What is Airbrush Foundation?

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  • Written By: Karen E. Spaeder
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
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Airbrush foundation is advertised in different forms, ranging from makeup that comes in lower-cost aerosol cans to more expensive versions that are applied with an airbrush foundation machine. The question of which version is better is a matter of personal taste and budget. While some people are satisfied with the finish achieved with airbrush foundation in a can, others say they get a smoother finish with an airbrush machine.

Generally, airbrush foundation that comes in a can works much like a can of hairspray. Inside, there is a liquid foundation that gets sprayed onto the face. Typically, the foundation must then be blended with a cosmetic sponge or with fingertips. In this regard, foundation in a can is similar to traditional liquid foundation that is pumped or poured out of its container. With both types, the foundation is pressed and blended into the skin.

In contrast, an airbrush foundation machine will spray the foundation in a fine layer onto the skin. Essentially, the machine distributes the foundation in a tiny dot pattern onto the skin, and it dries quickly to a powder finish. The foundation should not require blending and should be left relatively untouched – doing so would defeat the goal of achieving an airbrushed look.


Most airbrush foundation machines work best when used with foundation that is specifically formulated for use with this type of machine or with regular foundation that has been diluted. Airbrush foundations are thinner than traditional foundations and will pass through the airbrush gun without clogging. If one chooses to use regular foundation with an airbrush machine, however, diluting it with water or alcohol can help to thin it enough for dispensing.

Whether one uses airbrush foundation in a can or invests in an airbrush machine, there are some best practices that can help in achieving the desired finish. The first step is ensuring that the skin is clean and that the hair is pulled away from the face. If any dark under-eye circles are apparent, one can dab concealer under the eyes.

When applying the foundation, the can or airbrush tool should be held approximately 6 inches (about 15 cm) from the face. This positioning will help to prevent over-application. The foundation also should be applied at the jaw line and on the neck so that the product appears to blend evenly.

As with traditional foundations, there are many airbrush colors available for a variety of skin tones. In addition, one can adjust airbrush foundation colors as the seasons change. Winter skin may call for lighter colors, while tanned summer skin may call for darker ones.


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