Airbrush vs. Traditional Makeup... What exactly are the differences?

I recently gave an interview to Oak & Honey Events on the differences between Airbrush and Traditional Makeup.  I thought it would also be great to share my thoughts here.  Hope you enjoy this breakdown!

What is considered a “traditional” makeup application and how is that different from an “airbrushed” makeup application?

There are a lot of misconceptions about traditional makeup versus airbrushed makeup, so I’m happy to break that down for you. A traditional makeup application includes liquid, cream, and powder face products applied with brushes. An airbrushed makeup application uses special formulas of liquid makeup that are applied using an airbrush gun. The formulas are very thin in density and can be run through an airbrush system to deliver the evenest distribution of product possible. Think about how other things are painted when airbrushed – such as cars, walls in a house, or artwork. The airbrush delivery system is the best tool to give the effect of a flawless and evenly painted surface.

Within the realm of airbrushed makeup, there are several different formulas that can be used, including water-based, silicone-based, and alcohol-based products. Depending on the type of airbrush foundation used, a different coverage, finish, and wear time can be achieved.

A professional airbrush makeup artist should offer different formulas of airbrush makeup to customize looks for their clients. The skin should be prepped properly before the airbrush makeup is applied to achieve the best look for each individual’s skin type and situation. I personally believe that the airbrush makeup should not be touched with powder, blush, or any other makeup product once it’s completed because it compromises the airbrush effect.  Not only foundation, but also blush, bronzer, highlight, and contour can all be achieved with an airbrush. There are mattefying sprays and setting sprays that can help set makeup and keep it looking fabulous all day.

  This bride never wore foundation and really wanted to look and feel like herself on her wedding day. We airbrushed with a  water-based  formula to give the most natural look possible. We used a minimal amount of concealer on the skin and under eyes before airbrushing. You can still see her skin, and every freckle possible, but she photographs beautifully.

This bride never wore foundation and really wanted to look and feel like herself on her wedding day. We airbrushed with a water-based formula to give the most natural look possible. We used a minimal amount of concealer on the skin and under eyes before airbrushing. You can still see her skin, and every freckle possible, but she photographs beautifully.

  This bride wanted full-on glam for her makeup look, so we layered different cream products under the airbrush formula to give a dense look that really pops on camera. 

This bride wanted full-on glam for her makeup look, so we layered different cream products under the airbrush formula to give a dense look that really pops on camera. 

Most people think that the advantage of airbrushed makeup is that it is extremely longwearing. While there are longwearing formulas, they might not be right for everyone. It’s important to work with your makeup artist to choose the right application technique and formula of makeup that will work best for your personal style and skin type.

What are the benefits of traditional makeup? Are there any negative considerations of this makeup application?

The biggest benefit of traditional makeup is that there is so much variety in formula and colors available on the market, so you can really customize a formula, color, and style that is right for you. Another great benefit is that it can be easily mixed on a palette with skincare or other products to create new customized options. Many makeup artists will carry one or two formulas of foundations and concealers, along with different pigments, color correctors, and mixing mediums in order to achieve the ideal skin look for each individual they touch.

A challenge for makeup artists regarding traditional makeup is keeping up to date on all of the products available. The beauty industry is always growing and changing. New technologies for different formulas are always being updated. It can be tough for us as makeup artists, as well as for the average consumer, to know where to start when looking for the perfect foundation.  We could spend hours in a department store, Sephora, or drugstore looking through the different options. For that reason, many of us tend to stick with what we know works best, versus choosing the new product or gimmick that’s available on the market.

What are the benefits of airbrushed makeup? Are there any negative considerations of this makeup application?

Airbrushed makeup is simply the most flawless way that any product can be applied to a surface. With that being said, it may not be right for everyone. In order to get the smoothest look, the surface being worked on has to be smooth as well. If an uneven surface is airbrushed, the product can’t have the even distribution that the tool is intended for. For that reason, skin should be prepped and primed properly before beginning. It’s important that skin is exfoliated so that all dead skin cells are removed. I also recommend removing vellus hair (also known as peach fuzz), as airbrushed makeup can sit on top of this. For skin with severe texture or fine lines, airbrush might not be the best option.

  This client was the Grandmother of the Groom. She had never had her makeup professionally done before and wanted to go all out for her grandson’s wedding. We used a traditional foundation applied with brushes to give her skin the most youthful, radiant look. 

This client was the Grandmother of the Groom. She had never had her makeup professionally done before and wanted to go all out for her grandson’s wedding. We used a traditional foundation applied with brushes to give her skin the most youthful, radiant look. 

Does airbrushed makeup feel different when it’s applied than traditional makeup?

As it’s being applied, airbrush makeup feels luxurious and relaxing. Once the application is finished, many clients point out that they can’t feel it on the skin at all. There’s an element of skill and control that the makeup artist employs, using minimal product stretched as far as possible to give this effect.

When is traditional makeup the best option for a bride? When is airbrushed makeup a better option?

Traditional makeup may be best for a bride with severe fine lines or texture on the skin. Otherwise, regardless of the type of coverage, finish, and wearability a bride is going for, airbrushed makeup provides the most event application of product to the skin. I believe that a bride deserves the best on her wedding day, and that there is really no better option for a flawless look than airbrushed makeup.

Does Cleveland Makeup Artistry offer both traditional and airbrushed makeup options?

Yes, we offer not only a tradition and airbrushed options, but a third service called Express Makeup. The Express Makeup Application is 20 minutes long (half the time of the traditional or airbrushed application), and uses a minimal amount of products and techniques. This service is great for brides who don’t usually wear makeup day to day, but who want to look and feel their best for their wedding day. It also works well for junior bridesmaids, large bridal parties who don’t have a lot of time for getting ready before an early ceremony, and those on a budget.