Airbrush makeup: Everything you need to know 
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  • Post published:June 12, 2020

What is airbrush makeup?

Airbrush makeup is liquid makeup, which is applied by an air compressor and an applicator (airbrush wand) instead of using sponges, brushes, fingers, or other methods to apply. It is often light makeup, which gives a satisfactory finishing look. Usually, it is used to apply the foundation to your skin.

There are three significant tools used in airbrush makeup. A powered compressor with a medical-grade hose through which composition is sprayed evenly and gives controllable airflow. You can change the pressure of spraying (typically measured in pounds/ square inches), and by changing its pressure, you can get lighter, more massive, broader, or detailed coverage depending on your choice.

Airbrush systems used in industrial applications give higher pressure than those that are used to apply makeup at home. They were first used in Hollywood movies in the 1930s.

The right formula for your skin:

One can use an airbrush for foundation, blush, lip colors, and eye shadows to get a perfect and elegant look.

Before going into specifics, it is significant to know the types of formulas available:

Water-based formula:

It has matte or semi-matte finishing rather than a moist & dewy appearance, and water-based airbrush makeup is perfect for people with oily skin. It dries faster.

For its lightweight coverage, most makeup lovers prefer this formula. It is suitable for people to work under bright lights where shine on the face should not be there.

Alcohol-based formula:

It has an incredible staying power of up to 5 days.

But most makeup artists advise against using it because this formula is 99% of alcohol.

If you need to cover tattoos and other permanent marks, this formula is the right choice.

Silicone-based formula:

If you are someone who prefers natural-looking makeup, the silicone-based formula is for you.

You need to pick the right shade that matches your skin tone, and this formula gives a bare, skin-like finish, but if you are confused about the right shade, choose a lighter one because the makeup tends to deepen after few hours.

How to apply airbrush makeup?

Primarily, you need to take these items in hand: an airbrush kit consisting of an air compressor, fine airbrush, and makeup.

Select Makeup shade

To find the best foundation shade for you, figure out the undertones of your skin, and look at the veins on your wrist. If they look blue, your skin is cool-toned, and if they look green, your skin is warm-toned. If your skin is warm-toned, look for a yellow-based foundation.

Whatever the airbrush makeup kit you own, you need 2-5 drops of specialized foundation in a small container of the applicator. To get more coverage, you need to add more drops of foundation accordingly.

Apply airbrush makeup

It is recommended to maintain 6-12 inches distance of airbrush from the skin. For lesser coverage, hold the applicator farther away from the skin, it gives a lighter and natural look, but to get more coverage and concentrated look, keep it closer to the skin.

Make sure to follow the applicator upright and spray in a circular or forward-backward motion all over the skin.

Perfection can be achieved by continually keeping circular motion. Keep moving because if you let your hand stop for too long, you might end up with more substantial spots and cracks on makeup.

You probably want more coverage for pimples, dark circles, tattoos, and other damaged areas of your skin, so keep moving in a circular motion until you get satisfied.

Final touch

You may want to apply other makeup on top of the foundation, so it’s reasonable to use non-airbrush tools for the final look. But applying contour and blush on your cheeks with an airbrush is something you wish to get an elegant and delicate look.

Tips and tricks for you airbrush makeup enthusiasts:

  • Use a primer before applying airbrush makeup.
  • Take a piece of paper and apply airbrush makeup on it. You get the idea if you have the right shade loaded, and the machine is working correctly, so you get used to it.
  • You can apply it to someone else for practice and get the idea to keep an appropriate distance from the skin. You should test it on your hand first.
  • In the beginning, do some practice with water, so you get yourself familiarized with different settings of airbrush gun and compressor, and you would get an idea of how things work.
  • Before starting it, tie up your hair to prevent accidental spraying on it.
  • Avoid flexing the wrist when you hold the gun; otherwise, you would not get fine finishing. Always maintain constant motion to prevent blotchy or uneven areas.
  • Make sure to avoid hot spots and do not overspray.
  • Keeping the kit clean is necessary, so always hold airbrush cleaner in hand.
  • When you need to apply the next shade, use cleaner to flush the airbrush to get the exact shade you want.
  • Do not wholly press down the nozzle.
  • Always use the same base for cleaner and airbrush kit. For example, you are using a water airbrush formula, so use a water-based cleaner.
  • Try to apply the foundation on the neck and face evenly to avoid contrast.
  • Cleanse your skin to get rid of dead skin cells before you apply airbrush makeup because, with smooth skin, you get better results. Apply a light moisturizer on your skin before you get started.
  • Airbrush makeup gives you the best result if someone is doing it for you. It prevents accidental spray in your eyes or hair.
  • Airbrush needle is fragile, and if you do not handle the gun with care, the needle might break.
  • To ensure high-quality application, shake the makeup well before spray.
  • For applying the foundation, maintain the brush farther away from the skin.

The unit used to measure the spraying pressure is ‘pressure per square inches’ set this number between 13 PSI and 18 PSI for bodywork; if you want fine detail, lower it down accordingly.

  • It is always recommended to read manuals and watch CD’s provided by the airbrush company. Watch video tutorials and read informative articles to get a better understanding of product and equipment because putting on airbrush makeup is different from conventional makeup.
  • Airbrush makeup can be layered, unlike traditional makeup without creating any problem, but remember, let the first layer to be dry and then apply the other one
  • Do practice with mixing up the shades to get the most beautiful look.
  • In traditional makeup, it is easy to correct the mistakes, but in airbrush makeup, it is a little problem. Take portions of composition each time and do not over apply. It is particularly crucial for highlights and blushes.
  • To get better control, use small bursts of makeup on selected areas. After some practice, you can use regular bursts easily and do layers for a quicker finish.
  • You get better suggestions from a reputed makeup artist as well.
  • Do not mix up two or more formulas like water-based formula with alcohol-based or silicon-based because both formulas take different time to get dry.
  • To avoid wastage, by practicing train yourself in measurements.

Pros of choosing airbrush makeup over regular makeup:

  • Most of the airbrush makeup formula is water-resistant, and because of this property, airbrush makeup is useful in photoshoots (indoor and outdoor) under bright lights, and as conditions are extremely variable so, it can better withstand sweat, tears, rain, and water.
  • In the fashion industry, unlike conventional makeup, it’s better to apply airbrush makeup to prevent sweat under hot and variable conditions because if you re-apply the whole makeup

you are wasting time and money.

  • It is popular among weddings and proms because of its flawless finishing and long-lasting feature.
  • With airbrush makeup, you never look ‘caked on’ because of its excellent coverage and with minimal changes to the natural texture of the skin.
  • Unlike traditional makeup, while hugging your dear ones, airbrush makeup does not transfer to other people’s clothes.
  • It is highly recommended to use airbrush makeup for current television shows because the traditional makeup looks patchy and stiff on high definition cameras, no matter if reputed makeup experts apply it.
  • Traditional makeup has a thick foundation, so it causes blockage of skin pores and creating blemishes eventually. Still, foundation applied with an airbrush formula is lighter and let the pores of your skin breathe, so you feel more comfortable as well as your natural look never goes away.
  • Airbrush makeup is considered as far more hygienic. If you compare it to traditional makeup, you do not need to touch the foundation, the stylus (airbrush gun), and your skin and, there is no chance that you are transferring oil, bacteria, and dirt while applying makeup. Traditional make has a lot of bacteria, and the Airbrush makeup formula is best for the people that want cleanliness.
  • It is applied in thin layers and considered perfect for contouring. In traditional makeup, more tools are needed to contour while it is evenly distributed in airbrush makeup.
  • It is a lightweight formula, so always better for your skin.


  • Airbrush makeup pinches the pocket more; it is costly as compared to traditional makeup because of the equipment involved, and training is necessary for a MUA to apply the makeup properly.

According to most makeup artists, it is an add-on service.

  • It is less creamy than a traditional makeup foundation. It is not considered great for dry skin. The base has to be prepped, primed, and hydrated well, but, if not, it could be dull looking. It can crack and flake or look flat.
  • It is not easy to re-blend the airbrush makeup, so makeup streaks due to tears or sweat, it cannot be touched up as quickly as with regular makeup.
  • If you have small wrinkles, an airbrush makeup gives excellent coverage. For big pores and wrinkles, it is a bad option because instead of masking them and staying on top,

it sinks into pores and lines, and ultimately, this will only draw attention to these and other blemishes. It gives the exact opposite result of what you wanted by an airbrush makeup.

  • One of its limitations is this particular beauty service has a lack of foundation shades, and so are the brands.
  • It needs to be expertly applied; otherwise, your makeup can look flawless but flat-lacking dimension. Losing dimension means you run the risk of your makeup looking like a mask. That is why it extremely important to find a skilled professional.
  • Do not expect Airbrush makeup to cover scars and the skin with active breakouts like a dream. Regular makeup considered better for acne-prone skin types.

Is airbrush makeup worth your time and money?

Airbrush makeup is a technique to apply makeup, while distance and air pressure are essential aspects to give specific coverage. An airbrush makeup artist either uses a forward-backward motion or circular motion while applying an airbrush foundation with an airgun.

There are two types of airbrushes, dual-action and single-action, both are useful with a few differences.

It has three significant tools, and there are three formulas available for airbrush makeup. You need to choose the right airbrush formula according to your skin type. Usually, it is considered useful to apply foundation, blush, contour and rest of the makeup should be done with conventional makeup tools. It is long-lasting but not considered to be useful for people with dry skin.

If you do not want to feel like you’re putting on a heavy coat of foundation, airbrush makeup is right for you. Because of its excellent spray application process, it’s less amount gives you more coverage.

The application method of airbrush makeup is totally customizable. It dries super quickly; it can be applied in such fine layers, which means one can use more coats for extra coverage.

If you cry and your makeup streaks, it’s not easy to fill those spots with applying more layers or not even regular makeup could fix this, so it is much harder to re-create your original and flawless look.

It is more expensive than regular makeup applications, but it definitely gives you a stunning and alluring look. Airbrush makeup is perfect for special and big events.