What is the Difference Between Airbrush and Conventional Makeup?

Have you been wondering what on earth Airbrush Makeup is? Or what the better application is to have for your wedding day or event? This is something I’m asked at nearly all of my wedding appointments and I have to say, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all answer!

Pictured: Airbrush compressor, gun and foundations. Image courtesy of Designer Makeup Tools.

Lets look at what Airbrush Makeup and Conventional Makeup entail.

Airbrush Makeup

Airbrush makeup is a special formula of makeup that is applied using an airbrush makeup machine which consists of a compact compressor and airbrush gun. The makeup artist is in control of the colour and will add several drops of each desired product to the cup and will set their pressure accordingly so a fine mist of airbrush makeup will be gently and seamlessly sprayed onto the face. The artist can apply varying coverages of foundation, contour, highlight, blusher and correction. They may only airbrush some of all of these and apply the remainder using makeup brushes or other tools.

Conventional Makeup

Conventional makeup is also known as “hand applied” or “brush applied” makeup which is the method of application that most people are familiar with. Makeup is typically applied using makeup brushes and sponges.

Conventional makeup doesn’t sound as fancy does it? But does it matter in terms of finish or longevity?

As a makeup artist of 12 years, I can tell you that the method of application only matters depending on the skin type I am working with. Both airbrush and conventional makeup can produce beautiful results but airbrush formulations aren’t going to suit everybody, and here’s why:

The Pros and Cons of Airbrush Makeup:

  • The application feels lovely and refreshing to most, and the air is slightly cooling so it’s wonderful to have applied espceially during hot or humid days. Some individuals may find the application ticklish though!
  • Airbrush provides a sheer to medium/full coverage result.
  • Airbrush makeup is generally a faster application so if you are pressed for time then this may be a good option to consider.
  • Airbrush makeup will feel light on the skin despite the coverage achieved.
  • Airbrushing on dry or mature skin is a big no-no in my books as it will only emphasize skin texture and fine lines.
  • There are water based and silicone based formulas in airbrush, but silicone based formulas should be the only choice for wedding event makeup as it is water resistant, where as water based products will cause separation upon coming into contact with tears (or rain!)
  • Airbrush is not suitable to be applied on wet skin caused from excess perspiration (medical cause or menopausal) as it just will not last. In severe cases, an oil-based product should be used and applied conventionally.
  • Airbrush makeup isn’t ideal to be applied on very deep skin tones as the formula can appear quite “ashy” in tone. In this case, I would generally hand apply the airbrush formula so that it is truer to tone.
  • Airbrush can’t be used when a client has lash extensions because of the unavoidable overspray which will cause the lashes to be coated in airbrush product, which will affect the retention of the grafted lashes and will make them appear grey or flesh toned in areas, which will require a coating of mascara to try and correct.
  • Airbrush makeup shouldn’t be applied over acne vulgaris as it won’t adhere over the pustules.
  • Airbrush will provide a long-lasting result provided it’s applied to the correct skin type and the skin is prepared accordingly.


The Pros and Cons of Conventional Makeup Compared to Airbrush:

Pictured: A beautiful airbrush makeup result on my bride Jen. Image courtesy of Key Images Photography.

  • In some ways, it’s not as fancy looking as airbrush!
  • The application should still feel lovely and relaxing. A lot of my clients have likened the makeup application to having a facial.
  • Conventional makeup has a lot of flexibility in terms of coverage and formula as any type can be hand applied with brushes or a beauty blender.
  • Conventional makeup can be water resistant if the correct formula is chosen by the artist.
  • Any skin type can have a conventional application and will benefit from it’s longevity depending on the skill of the artist, the formula chosen and the skin preparation done.
  • Conventional makeup is great for any skin type, (normal, oily, dry), and textured, (enlarged pores, mature, fine lines), as formulations and techniques can be tailored to suit the skin type.
  • Any skin tone can have conventional makeup applied.
  • Additional blending and time may be required for a conventional application.
  • Conventional makeup will provide a long-lasting result provided it’s tailored to the skin type and the skin is prepared accordingly.


So when it comes down to it, both applications have the capacity to produce beautiful and water resistant results. Every skin type and skin tone can have a conventional makeup application and enjoy the benefits of water resistance, longevity and sheer to full coverage provided the correct preparations and pairing products are used, (this comes down to artist’s knowledge and talent!) As for airbrush, it generally tends to produce the best result in terms of longevity and finish on to normal to oily skin types that are not aged, with coverage best achieved from light to medium/full.

If you’re still unsure, why don’t you try it out ahead of the big day and come and pick my brain some more? You can check my availability in real time by clicking here.

If there’s something I haven’t quite covered about airbrush and conventional makeup applications, please do let me know here and I’ll be more than happy to guide you.

Love Rach x