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If you’re anything like us, airbrush makeup probably makes you think of weddings and brides, or celeb pics where their skin looks so good you swear it’s Photoshopped. And while in both instances, that airbrushing is done by pro makeup artists, it’s becoming an increasingly popular DIY option, too. (Oh, and if you’ve never seen how it’s done, airbrushed makeup is loaded into a handheld device and is pushed through with forced air, coming out in a fine mist.) The benefits are legit; per the point of it being a go-to for weddings and the red carpet, airbrush makeup is known for being extremely durable and long-lasting, not to mention offering complete coverage.
“Airbrush makeup results in a consistent, even application. The coverage is lightweight yet buildable, and perfect for concealing imperfections while often being thinner than traditional foundation formulas,” explains makeup artist and bridal beauty expert Stephanie Cinque. (To that point, airbrush makeup actually doesn’t have to be super thick or full-coverage.) “It looks great in photos, can withstand hours upon hours of wear, and works especially great on mature skin, as it tends to look less cakey,” she adds. Granted, the application method can take some getting used to, but if you really love the look of totally seamless skin or need makeup that won’t budge, airbrushing comes up big.
Meet the Expert
Stephanie Cinque is a makeup artist specializing in bridal beauty in the Tri-State area. As a MAC Pro and Cinema Secrets Pro artist, Stephanie has over 200 hours of academic and hands-on training in professional makeup artistry, as well as years of experiencing enhancing her bride’s natural beauty—and often relies on airbrush makeup to do so.
You might want to choose an option that includes a range of shades you can mix to create your perfect match. Generally products that contain silicone last the longest on skin, so look for this ingredient if you want your look to be long-wearing. Overall, airbrush makeup runs the gamut from ultra-fine foundation mists to full kits that contain blush, bronzer, primer, and more. And if you just want to dip a toe into the trend, choose a canister of airbrush foundation that you simply spray on, no machinery required. Do be advised, however, that airbrush makeup can cause acne flares, so it's always important to monitor how it affects your skin and consult your dermatologist if you have any questions.
Here, find standout airbrush makeup kits and foundations to try at home.
Best Overall: Temptu Air Perfect Canvas Starter Kit
Easy to use
Wide shade range
One of the biggest players for both pros and DIYers alike, Temptu rules the airbrush game. Ideal for everyday purposes, the cordless airbrush device is much easier and less clunky to use and store. Simply load a foundation cartridge into the handheld piece and you’re good to go. The foundation, a favorite of Cinque’s, who loves the oil-free formula, is also spot-on—ultra-hydrating, but still long-lasting and now available in 24 shades.
Number of Pieces: 2 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 24 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Value: Art of Air Professional Airbrush Cosmetic Makeup System
Includes multiple types of products
Carrying case included
To get the most bang for your buck, grab this Amazon best-seller. It comes with an airbrush compressor (which is also ultra-quiet, we should add) and brush, six different shades of foundation, plus a bronzer, blush, shimmer shade, and even an anti-aging primer to boot. Oh, and a cleaner for the machine, too.
Number of Pieces: 6 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 6 | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Beginners: Sephora Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation
Easy to use
Gives a smooth finish
Scoring an airbrushed effect is easier than ever with this spray-on base. It delivers an airbrushed mist with the same buildable coverage and long-lasting (up to 10 hours) power but doesn’t involve any complicated machinery. For more sheer coverage, spray it onto a brush; for fuller coverage, hold it six to eight inches away from your face and spray it on in circular motions.
Coverage Level: Medium | Shades: 5 | Size: 2.5 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Pro-Grade: Kett Cosmetics Airbrush Starter Kit
Includes blush & highlighter
Vegan & cruelty-free
Wide shade range
This pick is pretty pricey, but if you’re airbrushing on the regular and/or are extremely well-practiced in the technique, it’s worth the investment. It’s a favorite pro brand of Cinque’s, who likes that the kit comes not only with foundation, but also blush and highlighter. She also lauds it for being both cruelty-free and vegan, and the foundations for being silicone-based (for extra staying power) and fragrance-free.
Number of Pieces: 9 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 24 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Without Machine: Jerome Alexander MagicMinerals Airbrush Foundation Makeup Set
Easy to use
Includes 2 brushes
Not a full kit
If the idea of an airbrush gun feels intimidating, this pick, an Amazon fan favorite, is for you. It comes with a primer, foundation, and setting spray, all of which go on via an airbrush-esque spray format. The formulas are infused with tons of good-for-your-skin ingredients, and there are even two brushes included to ensure seamless blending.
Number of Pieces: 5 | Coverage Level: Full | Shades: 11 | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Multi-Tasking: Luminess Air Basic Airbrush System
Good kit for beginners
We’re all for multi-tasking makeup, and when that multi-tasking makeup combines skincare benefits too? Sold. Forget double or triple duty, this pulls quadruple duty, acting as foundation, concealer, corrector, and primer. Infused with a host of skin-loving ingredients, think antioxidant-rich blue-algae, anti-inflammatory cucumber, and hydrating calendula, it’s also great for your complexion. And, there’s also hydrolyzed silk in the formula to refract light and leave skin supremely smooth and radiant.
Number of Pieces: 8 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 7 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: Dior Airflash Spray Foundation
Wide shade range
As a general rule, airbrush foundations usually don’t come in a ton of shades, since you can easily mix and match colors (which is what pros will typically do). That’s why we love that this easy-to-use spray now comes in 25 hues for all skin tones and undertones. The water-resistant formula also stays put for up to 12 hours, and feels lightweight on the skin, even if you build it up to full coverage.
Coverage Level: Full | Shades: 24 | Size: 2.3 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Mineral Formula: Mineral Air Complexion Starter Kit
If you’re a mineral foundation fan but don’t love how powders look on your skin, here’s a great new option. The formula comes out in a micro-fine mist, acting as your primer, concealer, moisturizer, and of course, foundation. Bonus points for the cordless, portable, and rechargeable airbrush device that’s especially great for travel.
Number of Pieces: 4 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 10 | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Full Face: Dinair Airbrush Makeup Starter Kit
Includes multiple products & shades
Fun fact: Airbrushing isn’t just for foundation—you can add color to your skin (and eyes and lips), too. Case in point: This comprehensive kit comes with an astounding array of shades of foundation, plus brow colors, shadow shades, blushes, highlighters, and multi-purpose shimmery tones. Essentially, it’s all you need to create a full face of makeup in one easy kit.
Number of Pieces: 75 | Coverage Level: Buildable | Shades: 71 | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Body: Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Makeup
Gives a glow
Fun fact number two: Airbrushing isn’t just for your face. All of those same benefits apply when you want to perfect the look of the skin on your body, say on exposed legs or arms. For the former, this cult classic spray-on formula can’t be beaten. Even the lightest coating beautifully covers freckles, veins, and other imperfections, all while giving skin the perfect, sun-kissed glow. It’s water- and transfer-resistant, but, unlike traditional self-tanner, will come off in the shower.
Coverage Level: Light | Shades: 9 | Size: 4.4 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Airbrush makeup doesn’t need to be reserved solely for special occasions. The Temptu Air Perfect Canvas Starter Kit is a go-to for novices and pros alike, a great all-around option. If you’re a beginner, consider one of the machine-free, spray-on options; the Sephora Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation is a choice affordable pick, while the Dior Airflash Spray Foundation has the added benefit of coming in a very wide array of shades.
What to Look For in an Airbrush Makeup Kit
According to Cinque, any type of silicone-based formula are best when it comes to long-lasting staying power. They’re also usually innately more water-resistant, ideal for withstanding things such as humidity, sweat, and even tears.
Most kits come with several foundation shades, though the variety is largely not that of what you’d find in traditional foundation formulas, so keep in mind that it may be slightly harder to find your perfect match.
What is the difference between regular makeup and airbrush makeup?
According to Steve Kassajikian, Urban Decay’s Global Makeup Artist, airbrush makeup is more lightweight and looks much fresher than regular makeup, whereas regular makeup provides fuller coverage. “It gives the skin a smooth, natural appearance,” he says. “Also, most airbrush makeup is silicone-based, which allows it to last longer.”
How do you use an airbrush makeup device?
When it comes to using an airbrush makeup device, Kassajikian says it should be applied in a circular motion all over the face. “The further away you hold the device, the less coverage it’ll apply, so hold it closer to the sections that need more coverage,” he says. “Keep your hand moving during the entire application so the foundation isn’t building up or concentrating in one area for too long.”
Can airbrush makeup cover stretch marks?
According to Kassajikian, yes, you can use airbrush makeup to cover up stretch marks, but to a certain extent. “It depends how prominent the stretch marks are,” he says. If yours are much more prominent, it may be best to reach for traditional full coverage makeup.
Meet the Expert
Steve Kassajikian is Urban Decay’s Global Makeup Artist.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Since she’s pretty minimal when it comes to makeup and rarely wears it, she relied on expert input, lots of product reviews, and input from family and friends when writing this article.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any airbrush makeup kits from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.