Airbrush 101

I wanted to share a great article about Airbrush Makeup found at Skin Inc.

A Flawless Strategy: Airbrush Makeup in the Spa

By: Jaclyn Peresetsky
Posted: June 27, 2014, from the July 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

“The sheer, flawless finish of airbrush makeup has made it the choice of television and film makeup artists for years, and it is now becoming an in-demand spa service—thanks in part to the popularity of high-definition photography, selfies and video. Clients appreciate the light, long-lasting coverage and the radiant, natural glow imparted to the skin, so it’s no surprise to see airbrush makeup in high demand for bridal services and graduation photographs. Skin care facilities can use this trend to set themselves apart from cosmetic counters to meet the personalized needs of their clients.

Why is airbrush makeup so special?

Airbrush makeup gives a polished look that can’t be achieved with regular makeup. This is because the particle size of the makeup that is applied through an air gun is so small that it produces a very thin, even layer of makeup that practically floats over skin instead of settling into fine lines, wrinkles and imperfections. When compared to non-airbrush foundations, the look of blemishes is significantly diminished because non-airbrush foundations can absorb into the skin and cause blemishes to stand out.
Airbrush makeup is composed of mainly water and mineral pigments, and comes in two basic formulas: water- and silicone-based. Water-based makeup uses finely ground pigments dissipated in water. It lets the skin breathe, is hypoallergenic and has a non sticky feel. Silicone-based makeup is meant for long-lasting wear without fading. It’s popular because the silicone fill in skin imperfections, such as shallow scars, providing a more flawless appearance.
Airbrush makeup is nontransferable, meaning that slight rubbing or brushing against something or someone will not cause the makeup to be removed. Black clothes will remain black after hugging someone wearing airbrush makeup. It will only transfer to another surface if it gets wet—if the client should cry or sweat, she should simply blot instead of wiping to avoid the risk of smearing the makeup.
Using an air gun to apply makeup is also a healthy move. By using an air gun, the need for using fingers is eliminated, which has the potential of spreading bacteria and germs across the face.

Airbrush machine type and usage

There are many different machines out there to choose from. A great way to test them is to attend an industry trade show for hands-on experience. Machines differ on noise, compressor size, makeup formula, weight and the applicator wand.
There are two general types of airbrushes—dual-action and single-action—and they require slightly different techniques. A dual-action airbrush allows the user to control airflow, dictating the amount of makeup that is distributed. To use, the trigger is depressed with the index finger, drawing in air from the compressor. The further the trigger is depressed, the more makeup is released. The advantage of this is that the air can be used as a guide before allowing makeup to pass through the nozzle, giving the artist an exact idea of where the makeup will land on the face.
A single-action airbrush is generally considered easier to use because depressing the trigger releases a fixed ratio of makeup-to-air. However, in order to achieve different levels of coverage and detail, the nozzle has to be changed between applications, which can be quite cumbersome.
A professional airbrush makeup artist will work with a range up to 35 pounds per square inch (PSI). Many compressors designed for at-home use will not achieve airflow greater than 15 PSI. A low PSI is preferable when airbrushing makeup in trickier areas, such as the eyes, and is also ideal for sensitive skin because it uses less pressure. Fifteen PSI should be used when filling in eyebrows and applying eye shadow. Higher PSI is used when applying airbrush foundation, which creates a more continuous airflow and a faster application.

Color choice and application

One of the most important parts of airbrush makeup is choosing the foundation shade. With a full range of warm, neutral and cool foundations, everyone can have their perfect match. Airbrush makeup can be custom-blended right in the gravity feed of the gun to achieve the perfect color. Take time to ensure the foundation color matches the client’s skin perfectly. Until this is mastered, the color should be tested by dabbing it on a discreet spot on the client’s face to achieve a perfect match.

Airbrush makeup is great for creating facial dimension. There are two techniques for creating dimension: highlighting and contouring. Highlighting uses a color that is two shades lighter then the foundation and is applied above the cheekbone, below and above the brow, on the chin and on the middle of the nose. Highlighting lifts the face and draws attention to features. Pearly tones are perfect for this. To contour, first clean the cup after the last use and choose a shade two shades darker than the foundation. Apply it underneath the cheekbones and on features that need to be minimized, such as a wide forehead area or nose. When applying, lower the PSI to 12 to ensure not too much of the darker shade is released. See Application Considerations and Techniques.

Retail, at-home airbrushing

Today, the size of air compressors has decreased immensely, making at-home airbrushes more accessible. Yet, after using conventional makeup for years, clients might wonder why they should even consider investing in airbrush makeup for home use. The last thing a busy woman wants to worry about is her makeup. With airbrush makeup for home use, a client can apply her makeup in 10 minutes or less and achieve a celebrity-perfect airbrush finish that lasts all day long. Airbrush makeup is a complete solution to cover imperfections including acne, stretch marks, birthmarks, tattoos and scars. Lastly, you can encourage your clients to stay out of the sun and reduce their risk of cancer because they can use their at-home airbrush kit to bronze their face, neck, chest and legs within minutes.
There is a big opportunity to create additional retail sales with airbrush makeup. “Live on service—retire on retail” is not just a slogan; it’s a solution. The opportunity exists to make money on the in-spa airbrush service and back it up by becoming an airbrush retailer. Check to see if your chosen airbrush system offers airbrush makeup personal systems for clients, and learn how to best retail the system and refills in your spa.

Marketing airbrush makeup

Great ways to market this service include targeting brides, as well as young women who will be graduating soon and want to look great in their graduation photos. Run ads in bridal magazines, high school and college newspapers, and radio shows and social media, or partner with salons that do not offer makeup services. Use before-and-after pictures—they speak 1,000 words and will show off an artist’s talent.
Airbrush makeup is so versatile and allows a professional to offer clients flawless skin for weddings, everyday looks, photo shoots and even crazy Halloween makeup. Start practicing with airbrush makeup on friends and family and, before long, specialized airbrushing for holidays can be added to the service menu, increasing the bottom line and client base. Airbrushing makeup is a skill that most makeup artists and skin care professionals can learn, and that any skin care facility can add to its menu of services to catapult its business.”

Jaclyn Peresetsky is CEO, esthetician and color specialist at SkinPerfect Image Wellness Spa in Columbus, Ohio. She is the author of Discover the Power of YOUR Colors (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).


First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery Moisturizer – Great Under Airbrush Foundation

So many of my skin care items revolve around my Retin-A prescription and my airbrush routine.

This combo can make life interesting…

My skin gets dry because I use Retin-A that I use before bed.  In the morning my skin is dry but since I am almost ready to apply my airbrush foundation I can not use your typical moisturizers because they all tend to slip under my foundation, messing it up. And I don’t have an hour for them to soak in before doing my makeup (I like my sleep too much).  So when I ran across someone recommending this I decided to do some research.  A lot of the following information came from either the MFG website or

First Aid Beauty - Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery

First Aid Beauty

Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery
What it is:
A daily tonic to hydrate, repair stressed skin, and reduce redness.

Ultra Repair® Liquid Recovery contains a blend of skin-saving ingredients, including red algae, honey proteins and oat extract, in a concentrated water base. Regular use delivers intense hydration deep into the skin while visibly reducing dry patches, redness, signs of stress, and environmental damage, leaving the complexion looking smoother, less blotchy, and more youthful. For maximum results, it should be applied immediately to the skin after cleansing. Use twice daily to prevent “bad skin” days.

All skin types, even the most sensitive.

Immediately hydrates the skin, locks in moisture and plumps the skin. Reduces dry patches,redness and signs of environmental stress. Promotes increased collagen levels to create a more youthful complexion.


Sprinkle a few drops into the palms of the hand and pat gently into all areas of the face. Apply each morning and night after cleansing.

No Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Harsh Chemicals or Colorants. 
Safe for Sensitive Skin.

REDUCES REDNESS: Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract

What else you need to know:
All FAB products are allergy-tested, free of artificial fragrances, dermatologist-recommended, and safe for even the most sensitive skin.

So now for my take!  First off I mean how cute is that bottle!!! Yes it is glass on the bottom, the long skinny part and the spout are a type of plastic that is squeezable.  At first try I was a little confused about dispensing this.  I like to tip it upside down so that the little skinny reservoir is filled then give one full squeeze and that seems to be the perfect amount for my whole face.  I will admit applying with your hands is really tricky because this has the exact consistency of water, but you just tap all over your face and rub in.  Seriously you will think you just filled your hand with plain tap water because that is what it looks and feels like; which is kind of the beauty of it.  Since I am airbrushing I actually have switched to squeezing this into my airbrush and applying that way, it’s just simpler to me.  In a matter of seconds this completely soaks into your skin and you are not left with any of your typical moisturizer residue.  It does not mess with my airbrush foundation at all, if anything it’s looking better since my skin is now well moisturized underneath. 

I love this product, it is not something you are going to see an immediate result with, but I am now to the point where I can tell when I haven’t used it.  I have on occasion when I forgot before my foundation, taken it and sprayed it over top when I really felt like I needed it, it does seem to sink through the foundation and didn’t disturb it.  I wouldn’t recommend that for ideal application but it was better then walking out the door with a tight feeling dry face.

They actually categorize this as a face serum or treatment, but since it’s main benifit is hydration I have referred to it as a moisturizer.  It’s definitely unique, it does not have the consistency of any serum or moisturizer I have ever tried before.
It retails for $38, which is a little pricey but so far the greatest option for my routine so I am sticking with it. Links below for purchasing.

First Aid Beauty


New sunscreen favorite : And it works with Airbrush!!!!

Because of my acne I have a prescription for Retin-A which causes my face to be even more susceptible to the suns uv rays.  The dermatologist recommends that I wear a sunscreen of up to SPF 80 everyday because of this.

I have one major issue with…… I wear water based airbrush foundation.  And let me just tell you those don’t mix!!!
When I went on my prescription I ran out and purchased a ton of different facial sunscreens that promote to be oil free, etc., etc.  They all left me feeling greasy and smelly with my makeup just skidding off in a matter of hours.
Then I found this beauty at a Sephora VIB Rouge event.


Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 42 For Face

They sent me home with a sample, one of the most amazing befits of shopping at Sephora! So I was able to try it for several days under my airbrush makeup to make sure it did not conflict.
I love it and purchased a full size about a month ago.  It does not leave me with that sunscreen smell, it sinks into my skin and after a minute there is no trace that I have applied it!
It is only SPF 42, not as high as I would like it, but it is much better than nothing at all which is what I was doing!
If you airbrush and need to add a sunscreen to your skin are routine I highly recommend this one!

Another Airbrush: Temtu

So I have added a new airbrush experience to my makeup trails.  While Temptu ran their family and friends sale I decided to purchase.  So now sits two!

I have been using it for the past three days and I do like it but I consider it in a different category than my other. So here are a few points.
First I had drug my feet on purchasing because I was told it was hard to get a good color match with the air-pod system and I feel with my very olive/yellow tone skin I already experience more difficulty matching foundations than most.  Also with the air pod system there is no true mixing colors like my other system.  The only way to “mix” is by layering.
The foundation is a good color match and finishes with a much more dewy look than typical airbrush foundation.  Like the Kett foundations they do sell a setting powder and I have been setting my makeup with powder because it reminds me almost of a liquid foundation on your skin in the fact that you can kind of move it around on your face, which has positive and negative facets.
I need to find an easier way to hold and control the trigger, my usual “pencil” hold for airbrush does not work as well since this has a much larger handle and the trigger does not pull back as easily. Maybe the trigger will loosen slightly over time.
I think this would be a great piece for someone that likes easy application.  It provides a fast simple application with much lower maintenance that the other airbrush systems.
It is much more sanitary than applying a foundation with sponges, brushes, or your fingers so could be good for someone with bacteria related acne.
So I will be keeping this system and using it for everyday office, out and about weekends, and other casual events.  It is a great simple application that gives a fairly flawless look without careful blending techniques.

Kett Airbrush Foundations

So I have a very mixed review on Kett Hydro Airbrush foundation.

[[ Hydro Foundation H-O3 35ml. ]]I purchased sample sizes of Olive 3 & 5 to mix together, and this is one of the best color matches I have ever seen on my skin,  I have very yellow tones and this is beautiful!!!!  But I am so sad to report that it leaves a very sticky feeling to the face, and even after a 1/2 hour when I put my sunglasses on it stuck to them and came of my face.

It does set with a powder and have good staying power; and I guess that is just the way it is ment to be used becasue the website recommends:

Suggested items for use with Hydro Foundation:

Kett Sett Powder

Nurturing Force Blot Out Offensive (primer)

Embryolisse Laite Creme Moisturizer

Which just seems to be against the point to me, maybe I will get over it since the color is so great; but who wants to set their airbrush makeup with powder?????

If you would like to give these a try the 7ml sample sizes are only $10 so you don’t feel like you have wasted any money, that’s as cheap as a drug store foundation!

You can find them at :  Kett Hydro


Airbrush Make-Up, Mainly Foundation


I discovered airbrush makeup kind of as a fluke in combination of research for how to get rid of my adult acne, but thought the cost was to much. Shortly after discovering it and looking online I did a photo shoot where there was a makeup artist doing my make-up and hair, and she airbrushed my makeup.  I was IN LOVE!!!!   I had been watching airbrush for long enough and was in big debate between Luminess & Dinair systems; thus my huge discovery of YouTube tutorials. None of the videos I watched really swayed me one way or another, but then I spotted a great deal on HauteLook.  So my first compressor kit was purchased from HauteLook and it was a Luminess Air.

I really had a hard time getting the foundation that came with my kit to look right on my skin; so I called the makeup artist that had done my make up previously and she came to my house and did a private lesson and we really focused on the airbrush.  She uses a professional grade (large & loud) compressor and Dinair Foundation.  So I ordered some Dinair foundations and those are definitely better suited in color and formula to my skin and completely compatible with the compressor I had.  I started with mainly using the paramedical foundation because at that time I had so much acne on my face.  Now I only use the paramedical for spot coverage of any acne I may have and use their Colair formula for my overall foundation & blush.

I have since switched compressors; when Belletto Studios came out they ran a sale on HauteLook (seeing a trend?) and I purchased since I had never heard of them in all my research.  I do like their foundation formula, it’s just not quite as good of a color match as the Dinair to my skin. (Note: since trying the original Belletto foundations I have seen that they released new colors, I have not yet tried out the new range so there may now be a better match)  But I LOVE their compressor, I have given away my old Luminess compressor and now use my Belletto Compressor.

I mentioned earlier that I airbrush my foundation & blush, however, I have not fallen in love with airbrushing my eyeshadow or under-eyes.  I just don’t like the look and after taking a few airbrush course I have decided that for the 360 eye area traditional application is best in my opinion.

Hopefully this post will help someone on their quest into airbrush makeup, if anyone has any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.

I emailed Belletto about a Pro Discount, they do not offer one but there are several promo codes on YouTube that will get you a great starter kit for around $60.

Also Dinair has a great program that you upload a photo of you without makeup and they will email you back with your color matches, it was very accurate for me and only took a day or two to receive my report that including foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and eyebrow color recommendations.  So if you don’t know what color to start with give them a try.

I had the chance to try Elements II Beauty airbrush at a class held by their creator Mark Harvey. The compressor is almost identical to my Belletto compressor so win there!  Foundations have good colors for me, but was slightly similar to the Kett airbrush foundation in the fact that I feel the need to set with powder.  I would rate the E2B foundation as less of a hassle than the Kett but it does not rank as one of my all time favorites.

For awhile when I experience dryer skin I was really liking mixing Graftobian or Kiralee Airbrush foundation with my Dinair Glamour foundation.  They are almost two different extremes, but mixed well and gave my face a really great finish.  I am sure depending on my skin texture this will be used occasionally as needed.  Graftobian has a very dewy finish and Dinair is much more matte.Kiralee is dewy but not to the extreme of Graftobian

All of the products mentioned in this post are water bases.  I have used and am familiar with silicon based airbrush foundations as well but feel they fall in a different category and will keep them separate.  I also do not recommend those for anyone with acne.   While silicon does not cause acne I find those formulas to be more irritating to my skin.

For my separate review on the Temptu Pod system please check out: My Review – Temptu Pods

And my review for the Kett Airbrush foundations:  My Review – Kett Airbrush Foundations

For a facial sunscreen that works under airbrush foundation: My Favorite Daily Sunscreen

For a moisturizer that works under airbrush foundation:  A Moisturizer That Works With Airbrush

Note:  Because of the popularity of this post I do come in and edit it as products evolve. Last update 9/5/14