How to Apply Airbrush Makeup by Hand


Applying GlamAire as a Liquid Foundation

Airbrushed applied makeup has upcycled the art of the fresh and flawless makeup look in recent years, and GlamAire™ Airbrush Makeup has proven it’s exceptional achievements in this arena: It provides natural looking skin coverage through a very low pressure mist of micro color dots that lightly build in a smooth and even finish. The water/copolymer hybrid formula delivers a refined, clean-looking complexion with great continuity in long wear in rain or shine, and without the need for touch up.

However, there are makeup situations that present too little time to properly unload, set up, test and use GlamAire in the Graftobian Walk Around™ Airbrush System. So what are some alternatives in applying it without the air to achieve that beautifully fresh airbrushed look? Can it be done by hand with the same great airy-looking results? Absolutely, and there are several ways to do this as suggested in the tips and tricks below. Compare the difference and see for yourself!

Think of GlamAire as you would any another traditional liquid foundation, only it’s a bit thinner and dries a bit faster, yet provides exceptional skin-like transparency for a sheer veil of color. Its ultra-high micronized pigments is a huge plus in providing adjustable custom coverage and build where you need it. Once you get a handle on the hand application process that works for you, it’s a snap to do! Make sure to work at a steady pace.

Preparing the Skin:

The secret to a smooth finish and long-wearing foundation is in the skin prep. A quick, soft exfoliation to remove skin surface shedding such as dead skin cells, scaly patches etc. will help soothe and even out the skin mantle with a cleaner texture for optimal wear. For normal to dry/sensitive skins, use a water-dampened sponge such as Graftobian's Natural Sea Sponges, and apply with your preferred moisturizer to buffer away debris.

Oily to very oily skins often have excessive surface sebum (natural oils) which can cause a break-through in a primer application and lead to possible streaks in the foundation results. Using dampened Graftobian Flat Top Kabuki Brush or sea sponge works well. You can also try a small amount of Graftobian Pain and Liquid Sorrow Glycerin. Glycerin is a non-occlusive and emollient slip agent that is completely water soluble, so it’s texture helps lift, absorb and move excess oils off the skin.

Whatever exfoliation method, product or tool you choose, start with a clean and dry NON-MOISTURIZED face. Begin at the forehead, using very light finger pressure in a gentle circular motion over the face, and work from side to side down to the jaw line. If needed, re-wet the tool with very small amounts of the water and/or slip agents ONLY to complete the procedure. Be careful not to overdo this process as the goal is clean and smooth looking complexion results.

Next, use a well-dampened Velour Powder Puff and go over the skin again in a circular PATTING motion only, removing any remaining residual from the exfoliation process. Allow skin to dry from either of the above procedures before moving on to the primer step. The results should present a matte or dull satin-like look to the complexion and ready for the final step in skin prep, which is a water-based foundation primer application.

Water-based primers and anti-shines that are oil and silicone free are crucial under any foundational makeup product because they create a nonocclusive bond (allowing air to pass through) to the skin mantle’s lipid layer. They grip best with any liquid or cream foundation formula by preparing the skin with a light, breathable tacky barrier so the skin oils don’t overreact. They also provide the right surface texture for a smoother foundation application results and keeps makeup looking fresher during longer wear.

Apply a thin film of a water-based primer to fill in and settle the surface texture. This creates a smooth and even skin “canvas” with a slightly tacky grip. Always use any primer or anti-shine product sparingly, in a very thin layer for optimal skin bonding and preventing unwanted residue. I like using Graftobian's S.I.L.K. Foundation Brush, slightly dampened with water, to first apply primer or anti-shine for a smooth and thin application. I blot the application with Graftobian's Nurturing Force Blotting Papers to ensure a dry bond and eliminate any skin oil break through or product residue. Skin should now have a slight drag or tacky feel to the surface.

Applying GlamAire Airbrush Makeup:

Remember, GlamAire is just a thinner and faster drying form of liquid foundation, and easy to adapt to when you find the application technique that works for you. Airbrush makeup will have a small amount of ingredient separation from sitting for any length of time and this is normal. Before using, always shake the bottle well to stir the little metal balls inside to re-mix the foundation. This insures a smooth and uniform re-blending of ingredients making it ready to hand-apply to skin.

What tools work best for a smooth and even air-like application? It comes down to personal preference and how you can make it work for you. However, the most important tool you need to start with before you touch ay makeup tool to skin is full spectrum daylight balanced lighting, such as the TML Makeup Lights. Without proper lighting you can’t see a correct color match to skin in full bloom for accuracy or very small skin imperfections that will need correction, among other things. Also, always check your application work in close up reflection, ideally in a cameral monitor - which is extremely important if your work is being captured or broadcast in UHD!

Foundation Stippling Brush:

A Graftobian S.I.L.K. Stipple Brush delivers perfectly light, clean and airy results for me when I am using it for a traditional Glamour Creme Ultra HD Professional Foundation application. I use it slightly dampened with water, and employ a tapping (stippling) motion along with a circular movement to blend and achieve a lovely flawless coverage. Use 2-3 small drops of the airbrush liquid at a time on the brush and work in a continuous layering/patting motion. This will prevent any steaking. It can look beautifully soft, even and airy-looking to the naked eye and in a close mirror reflection. However, reviewing it under proper lighting in a UHD camera monitor in a tight close-up will reveal any error marks that may not be acceptable, so make sure to use small amounts at a time.

Professionally speaking, any foundational errors that can be picked up in a UHD close-up shot creates the need to repair the area or re-do the entire makeup. Because this is a water/copolymer hybrid formula designed for quick dry and durable wear, repairs will simply build on more coverage in those affected areas. Thus, you have to weigh these possible results for your own style of application with a stipple brush and review the application in tight close up views as suggested.

Flat Foundation Brush:

Flat foundation brushes can also cause streaking results when used in straight down stroking patterns and can affect control in the coverage for a smooth and even finish. To avoid this, use the flat side (not the tip edge) of a Graftobian S.I.L.K. Foundation Brush slightly dampened with water first, then apply 2-3 small drops of liquid to it at a time. To manage smoother and more even results, avoid stroking the product by using a soft patting motion in a continuous overlapping circular pattern movement. Work efficiently in smaller sections to lay GlamAire onto the skin for better overlapping and reduce or eliminate streaking for cleaner, airy-looking results.

Unevenness and small streaks can still be an issue seen under full spectrum lighting and tight close up viewing so again, check your work for the final results. This should be your deciding factor, and if the results are satisfactory in your own style of application with a flat foundation brush.


Graftobian Glamour Grip Beauty Sponge and Latex-Free Makeup Sponge Wedge are the closest to an error free application and when dampened well with water to keep the sponges from absorbing too much product. In foundation work, the dampened tools (as referred to above) are the buffer that helps control any foundation application process for smooth and precise results. Sponges also keep the foundation product, including GlamAire™ moist a bit longer so you can stipple, blend and even out your work more efficiently to achieve great looking airy results.

With either sponge mentioned above, make sure they are wet enough to expand, but not drip. Apply 2- 3 drops of GlamAire™ on them and apply with a continuous stippling motion in a circular pattern to overlap the application. With this method I like to work around the perimeter of the face first including the chin, then finish towards the center, around the eyes, nose and mouth. You can also go over the sponge application with a separate damp sponge or foundation brush to further smooth out any areas that may look less or more before it completely dries. I repeat, check your work!

In Summary:

It all comes down to the results you are looking for in color, coverage, texture and finish. I like GlamAire airbrushed foundation as a sheer veil of coverage that evens out the complexion for a clean, fresh and more flawless looking appearance. It gives subtle “lift” and smoothness to the skin yet allows the essential character of the face to remain in a beautifully balanced look. I also like the fact that I don’t have to use a setting powder over it because the water/copolymer hybrid results in a beautiful natural looking look and blend into the skin for a more youthful inborn look, and stays in place for all day wear. GlamAire delivers on all points, and I look for the same results in a hand-applied application. It can be done if you have patience in developing the right technique that works for you. For additional tips and tricks sheet in applying GlamAire by hand, or any other questions you may have, email us at We are always happy to help!

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