Airbrush makeup was once a well-kept celebrity secret left to the professionals that are now available to the masses. Through the advances of technology, it’s now possible to get the same natural, seamless-looking makeup results with at-home airbrush makeup kits. Here in lies the problem… there are quite a few to pick from but what we wonder is how to pick the best airbrush makeup kit to invest in? Let’s have a look at all the details you need to know in order to make an informed decision to make a good choice.
WHY AIRBRUSH MAKEUP?
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not knocking traditional makeup… it definitely has its benefits. But for arguments sake, when compared with airbrush makeup, traditional coverage products have some downfalls: they are not typically waterproof, they easily rub off on clothing, they require touch ups throughout a day of wear, they take longer to apply and, if applied incorrectly, they can end up looking cake-like on your skin because of all the layering.
The best airbrush makeup counters all of those negatives and has a few extra benefits worth considering: it comes in waterproof formulas that won’t move until you wash your face, it won’t transfer onto clothing, it can last for up to 16 hours (and even longer with alcohol-based formulas), and, since the airbrush makeup needs to pass through the gun, it’s applied in a fine mist that allows your true skin tone to show through, making you look more natural and altogether avoiding that cake-like look. But wait, there’s more Airbrush makeup doesn’t get caught in signs of aging fine lines and wrinkles and also looks amazing in professional photographs!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AIRBRUSH MAKEUP & TRADITIONAL MAKEUP?
There are a number of differences between traditional makeup and airbrush makeup. We’ve simplified these into a few categories for you:
Traditional makeup includes a number of conventional coverage products like concealer, foundation, and powders. All of these are applied using either your fingers or, more likely, tools like brushes or sponges. Airbrush makeup on the other hand, uses a different set of tools for application, including an airbrush gun and an air compressor.
Traditional makeup is good for creating an even finish, but because products are layered on top of one another, the consistency ends up being thick and, if not done properly, can end up looking cake-like (and who needs that?). With airbrush makeup, your foundation is applied with the use of the airbrush gun. Because the foundation needs to be thin enough to spray through the gun, it tends to be lighter than traditional makeup and keeps weight off of your face.
Time is a precious thing and because traditional makeup uses layers of product, it can take a great deal of time to achieve accurate results. By comparison, airbrush makeup leaves you with a smooth, even finish in a few quick and easy steps.
Because traditional makeup is… traditional (in the sense that it’s been around for a LONG time), there are many products and colors to choose from to help match skin tones, including uneven or unusual ones. Airbrush makeup can also be mixed to match skin tone and blends into your skin to look like your natural complexion.
HOW DOES AIRBRUSH MAKEUP WORK?
Airbrush makeup has three elements: a small air compressor, an airbrush gun and special airbrush makeup. The airbrush compressor uses air to push the makeup through a needle-like element in the airbrushing gun, resulting in a very fine mist that is lighter and thinner than the traditional makeup.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN AN AT-HOME AIRBRUSH KIT?
The best airbrush makeup kits should include an airbrush compressor, and airbrush gun and a set of airbrush makeup to get you started.
The airbrush gun is the tool that you hold to spray your makeup. The gun can come as single action or dual action and gravity fed or siphon fed.
SINGLE ACTION VS DUAL ACTION
With a single-action gun, pushing down on the trigger releases air and makeup so the amount of makeup sprayed is controlled by a dial and by moving the gun further and closer to the face. With a dual action gun, pushing down on the trigger releases air and pulling back on the trigger controls the amount of color that goes on your face.
GRAVITY FEED VS SIPHON FEED
The feed will help you control the movement of your brush. Siphon feed pulls the makeup to the tip of the nozzle and uses fast moving air and a lot of pressure to push it out. Gravity feed is arguably the best between the two options because it also allows you to pull the makeup to the tip of the nozzle but uses less pressure, giving you precision and more control. For simplicity sake, siphon feeds aren’t usually used for cosmetics but are great for spray tanning.
The airbrush compressor compresses air for your gun. Compressor units come with either different pressure settings or a continuous setting. A continuous setting is better suited to beginners because the pressure is controlled by a lever, making it convenient for regulating the flow of makeup. For those watching their price-point, air compressors with more pressure settings tend to be more expensive.
THE BEST AIRBRUSH MAKEUP KITS
Below we cover some of the best airbrush makeup kits effective for usage at home that you should consider.
TEMPTU Premier Airbrush Makeup Kit $250
This airbrush kit comes with everything you’ll need to start: a lightweight compressor that provides continuous flow and is perfect for travel; a single action, gravity fed airbrush gun to help spray finer details; a sample of each foundation shade so you can experiment with your colors or practice on your friends, and; an airbrush cleaning kit and cleaner that is made specifically for your gun. The makeup in this kit is silicone based and water resistant and can be used on both your face and body.
Tickled Pink Deluxe Airbrush Makeup Kit $149.50
The Tickled Pink Deluxe airbrush makeup kit has a gravity fed, single action airbrush gun and a three-setting compressor, giving you utmost control over your brushes movement, air pressure, and overall application. This kit also includes a 4oz Vacation Glow Tanning solution, 3 1/2oz foundations, a moisturizer and a waterproof sealant to give you a no-smudge finish to this company’s wonderful makeup. Did we mention that this kit comes with Tickled Pink’s specially formulated water-based foundations? The foundation is 89% organic, paraben free, infused with anti-aging antioxidants and moisturizers that are safe for all skin types and even hypoallergenic.
Dinair Personal Pro Airbrush Kit $229
This Dinair Personal Pro airbrush makeup kit is suitable for both beginners as well as those who are a little more advanced and can be used on both the face and the body. The kit comes with: a compressor and airbrush gun; a cleaning cap set; a foundation set; eyeshadow; concealer; liner; blush; and eyebrow/eyeshadow guide; moist and dewy airbrush moisturizer; airbrush cleaner; practice face sheets; practice paper; airbrush distance guide and airbrush case. With guides, practice sheets, cleaners, makeup and the airbrushing tools, this kit gives you everything you’ll ever need (and more) to get started and to hone your technique.
Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup Pro Kit $139
At only $139, the Aeroblend Personal Starter Kit is the most economical choice and still comes with everything you need to get started: an airbrush gun, compressor, foundation, blush, highlighter, and bronzer. This kit is the only one on our list with a dual action airbrush gun, which provides greater control and precision, especially important for the beginner. Keeping with their cost-effective nature, the Aeroblend foundation is highly pigmented so you are only required to use 5-7 drops at a time. The water-based formula also contains natural ingredients that your skin loves: botanicals and minerals such as kaolin, lavender, and jojoba.
THE KINDS OF AIRBRUSH MAKEUP
Airbrush makeup comes in a number of different formulations, understanding your skin’s needs will help you pick the right one.
This is the least-used type of airbrush makeup but it has the longest staying power – alcohol-based formulas can last for up to five days. You can also trust this type of makeup to stay true to tone from the gun onto your skin. It’s important to keep in mind that alcohol-based formulas are not great for regular use on your skin and the long-lasting nature of this type of makeup means it sets on contact, making it difficult to apply other products on top of it. This is why alcohol based makeups are generally used for tattoo coverage, special effects and body painting rather than everyday wear.
This type of airbrush makeup is increasing in popularity because it’s long-lasting, moveable and blends perfectly with your skin. Silicone molecules are actually larger than your pores, meaning the makeup doesn’t sink into the skin but sits on top of it. This is how silicone formulas mimic your skins natural appearance and smooth out any texture issues you may struggle with. This is also the reason why silicone makeup doesn’t dry or dissolve like alcohol or water-based makeups, which makes it moveable and long-lasting (but not as long as alcohol-based airbrush makeups). A couple of notes when working with silicone makeup: it tends to have a dewy finish that has to be controlled with powder (if that’s not the look you prefer), and; silicones tend to darken after application, so choose a shade lighter than what you would regularly need.
Airbrush Makeup formulated with water is good for both extremely oily skin and everyday wear. It’s easy to build full coverage with and it leaves a matte finish so you don’t have to worry about shine. The matte finish also means the makeup has to be applied to cover your face and neck, but after doing so, water-based airbrush makeups will blend evenly with your skin tone. Remember that, like silicone, water-based makeup will get darker after application, so it’s a good idea to experiment with different shades. Last but not least, water formulas will dissolve with sweat or tears, so you may need to use a finishing or setting spray (we’ve recommended one below).
KEEPING IT CLEAN
You should clean your airbrush kit regularly, if not after each use, in order to keep it in tip-top condition. We would always recommend first that you follow manufacturers guidelines and use the cleaning fluid and tools that come with your kit to clean your airbrush. But, like some of the kits above, not all come with a cleaner or tools. In that case, here is what we recommend:
- You can use a cleaning brush made for an airbrush gun (or even a cotton swab) to wipe out any makeup left in the cup. Be careful around the needle when doing this.
- Then, place a few drops of distilled water into the cup and block the nozzle of the airbrush gun with your finger. Pull back on the control lever and allow air to escape through the cup. This will loosen any residual makeup in the airbrush. Remove your finger from the nozzle and spray the liquid out.
- Do this until there is no more makeup in the liquid you are spraying out (2-3 times).
Dinair Airbrush Makeup Cleaning Kit ($35)
If your set doesn’t come with a cleaner, it likely doesn’t come with any cleaning tools either. We recommend this kit by the highly respectable airbrush brand, Dinair. This cleaner is non-toxic, environmentally friendly and will dissolve any makeup safely. The kit also comes with all the tools you’ll need to keep your airbrush gun clean and ready for use, including the cleaner, a brush set, and travel caps.
PRIMING YOUR SKIN BEFORE YOU USE YOUR AIRBRUSH
In order to maximize the results and the finish of our airbrushing consider priming your skin. Here are some of our recommended primers that work well with airbrush makeup.
Belloccio Professional Airbrush Makeup Anti-Aging Moisturizing Primer $11.96
With half oz or 2oz bottle options, this moisturizing primer is made specifically for use with airbrush makeup and can be applied before or after your foundation – use it before for a natural glow and to keep the skin moisturized or use it after for a dewy complexion. This dermatologist-recommended, fragrance and oil-free primer are applied in a fine mist that doesn’t clog pores and includes all natural ingredients and botanicals which help to protect against free radical and environmental damage and fight the signs of aging.
TEMPTU Silicone Based Primer ($25)
Formulated to combat shine, this silicone based primer is meant only for use with silicone based makeups to achieve long-lasting effects. TEMPTU’s primer is oil free and hypoallergenic, making it ideal for all skin types including oily and sensitive skin. You can also trust this primer to combat texture issues and signs of aging because it’s been developed to diffuse the appearance of pores and fine lines. This primer is not for use in your airbrush gun, but can be applied using a sponge or finger.
Too Faced Cosmetics Primed and Poreless $29.51
A great compliment to your airbrush makeup, this primer by Too Faced Cosmetics contains vitamins A and C, camellia oil, as well as extract of mulberry to detoxify and rejuvenate the skin. This primer is scientifically formulated to erase pores and soften lines to leave you with the perfect complexion on which to layer your airbrush makeup, or for those with already flawless skin, it can be used on its own. While this comes in at the most expensive primer on our list, thanks to the natural ingredients, you can expect long-term benefits in the areas of hydration, firmness, and detoxification.
FINISHING SPRAY IN ORDER TO SET YOUR AIRBRUSH MAKEUP
Many airbrush makeup kits come with water based makeups, which are great for everyday wear and controlling shine. However, water-based means water activated, so if sweating or tears are a concern, you may want to think about getting yourself a finishing or setting spray.
e.l.f. Studio Makeup Mist & Set ($8,24)
This lightweight, comfortable and alcohol-free formula prevents color from running or fading, improving the durability and last of your makeup. The e.l.f Mist & Set is not only cruelty-free but it has a number of natural ingredients that are great for your face: aloe, leaf juice, cucumbers, green tea and Vitamins A, C and E. This finishing spray also holds up against humidity, but it is not formulated for use in your airbrush gun.
NOT QUITE READY TO TAKE THE PLUNGE?
If you’ve read through everything above and you’re still not sure you’re ready to start your airbrushing journey, you can check out some of the alternatives below. These are more traditional foundations (with a twist) compare to airbrush makeup. They’ll give you an idea of how airbrush will work on your skin without the tools and extra components.
Sephora Collection Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation $44.83
Coming in 12 shades, Sephora’s airbrush foundation sprays an ultra-fine mist to cover imperfections and control shine (for up to 10 hours!). This foundation is formulated with red algae extract to protect the skin from environmental stress and also smooths the skin for an airbrush-esque finish. For full coverage, you can spray the foundation in circular motions directly on your face about 6-8 inches away, for less coverage go about 10 inches away and, for the lightest coverage, this can be sprayed onto a brush and then applied.
DiorSkin Airflash Spray Foundation $57.33
With 11 shades, Dior’s extremely popular micro-diffusion spray container applies your foundation in a fine mist with precision and ease to deliver a velvety and soft complexion inspired by the airbrushing techniques used on the runway. This spray foundation by Dior has Mother of Pearl pigments that help to even your skin tone and diminish the appearance of irregularities and fine lines. Best of all, you can use this on your face and body for a radiant, all-over glow.
IT’S ALL IN THE BRUSH
Urban Decay Blurring Brush $19
If you’re looking for the airbrush look with traditional makeup consider this popular cruelty-free brush. With its densely packed head of hairs, the brush distributes and buffs Foundation giving skin the similar “blurred” effect that airbrush makeup achieves. Other benefits include handles made from recycled aluminum and the easy to clean hair that is designed with materials that do not pick up bacteria as some other brushes do.
Airbrush makeup offers a great alternative to the layering involved in the traditional makeup application process. With its lightweight, tone-matching, long-lasting, fast and easy properties, airbrush makeup provides as-good (if not better) coverage and it’s now commonplace enough that more people can afford to indulge.