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How to Edit Hair in Photoshop (Step by Step)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 4 min read
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Selecting hair in Photoshop might seem very daunting at first but it doesn’t have to be.
Photoshop has a great tool that does all the hard work for you.
Today, I’ll show you how to cut out an image and easily Photoshop hair.

How to Select and Edit Hair in Photoshop

Cutting out objects in Photoshop is easy. You can use the Pen tool or Magic Wand tool but when there’s hair or fur involved, you need something different.

a portrait of a little boy with messy hair
© Pixabay

The photo itself also matters. The more contrast between the subject and background, the easier it is. Start out with a photo of a person with dark hair in front of a clean white background.

Step 1: Duplicate the Background

Right-click on the background and choose “Duplicate Layer…”. A new layer appears on top of the background layer.
a screenshot showing how to duplicate a layer in Photoshop

Step 2: Make a Selection

You can use any tool you want to make the selection. I find that the Quick Selection tool works really well in most cases.
a screenshot showing how to make a selection in Photoshop
The selection doesn’t have to be perfect around the hair at this point.
Using Photoshop to make a selection of a portrait of a little boy with messy hair

Step 3: Refine Edges

Here’s how to cut out an image in Photoshop with Refine Edges. Click on the Refine Edges button and a new window will pop up. Photoshop also shows you the cutout.
A screenshot showing how to Photoshop hair using refine edge tool
In the Refine Edges window, you can set the background. Depending on the colors of your subject, you can use a white, black, or transparent background for more contrast.
A screenshot showing how to Photoshop hair using refine edge tool
In the top menu, set the brush size.
A screenshot showing how to select brush size to Photoshop hair
Paint over the edges of the hair and Photoshop will make a perfect selection of the hair. To achieve this, it will use the contrast between hair and background.
If the result doesn’t look good, you can start playing around with the settings in the Refine Edges window.
A screenshot showing how to refine edges to Photoshop hair in a portrait
Increase Radius to make the edges of the selection softer and more natural.
The Smooth slider smooths out the edges. Keep it low because it takes away from your selection. In my example, I used this slider to smoothen the edges of the hair.
The Feather slider helps to blend the selection more into its eventual background. Keep it low as well.
The Contrast slider adds more definition to your edge. Using too much will create harsh edges.
Move the Shift Edge left or right to shrink or expand the selection.

Common Cutting in Photoshop Questions

How Do I Cut Part of an Image Out in Photoshop?

First, unlock the background layer by double-clicking on it. Make a selection of the object you want to remove and hit Cmd + X (Ctrl + X for windows). The object will disappear instantly.

How Do I Separate an Image From Its Background in Photoshop?

Make a selection of the object you want to separate from the background. When the selection is complete, hit Cmd + J (Ctrl + J for Windows). This will copy the selection to a new layer.

How Do I Cut the Background Out of a Picture?

There are a few options. First, make a selection of the background. Then, you can just hit Delete and the background disappears. A non-destructive way is to add a layer mask so you can always add the background again.

How Do You Cut Out an Image Using Magnetic Lasso in Photoshop?

The Magnetic Lasso tool works best when there’s a lot of contrast between subject and background.
Select the tool and work your way around the subject. Photoshop will help you to create a perfect selection.


It’s easy to cut out an image in Photoshop. Now, you also know how to cut out an image of a person or animal.
Photoshop does the hard work for you and if you use the right kind of photo, it’s actually super easy.