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