Airbrush vs Classic Makeup Applications

posted in: Makeup 101 1

Which one is better?
Not sure which one is purchase?
Which makeup is for you?
Which makeup should you do for others?

Here I will be guide-lining pros and cons to Airbrush vs Classic makeup applications with my personal view and many other artists including top international makeup artists views in both areas for a well rounded opinion.

Airbrush Makeup Application

Spray on application of makeup using a gun and a compressor.

Pros to Airbrush

Buildable application, can start very minimal to heavy.

– Can be a ‘faster’ application* with the right technique and skill backing it up.

– Faster for larger surface coverage such as body base paint.

– Comes out in microscopic dots, looks and camera reads better to a ‘blended’ result.

Edges already blended as it comes out

– Can help prevent product build-up, people say a “fool proof” method of foundation base

– Can be more sanitary as you do not require to clean brushes but the gun itself.

– Easy to market to general population as the media excites it as “better” and “new”.

– May save product as it minimally adds onto the skin.

– May feel lighter than other forms of makeup.

Cons to Airbrush


Always requires a socket/outlet! not good for on location or on-set where you have to follow a talent. (unless you have a portable battery pack!)

– Artists often charge more for airbrush work or already incorporate it in their pricing.

Heavier to carry around than cream palettes and liquids foundations. This may be additional pounds where you may be already carrying around these foundation palettes.

– An investment where it will be minimum $300-$1000 ontop of your makeup supplies. Also time used to practice/train in airbrush to produce a beautiful effect.

– Loud buzz sound, some may be quieter than others. If you need to do makeup on set/TV that requires absolute silence, you cannot turn your machine on and do makeup on others. Unless you are lucky enough to be stationed elsewhere, this is not often the case.

Problems that can be avoided

Pores/uneveness showing through on makeup. Because it is thinner, you must prep the skin prior to airbrush foundations, especially water based ones. If you use silicone base airbrush foundations you may still need to prep the skin. Otherwise the makeup will just sink and ‘dissapear’ into the skin.

Detailed work being extremely hard. It is very hard and time consuming (eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc.) But given a lot of practice you can achieve nicely done makeup – or you can just switch to brushes when it comes to detailed work.

– May get clothes/hair sprayed in makeup. Needs coverage over clothing. Not recommended if you are wearing clothes that cannot be dirtied. It should be removed/covered. Inconvienience for clients to change in/out of especially if the decollete requires makeup work.

– Can be time consuming to clean between colors/clients as you have to clean through entirely without diluting or changing colors.

– Very fragile equipment, the airbrush gun’s needle etc. if there is a malfunction or accident to occur, the artist cannot airbrush without going to a makeup store and repurchasing the equipment.

Classic Makeup Application

Makeup applied with brushes and tools but a airbrush spray gun.

Pros to Classic

More control, very customized to your hand dexterity and applications

– Requires skill but can achieve a immaculate result with the right technique.

– More clean, as you can control where the makeup goes (not over the hair or clothes). Doesn’t require covering.

Can be more cost effective to start out, if you purchase beginner tools.

Great for on location! Can resume touch-up work with the same materials used.

– Allows for a lot of meticulous work

– Can still be a faster application* with the back up skill and technique.

– The most exact precision you can receive in makeup, you pinpoint exactly where you want it.

– Can reach areas under the eyes and under the nose better than an airbrush gun.

Cons to Classic

– Requires high skill and hand dexterity to achieve immaculate results. Not a foolproof method.

– Requires more sanitary precautions as the tools are directly applied to the face and skin. Artist should be practicing full sanitation.

– Can also be more costly if you go high-end, brushes and tools purchased can range for $100 each brush vs some airbrush guns can be $100 itself.


With all that being said, guess what? It doesn’t matter which one you use because both methods can produce immaculate results! One method can be faster/better depending on each person’s skin.

Skill & Technique > Tool

The skill and technique of how you use your tools is always the overpowering method over your tools! That is a definition of a true artist. You should never go with an artist just because they do classic or airbrush. A bad job can always be done with either as well as an amazing job.

Most top makeup artists around the world still use classic makeup application, and they produce the ‘airbrush’ effect of flawless smooth skin. Airbrush came in as something new that was to help artists achieve this look and some may even debate that it is a gimmick to create something new and supposedly “easier” in the beauty industry. I say use it as an advantage while it’s out if you wish to try out a new technique.

Picaso, Michaelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci, Van Gogh and other world famous artists all used traditional makeup and tools but yet they produced legendary works of art. They were able to convey their vision and art using tools even such as tiny wood pieces, spoons, brushes, egg shells, a metal scraper and whatever it means! That doesn’t mean you are going to achieve legendary works of art when you use spoons, egg shells or wood chips! The idea is absurd but yet media and spokespeople present it as such.

Did you know…

A few makeup artists in the industry sometimes get hired to do makeup for airbrush advertisements that use classic makeup to achieve? and vice versa. Very often the ads you see for a particular brand of product is NOT using the product being described. It is not false advertisement because no where on the ad does it say that is the products used on her skin!

Even top artists in the industry, even ones that own their own airbrush line or rep for them – honestly tell the professionals that you can achieve the same result with classic makeup for an ‘airbrushed’ look and have terrible looking skin with airbrush makeup!

HD, high-definition is a technique, it is NOT a product, it is NOT a tool.

Sure some products may help the duration of the makeup last longer or achieve a certain finish faster but masters of makeup can make anything out of anything!

If you’re an Artist:

– Don’t get airbrush just because you believe it’s better, get a feel for it first to see if you like the technique.
– Use whatever you can handle best, or can manipulate your creativity most with.

Choosing whether you like airbrush or classic from an Artist…

– Look at their portfolio, is there any before and afters you can see that aren’t touched up?
– Do you like their work? If yes it doesn’t matter what they use, they made it look good with their technique!
– If you’re still not sure, ask for a trial where you can feel it on yourself and wear it for a duration to see if you like it. You can always be a little specific on your requests, artists won’t feel offended if you really prefer something. Do a little communication to give them a better idea of what you want and listen and see what they recommend afterwards.

In conclusion…

There isn’t a better than; it’s whomever your artist is; or if you’re an artist, it is whatever you feel you handle best whether classic makeup or airbrush to your creativity!

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  1. […] I also have an old informative post about this more in depth here! […]

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