Airbrush vs Traditional Makeup


Traditional Makeup Vs Airbrush Makeup

The most common makeup tools of the trade include sponges, combs, brushes and even fingers all used to apply creams, powders, and pancakes. However, there is no doubt about the growing popularity of airbrush makeup applied specifically with an airbrush gun. So, if you are new to wearing makeup, or if you find yourself in a makeup rut, or even have a big event coming up and want to make a good impression, take the time to revisit the best makeup methods for your specific needs. Here we explore airbrush makeup Vs traditional makeup to better understand both the advantages and disadvantages of both methods and help you make an informed decision on your next makeup application.

What is airbrush makeup?

We’ll start with airbrushing because it’s the newer contender and not (yet) as widely used. Airbrush makeup is the term used to describe makeup which is applied with an airbrush gun. The result is a fine mist which, forms a very thin layer of makeup which looks more natural than traditional makeup because it doesn’t fully mask the skin.

There are three main types of airbrush makeup available including water, silicon, and alcohol.

The main pros and cons of each formula can be broken down as follows:



  • Easier to clean from the airbrush
  • Less likely to cause an allergic reaction
  • Requires less pressure in the application


  • Water based products will streak if they come into contact with water



  • Thicker than water based for better coverage
  • Absorbs oil for a matte finish
  • Because the silicone molecules are large and cannot be absorbed into the skin, many users agree that it most mimics traditional makeup.


  • Requires higher pressure, which, if not done correctly, cannot be achieved and imperfections cannot be masked
  • Is not impacted by water



  • Alcohol products offer a quick drying finish which also helps de-grease the skin
  • Feels weightless on the skin


How is airbrush makeup applied?

Well, it’s not going to come as a surprise but airbrush makeup is applied via an airbrush. An airbrush is a machine which has a small chamber where a small amount of alcohol, silicone or water based makeup can be stored. Simply by pulling a trigger, the user can control the light spray which comes from the gun’s tip. The airbrush is then moved around the face in strokes, also known as ‘passes’, creating the perfect finish. In fact, it’s this finish that is widely considered to be the main benefit of airbrush makeup because the very fine mist does not ‘cake’ the face the way that traditional makeup does. However, that’s not the only benefits of airbrush makeup – read on to learn more about why many opt for airbrush over traditional.

Benefits of airbrush makeup

Without this aforementioned ‘cake’ effect, makeup looks more natural – in that, you can almost see the skin but still with coverage. This makes it a great go-to for those who aren’t used to wearing makeup since it can still feel minimal up to a couple of layers. It’s not just this, but it’s widely agreed that airbrush makeup lasts much longer than traditional – anywhere from 8 hours to 24 hours. An additional added bonus is that airbrush makeup is considered much hardier, especially in silicone or alcohol form, and can stand up to tears that might be associated with special occasions (like weddings). Not only this, but airbrush makeup is generally considered the go-to for those who want to cover tattoos, scars, and birthmarks – thanks to its even coverage. What’s more, airbrush makeup is also loved as a great method for those who don’t have a ‘standard’ skin tone color since it allows you to add one drop of one foundation and one drop of another color into the cup. On top of this, airbrush makeup usually does not stain clothing making it a real go-to for those who wear lighter color clothes (especially white). Finally, because the process of airbrushing administrates makeup without touching the skin, it’s actually a more hygienic way to apply makeup and puts the skin at less risk of infection from bacteria.

Disadvantages of airbrush makeup

Airbrushing sounds like the perfect way to achieve a flawless finish but it does come with a small price. First up, airbrush makeup is more expensive than traditional due to the investment in equipment. Not only this, but it does take more skill level to apply especially on yourself since a heavy-handed application can lead to too heavy coverage (ruining the natural-look benefit). Then comes the biggest bugbear which is cleaning, the airbrush gun requires lots of maintenance which is not ideal for the time pushed user. Finally, airbrushing might not be ideal for those with big pores or prominent wrinkles because airbrush makeup tends to sink into them instead of masking them.

Of course, most loyal airbrush fans agree that these disadvantages are a small price to pay for a totally flawless finish but others remain loyal to traditional makeup – read on to learn more about the method of makeup application that has been the most popular for centuries.

What is traditional makeup?

Traditional makeup is still the most common type of makeup used today, examples of it include creams, powders, pressed powders and pancakes which are applied on to the face through tools like brushes and sponges. These days, traditional makeup comes in a wide range of coverages and pigments – more than airbrush makeup since it’s been widely available on the market for a much longer time.

How is traditional makeup applied?

Traditional makeup is applied through a wide range of makeup tools, including brushes, sponges, and even fingers. Each tool offers different levels of application and blending, where skillful use can leave no tell-tale traces of how makeup is applied.

Benefits of traditional makeup

It’s not just the various possibilities and range of tools available that makes traditional makeup a go-to option, many users simply prefer it because it’s much more versatile. For example, it can be applied on the go and can be re-applied as and when needed (in the office, on a night out). Traditional makeup is also considered more economical because it does not require any specific application equipment and it’s generally considered easier to apply. When done correctly, traditional makeup can last up to 16 hours.  On top of this, as mentioned above, traditional makeup is ideal for women who want to cover wrinkles, blemishes and large pores because it tends to sink into these areas and offer coverage. Finally, a great advantage of traditional makeup is the advancements made in formula development with many products offering extra benefits like SPF and anti-aging ingredients.

Disadvantages of traditional makeup

Of course, just because traditional makeup has a bigger following than its contemporary airbrush rival it doesn’t mean that it is without it’s cons. First up, traditional makeup isn’t waterproof and can rub off easily (unless silicone based) – which can make it a frustrating choice if you rely on your makeup performing all day. Not only this, but traditional makeup has a high risk of transfer on to clothing.  On top of this, should you choose to touch up you run the risk of over application and running into the dreaded cake-like finish.  Something else to consider, especially if your makeup is being applied to a large number of people at once, like, for example, a wedding party – is that the fact that traditional makeup takes longer to apply than airbrush makeup.

Which is the best option?

As you can see, both airbrush and traditional makeup offer both distinct advantages and advantages which is why many professionals are reluctant to recommend one over the other. Many will insist that airbrushing wins because of its flawless Hollywood finish, while many traditional makeup loyalists will argue that traditional is best because it offers such versatility and flexibility. Simply put, makeup application is a polarizing topic and it’s best to consider which is best for you by assessing your budget, time commitment, skills needed and the finish you want to achieve. If you are still undecided, know that some professionals are offering a mid-way ground by suggesting that the best coverage starts by prepping the skin with traditional methods including concealer and primer, and then applying the foundation with an airbrush. Simply, the best of both worlds.

Ultimately, the best makeup lies in the best application – so ensure that you choose the one you are most skilled in or hire a makeup artist who knows how to apply the makeup correctly. Above all, remember that the right choice of makeup is the one that makes you feel the most beautiful! Have fun experimenting with both methods.


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