them. Pulling a prank on them won’t change the fact that their job is to create a fantasy to sell a product.

  • MMielech

    btw, no retoucher worth his pay would use a beauty retouching action.

  • Robert Fitzgerald

    Dear Dove, Real Beauty and Real Women go very nicely with Photoshop. The vast majority of photographers use it to correct mistakes that were made in lighting, make-up, and scenery. Yes it can be used to remove age lines and trim body fat but for the most part it is used to make people look the best they can look not to make them look like someone they are not. It is also sometimes used to make someone look like who they want be or wish they were. It’s not up to Dove to make people feel bad for wanting look beautiful.
    Don’t lose track of your goals. Real beauty is about feeling good with who you are and what you were born to be. If a little image manipulation can make someone feel good about themselves I’m going to do it. It’s better than surgical correction and it looks a hell of a lot more natural. Stick to teaching women to love themselves. Otherwise the next step will be an attack on make-up, then you’ll be telling them not to use deodorant or shampoo. Then you’ll end up putting yourself out of business all in the name of natural beauty.

  • ihatedouchebags

    yeah, that would be nice, except i’ve never had a client who said “i don’t want my photos retouched.” i’m not in this business to make an ethical or moral stand – i’m in it to make money, ultimately. if someone tells me they don’t want retouching, fine, i won’t, but otherwise it’s happening. it’s part of what i do as a wedding and portrait photographer.

    dove’s “campaign for real beauty” or whatever is just a marketing ploy.

  • Bob Mulholland

    Okay, let me understand this correctly. Dove is interested in “natural” beauty when these are the ingredients in their soap: Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Slearic Acid, Sodium Palmitate, Aqua Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Parfum, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, zinc Oxide, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Alumina, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Coumarin, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool. That’s toxic chemicals on skin, which destroys health and beauty much more quickly than a Photoshop tool.

  • Ken Gilbert

    photoshop 101: save often. ;)

  • Mark Dub

    Yup! You are 100% correct!! They have the luxury of picking who they want to use. Anti-photoshop is the same as saying anti-MUA, as well. Are we to believe they didnt have hair and MUA’s at any of their shoots?

  • Sassy Beyotch

    That’s great. Maybe they could also show before and afters of the animals they test their products on, too. Can someone make a photoshop action for that? Would help young girls’ self esteem a lot.

  • Jess

    Love the fact that the same company responsible for the “campaign for real beauty” is also responsible for Axe and their sexist marketing.

  • Bryce

    Spot on, good sir. I hate how Photoshop has now become a verb that means “To edit a photo of a human by changing it’s physical proportions.” No, Photoshop is a plugin that, believe it or not, has other purposes than making a model look skinny. It’s a tool, not a toy.

  • Bryce

    Program, not plugin.

  • Bleh

    Nor do I think professional retouchers would download actions from Reddit.

  • Andy M.

    I really hope no one is running actions on their images without checking to see what it does first. Especially on a production image.

  • Cristian Palcău

    I think you can still get a picture photoshoped by exporting it after you are done and then importing it again and applying this dove beauty.

  • John Richards

    Are they also suggesting women not wear makeup in photos? Wouldn’t want to artificially enhance their natural beauty.

  • Kjartan Clausen

    Not true. Nobody would use 100% concentration of most chemical compounds on their body, but with proper dosage they’re beneficial.
    Some of the ingredients here I wouldn’t have a problem with, even at 100% BTW.
    Sodium Cloride is ordinary table salt for instance…

  • fabrikate

    I’ve always appreciated Dove’s campaign, but this is terrible.

  • John

    When will DOVE speak out about them testing on animals….

  • Dan Sulla

    Ok its time for hate the old timer. Back in the good old days you used styling, HMUA and lighting. I saw the un-retouched versions of the gatefolds from Playboy, very little work was done. Today’s retouch looks more like anime than human. Here’s another example I have a cousin in the business and about three years ago an assistant said the following, “Oh I get it your going to do the lighting for capture rather than catching it in post.” Wow the mind boggles. Yes there was enhancement back then but it was just that enhancement and not just a frame work for plastic looking people. Again flame away.

  • Me

    It’s a joke… relax.. No one really expects a REAL touch-upper to use it. It’s an Ad for Dove.

  • snapshot1

    You would just be able to undo the action and/or go back a step in your history. Simple.

  • Jack

    I actually think it’s pretty clever. Beats most boring marketing gimmicks.

  • Jack

    Yeah, because no one uses MUAs, stylists or strobes these days. Just TEH PHOTOSHOPZ.


  • Jack

    Photoshop Kindergarten: Don’t download actions from Reddit and run on prod images.

  • Andrew Webb

    One day the pay you to retouch their slightly imperfect models, the next they vilify you in the press. Thanks, Dove!

  • Ryan Patrick Barlow

    Doesn’t Unilever do the opposite to Women in their Axe advertisements??? I’m calling BS on this one.

  • wickerprints

    Just because some substance has a hard-to-pronounce name does not mean it is toxic or unnatural. Conversely, just because something is familiar does not mean it is safe.

    Every single ingredient in a soap or beauty product is designed to do something specific and related to the function, performance, and/or usability of the product. Were that not the case, why would the manufacturer include it at increased cost to them? Some products do contain “unnecessary” ingredients in the sense that their absence would not affect its effectiveness, but it might render the product less appealing to use (e.g., ingredients that impart color, texture, viscosity, scent, or lather).

    Now, that’s not to say it’s really necessary to use soap that has all these things. You can make your own natural soap, or buy natural soap, which is more or less the same stuff that people used a century ago. But it’s not going to smell nice, or lather up the way most people are accustomed to, or moisturize the skin. These are things that consumers want, so modern chemistry develops the substances to meet that demand.

  • Tim

    Ha ha you obviously lack experience. You obviously have never watched someone retouch a neg…like a LITERAL NEGATIVE with a brush, right onto the surface. Was totally common and normal for YEARS. You probably think Man Ray sucks. (Tell your cousin he sucks)

  • Neoracer Xox

    You blame the media, but its only what people want/expect to see now, and it aint goin away. Deal with it or move to Mars.

  • chris

    the reddit thread pretty much unmasks this as a scam ad by the agency. my guess is this never really ran wide and was just done so they could submit it to the one show. it won’t win anything beyond merit, so the joke is on them.

  • Kenny

    But that mindset was created by photo retouching to begin with (pre-photoshop). So they still have a lot to answer for.

  • humanpower

    Dove soap contains Sodium Chloride! Scandalous!

  • Pete M

    It is a very effective ad campaign. It got 35, now 36 of you (us) to comment on it.


  • Laura Barisonzi

    I have shot ads for Dove and can testify to the fact that they require no retouching on their images.

  • Zos Xavius


  • Zos Xavius

    and how did that make you feel?

  • Ken Jones

    Let’s not forget they most likely use dihydrogen monoxide in the manufacturing process which is one of the most deadly chemical compounds known to man. More facts:

  • wideNCawake

    ….. when a product is full of crap then so is the company that makes it.

  • Heisenberg

    Funny. dihydrogen monoxide = H2O

  • Oliver Lea

    Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better in general, but you lose what you had to begin with.

  • Laura

    I dont believe retouching is bad actually.. It has been since the beggining of time and i dont get how people can feel bad about photoshop, really, I dont feel bad when I see a billboard with a perfect woman on it…

  • Kristen

    Wow this is so unbelievably offensive. Being someone they just singled out in this video makes it seem like our profession is fake, and somehow Dove nullifies the idea of “perception” when they are so picky about who they use. What about showing someone with no makeup on, etc. It really sucks that photoshopping has been used a term of basically making everyone fake, but dont blame the graphic designers, art directors and retouchers for doing this…we’re the ones in the trenches, being told to do these actions, we don’t do it willingly. And to say that we’re the ones responsible for this crap?! What about the clients that ask for it, or the advertising bosses that ask for it? Dove really is pointing their finger to the wrong people.

    I wonder where Dove would be without those designers, who apparently change the worlds perceptions with a retouch (which Im sure those same designers they ask of when they release an ad) I wonder where they would be without us to design this video, their packaging, ads, I don’t know, entire brand. That would be most interesting.

    I really think most people here hit it on the mark, and Dove really are being hypocrites.

  • Steve Nordquist

    Fire fx filters and Art Brut magazines FTW. Or butter us up with your local colleges’ ads for training in photography, plus a practicing nurse degree with specialties in dermatology and personal trainer sidebars. Surely this is a thing!

  • Steve Nordquist

    Oh, this one is there for demo time if the art director can’t bat account managers away with words. Or being at the office. That’s when the soap should reach out and dope-slap the ad asset people making all models mauve halftones and clothes electric white so their copy stands out. Coumarin and hexyl cinnamal, reprazent!

  • ace

    I wanna to see DOVE use photo of the average looking girls…instead of models…, they should of do that on their ads… I bet no one will buy their products…

  • Martin Liddament

    The other issue here is whether a company or a special interest group should, in the pursuit of a political point, be allowed to get away with releasing a script / macro / code that is camouflaged as one thing, but actually does something harmful, however mild the effect might be. It is a tiny little step onto a slippery slope and Unilever ought to have its knuckles rapped for it. If Dove want me to listen to their viewpoint then they can engage with me via normal methods rather than grin and administer a nasty little surreptitious pinch under the school desk. Too self-righteous, too corrosive of trust in an online environment that is bad enough already and somewhat dangerous if others jump on the bandwagon.