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.
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.
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