Each week I get a number of makeup artists emailing me for advice about selecting the right airbrush equipment and airbrush makeup for their particular application needs. I have been teaching airbrush technology and technique through my professional workshops for nearly two decades now and the airbrush market today has, by far, some of the best equipment ever designed for beauty use. In recent years this handy gadget has undergone significant system refinements, thus the quest for the flawless face has taken a giant step forward in achievement.
Artists who are new to this tool, or have yet to take any skill acquision instruction, are in anxious need of a concise approach in wading through the numerous operating system options available. Many branded airbrush makeup companies have strategically worded advertising, and some with celebrity artist endorsements, to convince you their products are the one stop shop for all your airbrush application needs. Don’t be entirely taken in by publicity marketing and the lack of explanation or truth of what you are really buying into without serious comparison shopping first. Artists need easy to understand and unbiased technical information to help them interpret multifaceted airbrush schematics and their operating ratios. Begin to think in these simple terms: “how low should it blow for the technique in application to be in perfect control?”
With the onset of full digital signal broadcast (HDTV) the airbrush has definitely become one of the frontline tools in the makeup artist’s brush skill arsenal for more control in providing a precision makeup application for this format. The airbrush had been used for decades in special makeup effects work, but found its way into straight beauty use as airbrush systems became smaller and more streamlined in weight and portability. These newer petite units are designed to provide consistent low air pressure transport for the best control and management of transparency in a makeup application. The airbrush can distribute a “see through” finish that gives skin a more fresh or inborn look, which allows the complexion to retain more of its organic texture. Most importantly it can deliver a range of translucent results that is not quite achievable by hand applied methods.
The unique feature about applying liquid makeup through an airbrush rather than by hand is how it naturally “pixilates” to skin. The fluid is atomized with pressurized air through a trigger activated nozzle assembly, and releases a controlled spray of microscopic color “dots”. This causes a distinctive pattern of color distribution and texture that achieves more subtle looking coverage than you can get with the traditional sponge or brush method. The artist’s airbrush skill in technique in delivering the application is also better refined by using an airbrush system that provides low enough variable working pressure, thus it allows them to have more control in achieving flawless looking results.
The airbrush should be viewed as an important transparency to opacity delivery tool that allows an artist to work with greater latitude on either end of that spectrum. Hand applied foundation can only be stippled, patted, smoothed, stroked (or whatever your favorite technique) to a certain degree before it starts to be smeared around or taken back up again, The airbrush allows you that extra degree of transparency you can’t get with hand applied, which can literally take down shine without adding barely any visible color. Or, it can give you a much smoother and more natural looking build towards opacity for more coverage if you need it. It also eliminates any possible lines of demarcation often seen with hand applied makeup. Even the most carefully blended out application can still show small streak mark left by sponges in HD, especially in very large TV viewing screens.
Most of all, airbrush makeup is a completely sanitary application because no tools directly touch the skin in its delivery. In Part 2 we will identify and discuss the importance knowing of airbrush system interfacing ratios before you buy, which has a direct impact on the type of makeup application (face, body or both) you want to use it for. The right unit will also help you develop good airbrush techniques, approach and delivery in your application, and achieving the most flawless looking results.