Health & Medical Skin Conditions & Dermatology

How to Airbrush Makeup for Foundation, Blush, Contouring & Highlighting

Many people find airbrush makeup intimidating because they think it is difficult to learn and difficult to clean. However, once they have some experience with an airbrush makeup kit they soon realize that the application techniques are not much different from traditional makeup and cleaning is a cinch. If you have some understanding of basic makeup theory you will pickup airbrushing in no time. The concepts are very similar, but you need to develop a sense for how the makeup falls on the skin in micro-beads rather than being rubbed in or sponged over your skin. If you have never airbrushed makeup before and are just starting out, you will be amazed at how few drops are required to create full, lasting coverage in just a few minutes.

To start out, there are two schools of thought regarding correct airbrush makeup application: The first is 'circular movement' which, as the name suggests, to always use continuous circular motions with the airbrush gun. Opponents of this technique say there is a danger in leaving a hole in the middle of your foundation because you end up creating a 'doughnut' shape. Personally I am a fan of circular motion which, when used correctly, creates flawless coverage. The other technique is the 'dot-dash' technique which stresses 'dots', or short bursts of the airbrush, to cover any blemishes, and 'dashes' to apply the makeup evenly via lines of makeup. This itself can result in missed areas if you are not careful but, when used correctly, which produce clean, even results.

Which ever is your preferred technique (it is important to learn both and then decide which you like best) keep in mind to always watch the results that you produce when airbrushing. Don't ever watch the makeup as it goes on because you will end up with more than you need. Somehow, by watching the makeup, you end up losing sight of the overall effect, whereas, watching the effect you produce, relative to the rest of your face, allows you to gauge when you have just the right coverage.

The very first thing you need to do before starting is to ensure your skin is clean. So, cleanse with your favorite cleanser. You may choose to moisturize as well since some people find the airbrush makeup can dry the skin without it as is normal with traditional makeup. At this point primer can also be used and then pat the skin dry. If you wish to apply concealer, now is the time to do it because you cannot conceal over the top of foundation.

Most consumer-grade airbrush makeup compressors do not go over a PSI of 15 which is perfect for what you need. Many have settings 'low', 'medium' and 'high' and it is always recommended that beginners use the lowest setting because it is more forgiving. However, the rule is that low settings are for fine, detailed work while higher settings are best for large areas and body work. For this tutorial we will say a medium strength PSI is fine for foundation. You will only require around 6 to 8 drops of makeup. Always make sure you shake the bottle well to mix the pigments before applying to the airbrush cup. Test spray on a Kleenex so you know the airbrush gun is functioning correctly and that you have the right tone of makeup. From 6-12 inches away spray light passes over your face with either circular motion or 'dashes'. Always do the same number of passes on each side. You don't require a lot, especially if you are going for a natural look. If the makeup starts to 'cake' then you have used too much. This often happens when you don't keep the airbrush gun moving and it builds up in a single area. Blend the foundation down your neckline with a couple of passes. This is where you will see the strength of airbrushing over traditional makeup as the area where makeup begins and ends will be seamless.

A word of warning: avoid spraying the airbrush makeup into your eyes or inhaling the micro-beads-even the water-based ones. Be sure not to close your eyes too tightly though, otherwise the makeup will build up in the wrinkles!

Countouring and Highlighting
We use contouring to add definition to our features and highlighting to make these features stand out. So, contouring requires a shade darker than our foundation and highlighting requires a shade (or two) lighter). Most people contour with a bronzer which tend to add a glowing effect and are more forgiving than other tones. No more than 4 drops are required in the cup with a PSI of around 10-13. Don't forget your test spray. Locate the cheekbones by smiling and begin at the hairline, moving down towards the jawline. From 6 inches away airbrush the nose from the top down. To thin the face spray just under the chin 6 inches away and then finish with a wide mist around the forehead and neck to add warmth.

For your highlights you may wish to use pearly tones. Again, just 4 drops of makeup are enough. Make sure you clean the cup before adding in makeup unless you are mixing tones. Highlight the cheeks from the top and move up towards the hairline. For the nose start at the top and move down, but don't go as far as the tip. You can also add highlights to the jawline and chin in small bursts to create added dimension.

Blush is used to create a 'flushed' look to your makeup. You can either make this subtle or go all out. Several brands of airbrush manufacturers create wonderful blush colors so you can have great fun with it. Those who prefer a more natural look will often apply blush before foundation so it sits below the other makeup. Use a slightly higher PSI to that used in highlighting and just 2 drops of blush is plenty. Move in close, to around 4 inches away and start at the 'apple' of your cheek. Use circular and continuous motion, slowly move upwards until you reach the hairline.

This should complete your daily airbrush makeup routine which many can do in just 3 minutes. Cleaning the airbrush is not hard and at this point you can just soak it in a cup, or 'airbrush docking jar', full of water and leave it until your next makeup session.

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