The Art of Airbrushing Makeup

By Bradley M. Look

The use of the airbrush in the application of cosmetics in the film industry is becoming more commonplace then ever before. Television series such as"Providence", "Angel", "Enterprise", "Friends", "According To Jim", and"Passions", as well as features such as "Ali", "Artificial Intelligence", "Zoolander", "Star Trek First Contact", and "Flintstones Viva Rock Vegas", have all used the airbrush to further the craft of makeup artistry.


Makeup manufacturers, noticing the trend in airbrushing cosmetics, have followed the lead, developing products to be sprayed especially at low pressures. To date, there are currently 14 different lines of airbrushable makeup on the market. And there seems to be no end in sight. Even cosmetic giant Estee Lauder currently is having its liquid foundation line tested on customers in London using modified Iwata Eclipse gravity feed airbrushes.


As a staff makeup artist on the series "Enterprise" (UPN's most current series based on Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek"), the makeup department uses the airbrush extensively to apply everything from a corrective female/male makeup to creating exotic aliens of the week. In addition to my regular work schedule on the show, I also teach airbrush workshops.


Recently, I was contacted by AirbrushTalk and asked to contribute my insight as a working airbrush makeup artist in the entertainment field. I was told that regular readers of this web publication had expressed an interest in this relatively new area of airbrushing.


But if the truth were known, the technique (or process) of spraying makeup on a performer's body is not at all new. One of the first features to apply liquid foundation using a spraying apparatus was the silent film, "Noah's Ark", which was produced in 1929! The film featured a lengthy flashback sequence of the biblical Noah's Ark. For that spectacular flashback, Max Factor was called upon to apply body makeup to over 2,000 extras!! With not much time to apply the makeup, Max and his son got the bright idea of adding a liquid solvent to their regular cream makeup. Now with the makeup liquefied, it could be easily sprayed on the actors' bodies and faces.


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