Some tips on that....
Get used to using the keyboard when working on selection masks. The main keys you will use will be the D and X as well as the left [ and right ] brackets in conjunction with the shift key. The D key will select the default black and white for foreground and background respectively. The X key will switch between black and white. The bracket keys alone will vary the size up and down and when used with the shift key will also vary the hardness of the brush. By varying the hardness, size and opacity of a brush on the fly, your ability to fine tune a mask will fall into place and you will lose the harsh transitions of a typical selection.
You can also set the opacity of the brush being used on the fly with the top row of number keys. Pressing one or two keys in quick succession will allow you to customize the opacity as needed.
Margaret, as you say - that's the problem - when using selections for colour work and often with sharpening...they have to be very good, otherwise things tend to look fake.
This is where channel based masks are handy - as is feathering or g/blurring in QuickMask mode can help soften the transition.
Selections are one of the first things most folk learn in Photoshop, but perhaps they should not be the first thing to use in all edits. Then there are those times that nothing but a selection will do!
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