Airbrushing for Beginners: A Guide on How to Use Airbrush Makeup

One of the worst-kept secrets of the professional and high fashion makeup world is the use of airbrush makeup.

Celebrity and runway trends are making their way into the mainstream makeup scene. If you’re a fan of late night infomercials, you’ve likely seen an airbrush makeup kit for sale. In a matter of seconds, and with a few passes over the face, airbrush can instantly hide imperfections and even skin tone.

Yes, please!

You’re sold on the idea, now the only question to answer is: How to use airbrush makeup? How do I get that flawless finish? It’s might be difficult to learn airbrushing for the beginners. However, in this tutorial you will learn everything step-by-step. The first thing you’ll need is get to know the medium you’ll be working with.

What is Airbrush Makeup?

Airbrush makeup is light, often water-based liquid makeup made specifically to be used with an air compressor powered applicator or ‘airbrush wand’. The most common type of airbrush makeup is foundation.

So how does it work? 

Think of spray can paint. The basic idea of application is the same, but the propellant is an electric air pump, rather than gaseous chemicals. Airbrush makeup is often sold as ‘systems’. These are essentially starter kits, and most are packaged with 2-3 shades of liquid foundation, an airbrush wand, and attached air pump. These kits sell anywhere from $100-500 depending on the brand with refills costing $20-45 for single shades.

Key Benefits of Using Airbrush Makeup

There are many benefits to airbrush makeup over traditional makeup.

Flawless Finish

The most obvious and widely praised is the ethereal, flawless finish. Airbrush makeup has exploded in popularity for use in bridal makeup because of this feature. The fine mist of foundation provides the most even coverage possible with minimal changes to the skin’s natural texture. This makes airbrush makeup perfect for modern high definition television. By comparison, traditional makeup can look stiff and patchy on camera. Even when it’s applied by an expert!


The lightweight formula of airbrush makeup is also better for your skin. Normal liquid foundation is thick, blocking pores and eventually causing blemishes. Airbrush foundation lets your skin breathe, so it feels and looks more comfortable and natural on your face.

Water Resistant

Most airbrush makeup is also water resistant. Airbrush makeup has to be water resistant because it’s used frequently in photo shoots where conditions are extremely variable. In the fashion world, re-applying makeup is a huge waste of time and money. Your makeup will stay put better than most and holds up to sweat and hot weather conditions well.

Airbrushing for Beginners: How to Apply Airbrush Makeup (Step by Step)

Now that you know just what you’re dealing with, it’s time to break down the steps to using an airbrush makeup system. While it may seem tricky to get the hang of at first, these steps will become second nature to you quickly. This will cut down your makeup application time significantly and make you photo-ready for any occasion.

1. Selecting Makeup Shade

The first step is selecting your makeup shade. Airbrush foundation comes in a wide array of shades. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even mix them together to create your perfect match. No matter what airbrush makeup system you have, you will need to use 2-5 drops of your specialized foundation in a small container or compartment on your applicator. The more drops used, the more full your coverage will be.

2. Applying Airbrush Makeup

The technique for applying airbrush makeup is very precise and can take some getting used to. You’ll want to hold the applicator 6-12 inches away from your face, again, depending on the coverage you would like. Holding the applicator closer will give you more coverage. While holding it farther away is a lighter, more natural look. Apply in a gentle circular motion all over the face, being sure to keep the applicator upright. These circular motions are key to making the ‘airbrushed to perfection’ look everyone’s abuzz about. If you let your hand stop moving for too long you can end up with unsightly splotches of caked on makeup. If you have a problem area of skin, simply continue airbrushing in circular motion over the area until you’re satisfied.

3. Final Touch

Most likely you’ll want to apply other makeup on top of your airbrush foundation. In most cases, these will be normal, non-airbrush products. One common exception being blush, which is more frequently offered in an airbrush formula. Simply apply airbrush blush on the apples of your cheeks after foundation if this is the case.

Things You Should Consider before Using Airbrush Makeup

How to Use Airbrush Makeup

For the most part, you should have no problem applying other makeup with your airbrush makeup. Apply eye makeup and brow products normally. The thing you’ll want to be careful of is cream face products, such as cream contour, highlight, and blush products. Applying these over your finished airbrush foundation is tricky, if not impossible. Thick cream products can ‘push’ your base around. This puts dents in your perfect coverage and undoes some of the work you’ve just achieved. If you have a cream under-eye concealer or color-corrector for dark circles, it’s recommended to apply that first.

Make sure to blend it out as you normally would, before airbrushing your foundation on top. Any other cream based product will simply be covered up by your airbrush foundation if you put it on beforehand. Powder based products are a fantastic substitute. Apply these normally, using a suitable gentle makeup brush to apply, maintaining your streak-free, flawless look.

Towards Perfection

As with any other skill, the key to perfecting your airbrush is practice. This will help you find the ideal effect for your skin and its needs. Another way to build your skill is to learn by example. Watch makeup artists applying airbrush makeup on clients or on themselves. This will give you a chance to learn the techniques with helpful visual cues that you can imitate. When looking for videos to learn by, try to find a subject with similar skin tone as yours.

This easy-to-follow YouTube video will give you the basic idea on how to use airbrush makeup by your own.

However, It won’t help you much to learn by an example that does not apply to you. Makeup is highly individual, and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

To get the most out of your airbrush makeup look, make sure to stick with the brand of makeup that goes with your system. Every formula is different, and most airbrush makeup is going to perform best with it’s intended applicator.

Don’t forget to have fun! Makeup is an art form, and creativity flourishes in–and even creates–positive environments. No matter what your reason is for learning about specialized makeup and perfecting your skills in the trade, you’re part of the large and ever-growing community.

We are glad to have you.

1 thought on “Airbrushing for Beginners: A Guide on How to Use Airbrush Makeup”

  1. Thanks for sharing this article on how to use airbrush makeup. I actually wanted to learn airbrush makeup at home, But after reading your article it helped me the most. such a great benefits you had shared here. Thanks… It really works well for me.


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