So you decided to take the plunge...congratulation! I welcome you to the wonderful world of airbrushing, where many will try and few will succeed. What? Don't like that disclaimer of sorts? Well I will in no way, every in your life sugar coat a damn thing! I will always tell you like it is!
Airbrushing is a beautiful technique and skill to add to your makeup arsenal. So many people have found how in demand it is, that they almost feel forced into trying it out for their business. HD technology has also screamed for this style of makeup due to it's ability to show every damn thing on the skin. Airbrushing is a natural go-to for such needs.
But.....so few will conqure this tool. Mostly because it take practice. Lots and lots of practice. I have and continue to work hard to make it a little bit easier for those to learn this beautiful trade.
Now know not everyone will airbrush, and that's okay. Just don't sour talk the skill to your clients or companions. I would never tell others that sponging on makeup is as easy as pie, a YouTuber could do it. Ya, because we aren't here to bash each others techniques.
So if you would like to learn more about how and where to start with airbrushing...well continue reading...
Here are some reviews of the most popular and talked about airbrush systems. I can't review them all, but I will give you a run down of the best ones, a wide price range, and why you would possibly buy it.
Temptu Air - $380 ($342 with Pro discount)
This little system is really quite unique. It's literally all-in-one! there are no cables to connect, or guns to attach. Virtually cleans it's self and it evolving as you read this! I would suggest this kit above because it comes with at least 6 foundation pods. If you want to blush, highlight and contour, you will have to buy more pods.
- Hand held
- No cables (except USB charger used when charging)
- Holds charge for weeks!
- 3 speed pressure, perfect for beauty makeup, some character/fx makeup
- No breaking down to clean gun
- Minimal clogging
- Add Air Pod Pro to work with other products or custom mix foundations, blushes, eyeshadows, etc.
- Only uses Temptu Pods - they range from $28-$38 before Pro discount
- Need a separate Air Pod Pro to use other products or custom mix
- Only three pressure sprays, good for beauty and some character/fx makeup
- Single-action style spraying, meaning you get less control with the machine
- Pods tend to give me difficulty, such as rubber stoppers disconnecting and product spilling in my kit, or the mechanism doesn't grab the plastic parts that controls the paint flow well.
Overall I enjoy having this in my kit for quick makeups, bridal makeup and film work. Clients get a kick out of seeing me work with the machine and love the results. However the results come directly from my airbrush technique that I have been able to use with this somewhat awkward to first hold compact airbrush. Thanks to the addition of the Air Pod Pro which is a refillable pod that you can put whatever product you like in it. This allows more versatility and for me not to be stuck with SB formula which I don't care for over the Hydra Lock formula. But we'll talk formulas later...
Traditional Machines (gun & compressor) Kits
Kett Jett - $275 compressor $95 gun ($370)
This is another cute compact machine that I know a lot of artists have used successfully. The compressor is about as big as a Zack Morris 1990 cell phone. If you don't get that reference, I feel bad for ya. Ha! Pretty good price for a compact machine, or you can spend more for the starter kit (pictured above) which comes with the full Hydro line of products and a setting powder for $492. %30 off for Pros! PSI range from 0-30.
- Compact, great for beauty, bridal, studio work and some character/fx
- Can use power cord or battery option
- Would only recommend the .25mm Airbrush Gun, which can switch from single action to duel action
- The Hydro collection is the best formula, Only use Hydro-proof for tattoo covers, etc. Not for makeup.
- Can't read the PSI range, so you must get comfortable with feeling pressure
- Can be a bit noisy
- Gun are not great quality but can get some use out of them
- At the same price point, you could get better quality compressor and gun
- Inconsistencies with the compressor when I have worked with it
- Can only use Hydro-proof (alcohol based) formula with the .4mm gun, which is not a great gun due to it's plastic parts and low grade components
Temptu S-One - $250 w/ product
This is a pretty popular kit that I have seen lots of beginners get, mainly due to it's price. What's that saying though...oh ya, you get what you pay for. I wouldn't recommend this kit solely on the compressor. It's not great by any means. It runs non stop once you hit the power switch, that feature alone is worth you continuing reading and looking for other options. I'm only reviewing because it is so popular and I want you to make an educated decision, not waste your money. If your compressor runs non stop, it's motor will die really fast, like under a year fast. So you can buy a new compressor every year for $250 or get a good one right away that will last your life. Well here are the pros and cons...
- Compact, great from bridal, beauty, studio, some character/fx
- Price is almost too cheap, that may be good enough for some people
- Dual action gun
- 30% Pro discount
- Price is too low which equals cheap
- Compressor is in no way good, simply do not buy because of that
- Cannot just buy the compressor and gun, must buy kit
- Option to get other products in leu of S/B formula isn't available. The Hydra Lock line is the the best in the Temptu product line
- Loud motor that doesn't stop unless you power off
- Can't read the PSI range, so you must learn how to identify air pressure by feel
- Pro discount only takes $25 off kit, not full 30%. just FYI
Pure Pro Airbrush - $149-$389
This was a line I was sent to check out and while I like the formula of the product, the system it's self is extremely beginner. The only difference in the kits are the size of the product you will get in the set, either .25oz, .50oz or 1oz foundation bottles, and just 4 of them. So you will definitely have to purchase more foundations to round out your color range. I've seen many systems like this that my students would bring in a have me tinker with. I would have told them to go a different direction as far as systems to start with simply because of the simplicity and frustration this system can cause with it's rubber hose that slide onto the connector of the compressor and the gun. So you wont have an air tight seal and if you pull a little too much, POP! It pops right off. This isn't something that happens once, it continuously happens. So be warns with this style of system. Always check to make sure your hoses attach and screw onto the compressor and gun. Zero info on the range of PSI, but it feels like 0-12 working PSI. Again, you can't read your pressure, or have full control, just a three button option.
- Tiny, literally fits in your palm
- Product line is nice, easy to use
- All in one starter kit for true beginners at a super low rate
- Compressor is too tiny, very basic work with this guy
- Plastic parts equal less use
- 3 range air flow, less control on your PSI
- Continuous running compressor, which means only turns off when powered off. No compressor should continuously run or it's life is shortened
- Rubber hose slide to connect to gun and compressor, not air tight and tends to POP on regularly
- Gun has plastic parts, won't last long, tendency to clog with thicker products
Iwata Ninja Jet - $229 (40% additional off at Hobby Lobby)
This little guy is great for the traveling makeup artist looking to add airbrushing into their kit! It's small, lightweight, easy carry handle and made by the best in the airbrushing industry. However it's still a little too small for me, but great for beginners. Can't beat the extra 40% off at Hobby Lobby either! 5-18 working PSI.
- Lightweight, small
- Easy to travel with
- Top quality manufacturing
- 40% off at Hobby Lobby
- Great for beginners
- Continuous running motor
- No PSI gauge
Kryolan Compressor TC-501 - $205
This is my current favorite and most used compressor. It's actually manufactured by Sparmax, which I'll review their compressor next. I love that it is housed in a metal cabinet, making it easy for me to transport in my makeup kit. Fits nicely in my Zuca or Burton makeup kit. This is a high quality compressor and does everything it should. PSI regulator attaches to side of compressor and is easily read to fully control your PSI range. 5-40 working PSI which is great for any style of makeup you do! Slightly bigger than the previous compressor mentioned, but absolutely great! Self regulating motor means it doesn't continuously run while your refilling your gun or setting up for next client. This also means your motor will last much longer and be with you for many many years! Height is 8.5 inches (220 mm), width is 7.8 inches (200mm).
- Everything! This is a great compressor!
- Not tiny, but portable for the working makeup artist
Sparmax AC-27 Compressor- $139
This is a nice, compact compressor made by a quality manufacturer. Working PSI with gauge reader from 5-45 PSI. Small and travel friendly for working makeup artists.
- Quiet motor
- Great PSI range so you can do more types of makeup
- PSI gauge reader
- Continuous motor, could burn out quicker
Iwata Smart Jet - $331 (Rexart.com)
This is it guys, the creme de la creme! THE workhorse of all the compressors. This is my baby and I use it mostly for large jobs, body painting and FX. Created by the best manufacturer in the business! The Smart Jet technology means the compressors shuts off automatically, saving the life of the motor, quieter sounding, zero-maintenance, less heat-related moisture build up, reduces running time. 10.5in high, 12in wide. Fits snugly in my Zuca with room on top for additional makeup bags. So it seems big but it's not huge. The price it's selling at Rexart.com is amazing!!!
- Best quality
- High performance
- Warranty covered
- Auto shut off motor, saves life of compressor
- Best for any line of makeup work, especially body painting and FX
- Large, but compact enough to travel with
These are the only guns I will recommend. I will NOT review any other gun because no other gun compares. What I will review is a few difference styles so you can get the perfect one for your style of work. These guns are all Dual-Action, meaning you will control the air AND paint flow. Other guns, less expensive guns have plastic parts that breaks and tend to be single-action, which you cannot control your air flow. This can result in all sorts of issues when creating detailed work.
*I will not recommend the Iwata NEO guns. For simply the fact they are the lease expensive of the brand due to the fact they are manufactured outside the official manufacturing which is in Japan. If they aren't made in Japan, don't buy.
Iwata HP-CS Eclipse - $120 w/ 40% Hobby Lobby discount
This is my die hard, ride or die airbrush gun! I can't say enough good things about it! It's beautifully build and made in Japan with top of the line parts. I own 12 of these! That's how much I love them. I use them for everything and I can't get enough. Large cup will hold plenty of product for the active airbrusher.
Iwata Eclipse HP-BS -
The only difference with this gun is the cup size. It is smaller for those who work with smaller amount of product. Great for beauty makeup where you are using a few drops of makeup at a time. Easy to clean due to it's smaller cup size.
Iwata Eclipse HP-BCS - $104 (Rexart.com)
This is a bottom-feed or bottle-feed gun. Great for artists who change between colors frequently, such as body painters and fx artists. I enjoy working with these gun when I have very specific colors in large amounts that I will be using. Most of the time I enjoy custom mixing, so I usually use my top-feed gun, but these bottle feed guns are great for what they do. Makes it easier to use just one gun, rather than multiple guns when using lots of colors.
Iwata Custom Micron CM-C Plus v.2 - $451
Ya, it's expensive. However it's a beaute Clarke. I don't currently own this puppy, but I will by end of year. This gun is for the serious professional who wants utmost detail to their work. Mostly used by FX artist such as Steve Wang, who's highly detailed work is featured on the Lycans and Vampires in Underworld and Lady in the Water. This gun will give you such amazing control, you can airbrush hair onto your subject, ya hair strokes. Here is some reference for what detail this gun gives:
Trust me, you need these things to successfully not throw your airbrush gun through a window. Look, I guess airbrushing is difficult and has lots of troubleshooting to navigate when you first start trying it out. Due to it's learning curve, here are some must needed items that some will come with your airbrush, or some you will need to purchase separately. Either way, you will be much happier after having them.
Teflon Tape - $1 at most hardware supplies or less!
This seems like a weird thing, but it's saved my guns! Through constant use of twisting the gun onto your air hose, the pipe threads can sometimes not grip as well, resulting in leaky air. You don't want leaky air because it can cause issues and you wondered the whole time why after all the cleaning you've done, the product still won't spray right. Well wrap a little teflon tape or plumbers tape around the pipe threads and it's fixed! Great to always have on hand in your kit.
Super Lube - Under $10 for full size tube
This is something you'll need that you didn't think you'll need. Case in point I had a student recently show me that her guns trigger was sticking. She cleaning the gun immaculately trying the rid the issue, but didn't know how beneficial lube was for the parts of the gun the run effectively. I put a little drop of this down into the trigger and voila! It worked great after that. So keep this on hand to either lube the needle from time to time or fix sticky joints.
Extra Needle - Under $10
It never hurts to have an extra needle on hand. Due to how easy it is to bend the sharp tip of the needle either due to dropping, improper cleaning or inserting harshly into the gun, this piece can easily damage. I always have a few on hand in various sizes to also pair with different formulas. Thicker formulas need thicker needles, and visa versa.
Airbrush Cleaner-Nurturing Force - $12 w/ pro discount @ Nigels
This shit right here, everything! THE ONLY CLEANER YOU NEED! It's does everything and is environmentally safe and vegan! This will clean not only water-based products, but alcohol-based and silicone based. This is great because it means you can use one gun for everything! Usually that is not the case, because if you accidentally mix water into alcohol products, you will get major clogs. Same with water into silicone, or alcohol into silicone. So the fact that this cleans everything is amazing! Boy it cleans too! You only need a little, so it will last you for a very damn long time! This is a MUST OWN!
Zen Pipe Cleaners - $5.52 for a 3 pack on Amazon
The BEST pipe cleaners ever! Seriously, these are about the only thing you need to effectively clean your gun thoroughly. I use a combo of the soft and Hard pipe cleaners which have scrubby pieces on them to help with dried up paint stuck in the gun. Just thread them through and pull out the other side of the gun! Simple and effective.
Next up we will talk about products and their differences. Until then...happy shopping for your next airbrush machine! If you have any input for any of the above mentioned products, feel free to add on your information and email me at Makeup@JasmineRingo.com Cheers!