Friday, June 21, 2019

How to cover tattoos: fast, waterproof and rub proof (With Video Tutorial)

Airbrush makeup allows for the fastest, most durable and most undetectable tattoo coverage. In the video tutorial below you can see the process carried out mostly in real time. In this post I would like to go a little deeper into the details, but first an important disclaimer: while airbrushing as a technique is much easier than commonly perceived, I would definitely not improvise on others before extensive practice. Attend a class if you can, and if you can't be sure to check these pages for more information that may be useful in selecting the equipment and products that are best for you. 


Airbrushing offers incredible coverage that will be practically imperceptible, thanks to the process of nebulization of the foundation. There are many brands that produce makeup that is specifically designed to be used with an airbrush, and that will dry fast and be more durable than traditional brands. My first advice is therefore to use a made for airbrush product rather than try to dilute and spray your normal foundation. Airbrushing traditional products will still save you application time, but traditional formulas will not gain more durability simply by being sprayed. While silicone based makeup will retain its water proof finish, there are specific products created by airbrush brands specifically to cover tattoo, and these are the ones that will allow for the best results. Among these, two are definitely worth mentioning: Tattoo Cover by Dinair and the Dura line by Temptu.

Tattoo Cover (formerly known as Colair Extreme) is a water based formula that becomes totally water and rub proof once applied. It is truly an extraordinary product that can also serve as blocking concealer on the most severe skin irregularities, as well as latex safe skin color for SFX prosthetic applications. The product is available in a range of shades matching almost every color in Dinair's beauty lines (Glamour, Radiance, Soft Glow and Neutralizer).
The Dura line by Temptu is an alcohol based foundation that is available in the 12 shades of the classic S/B line by the same brand. Adjuster colors for color correction are also available, but almost never necessary in that the product offers enough coverage even for the darkest tattoos.
Other products that can be used successfully for tattoo camouflaging are the Endura line by European Body Art, the Hydro Proof line by Kett and the Nebula line by Kryolan. Non-monetized links to all these brands are available in our LINKS page.


The process of covering up a tattoo is pretty much the same for all the products listed above, regardless of their specific formulation. Each step will have a slightly different duration depending on the product you chose to use.

STEP 1: Shaving the area
Shaving the area you are going to cover is always necessary, even when there are no hairs visible to the naked eye. Even the tiniest, thinnest hairs will create texture unless we shave the skin first. 

STEP 2: Cleansing the skin.
A couple of minutes after shaving the area you can move on to cleansing with IPA. This will eliminate any oily residue and the skin will be ready for the application. 

STEP 3: Light layers
Now you can move on to layering the color in light passes. Color matching before starting is crucial in order to find the shade (or shade mix) that will be right for the skin tone. Don't be tempted to cover the whole tattoo immediately, as this will lead to hot spots and visible product accumulation. Proceed in light passes and keep the airbrush at the right distance. You will see the tattoo fade more and more with each pass, and by working this way you will allow each layer to dry before moving to the next one. As colors oxidize once applied and usually darken, this will give you a better sense of the final result. As I was saying, color correcting is almost always redundant with the products I have listed above. 

STEP 4: Setting Powder
Once you have layered enough passes you can move on to setting the area with HD powder or any fine powder. This will eliminate any residual wetness or stickiness. I advise using a flesh tone powder rather than a white or clear one, as these will leave behind a whitish cast. You can apply the powder by brush and later remove any excess with a setting spray or even water.  

STEP 5:Spattering (Optional)
Even if the airbrushed coverage doesn't add texture to the skin, its blocking power could create a very uniform effect that might look a little artificial also depending on the color scheme of the skin we are covering. In order to break up this seamlessness a to achieve a more natural result, we can break up the tonality by spattering darker foundation shades (or even blush shades if alcohol based). In order to spatter with your airbrush you simply have to remove the needle and nozzle cap and lower the air pressure to the minimum, then flick the airbrush lever. Of course you will have to be extra careful not to touch the skin with the exposed needle.

 When working with alcohol based products or with Dinair's Tatoo Cover it is crucial that you clean the airbrush immediately after the application. Failure to do so will lead to a very long, in-depth cleaning of all the pieces later on, because these colors create a sort of stubborn film in the deepest recesses of the airbrush. Removing the makeup from the skin on the other hand is quite simple if you use IPA or lacking that a very oily makeup remover.

For best results it is important to keep in mind that covering tattoos for "beauty" purposes is rather a camouflage work, where the primary goal is to prevent the eyes from focusing on what would otherwise be an obvious feature. If your goal is an absolutely perfect coverage that may recreate the exact color scheme of the rest of the skin unto the smallest details, you most likely will not use the technique described above, but rather a a multiple layer spattering of sheer alcohol base colors. This spattering technique is used in Special Effects, and it is not the object of this tutorial.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Airbrush Makeup Kit Review: Mistair Onyx Airbrush Makeup Kit with Video Tutorial

Bristish airbrush makeup brand Mistair was the very first brand I reviewed on these pages when I started publishing this website. I had met the Mistair team at that year's edition of Cosmoprof in Italy, and as they were the only brand dealing in airbrush makeup at that show I spent quite some time getting to know their products and lines. 
Today Mistair has a more streamlined yet still extensive product line that includes 14 foundation shades, 8 colors for blush and and highlighters respectively, 7 for eyebrows, and 8 adjuster and corrector shades. There are also a water based and an alcohol based line for body painting, and a very interesting product to create effects on hair called Hairlites. 

The Mistair Formula
Mistair Airbrush Makeup
All the beauty makeup colors are silicone based. The formula, which I think has been updated since I first used it, is comparable to Temptu's S/B line, but it's lighter in texture and quicker to dry. The foundation has a very natural finish and feels super light on the skin, with buildable coverage that starts sheer and intensifies to full with a few passes. The blush colors are delicately pigmented but can be built up to achieve more intensity as well. The opalescent highlighter colors offer beautiful shades, some of which are duo chrome such as the lovely Cornsilk, pearly white with pink overtones. As with any airbrush beauty product, all the colors can be used for all purposes, and the faster drying time makes them suitable and easy to use on the eyelids to create fast and natural eye shadows. As I didn't have the eyebrow color kit, I was able to fill the eyebrows well with the darkest foundation shade, and the result was very natural and durable, as you can see in the enclosed video tutorial.

The Onyx Kit
MIstair Onyx Airbrush Kit
The airbrush kit offering from Mistair is currently limited to three models. Starting at 159 British Pounds, The Onyx Airbrush Makeup Starter Kit is the least expensive of the three, and is the entry level option. It features a standard compressor with an adjustable airflow, a rubber tube suitable for "plug-in" connectors and a Continuous Flow airbrush, incorrectly described as "single action" on the website. For those who still struggle with the terminology, Continuous Flow means that the air flows out of the airbrush unobstructed as soon as the compressor is turned on, and that you use the lever to regulate the amount of color your are dispensing. This is a mode chosen by most beauty companies and it is perfectly effective and efficient for beauty makeup. The compressor is also mistakenly credited with a maximum working pressure of just 15 PSI, but I have personally tested it with a pressure gauge and have seen that it reaches 20 PSI comfortably, which is a plus. It still isn't particularly powerful and might struggle with thicker formulas, but it won't have any problems with the Mistair products, for which it was intended.

100% Airbrushed with Mistair
There are several combinations to choose from as far as the makeup bundled with the kit is concerned. The Onyx Starter Kit comes with a custom made packet of colors including four foundation shades (selectable from the fair, medium or deep groups), and one matching blush, highlighter and eyebrow color.  Of course the more colors you get the more options for fun and practice you will have, and the more expensive De Luxe version of the Onyx kit offers more shades, with the same equipment.  Like many brands, Mistair bundles its colors in very convenient starter kits, and in this brand's case they are very reasonably priced, so it will be possible to add on to your kit later without hurting the wallet too much. The starter kits packaging has been updated in recent years, and everything looks very slick. Unfortunately they still use the same bottles for their 7.5 ml packs. These infernal little bottles seem to let in air somehow, and after a while you will notice that the aqueous part of the colors decreases even if you don't use them. I suggest tightening the caps of each bottle as soon as you receive them, you will notice that you can twist the caps at least an extra half a turn, which hopefully will slow down the evaporation. Also very annoying are the stickers at the bottom of each bottle, which will come off even before you take them out of the package, making the color identification very confusing. I advise you to glue them on with a strong glue as soon as you receive them. On a much happier packaging note, Mistair has created a beautiful case for the Onyx with custom molded foam inserts, which are detachable. The case is very sleek and once again reasonably priced. I would definitely recommend it for the sleekest possible look of your airbrush kit. 

Mistair Ingredients:

Purified Water, Cyclotetrasiloxane (and) Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Polysobutene, Cetyl Dimethicone, Copoyol, Sodium Chloride, C12-15, Alkyl Bensoate, VP/VA Copolymer, Methyl Paraben, Disodium EDTA, Propyl Paraben, +/- Acrylates Copolymer. May contain: Titanium Dioxide (and) Methicone, Yellow Iron oxide, Red Iron Oxide, Black Iron Oxide, Carbon black, CL 77891, CL 45410, CL 77007, CL 77288

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Airbrush Makeup primer How To and Review: silicone free vs traditional and airbrushable primer

What is the best primer for airbrush makeup? Where can I buy a silicone free primer? Do I even need a primer with airbrush makeup? These are some of the most common questions I get in my classes and online. The subject is vast, the answer to the questions needn't be. Let's do this!

Prepping the skin for airbrush makeup is as necessary as it is with your traditional beauty routine. The general rule is simply to avoid oil based formulas, which would by nature repel or destabilize any liquid that is layered upon them, and use as little product as possible.  If your skin is young, supple and blemish free, a simple light moisturizer used a few minutes before application will do. For any other skin condition (mature, oily, dry and so on), the general rule is to find the right balance between your skin care routine and the finish and consistency of the airbrush product you are going to use. If you came to this post thinking that airbrush makeup is one and the same for all brands, you should know that each product varies according to composition and manufacturer, just like traditional makeup does.

Airbrushable primers
Many brands of airbrush makeup produce their own ready to airbrush primers.These are generally very light formulas designed to moisturize the skin with the best compatibility for the product that will follow. They are mostly water based, such as Tickled Pink or Luminess, or might contain a light amount of dymethicone, such as Belloccio. If you have normal skin and live in a dry climate you may benefit from these formulas and their lightness, however some people might find them a little too thin, and might prefer a more comforting finish.  Temptu Brilliant Glow is a new airbrushable primer which is silicone based and has a much thicker consistency than other products. As the name implies, it adds a very subtle luminosity to the skin, and was created to mitigate the matte finish of Temptu's Perfect Canvas foundation. Because of its density, you will need an airbrush and compressor of the same power as Temptu's, however you can still apply this with a brush or sponge if you have a less powerful machine (such as the ones intended for water based makeup only).

Silicone Free primers
What if you want to avoid silicone in your skin care altogether? While silicone is inert and does not cause allergies, some people are sensitive to its prolonged use, meaning they show signs of intolerance such as blemishes and irritation. In these cases, silicone free alternatives will be the only options. While less common, silicone free primers do exist. Smashbox makes Primer Water, a water based product that can be used for both prepping the skin and as a makeup finishing spray, with a super light consistency. Milk Makeup produces the cult favorite Hydro Grip primer, with a more comforting gel like consistency and a more luminous finish, and mostly natural ingredients. If you wish to stay on the natural path, Nurturing Force produces its famous Blot Out Offensive and Twinkle Not Wrinkle primers, which we reviewed extensively in this post.  If you are in Europe, two products really stand out. For oily or combination skin, Ten Image Professional Matt Primer provides a super long lasting matte finish. You can use it on your T zone and even very sparingly on the eyelids to mattify the eyelid and prevent any cracking of your airbrushed eyeshadow. Bronx Colors Cosmetics Studio Line Magic Primer has a light, creamy texture, is very moisturizing and provides a lasting luminous finish that will add a very healthy glow to more opaque foundation lines.

Traditional primers
Let's say that my preferred airbrush makeup is water based. Would the presence of silicone in a primer really affect the durability and finish of water based airbrush makeup? Generally speaking, not really. It really depends on the concentration of silicone and other plasticizers in the formula. Personally, I would stay away from super slick formulas such as Urban Decay's or Benefit, but a the presence of common silicones such as dymethicone or cyclopentasiloxane in a primer does not affect the finish or durability, so much so that even the skin care sold by Dinair to be used with their products contains them. British airbrush makeup brand AirBase produces a perfect cross over between the two worlds: First Base Perfecting Primer is a Swiss formula with hydrating platinum technology that is slick at first but absorbs quickly to a soft, matte finish that is perfect both for their silicone formula and for any traditional makeup. Temptu's classic S/B Primer is a rich, super smooth formula that leaves the skin beautifully soft and mattified, and has the gorgeous light fragrance of its S/B line. It's also reasonably priced, which makes it the preferred choice of many. For the eyelids, regardless of the composition of the airbrushed eyeshadow, Make Up Forever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Mattifying is a perfect choice, just use it very sparingly and your eyeshadow will not crack even on textured, very oily eyelids.

Special thanks for the advice and information on some of these products to my amazing friends Regina Azizova @reginainneverland and Krysteane Duarte @Iheartairbrush

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Airbrush Makeup Hall of Fame: an interview with Temptu CEO Michael Benjamin

Temptu CEO Michael Benjamin
Simply put, Temptu is the world’s most popular silicone based airbrush makeup brand. While I have visited their showrooms several times in the past, I have never had a chance to interview the forces behind this amazing company, who seem keen on maintaining a lower profile than most, perhaps in deference to their vision of Temptu as a team based business. Michael Benjamin is Temptu’s CEO, and has been with the company practically from its inception. This very affable, fast talking gentleman is possessed by an infectious enthusiasm for his company, almost as if he wasn’t aware of the legendary status it has gained among the niche of makeup artists who have fallen in love with the brand.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with Michael at Cosmoprof 2019, in my own city of Bologna, Italy. I had been waiting for Temptu to take part to this show for years, and almost couldn’t believe when I finally saw their booth on the floor of the massive trade fair. I am especially proud to welcome Michael to our Airbrush Makeup Hall of Fame, where this medium is celebrated for its own culture, and where I like to introduce the creators and the artists that move this culture forward.

How did the Temptu brand get started, and who created it?

Sam Zuckerman was the creator of the brand, which has been around since 1980. He did camouflage for the Army in WW2 and he was in cosmetics forever, working for Revlon and all the big companies. He was the very gifted chemist who put the stripes in stripe toothpaste, and for Saint Patrick ’s Day he made the Chicago river green. He was always an independent, then a couple of movie artists approached him for a movie called Tattoo (now a hard to find cult favorite) and that’s how Temptu was born. For the first ten years Temptu was doing temporary tattoos [hence the name of the company], and they were doing it for the movies. At first we would literally screen right onto the body, then we found a way to get the designs onto newsprint, and finally we found a better print paper that was not newsprint paper but a cosmetic paper. We had an amazing process of making temporary tattoos that nobody had, and it became a big Hollywood hit as well as in fairs and theme parks. That’s when we started a business.

What about your own background? How did you start in this business?

I was in the restaurant business, and one time I had to figure out a way to put tattoos on my waiter-actors for a 1950’s themed diner. There were basically no temporary tattoos on the market except for these first Temptu products. I found them as they were being used in another restaurant in the Theater District called Trixie’s, and through them I got to meet Roy Zuckerman (Sam’s son) at Temptu. I was young and I did not want to be in the restaurant business forever. Roy gave me a summer job at the same time the movie Cape Fear was being filmed, and all of a sudden I am new to New York and I’m alone in a room with Robert De Niro and a makeup artist. I loved this new, weird and eclectic business and that is what got me in. Within a few years we started airbrushing tattoos. Temptu partnered with leading airbrush maker Iwata. We were the first to do airbrush tattoos and that’s how we started learning the airbrush technology.

L to R: Stephanie Koutikas, Greg Mandor, Regina Azizova, me, Michael Benjamin
So the first few makeup lines were created mainly for tattoos…

Yes at the beginning in the 90’s Dura was the first line, that is what we used in the movie Tattoo, and we kept improving it. Unfortunately Sam Zuckerman passed away in the 90’s, but until then he used to grind the paint and the pigment himself. It was a crazy little basement lab, we were making paint in our office too… it was crazy, we have grown a lot from those days…

How did beauty makeup come into play then?

I took a break from the business in ‘94 to ‘96. I went to Russia and I was back in the restaurant business and when I came back we looked at where we were… We had a business that was very busy in the summer and very slow at other times. We knew that airbrushing had started spreading in the beauty makeup sector with Dinair. God Bless Dina [Ousley], she is the godmother of airbrushing and we give her a lot of credit for starting it. This was before the internet, and a bit later we came out with our own formula that was water based and we launched it at the first ever IMATS as Temptu Pro. It was not just airbrush at the time, it was also special effects products. We produced alcohol based palettes and started competing on that level as well. We were a NY based company and it was hard to break into the Hollywood scene at that time. We were mainly doing NY productions and people in the West Coast were mainly doing West Coast productions, and we thought it was easier that way as we were not stepping on anyone’s toes. That’s what really launched Temptu in ’97.

So you actually launched Temptu with a water based formula…

Yes, it was our original Aqua formula. A makeup artist named Syliva Pichler said we need to make this formula better so she and our chemist Roy started working on it and it was on the bench for two years. If Dina is the godmother of airbrushing, Sylvia is the Godmother of Temptu, so to speak. She is still working with us and I will always have her on my staff as long as she wants to be. She is our master educator and she does great classes in our NY showroom she also helps us on R&D and we love her opinion and people see her as a visionary.

We enjoy her so much on her live videos…

She has such a great personality, she was a jazz singer although I am not supposed to tell anyone, she might get mad. She has one of those characters, she can take the stage over, and she is an amazing artist who knows what it takes down to the ingredients, she has always studied everything…

Was it her idea to start with silicone based line?

I’m not sure where it came from. I think it came from Hollywood, but at the end of the day I do not really like focussing on one ingredient so much. Water is an important part of our formula too. I see a lot of water based companies that have silicone and in the end it’s about emulsions and blending ingredients. We have more water than most in some of our formulas. For me it’s more about pro performance, and that is the inspiration rather than the ingredients. That is was Sylvia and Roy ultimately achieved for the company, and that’s when we became famous. When SB came out in 2002 we became known for creating a superior product.

S/B was a game changer

Yes it put Temptu on the map of airbrush makeup and ultimately beauty makeup became our main focus, while special effects and tattoos remained in the line.

You have been sharing the work with your wife and partner, Samantha Mandor...

Yes she is my wife and business partner and her brother Greg is my business partner as well.
So how are your roles divided, I know she was behind the design of latest Temptu Air hand held applicator…

She is the boss lady; she raised my kids and runs the business with me. She is book smart and she keeps things tight and organized and so does Greg who is our CFO and COO. We consider Sam our chief marketing officer, and they call me CEO but I am like that wacky guy… I am like Roy Zuckerman who comes up with a 100 ideas. But in truth we all collaborate well together. And not just Sam and Greg and myself, but all the employees as well, as we see them all as partners in this business. Sam is the one who holds everything together; she is the heart and soul of Temptu.

Is there a turning point or main event the defined the shape of the business?

The movie Stepford Wives. I think SB was never better used in the early days than in that movie. We create makeup that can be used by hand or air and people use it in both ways. In Stepford Wives we used it by hand on the body and by airbrush on the faces, and if you look back at the movie the women’s skin looked perfect, like porcelain. Cape Fear with Robert De Niro was the defining moment for our tattoo Dura line, and Stepford Wives was the turning point for our S/B line. We were very honoured to be part of both of these movies that put us on the map in the airbrush makeup world. I feel proud that we have given makeup artist the ability to work faster, market themselves more easily and charge more. Temptu has established itself for giving great complexion and that is our foundation. We have always had our in-house chemist going back to Sam Zuckerman. Our makeup is beautiful however you put it on, and airbrush gives you options as to layer it, and have the blush underneath the foundation as well as highlighting.

What do you think is keep airbrush makeup from going mainstream?

I think it is an educational problem, people being intimidated by the product and not wanting to a learn a new thing, but on the other hand professionals really get it after they see the finished product. I think that if consumers could only see how easy it is… I watch my wife put in on in 15 seconds in the morning and it speeds thing up for her, as she takes 20 minutes for her hair... We are at the Cosmoprof right now and we were just awarded the Cinderella Effect prize, which is indicative of the fact that people want instant results. I don’t think there is a faster way to better complexion than with Temptu, it takes only 15 or 20 seconds for a light to medium coverage and this is what we need to keep pushing out there the in the marketing world. We need to promote the idea that People need not to be afraid to learn something that is quite simple to use, as well the difference that airbrush makeup looks so natural. We are also happy with the Perfect Canvas line. It is the perfect combination of makeup and skincare. I always say the S/B is the mother, and Perfect Canvas the daughter who went to university to get a skincare degree. After using Perfect Canvas people feel their skin is healthier, and we have clinical studies that show that. I think that is the future. We also have a new product that has skin care properties that is called Core 7, and if you use it consistently it has wrinkle reducing properties.

Tell us more about it.

Core 7, the number stands for the seven signs of aging. It’s a new product that we will come out with in the fall. We want people to take care of their skin, we want people to use less makeup, based on the idea that I think the less is more when it comes to makeup. A lot of people want to see the makeup they apply, but as Sylvia says, if you can see it you’ve put too much on. We want to promote the idea of healthy people with healthy skin who just add a finishing touch. As a brand we want to hear from the artist, the artist has always inspired us and that is why we are the brand we are today. Silvia is an artist and it is just not her but she was probably inspired by artist as well, but we do what the artist want, we took a ten pound compressor and make it into 8 ounces and made it portable because that is what artists want we want them not to have a heavy bag so we are always inspired by the artist and that is really the vision we have for the company.

As a teacher I see how airbrush makeup changes people’s perspective on makeup. When a product is as effective as yours it literally changes peoples working life. Are you aware of the love that surrounds your brand and how does it make you feel?

It is humbling to me and ultimately it is a validation of our effort. We are working really hard and we are not a big corporation that you can find in all the stores. We are a little entrepreneurial company that is working hard to be inspired by artists, trying to do what they want and take it to the next level for them. Our job as a brand is to focus on pros while waiting for the consumer to catch on, and the “prosumers” that have caught on, God bless them… when you hear that affirmation from people using it means a lot me. It means we are on the right path.

How do you see with the future for Temptu?

I feel that with Temptu or every small company, every year is a new year and you hope you do well and you have to keep moving forward, the forces in this world are very competitive, so I am just honoured that we have been in business this long and we keep doing what we’re doing. We are the Little Engine that Can, and we do need to transform ourselves as we move forward. Right now we may be the airbrush beauty authority, but we want to be the complexion authority, and we want to keep working on products to this end. We are open to everything. As ideas come to me, or artists come to me with ideas, I take everyone seriously and I am ready to listen.

It was a pleasure and an honor to meet Michael and his team, and I hope to see him again soon in New York. As we part, I take pride in telling him that Temptu need not “want” to be the complexion authority in makeup. To the growing number who use their game changing products, they already are.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Teaching (and learning) the power of airbrush makeup: a multi-brand approach

A literal "hands on" approach to teaching airbrush makeup
Very shortly after I started publishing the Italian version of this website, I received a call from a makeup artist asking me to teach her the technique. I was both flattered and surprised. I had started posting about airbrush makeup out of a simple consideration: the web was lacking a truly independent, comprehensive and in-depth source of information on this aspect of makeup. I decided to fill in the gap and share what I knew and what I was still learning, trying to produce the kind of reference bible that I would have liked to find for myself when I first became interested in airbrushing. I mentioned the "Italian version" of the site because Italy is where I live most of the time. Of course if I wanted to have a broader audience I knew I also had to publish in English, which is why you are reading this very page.

Back to that first phone call, the girl's name was Angela, she was a Cosmetologist and a makeup artist, and had heard about the technique but couldn't find a course that seemed reliable to her. I told Angela that I would be happy to teach her, but in order to make it worthwhile for me and not too expensive for her, perhaps we should try to put a small group together. Flash forward to a few months later, and my very first class was formed. I had prepared a program and a manual, but of course I was almost more scared than excited at the idea of teaching a bunch of makeup artists. After all my own background was more in the performance field than strictly in makeup. Yet I couldn't -still can't- contain my enthusiasm for airbrushing, since it had completely changed the way I used to do makeup and it had done so for the infinitely better.

I decided from the start that I wanted to teach this discipline in all of its aspects and with as many brands and formulations as possible, in order to give a truly objective idea of its potential. Each students would learn basic application techniques first, then experiment on themselves and on each other with the different brands. While working out a deal with a single manufacturer would surely have been easier and possibly much more financially rewarding, I always thought that it would be tantamount to trying to teach traditional makeup with one single brand as if it was the only one available and the best one in every aspect. We know this would be absurd for traditional, so why should we apply it to airbrushing? The final results of an airbrush application vary distinctively depending on the formula (water based, silicone, hybrid or alcohol), and on the brand that is being used. I am not discounting the importance of single-brand training of course.That remains the best way to get to know a certain line in depth, and there's nothing as exciting as learning directly from the creators of the product. However, since those weren't available anyway in my country, I decided to offer a multi-brand approach as this was the best way to promote the idea that airbrushing is not a novelty or a marketing gimmick, but a whole new  and very effective way of approaching makeup, and that it can be easily integrated with traditional techniques but also replace them altogether if one is so inclined.

Teaching airbrush makeup in Italy
I always say at the beginning of the class that I am going to treat the group as if they had decided to throw away their brushes, and that in order to show the medium's full potential we will be doing absolutely everything (except inner waterline) with their airbrush. They always look to me as if I was crazy, but they inevitably leave with a new perspective.
This is inevitably what has happened since that first group.
Their response was both enthusiastic and excited, and word was quick to spread. Five years later I am not only teaching classes that I organize directly, but many of the best beauty academies in my country have taken an interest in what I do and have started hiring me to teach courses for their own students, whose feed back is invariably and overwhelmingly positive. Teaching has become a substantial part of my calendar, and it has given me the perfect excuse to continue obsessing with any new product being launched by the various brands. After all, if I am to be the "Airbrush Makeup Guru" I have to be up to date, don't I? At least this is what I tell myself any time I am about to spend a small fortune in makeup.

The fact is, teaching me has made me immensely better as a makeup artist. The process of explaining techniques to my students, and that of exchanging opinions and information with them, has allowed me to learn almost as much as I have taught.
And so now you know the reason why there are hiatuses, and sometimes long periods of time pass between posts. If I am not editing a new video or reviewing a new product, I am probably teaching courses around this country and hopefully more soon, since languages are not an issue for me.
And Angela? Well, not only did she become an airbrushing enthusiast, but also a very dear friend, who is now helping me in most of my videos. Whenever you see female hands on the screen, they are hers. 

Special thanks for the photos in this post to my friend and inspiration Regina Azizova @reginainneverland

Airbrush makeup students at work

Friday, December 14, 2018

Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup: 2.0 Starter Pro Kit Deluxe Review

Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
100% Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
Aeroblend is the brainchild of Indiana based makeup artist and etrepreneur Kiralee Hubbard. The idea behind the makeup line is a simple but very meaningful intuition: "Skin should look like skin, not makeup. So how do you get flawless skin without tons of makeup? By Aeroblending!".
I was lucky enough to spend quite some time over the last couple of months testing their brand new Deluxe Pro Airbrush Starter kit, and  I am happy to share the results with you now.

The Packaging, the Compressor and the Airbrush

As soon as i opened the magnetized lid of the box I thought that this was the most elegantly packed kit I had ever seen in the market. With a foam insert holding the contents perfectly steady in its cutout, this kit makes for a wonderful presentation and gift, whether it be for yourself of for another. 
The box holds the compressor, the airbrush, a box with the power source and air hose, and one with your selection of makeup. 

Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
The Aeroblend 2.0 De Luxe Pro Kit
The compressor in the deluxe model is touch activated and has a built in battery that will allows you to use it anywhere without connecting to the power outlet. There is a small "safety" power switch at the bottom of the machine, which I guess prevents the unit from turning on accidentally and helps against stand-by battery drainage. Once you flick the safety switch on, the machine is activated by touch sensitive buttons on its top surface, and has three selectable pressure levels. The battery is astoundingly long lasting. I have taken the compressor out of the box, used it many many times and even shot the whole enclosed tutorial with it, and I still have to connect it to recharge it for the first time. Perhaps one of the reasons for its longevity is that compressor has an automatic shut off feature that turns the motor off as soon as you release the button on the airbrush and stop the air flow, but at any rate its durability is most impressive. The pressure output, which I coudn't measure with my gauge due to this stop and start feature, will not allow you to use this unit well for thicker formulas, but it is perfectly adequate for the Aeroblend makeup, which of course is its intended use. The pressure level does get a bit stronger when the compressor is connected to the mains, but as I said I had no problem whatsoever dispensing the makeup on the battery supported output level. I couldn't find any information on recharging times and battery maintenance practices in the booklet enclosed with the kit, so I will update this review when I receive that information from the company.
The Aeroblend airbrush in the de-luxe kit is a cut above any previous tool by this company, with its slick full chrome body and elegant line. As I hinted before, it is a double action airbrush, a bit of a rarity these days when most beauty consumer companies are opting for continuous airflow (for details on the difference between these terms, please see this article). I normally prefer continuous airflow myself, but in this case, thanks to the delicate pressure output and the stop and start feature in the compressor, I don't mind the double action one bit, its main advantage being of course that it prevents the water based makeup from drying on the tip of the needle, ensuring a smoother over all experience.  

 The Makeup

Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
100% Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
The Aeroblend makeup formula is water based, vegan and completely cruelty free. It claims to be formulated for even the most sensitive skin types, "with botanical and mineral ingredients like Kaolin, Lavender and Jojoba to hydrate and soothe the skin". The formula is free of silicones, petroleum derived ingredients, phtalates and fragrance. The foundation colors are divided into two groups, N (for neutral tones) and O (for olive tones), and the sixteen colors initially available have just been expanded by and additional three darker shades. There are also six colors for blush, a bronzer and a highlighter color. The consistency of the formula is very fluid and these colors will run on any airbrush machine with no problems. The shades are delicately pigmented, which makes them easy to layer to achieve any desired coverage without creating obvious accumulations. First time users must keep in mind that they must not try to "see the makeup" as soon as they apply it, but they must layer it lightly to achieve the best results. The finish of the application is quite matte, yet the overall result remains subtle and fine, if not completely undetectable. Probably because of its mineral based ingredients, the final results reminded me of what you can achieve with mineral foundations, but taken to a finer and even subtler level. As advertised, the formula is completely fragrance free, and has a good resistance to water and great longevity on the skin, lasting the whole day without settling into fine lines. As with most airbrush makeup products in general, oil production is not greatly affected by the makeup, and final results will depend on the individual skin preparation routine. I would definitely advise a light, oil free moisturizer to prep the skin before application, and blotting papers at the ready for oil prone skin types. Color matching as with any liquid product is not always an obvious process, but you are covered by Aeroblend's color match guarantee against any mistakes in your initial purchase. If you get the Pro Starter Kit, you will get every single one of the initial 16 foundation shades (plus all the blush, bronzer and highlighter colors), in .20 fl oz (6ml) mini sizes, which is amazing because this way you can try the whole line before ordering your preferred full size 1 fl oz (30 ml) colors. 
Because of this makeup sampler and of the great commodity of the long lasting battery I would definitely advise you to purchase this kit option, especially considering that it is only a little more expensive than the other kit combinations, but the general affordability of the offering on the website means Aeroblend is definitely more than worth a try.

Aeroblend Ingredients


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Airbrush Makeup Hall of Fame: an interview with Victor Sodano

The Maestro: Victor Sodano
Two times Academy nominee Victor Sodano is incredibly friendly, approachable and utterly dismissive of his amazing achievements, which include two Davide di Donatello (the “Italian Oscar”) awards, two Chioma di Berenice prizes and star on Hollywood Walk of Fame among many other film industry accolades. I crossed paths digitally with Victor for the first time when I was involved in an online discussion about airbrushing, and he came to my aid in defending this medium against another sceptical makeup artist who was disparaging it saying it wasn’t worth the investment for beauty makeup. (Incredibly, such opinions still exist even among professionals).  I loved how Victor didn’t have to say much. He simply posted a string of head shots of internationally famous actresses and added that all the make-up in the shot had been done by him with an airbrush. I ended my comments adding that now that the twice Oscar nominated artists had spoken, perhaps we could all take a seat. Cut to over a year later, and Victor graciously agrees to answer a few questions about his amazing career, and about how our favourite tool helped him achieve fantastic results.

Let’s start from the beginning, as they say… how did you become inspired to pursue a career in makeup?
When I was 16 I moved to London for a while to study English at a college. While I was there I started working in a special effects lab sculpting small prosthetic applications. I was so fascinated by the process, but I wanted to find out more about it, and l wanted to learn how to do full head casts. Flash forward to Italy, a few years later.  I was studying law at the University in Naples and I was doing well, but I didn’t enjoy the method of study that was required at the time, it was based mostly on mnemonic learning and I found it rather sterile. So one day I told my father that I was going to quit the University and get a job.  My father asked “What kind of job?” to which I just replied “I am going to be a makeup artist! My father looked at me with a perplexed expression and said "What is a make-up artist"? 

Did your family support your ambition from the start? How did they feel about your achievements later on?
As it is typical for their generation, my parents were hoping I would get a long term contract with a steady employer. That said, my father and my late mother (who of course became my first “model”) were proud of me since my very beginning with RAI, let alone later.

How did you get your first break in the business?
I started working in RAI television studios in Naples. My job was to wash the make-up sponges used by their makeup artists daily. While doing make-up for theaters and other events, in 1996 I made my film debut with the film Prima Che Il Tramonto. The director Stefano Incerti turned to me and asked "can you make the special effects of the film"? I felt both confident and uncertain for a moment ... and then I said “YES I can!”  This was the beginning of my film career, for which later  I got the award for Make-up and Special effects at the Locarno Film Festival.

        Apocalypto Makeup by Victor Sodano       
You have become a household name in the industry when you received your first Oscar nomination for your fantastic work in Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson. How did you get selected for such an extraordinary job?
Brian De Palma was very impressed by the work I did for him on the movie Black Dalia. He used to say to me that my prosthetic makeup was so realistic that for the first time ever he was able to shoot a close up on a dummy . He wrote a letter of reference for me, and somehow when Mel Gibson started shopping around for Apocalypto he heard the good comments and his office contacted me.

What was the inspiration for the innovative body art you created for the film?
The body art of the film was based on truth. I studied every character in the movie before the make-up started. making the proper designs tattoos etc.  based on their social class and origins. ALL the actors from the main character to a simple extra were wearing full detailed body make-ups, also because  Mel Gibson as a director can and does  focus on any extra which he finds interesting. So every performer must be perfect and a complete.
You have worked in many award-winning productions both in Europe and in the United States. What is the main difference from a professional standpoint between Hollywood and CineCittà?
I would say the business aspect of it all. In the United States the movie making industry is still a huge business venture. In Italy, where film making is still relatively big for a much smaller country, the production dynamics are vastly different  and a lot of films are State funded or subsidized. 
Your work gave you the opportunity to get to know many amazing performers and creators, and I am sure you could write a book worth of anecdotes. Is there a special memory connected to one of these personalities that you could share with us?
   Mariangela Melato airbrushed by Sodano
I have special and wonderful memories of all the people in each job I have done. From the first to the last person. If I have to pick one,  the late Italian actress Mariangela Melato comes to mind,  also since she is no longer with us. She had an incredible talent both for drama and for comedy, and not only on stage or film, but in life as well. She was a dream to do make-up on, with her huge eyes and the beautiful texture of her skin, which wasn’t free of pigmentation.  She loved being airbrushed. After the makeup was done she used to joke with me that she had just been to the “paint shop” once again, and she loved her evened out complexion.

I know you were among the first to use airbrushing in the Italian film industry, not only for special effects but most remarkably for beauty makeup. How was this innovation perceived by your colleagues?
Many colleagues were and still are rude in calling me “the spray painter of actresses”, especially here in Italy where the awareness of the medium is not as widespread.

In your experience, what are the most noticeable advantage of airbrushing makeup ?
I would say the perfect finish that the airbrush creates. While perfection is not always the goal in cinema make-up, when the script does call for it there is nothing like an airbrush to achieve such evenness while still remaining imperceptible. 

Airbrushing is still seen with a lot of diffidence by those who don't know the technique, and there is a lot of prejudice about this medium. What do you think is the greatest misconception regarding airbrush makeup?
   Laura Morante airbrushed by Vittorio Sodano

Prejudice and misconceptions are mostly based on people not having tried it, watching an unskilled person using it, or second hand opinions. Only by trying it can one understand its beauty and potential. Make-up done by brush or sponge cannot produce this level of perfection, and sometimes perfection is required if only due to the simple vanity of an actress. I use the example of a Ferrari car: If you had a very expensive car and it got scratched, would you ask someone to hand paint the scratch? Wouldn’t you take rather it to an authorized shop which uses a professional paint compressor system?  Most would choose the latter.  To me the airbrush is an extension on my hand. I am using it to work as if i had a brush of sponge. I have learned the technique, and I am controlling the result. The airbrush achieves perfection when used correctly. Airbrush will not guarantee perfection if used incorrectly, so this method challenges and provides great creative potential for an artist.

You have created your own line of makeup, featuring alcohol based palettes for SFX, and for the first time, silicone based palettes that can be diluted and used for beauty makeup. You are also about to launch a selection of ready to airbrush liquid colors. Can you tell us more about these products?
Both the alcohol palettes and the silicone based palette can be activated using my specially formulated activator fluid, which allows for perfect translucency and a very soft finish. I have also developed a set of the same colors in liquid, ready to be airbrushed form. You will find all the products on the SHOP page of my new website , which is being completed as we speak.
Special Effects by Victor Sodano
With two Oscar Nominations and two David di Donatello awards among many other important accolades you have achieved more than most at a very young age. What is your dream for the future?
I wish to continue building on my new line of special effect products and I want to continue teaching my courses of special effects.  As we were saying, my products can be found and bought on my site. I want to teach make-up artists that special effects can be made with my products, and that they don't have to spend too much to have great results, and that is why have made an artisan line of products for make-up artist with a reasonable price.  They are niche products.  Make-up made BY a make-up artist for make-up artists!

Follow Victor Sodano on Instagram
Some of Victor Sodano's awards and accolades