Frequently asked Questions about Nail Airbrushing


Q:    What is Airbrushed Nail-Art?

A:    It is a process by which a water-based paint is sprayed through an airbrush onto fingernails. The water base paint is sealed between paint-on enamel Base Coat and paint-on enamel Top Coat. Spraying through stencils and/ or spraying over masks creates the images.


Q:    What base coat is required?

A:    We recommend Medea Pink Opal basecoat. Apply Medea Pink Opal Base Coat to finished, clean fingernails. Make sure that nails are free from oil and soap residue. Apply base coat close to the cuticle and wrap around free edge. Do not substitute with clear base coat or ridge filler. Airbrush paint does not stick well to these. You may substitute the Pink opal base coat for 1 coat of an enamel nail polish or lacquer. Keep in mind that it needs to be fast drying. Medea's Pink Opal base coat dries in 2 minutes. Using a fan at your table will speed up drying time no matter which base you choose. Medea's French Manicure colors are totally opaque, so use one of them on the nail bed if you want to cancel-out the opal in the base coat for a traditional French look.


Q:    What is varnish and do I need to use it as well as a topcoat?

A:    Varnish is water based clear coat that is sprayed in a light mist over the water base paint. Its purpose is to form a protective barrier between the paint and the topcoat, thus allowing easier topcoat application. If you do not use varnish as your last step before top coating, you will more likely leave brush strokes in the paint as you apply topcoat. The paint is very fragile before application of topcoat, so use a light touch and don't repeatedly stroke over the paint with the topcoat. The ideal application would be to cover the nail in three strokes. Be sure to wrap topcoat around free edge. Fan dry for 1 minute.

In Addition: Medea recommends that your second top coat application be a UV or Heat Cure coat. These coats are thick and glossy and stay on great. They are a terrific addition to Airbrushed Nail-Art. Since these coats are not designed for natural nails, we recommend using a second coat of Medea's topcoat or a comparable thick, high gloss topcoat be used as a second coat.

Remember, the paint and base are already dry; so all your waiting for is the top coats to dry.


Q:    How long should I expect Airbrushed Nail color to wear?

A:    It will show wear and tear at the tips over time, comparable to what nail polish does, depending on the individual. Pay close attention to detail during application for maximum results. Nails must be very clean, base and topcoats carefully applied, and paint should be sprayed on in light, and dry layers for maximum wear. For more details, see An Ounce of Prevention for Maximum Retention article in the How to Section. Clients should apply extra clear coats at home.


Q:    Should I get an Iwata HP-A or HP-B Airbrush?

A:    They both perform identically. The only difference is the HP-A has the internal paint well and the HP-B has the external larger paint cup. Its really personal preference, the HP-B is better for mixing your own colors right in the airbrush.


Q:    How do I clean my airbrush?

A:    Flush out all remaining paint by depressing the lever while simultaneously pulling it all the way back. Fill paint cup or well with water and flush it through. Use a clean sable brush and Medea Airbrush cleaner to clean out the inside of the paint cup or well. Pipe cleaners also work well as cleaning tools. Flush through. Repeat. See how to section for more thorough cleaning procedures. Taking the needle out allows you to insert the bristles of the brush or a pipe cleaner down deep into the well, toward the tip of the nozzle. Keep brush upright during this process and be very gentle so you do not damage the nozzle.


Q:    I am having trouble with my paint going on wet. What can I do?

A:    The farther you pull back on the trigger, the more paint you will release from the brush. Most people have a tendency to spray more than they need, thus flooding the nail with wet, runny paint. Paint should always be applied in light layers. This allows the paint layers to dry as you go along. If you see shiny, wet looking paint, you are applying it too fast. Until you develop better trigger control, it may he helpful to back up a bit from the nail. Work on pulling back on the trigger less. This just takes some practice.


Q:    How much do I charge my clients for Airbrushed Nail Art?

A:    A good guideline is to charge between $8-15 for 10 Airbrushed nails, depending on the complexity of the design and the time involved. If someone wants just 1-2 nails Airbrushed, start at $5 a nail. Cost should be comparable to that of hand painting.


Q:    Can I use my Nail Airbrush to do Body-Art?

A:    To get started you could use your Nail-Art Airbrush, particularly if its an HP-B, however you would eventually want to purchase the Eclipse Body-Art Brush for convenience and enhanced performance. The wider spray pattern on the Eclipse covers the larger area much faster and easier than the Nail-Art Brush. Also, because of the wider nozzle, clogging the eclipse is virtually impossible. The Professional Add on system is perfect for those who already own equipment, and are looking to add Body-Art to their salon menu. It is the most economical way to get all of the products you will need to get started, including the Eclipse

Airbrush. IMPORTANT: When using body art paint, clean only with Airbrush Cleaner. Body Art paints are alcohol based; do not use water to flush out body paints or you will badly clog your Airbrush.


Q:    I tried to spray a stencil design and the edges weren't sharp. What did I do wrong?

A:    Two things may have happened here. If your edges are fuzzy, your spray probably went under the stencil on an edge that was not held down firmly. Since it is often impossible to hold all edges of the stencil down perfectly, it is important that you aim your spray directly down on the stencil. If you direct your spray onto the nail at an angle, you may inadvertently spray under the edges of your stencil.

If your edges look runny, you are spraying too much paint to quickly. Practice spraying less paint at a time by not pulling your finger back as far on the lever. The levers are sensitive so it will take a little practice. (Trust me, you will like this feature later) Test this out by spraying on a piece of paper. When you get a dry spray, try the stencil again.


Q:    I have been airbrushing for several weeks and haven't gotten really good at it yet. Am I cut out for this?

A:    Congratulations, you are perfectly normal! Like any nail application, it takes practice. Remember your first full set? Play around at home on nail tips and on your friends and coworkers. Be patient with yourself and practice regularly. Before you offer the service to clients, get comfortable with it first. It will come! All the best Nail Artists started this same way.


Reprinted with permission of Medea Beauty