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A Flawless Strategy: Airbrush Makeup in the Spa

July 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
A Flawless Strategy: Airbrush Makeup in the Spa

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The sheer, flawless finish of airbrush makeup has made it the choice of television and film makeup artists for years, and it is now becoming an in-demand spa service—thanks in part to the popularity of high-definition photography, selfies and video. Clients appreciate the light, long-lasting coverage and the radiant, natural glow imparted to the skin, so it’s no surprise to see airbrush makeup in high demand for bridal services and graduation photographs. Skin care facilities can use this trend to set themselves apart from cosmetic counters to meet the personalized needs of their clients.

Why is airbrush makeup so special?

Airbrush makeup gives a polished look that can’t be achieved with regular makeup. This is because the particle size of the makeup that is applied through an air gun is so small that it produces a very thin, even layer of makeup that practically floats over skin instead of settling into fine lines, wrinkles and imperfections. When compared to non-airbrush foundations, the look of blemishes is significantly diminished because non-airbrush foundations can absorb into the skin and cause blemishes to stand out.

Airbrush makeup is composed of mainly water and mineral pigments, and comes in two basic formulas: water- and silicone-based. Water-based makeup uses finely ground pigments dissipated in water. It lets the skin breathe, is hypoallergenic and has a nonsticky feel. Silicone-based makeup is meant for long-lasting wear without fading. It’s popular because the silicones fill in skin imperfections, such as shallow scars, providing a more flawless appearance.

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Application Considerations and Techniques

Airbrushing makeup is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Following are tips to help skin care professionals perfect the art of airbrushing.

Start fresh. For best results, apply airbrush makeup to clean skin that is free of oils and moisturizers. Allow sunscreen to set before applying any foundation formula.

A little goes a long way. Place a small amount of a light airbrush makeup into the chamber of an airbrush gun—just four-to-six drops of liquid airbrush makeup is needed to cover an entire face. When the machine is turned on and the gun trigger pulled, a light spray of makeup comes out of the gun in a fine mist. Airbrush makeup is applied by layering several passes of makeup, allowing the artist to build upon previous layers to produce subtle changes. The makeup should be sprayed onto the face at a distance of 6–12 inches in a circular or forward-back motion. Stencils are commonly used to assist the application of difficult areas, such as eyeliner.

Freehand technique. When using airbrush makeup, there are a few differences in application that will affect the result. Airbrushing utilizes a freehand technique that can vary depending on several factors, including the choice of a dual-action or single-action airbrush, the distance from the face and the PSI strength or air pressure. These choices in machine and application will produce various effects and coverage.

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