Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to assemble, disassemble and clean your airbrush for makeup (with video tutorial)

Let's tackle one of the most feared and often misunderstood aspects of airbrush makeup: the assembly, disassembly and cleaning of your airbrush.
The bad news: cleaning is boring. There is no way around it. Even if you are a bit obsessive compulsive like me, and even if you love your instrument and enjoy taking care of it, like I do.  It is also inevitable. You cannot skip or delay cleaning your airbrush at the end of a session, at least minimally, or you might compromise its functioning. But more on that later.
The good news: cleaning an airbrush is NOT difficult and does not take much longer than cleaning a medium size brush once you get used to the process. If you consider that an airbrush does the job of many brushes, or if you are like me of all of them, you will realize that you will in fact save time by cleaning just one tool as opposed to many.

A simple matter of practice.
Practice is all it takes in order to become fast and efficient at cleaning your precious tool without causing damages. Once you become familiar with the pieces you will get faster and faster. These days it takes me less than a minute to disassemble any of my airbrushes. In the enclosed video I have slowed down the process a bit to show you how it works as clearly and as closely as possible. The video wasn't easy to film and may not be technically perfect, but it sure is clearer than any I have been able to find. The airbrush I am using in the video is the Temptu SP-40. This excellent tool is produced by Sparmax and has the exact same parts and look of its more popular twin, the ubiquitous SP-35 which is the flagship airbrush of most makeup brands, including Temptu, Graftobian, Kryolan, Airbase, Mistair, Monda Studio, Ten Image and Sparmax's own Element Two, making it the most widely used airbrush for makeup. Other brands use their own proprietary airbrushes or more generic tools produced by third parties. These may have parts that differ slightly (such as a floating nozzle instead of a screw in one, or a primary lever that is attached to the piston below), but the process of assembly and cleaning should not change much.

I almost always prefer not to voice over my videos as I would like them to be enjoyed by anyone all over the world regardless of the language they speak, so I'd like to add a few more suggestions here and point out a few things that may be overlooked when watching the video. 

TIPS for assembling / disassembling

Always work over a tray, a plate or any kind of flat enclosed surface when disassembling your airbrush. There are many tiny pieces, and these will easily fall from your hands. If they hit the floor you may spend hours looking for them, and they may get damaged by the fall.

Except for the hose attachment and the air valve, no part of the airbrush should be wound too tightly or you will compromise the proper functioning of the parts. The spring case and needle chucking nut in particular need to be carefully balanced, or the lever and needle will not function properly. Don't worry, you will develop an awareness of the right balance very quickly after the first few times.

The nozzle is the most delicate part of the airbrush, and the one where almost all the issues with the flow originate.
Once again, be extra careful when unscrewing and screwing in the part. If you apply too much pressure the wrong way, the tip of the nozzle will break and separate from its base, which will remain stuck in the airbrush threading. Pay extra attention to the way the airbrush is turned in the video, and to the direction in which I am turning the wrench when removing or reattaching the nozzle. If the nozzle does break DON'T PANIC, it will be relatively easy to clear the base from the threading using a tooth pick, and you will be able to buy a spare nozzle from your brand's website or directly from a Sparmax retailer.

The needle is the other delicate part in your airbrush. The tip is very fine and if handled improperly it can bend ever so slightly and compromise the product flow. Once again pay attention to how I use my fingers in the video to lean on the airbrush body when inserting the needle. If you do bang the tip of your needle there are easy ways to repair it, or if it has bent too much once again you can always buy a replacement needle from your brand's website or from a Sparmax retailer.

Aside from that little extra attention that you have to pay the nozzle and needle, the airbrush is not that delicate at all. It's made of steel, and breaking it is actually very difficult. Most times when people think they have "broken" their airbrush they simply tightened a screw too much or too little, or there is some extra cleaning that they neglected to do.

Tips for cleaning:

The video shows you five different stages of cleaning. You can use them in sequence or one step at a time and in any order you see fit, but the answer to the question is: clean whatever is appropriate whenever it's needed. There is only one rule: you must always clean your airbrush at the end of a day's work, and if you are using alcohol based products, you should clean (or at least rinse) as soon as you're done. This is because alcohol based colors dry very quickly and will clog your system very fast. If it does happen don't worry, everything will go back to normal after a deep clean, but it will take a while. This is another reason why you should always have at least one spare airbrush if you go out on a job. And talking of jobs, a deep clean is not necessary at the end of a session if you are using the airbrush on yourself or for home studying, but you should always do one the day before you work on a client. You want your airbrush to be in tip top shape in a professional situation, and never risk embarrassment. I personally test the airbrushes before I leave for a makeup session, you can never be too sure.

Almost every makeup brand has its own cleaning product. This is because each formulation is slightly different (water base, hybrid base, silicone base, alcohol base...). If you just ran out of your specific cleaner or you want to carry just one that will work with all the different formulae, Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) at 99% purity is your best bet, as it will work on anything. A more "natural" alternative to alcohol 99% is Nurturing Force Airbrush and Brush Cleaner. This is a wonderful, non toxic product made of food grade ingredients that comes as a concentrate, so you will need to mix a few drops in the cup with some water. It will be slower than alcohol 99% on silicone and alcohol based products, but it will do its job well and with no chemicals involved.

One of the best kept secrets in the airbrush makeup industry is this product by Dinair called Deep Clean. It does an amazing job of dissolving the toughest clogs in just a few minutes. It must be used sparingly because it's not exactly ideal on the inner plastic o-rings that are present in the inner recesses of your airbrush, but if you stick to the suggested times (just a few minutes) it's perfectly safe to use. I use it very often instead of IPA to clean the nozzle as shown in the video.

Finally, there is nothing better and more effective than an ultra sonic cleaner in order to get your airbrush back to like new functionality. It doesn't have to be an expensive machine, and you can easily find one online. They are sold as "Jewellery Ultra Sonic Cleaners", and any of them will do so long as the frequency is around 42,000 Hz, the well is big enough to contain your airbrush, and
they plug in the mains (there are some battery operated ones too, but they don't seem nearly powerful enough). You only need to use it for the pieces that come in contact with the colors, but of course you can put in all the other ones as well if you wish, just remember to disassemble everything first, or it will be ineffective. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Airbase airbrush Pro makeup kit review!

Last week we introduced the British brand Airbase with a detailed review of their makeup line and a video tutorial of a fully airbrushed makeup look. 
Now it's time to take an in depth look at the tools that this company offers in their pro kits. There are several kit combinations on offer on the website, all including a different selection of makeup and tools and proportionally priced. All the pro kits share the same compressor and airbrush. Other optional components can be ordered from the website regardless of the chosen kit composition.

The compressor and Airbrush
Like most of the best brands of airbrush makeup, Airbase decided to source their tools from the high quality yet cost effective catalogue of Taiwanese manufacturer Sparmax. The Airbase kit features the beauty industry workhorse called DC-25, a very reliable, quiet, small and light weight compressor that never disappoints, with its maintenance free motor capable of an output of up to 30 PSI (2.1 BAR). The Airbrush is another beauty industry standard, the SP .35 with its sleek chrome finish and its stylish carrying case. The reason why many company feature this same airbrush is very simple: it's one of  very best tools for makeup out there, and it will not disappoint you. Because of its ubiquity, it will also be very easy to find spare parts for this instrument no matter where you are.

Variables and accessories
As I was saying earlier, the Airbase kit has a series of optional components that can be part of your selected bundle, and if they are not they can easily be ordered from the online store on the website. A little but crucial part that should not be missing from your professional kit is the Pressure Adjuster. This is currently included only in the Platinum kit, but in my opinion it should be added to all the other options too. It's a simple valve that must be screwed in between the airbrush and the air hose, and that will allow you to lower the pressure output for more delicate parts of the face, such as around the eyes, making the whole experience more comfortable for the client and the application of the makeup truly flawless. Then there is a bunch of other add-ons that can be selected at your discretion. The rechargeable battery pack will allow you to complete a whole makeup and more in total mobility, which some may consider very important. The cleaning pot is always a very safe, practical and professional way to discharge your airbrush during makeup and cleaning. Speaking of cleaning, the online store also offers a reasonably priced ultrasonic cleaning machine. This is an excellent tool that will restore your airbrush to like new conditions every time you use it. Not many makeup companies offer these online, so it is great that Airbase does. Finally, the shading pad is included in every kit option and it's very useful when creating contouring effects and eyeshadow designs. 

Airbase Airbrush Makeup Case
The Airbase Makeup Case
This one complement needs a special mention. I don't even know if this is the most practical way of carrying your airbrush kit, but it certainly is the best looking. The Airbase case is so sleek and awesome that I finally had to give in and buy it. With a sturdy, anti scratch outer paneling and a custom made foam insert with spaces for pretty much every component of your pro kit, the case makes for a luxurious, awesome presentation item and it's just plain gorgeous (see photo for indication of what goes where). It is included in the Platinum Kit bundle, but can also be purchased from the pro section of the online store at a later stage if you started with a different kit option. 

Makeup Complements
Our previous review focused on the main silicone based line. Airbase also offers a hybrid silicone/water based line of primary colors that can be used alone or mixed together to create infinite possibilities for fantasy makeup and body painting, or even simply as eye shadow colours. We will feature this line in a future tutorial. Other high quality makeup components offered by the airbase online sotre include the best selling First Base Perfecting primer, a fine HD powder, corrector and concealer palettes, and a selection of ultra pigmented eyeshadows presented in palettes that have been raved about by several beauty gurus on YouTube.