A Guide to Airbrushing Makeup
Having discovered airbrush makeup several years ago I have been delighted to see the progress made in the quality of the machinery and the makeup used. It was probably a little more than a decade ago that airbrush makeup was being used only by professionals in the film, fashion and theater industries. In those days they didn't have high quality mineral pigments but simply used body paint diluted with a little fixative. How uncomfortable that must have been to wear on the skin for hours at a time!
Luckily for us the rise of the airbrush makeup system as a consumer product has created great demand for safe, hygienic and superior quality makeup and the competition amongst brands is keeping the costs down. Airbrush makeup tends to be either silicone or water-based. Both are good options and will create different looks: silicone becomes moist and dewy while water-based makeup tends to look more sheer but can be layered for more coverage. The colors are created with fine pigments and it is for this reason that you must always shake the bottle well before use to ensure the pigments have mixed fully.
The strength of airbrushing makeup is that it sits on top of the skin, rather than being rubbed into it with a brush or sponge. The mode of application creates micro-beads of makeup which are mixed with air to create a fine mist which is sprayed onto the target area. So, with a lot less makeup, you can create a lot more coverage. The makeup has been specifically developed to be extremely long-lasting as well as smear and smudge proof. Most airbrushed makeup will stay perfect for over 24 hours–and, that is even without powdering.
Learning how to airbrush makeup is not difficult at all, especially if you already understand the fundamentals of makeup technique. Most good brands will include an an instructional DVD with the kit and there are countless, wonderful videos on Youtube. Combine these with practice, practice, practice and you will become a skilled airbrush makeup artist in no time!
With airbrushing, you always want to maintain constant motion. Short bursts in a single area will only produce a build up of makeup. The two preferred techniques are the 'dot-dot-dash' method, where you 'dot' over blemishes' and 'dash' a line of makeup across your skin; the second is to use a circular motion. With either method, you should keep a distance of between 6-12 inches between the airbrush gun and your skin.
Most compressors have a PSI range fro 0 to 35 and some only go as high as 15PSI. For foundation, a PSI of around 10-12 is optimal while, for finer detail work such as eye-shadow or lips, a lower PSI is better. The only reason to ever use a higher PSI is to do body work such as stencils, temporary tattoos or tanning. Also, a high PSI can be helpful in cleaning the makeup gun since, with a few short bursts of air and water, you can flush out any excess makeup from the gun. This is extremely useful since no airbrush machine will work correctly if it is not clean. Even the slightest clogging will affect the airbrush gun's effectiveness so always be sure you know how to clean your airbrush makeup gun. Most of the time distilled water is enough but there are specialist cleaning fluids for the job.
So, if it's foundation, blush, costume makeup, tanning or a temporary tattoo, airbrush makeup is an extremely effective way to create flawless coverage and what you can do with it is really only limited by your imagination.