I am overdue with the second part of this blog on airbrush systems, which I originally wrote back in 2010. My apologies for not picking up on this sooner, and you may want to go back and review Part One before reading on to Part Two: In Part One we identified some key points that play a part in choosing the right airbrush system for your needs. Nearly 99% of makeup artists purchase an airbrush system mainly for “above the neck” applications, so it must give you the ability to deliver a range of softer finishes, from transparent to translucent results. For HD, this translates to a complexion with a fresh, inborn look, and without obvious color or texture that reads in the camera or to the real time eye.
So let’s cut to the chase here, and give you the specs you need to achieve those professional results we just discussed. In short order, the airbrush system should deliver a working pressure (spraying) low enough, about 2 – 4 psi, so that you can easily work with the natural color and shape of the face with sheer results. Think of it as live image retouching without heavy or detectable coverage, like “particle dusting” on skin that allows you to balance skin color and features with airbrush applied color. Low pressure spraying permits an ultra soft “stippling” technique that result in a clean and more flawless looking complexion, and the ability to retain more of skin’s organic texture in the finish. So, the most important thing to focus on in choosing a system is that it’s not about how much air pressure “power” you think you need, but how much control you actually have over your air pressure delivery in the application process. This is very important as low working pressure also greatly reduces or eliminates the risk of errant overspray in your work, and allows you to truly customize the coverage as you need it.
Keep in mind that the majority of makeup airbrush systems that have been on the market for makeup artists have heavier, 5 – 8 lb compressors with gauges that must be dialed down to a decent working pressure range, usually around 12 – 15 psi (pounds per square inch). Air pressure also drop slightly as it moves along in the air hose, and according to the length of the hose, but these factors won’t bring you even close to total transparency control for face work. You end up having to balancing a greater distance from the face in triggering, and which creates undesirable overspray that cannot be completely controlled. However, a few airbrush makeup manufacturers recognized the need in developing low pressure systems that specifically target soft stippling and translucency, and with tighter trigger control. This resulted in “turnkey” airbrush systems that don’t need pressure gauges because they are pre-configured at the ideal range of low psi. The compressors are also super lightweight (weighing about 1 lb), very portable, and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand!
Not only can you have the ability to trigger your spray application at 2 – 4 psi but one company, Graftobian, has gone a step further in featuring an air pressure bleeder valve control at the hose connection. Their Walk-Around™ System allows you to quickly adjust the pressure up or down in small amounts, at the touch of a finger, to truly customize your transparency to opacity application needs. This feature also allows you to raise the pressure at an even higher working range of 8 – 12 psi if you need to do any larger coverage body work: such as spraying foundation on the neck, arms and chest. Best of all, the compressor can also be used as a free standing battery operated unit or plugged in on AC current. This makes for a truly versatile airbrush unit you can use in the makeup room or out on location, and with a kit friendly size and weight (less than 2 lbs with airbrush and hose attached) that makes it very portable.
I find that the variable low pressure feature of this particular system makes it even more adaptable to using water-based or alcohol-based airbrush makeup. As a professional artist who has been airbrushing for decades with all kinds of systems, I can tell you that it all comes down to finding a lower pressure variable unit that will shoot different makeup fluids in transparency, and that allows you to build the coverage you need through soft stippling spray. It easy to oversaturate an application when you don’t have the right contol at the trigger with the proper air pressure, so be sure that whatever you choose gives you a minimum of 2-4 psi working pressure. Airbrush system size, weight, and portability should also be a consideration, as whatever you invest in should be easy to transport to and from your job site.
Mascara can make you go from looking good to great, and it’s the one beauty product that actually makes you look more youthful and instantly polished. Here are some final tips for bringing out the best lash curl, length, and volume with your application. I prefer to heat curl lashes before I apply any lash primer or mascara, as I don’t want to risk pulling or breaking lash hairs. This is especially important for fragile, thin, or sparse lashes, as it takes a long time for lost lashes to grow back in. If you use a mechanical lash crimper start at the root of the lashes and then gently squeeze the curler as you move it up to the ends. This adds the curl more gradually without lashes looking sharply “bent”.
Some artists believe in using two different brands of mascara to achieve length and volume, while others swear it’s the brush you use to apply it. For me, it’s depends on the type of lash I am working with. For example, with long lashes that are sparse I will use more of a volumizing mascara, whereas with short lashes that are thick I will stick with a lengthening mascara. I can make any mascara brush perform the results I am looking for simply by angling the approach of the brush to the lash, along with placement and direction of the mascara build on the lashes.
My favorite mascara to use will always be cake (the type you have to activate with liquid) because I can get beautiful customized results. The tube style is always fast and convenient and there are great formulations out there to choose from. However, avoid the habit of pumping the mascara wand in the tube as it will introduce an air pocket, which will dry out and shorten the shelf life of the mascara. Simply roll the brush around in the tube, scraping the sides before you remove it. Pulling the brush out slowly from the tube also greatly decreases the chance of an air pocket, as does putting it back in slowly while twisting the wand. You don’t need to wipe the excess mascara off the brush with a tissue, as that can cause tissue fibers to stick to the brush. Simply pull the wand out against the side of the tube so it is self-wiping against the tube opening
To make lashes appear longer I start by applying the mascara from the outer corners working it inward. This helps to use the amount of mascara on the brush more evenly, so you don’t risk clumping too much on the inner corner lashes. I like two coats of mascara: first to define and optimize length, and then the second one to add volume. I wiggle the mascara wand in a “Z” like movement, by wedging the wand horizontally right under the roots, and working it up to the tip. This helps make the lash base appear fuller while minimizing the lashes sticking together. Keep lashes separated between mascara coats by using a lash comb. Separation is a major key to achieving optimal length and volume, especially if you have used a lash primer. I also turn the wand diagonally (about an 80 degree angle) to help fan out and separate them during an application, especially at the outer corners.
As a finishing touch I use a mini Taklon mascara brush dipped in the mascara to bring forward even the thinnest baby lashes into the lineup. I also use it to touch a bit more mascara on the tips of the lashes to ensure the most length possible. Should you apply mascara on the bottom lashes? Absolutely, because it will help create balance with the volume and length of mascara on the top lashes. Don’t overdo them, as you will end up creating the very thing you want to avoid: a clumpy lash appearance. Just use what is left on the brush and hold the wand perpendicular to the eye. Touch the wand tip very lightly, up and down, as you move it over the lower lash line.
As for the color of mascara to use? It’s all personal preference, and available in the formula you prefer. Keep in mind that the more pale or blonde the complexion or natural lash hairs are, the more high contrast or stark looking black mascara may be, especially for daytime, unless you are going for a “doll eye” effect. I find that some brown mascara colors can also make lashes look dull with a “blunted” look, so I tend to stick with blackish brown colors instead. I also mix mascara colors together to create a new color, such as a black navy blue, or black burgundy. It’s fun to experiment and who knows, you may start your own mascara fashion trend!
Good lash preparation prior to mascara application is very important in order to amplify the three elements that produce beautifully defined lush looking lashes. We talked previously about the first two, being lash length and volume, and using a lash primer to plump and define each lash. The third ingredient of lash definition is the all important curl. The curl fans out lashes and adds a greater fringe dimension to length and volume. The curl is the key to making the eyes look brighter and fully open. If you have stick straight lashes then curling is a must to bring forward length and volume. Lash curling also helps to minimize mascara clumping during an application.
For decades the traditional metal lash crimper has been the classic way to curl lashes with a squeeze of the handles. There are other mechanical styles that have come on the market over the years, and allow you to better isolate lash sections for more customized curling. Mechanical crimping of lashes does have some drawbacks, especially if it is used improperly, and can lead to accidental pinching of skin or lash fall-out. Eyelashes grow more slowly than other hairs on your body, and it takes about 2 months for new lashes to grow in. So, if using a mechanical crimper, make sure you use a high quality tool that is built narrow enough to eliminate skin pinching and lash pulling.
Look for a lash crimper that has rounded pads rather than square. This is important as a round pad will deliver a smoother, natural looking lash curl rather than “bent” lashes. The curler also has to be tapered enough to fit in the eye area and close to the orbital bone. It should enclose the lash line comfortably and reach far enough to curl the outer corner lashes. In fact, the outer corner lashes are the most important ones to curl so that you give the eye a more open and lifted look when mascara is applied.
I prefer the Japonesque Precision Lash Curler because it allows for more targeted gentle curling without pinching and pulling. It also allows you to isolate and curl sections of lashes, especially those outer corner lashes. The best part is that it allows you to “walk” the curler up the lash in sections, from the root to the tip, so that you get the most natural looking curl without the bent “V” look. To get the best results for locked in all day wear curl, I heat the pad of the curler first with a blow dryer for about 10 seconds. Then I immediately position the crimper on a section, starting at the root, for 5 seconds. I move it up to the middle of the lash and hold for another 5 seconds. The warmed pad really works to hold the curl under the pressure of the crimper.
However, my favorite go to eyelash curling tool is the Japonesque Heated Lash Curler, because it allows me to truly customize lash curling from the root to the tip without the danger of pinching or pulling out lashes. It is a small easy to use wand of continuous heat in a super low setting that won’t damage or burn lashes. It makes curling a snap because the lashes fit naturally into the wand, and I can get fabulous results even with the most difficult lash challenges. The heated lash curler allows you to truly create a natural looking tailored curl without forced bending, and a natural looking curl definitely adds to beautiful looking results!
Stay tuned for Part 6 for mascara application tips!
No matter how thin, sparse, or short your lashes might be you can bring out their best length and volume just by following a few simple tricks of the trade. It starts with knowing what kind of natural lashes you have to build with, and the rest is combining the right mascara products with tools and application techniques. Maximizing length and volume with separation is your primary goal for the most beautiful “eye catching” results!
Understanding basic mascara formulas is one of the keys in choosing the right product for your needs. Mascaras are either water-based (an oil/water emulsion) or waterproof (waxes in a non-solvent emulsion). Water-based formulas can include thickeners, polymers and microfibers to induce length and volume. Some of these formulas may also contain latex to make them more smudge and water resistant in wear. Others can also contain protein binders, which are healthier to lashes, because they provide some small measure of protection if you wear mascara every day. Water-based mascara is easily dissolved and washed away along with your regular skin care routine.
Waterproof mascara formulas can also contain thickeners, polymers and microfibers to induce length and volume, however it has pros and cons. If you tend to have oily skin chances are that it will cause a water-based mascara to “shed” a bit in the eye area. The result is flaking under the eyes or a slight overall “raccoon eye” look. Wearing waterproof mascara virtually eliminates this problem. Another advantage is that waterproof mascara will hold a stronger curl, and help lashes to remain separated throughout wear.
Because it is made not to dissolve down easily under moisture, removing waterproof mascara at the end of the day takes more effort. You must use an eye makeup remover that will gently release the mascara bond on lashes and not pull or tug when wiped or rinsed off. Wearing waterproof mascara every day can also cause lashes to dry out of natural moisture over time, making them brittle and fragile to breakage.
As I mentioned before, you can achieve beautiful results using just one mascara brand for length and volume. It’s all in the prep, tools, and techniques that I will share with you in part 4.