Airbrush Contouring 101

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System 11

One of the biggest concerns city girls like me have in the summer is that liquid foundations and contouring powders seem to melt the moment I leave the house. And it’s not only about the finish or quality of makeup products I pick—the City is just way too hot to wear any makeup at all. Saying so, I’m definitely one of the girls who is not okay with not wearing a foundation at all. Yes, my skin might not be the worst and I do have a confidence being bare-faced, but I just feel that I look better when I’m wearing a nicely applied tone and a blush. I don’t necessarily need a powder (only on my nose) as my skin is very dry, but I do enjoy a matte but not heavy coverage on my face, especially if I’m going out with friends or attending an event.

I’ve heard a lot about airbrushing that supposedly provides exactly what I need for summer, but it was not until recently when I had a chance to give this system a try. Testing an at-home airbrushing system by Luminess Air (it was that was kindly provided to me by the brand for testing purposes), I learned a few important lessons about how to use airbrush tool for a full-face contouring. In this post, I explore all the pros and cons of airbrushing and provide a few tips that I learned while using this system myself.

What is Airbrush Makeup

First and foremost, don’t misinterpret the term. Yes, people use the term “airbrushing” all the time while referring to photoshopped images. Some people also believe that “airbrushing” means complete elimination of any skin imperfections. At some point it’s true: with an airbrushing tool you can camouflage all sorts of skin imperfections—from acne scars to age spots and even severe skin discoloration.

However, in the beauty world, the term “airbrushing” is predominantly used for describing a technique of applying makeup products with the help of air compressor. In other words, it’s a spray-on makeup application method that is widely used in film and photography industries. Thanks to a few brands (Luminess Air is among them), airbrushing systems are now available for at-home users.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System

Airbrushing Technique

In theory, using an airbrushing system is very easy and takes no time. You pick a foundation tone, turn on a machine, dispense a few drops of a product, and start applying your spray foundation. In reality, makeup results are always as good as skills of a makeup artist. Saying so, it takes a bit of a practice to perfect your spray-on foundation application technique, especially if you are experimenting with contouring. However, it’s not that hard and requires just a few trials until you are getting good enough at it. Below, I provide step-by-step instruction on how to use your airbrushing set.

Step 1: Color Match

First and foremost, you need to pick a perfect shade for your skin tone before applying foundation. I did it by simply applying a drop of each shade on my cheek and comparing the results (make sure to shake bottles well before using the product). If you can’t find a perfect shade for your skin tone, try mixing a few shades together to achieve the desired result. For instance, I figured that three drops of Shade #2 combined with four drops of Shade #1 is a perfect formula for me.

Step 2: Know Your Lines

When it comes to airbrush contouring, follow the exact same steps you use with your regular contouring kit. Apply highlighter on the bridge of your nose, onto brow bone, on your cheekbones, on the inner corner of your eyes. Use a darker shade of a foundation directly under the cheekbone and under the jaw line. Put a bit of a blush on the apple of your cheeks (or else, depending on your face shape). In other words, do exactly what you always do—just use a different method to apply makeup onto your skin.

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

Before applying spray foundation all over your face, I highly recommend testing it on your hand first. It will help you to figure out how much product you need for a full-face application and how to properly use the airbrushing kit.

The most important thing about airbrushing makeup is to learn how to hold the stylus and move your hand while using it. First and foremost, grab your airbrushing stylus as a regular pen—with your index finger on top of the spray throttle. In order to avoid cakey application, keep your hand 6-8 inches from the face and move your hand in a circular motion.

For me, the most challenging part about using an airbrush foundation was learning how to constantly make circles with my hand to achieve a perfect result. However, after just a few applications I learned the trick and now it’s not a problem at all. Practice makes it perfect—so make sure to invest time in your future perfect foundation application.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System

Airbrush Makeup Tips and Tricks

While testing Luminess Air line, I figured just a few secrets that make the application process much easier and the final result more effective:

Trick 1: You the Right Primer

When you are working with a foundation designed for airbrushing, make sure you are using a non-silicone based primer. I know, it’s hard to give up your all-times favorite primer, but it simply is not compatible with airbrush makeup formula. My advice is to pick a primer by the same brand that is your airbrushing kit. That way, you’ll make sure that both products were tested together so you can avoid any “surprises” with uneven application or possible skin irritation.

Trick 2: Use Natural Light

This recommendation is relevant not only for airbrush makeup but for any foundation application in general: Apply makeup in the same lighting conditions that you’ll be wearing it. Saying so, if you are planning on wearing makeup during the day, move your mirror closer to a window so you know exactly how your foundation will look like when you are outdoors. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to apply an evening makeup in a complete darkness! Just use an electric light in your bathroom or a makeup room as you’ll be surrounded by lamps throughout the evening.

Trick 3: Finish with a Foundation

No matter how many layers of highlighter, bronzer, or blush you applied, I recommend always finishing with a tiny layer of foundation to blend all the layers together. Since I have a dry skin type, I didn’t feel the need to use a setting powder on top of my airbrush foundation. However, you might consider doing so if you have oily skin or look for a completely matte look.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System 2

Types of Airbrush Coverage

Even though I tested just one line of Luminess Air makeup, there are much more coverage options to choose from:

1. Mystic Foundation offers full, but lightweight coverage;

2. Ultra Airbrush Foundation provides a balance between a dewy and matte finish; it’s designed for everyday use;

3. Matte Airbrush Foundation provides traditional powdery finish with medium to full coverage;

4. Satin Airbrush Foundation gives sheer to full coverage; it’s formulated for people with dry skin types (that’s the one I used);

5. Silk Airbrush Foundation provides sheer to full coverage for all skin types; it’s perfect for everyday use.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System

My Experience with Airbrush Makeup

Even though I was very excited to test the product, I was a bit intimidated by trying this new makeup application technique. I recalled the times when I experimented with Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation and got my eyebrows and hairline covered with it. I also remembered my teenage years experiments with graffiti—my parents’ basement is still covered with my shaky “tags” (you have to press very hard to get your air spray paint out which was not easy for a 15 year old girl). In other words, I did have concerns and wondered if the product was worth the hype.

For starters, I decided to try applying the product on my chin. I have a few scars and birthmarks there so I wanted to test how those are getting covered. Blogging for years now, I also learned to test all makeup products on my body prior to applying them on my face. Even though I picked a wrong color at first (Shade #2 was too dark even for my legs), I was satisfied with the result. My after-shaving dark pores were eliminated and I couldn’t find the spot where my scars supposed to be.

Looking back, I have to say that the result was that impressive because I sprayed much more product that I ever need for my face. I literally covered my leg with a foundation. However, it was a great start that allowed me to learn that I’m not allergic to the formulation and practice airspraying.

Moving to my face, I decided to go a conservative way and applied just a few drops of the product in a cup. I also made sure to properly prep my skin for application. I used Luminess Air M1 Airbrush Moisturizer that came with my airbrushing kit.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System

As per the directions, I applied just a tiny layer of the foundation, let it sit for a few seconds, and only after that started building up the product. Moving in circular motions, I sprayed one part of my face first, then moved to another, and finally covered a T-zone.

After just a few applications, I figured that the coverage is a bit less intense when the applicator is running out of foundation. Keeping it in mind, I started from the areas that require the most coverage and moved towards hairline where I needed a very thin coverage just to even out the skin tone.

Even though it’s perfectly fine to spray foundation on your eyelids, I skipped this area at all and applied my regular concealer instead. I’m wearing contacts and I was afraid that I will ruin my contacts with the product so I picked NYX HD Photo Concealer Wand in Porcelain and it worked well with my spray-on foundation.

Luminess Air - Airbrush Makeup System

After my foundation was set, I cleaned the cup by adding a few drops of water in it and spraying it on a piece of a paper towel. Next step was contouring. Usually, I contour only my cheekbones during the day so I picked Luminess Air Silk Shade #3 which was about two shades darker than the one I applied all over my face. I used the same technique to add a bit of a darkness under my cheekbone, but I tried to keep the stylus farther away so the coverage is somewhat transparent and there is no straight line between the main tone and the contouring tone. I also applied a bit of Luminess Air Metallics Series Bronzer—regardless the fact that it was a bit too dark for my complexion. Even though I love the matte look, nobody prohibits me from getting a sun-kissed skin, right?

When I was done with bronzing and contouring, I cleaned my applicator again and moved to highlighting. I have to say that adding glow to my skin was my absolute favorite thing about airbrushing. The Luminess Air Airbrush Glow in G-1 shade worked great for my pale complexion and I truly enjoyed watching how my skin started looking brighter and more illuminated. Similar to how I use a classic liquid highlighter, I sprayed my airbrush glow on cheekbones, onto the brow bone, and on the cupid’s bow.

I also had a positive experience with a spray-on blush. First of all, the shade I was provided with (Luminess Air Blush in Tulip-3n) really worked for my complexion. Second of all, I loved the idea that I can wear a blush underneath my foundation (it actually works better that way). Finally, I was impressed with how perfectly blended a spray blush comes out. It was not your typical liquid blush effect, but rather a super smooth coverage that you only get when you spend lots of time in front of the mirror blending and adding more product into your skin. The difference was that it literally took me a few seconds to achieve such great result—I was truly impressed!

Luminess Air - before after

Airbrush Makeup Pros and Cons

As it goes with any makeup, airbrushing makeup has its pros and cons. Below, I discuss some of the challenges and exciting discoveries that I’ve made while using my airbrush foundation for a few weeks.

Airbrush Makeup Pros

It’s Not Wasteful. A few drops of airbrush foundation go a long way. I’m not good in math, but my guess is that one bottle of a foundation will last you for at least a few months.

It Hygienic. You don’t need to touch your face while applying it. Saying so, I believe it would be a great match for people struggling with acne. If you don’t touch your skin, you are not spreading bacteria all over your face.

It’s Durable. The foundation will last all day and will not come off your face to your clothes.

It’s Sweat-Proof. I didn’t notice that the foundation melted even when it was 80F degrees in New York.

It Looks Natural. As soon as you know how to properly apply your spray-on foundation, it provides an even, very natural looking coverage.

Airbrush Makeup Cons

It’s Hard to Touch Up. Since you need a machine to apply your spray-on makeup, it makes close to impossible to touch up your look.

It’s Not Dewy. As of now, I used only one airbrush makeup brand and the products in the line provided a matte coverage. While it’s exactly what I was looking for in the summer, it might not be a perfect solution if you prefer more a dewy finish.

It Doesn’t Allow Any Mistakes. If you applied too much of a product at one spot, you have to redo the entire face. So my advice is to start using your airbrushing set daily only after you mastered your application technique.

Luminess Air set - before after

The Conclusion

After using Luminess Air spray foundation system for a few weeks, I feel that it’s a great investment for anyone struggling with uneven skin tone or acne. The unique application technique really makes all the difference with how smoothly a foundation looks on your skin. It is also a great solution if you don’t want to touch your skin in order to avoid spreading acne all over your face. Saying so, the results are only as great as your airbrushing technique is so make sure to make a few “test drives” before using your airbrushing set daily.

In case you decided to give Luminess Air system a try, here is a discount code for you that you can use to save 20% off your order: 151838144.

Have you ever tried airbrush makeup? If so, please share your experience with the Style Sprinter community!

  • Катя, я так давно к тебе не заходила, а здесь столько всего интересного =)

  • I never knew this was actually a thing until now. It sounds really interesting and I really want to give it a go.

  • I just read a review on this a couple of days before and the blogger loves it too. And holy cow, the finish is absolutely flawless on your skin and very natural!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  • I’ve never tried an airbrush foundation before but this sounds great! I do freelance makeup work and think this could be an amazing tool to have under my belt. Amazing review!

    • Yes, it’s a must-have for a makeup artist! A friend of mine is working for Victoria’s Secret shows and she says they are covering models’ entire faces and bodies with spray makeup. So yeah it’s a fun makeup tool to play with!

      Have a lovely evening, Amanda! Love your recent post about makeup brushes! xoxo

  • Jane

    This is such an informative post, love it. I’m a little cack handed though so I think it would honestly get it everywhere but would love to try it anyway!

    lots of love, Jane

  • Michelle Gil Santini

    Quite informative since I’ve been curious about all the hype of the airbrush. I should totally get it
    Great article!