The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes With Airbrush Makeup

For special events where you want to channel your most glamorous self, airbrush makeup is the way to go! This makeup style is typically used for big occasions such as weddings, red carpet events, or even birthdays where you want that dramatic yet lightweight makeup with plenty of coverage. 

Airbrush makeup is defined as a professional makeup style that is completed by spraying foundation onto the skin using an airbrush gun (via Brides). Not everyone loves the airbrush look and would prefer to do their makeup using regular brushes and blenders, but according to celebrity makeup artist Nydia Figueroa, there are plenty of benefits to choosing this makeup technique, especially on occasions such as your wedding. "The benefit of airbrush makeup is that it is long-lasting, and gives a smoother appearance to the skin," said Figueroa (via Brides). "It applies a buildable layer of lightweight makeup such as foundation, blush, and more."

Although airbrush makeup is a great way to get that full-glam look quickly, there are do's and don'ts to keep in mind while learning to do this technique on your own for yourself or potential clients. This process can be tricky at first, especially if you've never used an airbrush spray gun before. Continue reading to learn some of the biggest mistakes people make with airbrush makeup.

Use the correct primer or skip primer altogether

While most makeup artists require you to use a good primer, airbrush experts suggest skipping this process. You should always prep your skin by cleaning and moisturizing it before makeup is applied, but avoid primer if you want to achieve a long-lasting look (via Allure). You may be confused by this advice since most makeup artists emphasize the importance of using a primer before putting on makeup. The reason for skipping this step is that airbrush makeup can potentially stick to the primer rather than the skin, which can prevent it from lasting longer.

However, if you insist on using a primer to prep your skin, make sure to apply the correct type. If you're using a silicone-based foundation to airbrush, then a silicone-based primer would work best prior to your makeup application (via More). That way, the makeup will remain durable throughout the special event where photographs are being taken.

Not being mindful of your skin tone

Make sure your airbrush foundation matches your skin tone just like you would when picking a foundation at your local Sephora, Ulta Beauty, or drug store. Although this seems like a given, sometimes finding a matching foundation can be difficult, especially in the colder months if you're self-tanning more than usual. The key is to pick a foundation color that matches your face and neck so that both blend evenly.

Ensure that the shade of your foundation correlates with your natural skin tone to avoid "floating head syndrome" (via Pivot Point Academy). If you're unsure about what shade will suit your complexion, you can start with a lighter color and make your way with a darker shade to help even out your skin without mismatching skin tones. When it comes to concealing any spots or scars, experts recommend covering blemishes using a lighter shade than your foundation (via Self).

Airbrushing too close to your skin

If it's your first time using an airbrush gun, you may feel compelled to get super close to the face. Although it seems like you should get closer to ensure full coverage and apply makeup to every blank zone on the face, you're actually going to need to keep your distance during this process. 

Remain at least 4-6 inches away from your skin while you're applying (via Allure). Getting too close to your skin will cause the makeup to look blotchy, clumpy, and won't cover the face evenly. Applying airbrush makeup too close to your skin can look very harsh, and won't give off that lightweight, natural look.

If you're hesitant to begin applying airbrush makeup to yourself or your client's skin, the best way to practice is by spraying it on your hand or a blank piece of paper so you can learn to spread the makeup evenly.

Not adjusting the air pressure

Monitoring the air pressure in your airbrush gun is one of the most important factors when learning how to use the tool, and is commonly overlooked. Professional makeup artist Kiralee Hubbard said there are three main factors to keep in mind for staying in control of an airbrush gun when applying makeup (via Aeroblend). The first factor is the compressor, which is used to control air pressure and airflow. The second factor is the lever, which controls the speed that the gun sprays. The third factor is to be mindful of your distance from the face.

If you're noticing makeup splattering — as opposed to spraying — onto the face from the airbrush, this could mean the air pressure is too low. This causes makeup to build up at the tip of the gun, and larger splatters of makeup come out at once. Be cautious of how much air pressure you are using in order to get a natural look.

Not applying concealer beforehand

Although airbrush makeup does a great job of giving that glossy look for any special occasion, the preparation process beforehand is very similar to applying regular makeup. While airbrush provides a full coverage look, one common mistake people make is not putting on concealer or covering up any imperfections beforehand. 

Adding concealer before the application process will cover any blemishes or acne, and give that natural look after it's blended with the airbrush. However, makeup experts recommend using the airbrush tool to cover any additional unwanted spotting or rough patches (via Rock Candy Beauty). Using the same airbrush makeup as a concealer gives a more natural finish. 

It's recommended to hold the airbrush stylus about 2-3 inches in front of your face and quickly release the airbrush in short bursts to keep it looking light, airy, and natural (via Rock Candy Beauty). Remember: It's easier to add more later on than it is to remove a lot that has already been applied so try to be careful with the amounts you spray.

Not applying airbrush makeup in a circular motion

Think of using an airbrush gun like you are spray painting a canvas, except this time, you want it to look natural and not like a painting at all. Although it may seem easy to apply airbrush makeup since you're just spraying it onto the skin, make sure you're applying it properly and in the same motion over and over so that it actually looks natural and gives full face coverage. 

When you're spraying, make sure to go in circles rather than up and down across the face (via Allure). This way, when you're applying the foundation, all the crevices and edges around your face will appear soft and covered, and you won't have to worry about any missing spots or lines.

As you're airbrushing, be attentive around the area near your eyes. Since your skin is more sensitive there, be sure to hold the brush about 4 inches away from your face and lower the air pressure while applying eye makeup (via Allure). That way, you can properly control the airbrush gun without applying too much too quickly in spots that require more care and attention.

Over-applying when trying to cover up blemishes

While using airbrush makeup, the most important thing to keep in mind is that less is more. Applying too much airbrush is going to leave your face looking like it is full of caked-on foundation, and that is definitely not a look you want. You don't need too much airbrush in order to fully cover every blemish. Airbrush makeup is meant to look light, so applying a lot will look too heavy on the skin. 

Start the airbrush application by applying light sheer layers at first so you can continue to add more in spots that you want to cover, without the entire face looking like it has too much makeup on, according to Kiralee Hubbard (via Aeroblend). That way, you can apply the appropriate amount and avoid applying too much. Now your skin will look flawless for hours and last the rest of the day.

Repairing makeup after it's smudged

Although airbrush makeup is great for full coverage when you have a long night ahead, one thing that is commonly forgotten is that any bit of smudging will most likely ruin the look altogether. Typically, airbrush makeup is used for light coverage; so if you accidentally rub your eyes or shed a few tears down your face, the chances are you won't be able to adjust it afterward. 

"If there's an appearance of any smudge due to an accidental rub or too much perspiring, it's a problem to repair airbrush makeup," said makeup artist Hope Henderson (via Bridal Guide). The chances are that you won't have a makeup artist with you all evening or an airbrush gun hiding deep in your purse to quickly fix any issues that may arise. So if you know you're prone to quickly ruining your makeup, a regular makeup routine may be best!

Not waiting for your foundation to dry before airbrushing

For the best airbrush makeup result, be sure to wait for any light foundation applied beforehand to fully dry prior to adding the airbrush finish on top. That way, the airbrush sticks to your skin properly, will last longer, and won't slide off easily if you begin to sweat throughout the day or night. 

Makeup artist Jane Cohen opened up about the importance of not using too much foundation on the skin before applying the airbrush, especially for your wedding when you're about to spend the day taking photos (via Bridal Guide). "Many brides believe that they have to have a heavier foundation in order to look good in photographs, but in fact, it's the opposite," Cohen said. "To be able to see the skin glowing underneath, a sheer foundation creates an amazing close up beauty shot in bridal portraits." If you're deciding on using airbrush makeup, take it easy on the foundation!

Not using a setting formula afterward

Congratulations! You finished the look and mastered completing airbrush makeup like a pro. Now all you have left to do is maintain it. Many people think that once airbrush makeup is finished, the job is over. However, don't be afraid to go back in and add some final touches to give it another layer of glamour. 

After the airbrush has been applied, you can dust some blush, bronzer, or highlighter on those extra spots that you feel need a little more attention (via Rock Candy Beauty). It's recommended to wait about 60 seconds to let the airbrush dry before adding any additional touches to your look. Don't forget to give your face that extra blend in places that may appear blotchy or streaky. Lastly in the makeup-application process, add some setting powder or spray that you regularly use to hold your masterpiece in place.

Not cleaning out your airbrush and causing airbrush splatters

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when using an airbrush tool is not fully cleaning your airbrush gun before and after you apply makeup. However, there are specific things to keep in mind as you clean the gun to get it entirely ready before it's used again. 

The cleaning solution you should use will depend on the makeup formula that's already in the airbrush gun: silicone-based, alcohol-based, or water-based (via Temptu). Also, make sure you avoid using regular household cleaning products to clean the outside of your brush. Temptu recommends cleaning your brush every time you use it in order to keep it functioning properly and prevent makeup products from getting clogged inside the gun. If you forget to clean it immediately after using it, be sure to clean it before applying makeup on a fresh face. That way, you're not using old dried makeup on clear skin and don't mess up the smooth application process. 

If you notice that your makeup is splattering onto your skin as you're using the airbrush tool, the chances are it's time to clean out your gun. There are various reasons why your makeup could be getting splattered (via Aeroblend). These reasons include: the airbrush stylus being dirty and not rinsed out properly, the tip of the airbrush gun being clogged with old makeup, or low air pressure.

Don't forget to touch up your makeup throughout the day

Airbrush makeup is difficult to repair once it's damaged, so consider touching up your glam throughout the day or night to ensure you still have a flawless look. For example, if you're shedding a few tears here and there during your wedding day, you may need to quickly head to the bathroom and gather your squad to help preserve the makeup before it's too late.

If you decide to go the route of using airbrush makeup, the chances are it should last the majority of the night without getting ruined or looking smudged, which is the best part of airbrush makeup in the first place. In the off chance you need a touch-up, a good piece of advice is to carry blotting sheets with you to remove any shine that's left on your face throughout the evening (via Allure). Lightly dab blotting sheets to remove built-up oil on your face without actually damaging your glossy look, and you should be good as new!

The pros and cons of airbrush makeup

Although airbrush makeup is a quick and easy way to achieve a perfect full-glam look for any special occasion, there are a number of pros and cons to keep in mind when it comes to airbrush makeup. 

CEO of Beautini Brittany Lo shared some of the positives and negatives of using airbrush makeup (via The Knot). The biggest pro is that it lasts all day due to the fact that airbrush makeup is silicone-based and super water-resistant. Not only does it survive longer than normal makeup, but it also gives a smoother look that a normal foundation can't do on its own. Rather than applying a large amount of foundation to cover blemishes, applying a little bit of product with an airbrush tool can cover just the right amount without using too much on your skin.

However, there are definitely cons to using this makeup technique too. According to Lo, if your skin is dry and not properly moisturized, it's common for airbrush makeup to appear flaky. This is because the waterproof consistency makes it thick and dense as opposed to a regular foundation. Additionally, there are fewer shade options to choose from when it comes to airbrush makeup, and your skin tone might match better with a regular foundation. Lastly, another thing to consider is the cost of airbrush makeup as this service is usually more expensive than other makeup packages.