Jasmine Ringo

Makeup Blog

Traditional VS. Airbrush

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A lot can be said for both traditional and airbrush makeup. It tends to continue to be a hot topic amongst makeup artists and clients. Some screaming benefits and dislikes for both.

I truly don’t like when either gets a bad rap or a push or shove because they both deserve their space in the makeup world.

I want to break down the differences and offer you a really easy way to discuss these options with your clients that keep them both happy and content.


Traditional is going to be referenced for any foundation product applied with sponge, brush or by hand. This would include:

  • Powder foundations

  • liquids

  • creams

  • gels

  • cc creams

Traditional simple means, it’s applied the “traditional” way, by hand. With a sponge, beauty blender, brush or fingers.

This method has been around well long before the invention of the airbrush. It’s the most typical application because of its many ways it can be manipulated. You may have even heard someone describe how they enjoy traditional so much more because they can touch the product and skin with their hands and “do more” with it.

While I absolutely see the meaning to this statement, it isn’t entirely true. Airbrush can be manipulated a lot of ways as well, but we’ll get to that soon.

One thing to note with traditional makeup, it’s a thicker size in its structure than airbrush makeup. This is because a lot of foundations are formulated with components that will fill texture and smooth skin at the surface. For this, ingredients need to be added with the color to create slip and easy spreadability as well as ingredients to “dry down” the product, absorb into the skin and of course again, fill texture.

However there are still plenty of options in traditional makeup that allow us to control all the variables for a client:

  • dryness

  • dullness

  • oily

  • mature

  • combination

  • full coverage

  • sheer coverage

  • and more!

So lets talk airbrush and what makes it different:


Airbrush makeup is foundation that is applied through the atomization of liquid product through air. It’s literally blown onto the skin using an air compressor that sucks in surrounding air and blows the product through a teeny tiny hole in an airbrush gun.

Now why would we want that?

  • Allows us to not touch the skin

  • Gives an incredible blend without all the movement of hand applied makeup

  • Keeps product molecule tiny, almost invisible to the eye and camera

Sometimes, we have clients with sensitive skin that cannot be touched, such as breakouts or other irritations. We may not want to touch the skin for other reasons and airbrush offers us a faster application due to its superbly blended nature.

Here’s the downfall though (ya, like everything, pros and cons):

  • It requires lots of training to learn how to utilize it fully

  • It requires patience for potential clogs and other user errors

  • It requires power - ya, sometimes we don’t have access to that

  • It sometimes requires special formulas

Now let me elaborate on that last part, some formulas are needed to use with a machine. Sure you can definitely use some available foundations you may already have in your kit, but they need to be properly thinned to blow through the gun. So brands have made it easier with their lines of water, alcohol, silicone and hybrid foundations you can purchase (here is my review of some popular brands).

But wait! Airbrush has actually been used for a loooooooong time! Just check out this image from Michael Westmore’s grandfather he shared recently.

Monte Westmore applying airbrush on Olivia de Havilland in 1939 on Gone With The Wind

Monte Westmore applying airbrush on Olivia de Havilland in 1939 on Gone With The Wind

Now how do we discuss this with our clients? Simple, let them know the benefits of both and give them your professional suggestion on what would be good for them:

“Based on the look you’re going for and how your skin texture feels today, I would recommend traditional cream set with an HD powder. We could do airbrush but I think you’ll get a longer hold for your type of needs with this traditional method”


“ I think you’re the perfect candidate for airbrush! It’s will feel so divine in the application process and sit so lightweight on your skin while lasting for several hours.”


That’s totally fine, but here is the thing. You don’t have to airbrush to be a great artist! It’s just another tool and by criticizing it to other artists or clients shows your insecurity with it. Own it if you don’t offer it. Simply tell your client you don’t currently offer it, but can give them an absolutely gorgeous traditional application.

By suggesting that airbrush is bad, horrible, lazy (ha!) or not as nice as traditional isn’t fair to all those artist (mostly you reading this) that offer the service.

So let’s play nice. Let’s talk about the difference in the educated manner that makes us all incredible at our craft and work as a community. Based on your clients needs, either suggest a local airbrush artist to your client who is wanting to experience it or, discuss how traditional makeup suits their needs. By telling the client that one or the other is bad so you can keep that service is well, shitty. Don’t be shitty. Be informed, share, and grown.


It’s simple, I don’t charge more. I find value in BOTH traditional and airbrush, and I more importantly find value in my time and experience.

“But I spent so much money on an airbrush kit, on airbrush foundations, on education.”

Okay, but did you have to? No, you opted to, whether to set you apart from your colleagues, elevate your game to get better gigs and lux clients, whatever the reason may have been - it was your choice. This being said, because you elevated your game, high fucking five! Raise your set rate for makeup. Now you value not only your added skills in airbrush, but you respect your skill and knowledge in traditional. You elevated your brand! So your entire rate should raise - don’t create cherry picking rates for your clients. They only get one, and they get anything they want - now that will set you apart.

Too many damn times I’ve witness and had artists tell me how they cheat with their airbrush just for a higher rate. They spray setting spray on a full traditional makeup, or lightly spray foundation on top of a completed look - I hate to burst your bubble, this is NOT airbrushing. This phony bologna and you need to take a big ol humble pill and chill out on faking it. Too many of us take this serious to let you poo on it. So either suck it up and play fairly, or sell your machine.

Above all, do some kick ass makeup!


Jasmine Ringo