It’s pretty much standard practice these days for portrait photographers to smooth the skin of their subjects. I’m no exception; I remove ‘temporary’ flaws like acne and do a certain amount of skin smoothing as well.
The reason is that our cameras, like our television sets, are now high definition. In addition to focusing sharply on our loveliest features, they also pick out every detail of our skin — much, much more detail than we’d ever notice in person. That means that with no retouching at all, we’d all (even professional models) look as if we were wearing little sandpaper masks over all exposed skin.
That said, I retouch and smooth skin very lightly for one specific reason:
We’re humans, not china dolls, and the textures of our skin are parts of our story. Sure, I’m going to make that annoying zit on your nose disappear, but ‘permanent’ flaws like wrinkles and moles get lightly smoothed, not erased.
There’s a quote I really love that goes,
“Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you lived.” » unknown (not my image)
“The close up of my face is a favorite. I know that this will sound odd, but I love that I can see crinkles near my eyes. I look my age and I LOVE it. I sparkle and shine and I’m not trying to look 20.”