When you start using an image retouching service it can be easy to start relying on the tools which make the editing process easier. These can provide a solid basis for basic editing, but they will not be able to provide the kind of detail that you can earn by doing this work by hand. Comparing detailed work created by different tools will help you learn which effects are the most appropriate for the type of editing you would like to do.
The clone tool is commonly used to help adjust images with an image retouching service. This will help you mimic tones and textures found throughout the image, but it can be easy to overdo this effect. Using the clone tool at high opacity will make the cloned area look brushed on. Instead, use a soft brush with a low opacity to help match the artificial area with the organic texture around it. You can always add an additional layer to help blend the area into your image, but if the effect is overdone there is no way to adjust it without removing your clone stamp and starting over.
The Gaussian blur is also frequently overused in an image retouching service. The Gaussian blur is intended to help blend an object with the background to limit contrast. It is intended to be used to minimize the look of an object that has been added to the photograph, but some editors use it to decrease excessive contrast in a single image. Instead of softening edges with the Gaussian blur, a median can be used to better define edges. You can use this tool to minimize blemishes, freckles and other imperfections on skin or other organic materials that should not be made completely smooth.
It is much easier to apply effects if you take advantage of a variety of selection tools available through your image retouching service. Magnetic selection tools and lasso tools can be used to draw temporary edges around a portion of an object. This can help you make a quick selection so you can redefine the edge. You can then apply specific editing techniques to this area without having to create a separate layer. This is ideal for adjusting edges or lighting on an object without creating a clipping path, allowing you to blend the edge into the background rather than defining the edge as a separate entity. When you use a Photoshop mask, you will understand how versatile and easy to use it is.