You’ve probably learned about airbrushing in discussions of t-shirt businesses or painting, but makeup? So, what is airbrush makeup?

The Compact Answer

In short, website Cosmetic News highlights how we use airbrush makeup as an alternative to the traditional sponge, brush, or finger-applied makeup. You apply this aerosol type of makeup with an airbrush that sprays the cosmetic substance onto the skin.

Plenty of factors inform the “what is airbrush makeup?” backstory, including components, application methods, and when to use the makeup. Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing addition to the cosmetics world.

What Is Airbrush Makeup?: The Primer

While airbrush makeup technically refers to the cosmetics used for this style of makeup application, chances are you’re interested in every aspect of the technique.

Anyone who utilizes this process will need an airbrush system in addition to the makeup itself. While you can buy these components separately, airbrush makeup kits are available that give customers all the tools they’ll need in one convenient package. Written or digitized instructions that take you step-by-step through the process can be a handy add-on bonus.

Any great what is airbrush makeup tutorial – much like any good tutorial – begins with the fundamentals. So, allow me to lay a foundation that won’t soon wear away.

The foundation: makeup


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If you’re asking “what is airbrush makeup?” we’ve got to address the cosmetic itself first and foremost.

According to website Airbrush Guru, during airbrush makeup application droplets (or globules) by the millions are sprayed in a mist. These droplets merge together and settle into a thin, natural-looking mask of sorts over your skin.

What’s in these particles varies. Just like traditional makeup, airbrush selections come in many forms. All forms consist of liquids and, of course, air.

Each type contains pigments mixed with different bases: water, polymer, alcohol, silicone, or some combination of these bases.

Certain varieties, like silicone-based, are water-proof. In addition, customers can choose from specific cosmetics that address varying skin tones, like fair skin.

The finishing touches: equipment

Makeup and makeup brushes on top of a table

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Okay, time for a little science and mechanics diversion in our airbrush makeup lesson. I promise it’ll be relatively painless. As Airbrush Geek notes, cosmetic airbrushes employ some solid technology to make those fine mists of beauty appear natural.

The air compressor and hose are the dependable workhorses of this high-tech system. They manage the airflow and the cosmetics fed into the system.

Gravity suction helps funnel the cosmetics into a chamber. The appointed feeder for your makeup is called the stylus. It will lead to the area where the air and makeup interact.

A trigger on the “gun” of the system functions to spray the airbrush makeup onto the skin. You may be able to adjust the pressure of the mist, which can result in a fine spray or a heavier spray.

How Do I Apply Airbrush Makeup?

If you’ve wondered, “what is airbrush makeup?” the next natural question will likely be, “how do I use it?” Those who have ever partaken in a spray tan think of the process as a spray tan in miniature.

Most airbrush makeup users put the product primarily on their faces, although full-body application, and even tattooing, can be undertaken as well.

You can save yourself some time and effort by searching for cosmetics professionals that implement the airbrush makeup style for the right price. Cosmetic manufacturer TEMPTU touts how professionals can often transform a tedious, sometimes hours-long process into an experience that you can complete in just a few minutes.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal or guy, plenty of starter kits abound that will get you off on the right foot…err, face.

The Highlights

Different kinds of makeup brushes

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Even starter kits typically come brimming with all the essentials to begin your airbrush adventure with style.

Products may vary, but the basics of application remain pretty much the same, according to TEMPTU.

  •  Prep your skin with cleansing, moisturizing, and primer.
  • Insert your cosmetic into the machine’s reservoir.
  • Hold stylus like a pen, with trigger finger slightly pointed pyramid-style.
  • Put stylus about half a foot from the point of skin contact, holding the object straight away.
  •  Press, and spray.

Experts recommend applying the makeup gradually so you can achieve the level of buildup you desire. For motions, Airbrush Guru says that smaller and in a circle tend to work best.

TEMPTU recommends a slightly different approach for blush application. They believe a couple of inches away from the skin works best, and an upward motion from the cheek to the temple will give you that perfect apple-red appearance.

Highlights, on the other hand, achieve their look with a C-motion spray technique and about four inches of space between stylus and face.

To keep any airbrush system in optimal shape, give the stylus a solid cleansing after use. Many kits include cleaning solutions and tools.

Pro Premium

Airbrush makeup first became prominent in the motion picture and television industry. Airbrush Geek mentions how experts fell in love with the ability of the makeup to cover fine lines and present a more natural, youthful appearance — especially when HD filming came into style.

If you want to look runway-ready, seeking out a professional may be your best bet. Check and see if cosmetology businesses or full-service salons in your area offer this service.

If you’re confident in your own abilities, though, professional airbrush makeup kits are available in abundance on the market. These kits come with a higher price tag but more features.

At an advanced level, you should become more proficient with using the dual-action systems detailed in Cosmetic News that enable precise adjustments of airflow and air pressure. Such adjustments can change the size of the cosmetics droplets and affect how well the make-up sticks to your skin.

A professional touch will likely yield greater success in highlighting, contouring, and other techniques that require more precision. For the application of eye shadows, lip touch-ups, and other specific areas, a pro may be the way to go.

With patience and practice, you can transition from a natural look to a full-on, punk-rock look – and everything in between – with ease.

When Do I Use Airbrush Makeup?

Any event where you want to put your best face forward might merit an extra evaluation of airbrush makeup.

Weddings have emerged as a particularly popular venue for airbrushed cosmetics, as Airbrush Guru points out. You can enjoy your big day without worrying about your face literally melting away.

Airbrush makeup can give you a boost for other formal events too, from high school proms to corporate fundraisers.

Of course, many women and men around the world simply prefer the convenience and the results of a good airbrush makeup application. You may fall in love with this technique yourself and make it your go-to makeup for any occasion.

Airbrush or Old-School?

Different kinds of makeup on top of white table

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This begs the ultimate question: “Is this makeup right for me?”

The answer’s likely different for everyone, but consider a few things before making your final decision.

Price-wise, airbrush makeup tends to run slightly higher than your traditional makeup. You may need to visit a specialty outlet or go online to find your preferred brands. You’ll also need an airbrush makeup kit for application, so bear these added expenses in mind as well.

Starter kits can walk you through the basics, but for more advanced applications you might need to acquire some expertise.

Airbrush lovers, however, often find the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Among these plusses cited by TEMPTU and its loyal clientele are less face-time, so to speak, in the form of speedier application.

Further, many varieties – especially waterproof – can remain on the skin for up to 24 hours.

This durability and efficiency can’t be easily beat… benefits matched by a leaner, meaner, and ultimately cleaner working station.

Most of all, proponents simply love the look. Even if you’re not stepping from the pages of a wedding spread or posing for your HD close-up, airbrush makeup can make any occasion an event to remember. Those snapshots can truly last a lifetime.

Whether you’ve decided to brave the world of airbrush or whether you’re good with your tried-and-true, I hope this brief foray into “what is airbrush makeup?” has been as enlightening for you as it was for me.

If you want to add your own thoughts or recount your own brushes with the airbrush makeup world, join us in the comments section below.

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