Upload & Sell: Off
I appreciate your post Philber, but not including yourself and Rick, two out of two objected. Considering it was not even their photo, I gather it must be a strong opposition. While I agree with Grenache and Burningheart that the most polite thing to do is ask first, no doubt about it, I think this is basically impractical to the point that few will ever put up alternative interpretations. It's just not worth going to all that trouble for such an insignificant post. I think such an approach weakens the potential of the forum, but hey, I'm just one guy, and I do not want to impose myself on others.
When you try to lighten up the face or whatever, it certainly is possible to lose the contrast and get wash out, as you say. What I do is make a layer in which the light tones above a certain breakpoint get lighter, and the darks either remain the same, get darker, or get lighter but not as much as the light tones get lighter. Whichever one of those you pick, you will either retain the contrast, enhance the contrast or go somewhere in between. On curves in Photoshop, you are basically making one of those "S" shaped contrast curves, and I do it in Lab Color for jpegs/tifs in the lightness channel, though there are other ways. The curve basically steepens in the region you want contrast. Mask off the areas you don't want affected (or vice versa, mask it all off and paint in what you want). The other way, which I like very much, is to simply pull up the lighness curve on a layer to the maximum you need for the shot as a whole, and what you will see is maybe that washed out look you were mentioning. But, what you do is mask it all off, and then with a soft brush at ~12% opacity, paint in white on that mask, painting in the areas of the face (in this case) that you want to brighten, with heavier emphasis in certain areas, building up to potentially 100% opacity in certain spots. So you can selectively retain all the darks you want, and can go back and forth till you get the desired effect. If you know all this, my apologies. I know exactly what you are describing, and it's a good thing to avoid. By working in Lab mode, you avoid affecting the color while using the lightness channel, but LAB mode is not absolutely necessary.
If you are in Lightroom, the same effect is done, probably, by simply using the brightness adjustment brush, and this maybe even better, as you are working with the RAW file (probably the same as using LAB, ie. lightness channel). There is a limit to how much pushing can be done in the shadows, but RAW does the best job. I use Lightroom the most, and only used Photoshop Lab because jpegs were posted here.