Artist Review

“I want to thank Brad for creating these amazing Zazzo® Template designs. I have used them on makeup applications from old-age to beauty and effects related to prosthetic work. The versatility of the shapes and designs make the Makeup FX™ an essential tool in my makeup kit!”

—Allan A. Apone


Spray-On Beauty Makeup

by Bradley M. Look

For the professional working makeup artist, it's easy to state that between 80 and 90 percent of all application is that of the beauty makeup. In fact, you needn't look any further than to read the year-end stock reports from the leading cosmetic moguls of their multi-billion dollar empires. Consumers from every walk of life are forever looking for that elusive "Holy Grail" that promises eternal youth (or at least will soften the visible signs of age) and make you a flawless beauty with a foundation that gives you all-day coverage. Recently, while on hiatus from my series, I received an email from a reader of Airbrush Talk, who writes:

I am a makeup artist for weddings and commercials. I have been researching airbrush for a very long time and feel like I am running into walls. I know of the brand Dinair, but I want something that has a more natural feel. I was reading your article and I think it is the most informative thing I have found on the subject. I have asked many other makeup artists for advice on different products and they are very reluctant in giving it to me because they feel that I would be their competition. They have nothing to worry about. I am more curious at this point as to what brands there are out there that I could try. Could you please point in the right direction? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Warm regards.

For those who may not have read my article titled "The Art Of Airbrushing Makeup Part Two: What Product Line Do I Use?" I would urge you read this, before continuing on.

As Stacie has asked for the most natural feeling airbrush product, I must stop here and point out something. A "natural feeling" airbrush cosmetic on a client's skin will be determined by how much product is applied. I find that, generally, many makeup artists-- when they first start using the airbrush--tend to be very heavy handed. So by the time they've had base, highlight, contour, and blush applied, the client or talent has the sensation that his or her face has been "Earl Schiebed" (a noted automobile re-finishing company in the Southern California area that promises they'll spray paint any car for only $99.99!!! What a deal!) However, people tend not to feel like their face has been lacquer coated. Don't forget the golden rule: Less is more.

Now, as to the question of what product line would give the most durability for a wedding or commercial shoot, I would again suggest a referral back to my article here. And while you're there, just print up a copy for your files to use as reference. I would tend to shy away from product lines that are strictly water-based (unless working under controlled circumstances) as they can also be water activated from normal perspiration. As anyone who has attended a wedding can testify, the bride is always usually on the dewy side anyway. This is especially true during the summer months when the majority of weddings take place. I would advise that if a water-based airbrush product is to be used, that it be properly sealed with a makeup sealer such as Ben Nye's Sealer, Mehron's Barrier Spray, Green Marble Sealer, Kryolan's Fixer Spray, or Cinema Secrets' Super Sealer. All of these products are readily available from the sources listed at the end of the previously mentioned article.

While some might argue with me, I believe that the more durable airbrush makeups are ones that are polymer-water based, polymer-SD alcohol 40 based, and silicone SD alcohol 40-B based.

Let's walk through an airbrush beauty makeup to fully understand some of the standard techniques used with its application. Ready? Okay, let us get started.

Before beginning any makeup, your supplies must be laid out in an order that works for you.circles As you can see (PHOTO 1), my materials are arranged from right to left, since I am right handed. My basic makeup box is set off to the side of my set towel (with a disposable professional towel on top), brushes in holder; then you can see to the left are my Aztek cleaning station and airbrush set in its holder. As space is always at a premium in makeup trailers, my compressor (which is an Iwata Power Jet) is always placed on the floor under my work area.


Here is our model, Michelle Grant Bouse, who has graciously consented to sit for this photo session. "Before" photos are never a flattering representation of the talent, but that's what they usually look like when they first sit down in our chair. Incidentally, I would like to point out that Michelle is one of the instructors at Make-up Designory (MUD) in Burbank, California. Michelle also has worked on NBC's daytime drama Passions, which uses airbrush application of beauty makeups daily.

Always start any makeup with a freshly cleaned face.circles An astringent to remove any facial oils can follow this, usually most evident in the "T-zone." Usually, it's then customary to prep the skin with a light application of a water-based moisturizer. Blot away any excess with a tissue. Alternatively, you can also choose to use a commercially available skin primer over the moisturizer or in place of it. Such primers are Kryolan's Ultra Under Base, Smash Box Photo Finish, English Idea's Foundation Primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. Of course there are other brands available; this was only a partial listing. Generally, many of them contain cyclomethicone (a silicone) as one of the main ingredients, which imparts a "silky" feel to the skin.circles Here I am applying the primer using a latex sponge, working from a wax palette sheet. Apply primer sparingly.



A cream concealer is applied over any discoloration under the eyes, red spots, and blemishes. Use a small sable brush to apply. Blend off makeup so that there aren't any hard edges. Powder to set. Afterwards, spray with a little water or moisture spray to remove excess powder.Blot water with a tissue, if needed.circles

We're now ready to airbrush the base on. Set the regulator on your compressor between 3 and 6 psi. Squeeze around 6 drops of an appropriate airbrush foundation in the color cup. For the demonstration,circles I am using the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS, a personal favorite of mine. I always start by first spraying a little of the color I've chosen on the forehead, checking for color compatibility to that of the subject's skin. If the color is deemed correct, then continue by spraying the rest of the face. Folding a tissue in half, use it as a loose shield to protect the hairlinecircles from any overspray while working. Spray in circular movements so as to avoid producing lines in the application.

When you want to haze some foundation under the eyes, angle the brush at a downward 45° degree angle so as not to spray product in the talent's eyes. Have the talent hold her breath, and again spraying at a downward 45° angle, spray the nose tip and upper lip.

Continue working the foundation down the neck. If the ears will be visible, have the talent put earplugs in before spraying. Remember to use your tissue as a shield to avoid getting product on hair.

We're now ready to move on with applying highlights. Squeeze a couple drops of a lighter foundation into remaining base in the color cup. Mix either with a spatula or by back flushing. Covering the needle cap with your index finger, push down on the finger lever, and then slowly pull back so that airflow gets channeled back into the color cup. The product will "gurgle" as the two colors mix together. Remember that the first color squeezed into the color cup will be the first one out before it shifts to the secondary one you mixed. So always get in the habit of testing your spray on a tissue before working on the talent! This will keep accidents from happening.

Lightly spray highlight under the eyes (again using the 45° angle as before),circles on the cheekbones and in the nasolabial folds (that's a fancy word for smile lines). Clean out the airbrush before continuing. Use a recommended cleaner appropriate to the product line you're using. If you are unsure what cleaner to use, contact the makeup manufacturercircles before spraying.

We'll now move on to contouring the face. Squirt a couple drops of your base in the color cup and then add a few drops of a darker shade. Mix the two colors together as described for the highlight. Test the shade on a tissue and then lightly shade under the cheekbones, the jawbone, and the side of the nose, if needed. Clean out the airbrush again before continuing.

Now, you're ready for the blush. If the color you've chosen is intense, mix it with the base to subdue it somewhat so that it is in harmony with the rest of the face. Clean the airbrush again before moving on.

To apply eye shadow, lower the regulator on the compressor to no higher than 3 psi. Load a suitable color in the airbrush. Holding the eyebrow up slightly to make it taut, mist on the color. Dry the wet eyelid with just air from the airbrush before releasing it. Repeat on the other eyelid. Clean the airbrush once again.

Clean off the eyebrows of any makeup by spraying a little isopropyl alcohol on a disposable mascara brush using a pump sprayer. Let dry before continuing. You can either freehand or use a stencil to airbrush the eyebrows or choose to use traditional makeup techniques such as an eyebrow pencil to fill in where necessary. I used the tried and true method, the pencil!

Michelle's face is lightly set with loose translucent face powder. The excess is brushed off.

Conventional dry eye shadows are applied to the lids before lining them with Bobbi Brown Black Ink. Mascara is then applied.


To finish off Michelle's lips, I first applied a lip conditioner and lined them with a pencil. Using a lip brush I blended the pencil color into the conditioner. The lipstick is now applied, finishing the makeup look.

Here are some photos of the finished makeup.


I would like to thank several people; without their help and support such an ambitious project as this would not have been possible. First, to my beautiful and patient model, Michelle Grant Bouse, thank you for allowing me to show you au natural. A heartfelt thanks to Ms. Pat Garner for lending her skills in the styling of Michelle's hair! Thanks to Maurice Stein and Ron Vine at Cinema Secrets for allowing me to use their classroom for the photographing of this makeup! And last, but not least, to Joe Podnar for his willingness to shooting this session!! As you can see, it's never easy to do such an ambitious project without a lot of help and support!


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