Skip to content

Airbrush Makeup Face Paint and Body Paint - The Complete Guide

If you are looking to learn how to do airbrush face painting or airbrush body painting and need a quick easy-to-follow guide with everything you need to get started, you have come to the right place. Jest Paint is the premiere spot for free information, tutorials, and guide in the face and body art world. Please keep reading to find everything you need to know about airbrush face paint and body paint.

What is Airbrush Face Painting and Body Painting?

Airbrush face painting and body painting is the art of spraying the face and or body with makeup-grade paints that come in a liquid form to create unique designs. Airbrush artists use a compressor, an airbrush (also known as an airbrush gun), liquid face paints, and stenciling to paint their designs on the skin.

Andrea DuBuc O'Donnell - Airbrush Face Painting

Copyright - Andrea DuBuc O'Donnell using Graftobian Airbrush Face Paints and Bad Ass Stencils (BAM's)

Airbrush Face Paint Supplies You Need

To do airbrush face painting and body painting you will need to have several supplies. As a face paint store, we carry the most important ones. We highly suggest that for the compressor and its accessories, you check in with a professional airbrush supplies store as face paint stores usually have a limited variety because those are expensive machines; an airbrush supply store will have all the options you need and will be able to guide you and help you choose the best set up for your needs.

airbrush face painting

But just as they are pros with the machine parts, they don't tend to carry a huge selection of makeup options and stencils as we do, so, stick with us for that part.

Airbrush Compressor, Guns and Accessories

Any airbrush setup includes a compressor, several airbrushes or spray guns, hoses, adaptors (in some cases), bottles (in some cases), a holster or holder, fittings, regulators, valves, and depending on if you are using electricity or nor, a CO2 tank.

different kinds of airbrush face painting compressors

You will learn that for airbrush face paint you don't need a huge compressor, small ones will do just fine as you don't need or want a lot of pressure (measured in PSI) to spray makeup on the face. If you do airbrush body painting you will want a larger compressor. Also, watch out for the battery-operated ones because they tend to last only one to two hours max.

Also, if you need to operate in areas with no power and a battery is not an option, you will need to look into equipment that can run on CO2 tanks, although that is usually not a necessity when you are just getting started as CO2 tanks add a lot of extra weight and complications.

As far as the actual airbrush applicator or airbrush gun, you will learn that there are many different models including top-fed (or gravity-fed), bottom-fed (or siphon fed), no contact or zero-G models, side-fed models (which work both as gravity-fed and siphon fed depending on the angle) single action and dual action triggers, etc. This is all information that can be given to you by the supplier. You can tell them your needs and they will be able to guide you.

Type of Airbrush Guns

Just to give you an idea, a starter set that includes a compressor, hoses, and airbrushes should cost around $200.

Airbrush makeup - liquid face and body paints for airbrush

This is where we are experts and we will be able to guide you without an issue. There are several kinds of airbrush face paints and we will go over all of them, and their pros and cons.

Ana Ochoa Zombie face paint
Ana Ochoa Zombie / Vampire airbrush face paint

Water Based Airbrush Face Paints

Water-based airbrush face paints are the cheapest kind but are not used very often because they have now been replaced by the hybrid kind. We only sell one kind, by Global Body Art that comes in a concentrated formula that needs to be diluted with distilled water. These kinds of airbrush face paints are easy to apply and very easy to remove with just soap and water. They are great when you are working with young kids since they are so easy to wipe off, but they are not very smudge resistant and they are not sweat or water-resistant at all.

There is another kind of water-based airbrush face paint that is kind of a hybrid because although it is water based it is also very water and sweat resistant as well as smudge-proof. It used to be called VIBE and now it goes by VODA from European Body Art it offers a nice range of colors and a long-lasting option that will still be easy to wash off and won't cause irritated eyes or nose since it has no alcohol, making it a preferred choice when working with kids or adults with special needs.

Silicone Based Airbrush Makeup

This kind of airbrush paint is mostly used in the beauty makeup industry and it is not common in the face and body painting world. These paints are much more sweat resistant than the water-based ones but they have a greasy finish so they need to be set with a setting powder. Because of their focus on the makeup industry, they do not come in many bright colors.

Hybrid Alcohol-Based Airbrush Face Paints

These are the most commonly used airbrush face paints now because of how versatile and durable they are. They come in many brands but the most popular one right now is ProAiir. They have been in the market for years and they truly have an amazing product.

Hybrid airbrush face paints are alcohol and castor oil based which makes them smudge-proof and very resistant to sweat and water. Still, they can be fairly easily removed with soap and water using a gentle rag or sponge to aid in the removal.


The only drawback of alcohol-based airbrush body paints is that they have a strong alcohol smell when being applied (which goes away after a few seconds) so they can be slightly irritating to the eyes and nose. This won't cause any issues, but it is best to ask the person to always close their eyes and hold their breath while you are applying it. Although this applies to alcohol-based face paints because of the alcohol fumes, it is very important to follow those directions when applying any kind of airbrush face paint.

Alcohol-Based Airbrush Inks

Alcohol-based airbrush inks are similar to the hybrid kind but only that they have a higher content of castor oil which makes them even more durable. Inks are very much waterproof, sweat proof and smudge proof and they can last up to 7 days depending on how you care for the paintwork. Showers, hot tubs, lots of rubbing against sheets or clothes, exposure to heat, etc will all make it decay faster.

One thing to keep in mind is that inks are a lot harder to remove and will require extra scrubbing so we don't recommend using them on sensitive areas of your skin, so it is best to stay away from the face. Inks are generally only used for small temporary tattoos or for body paintings that need to last for a very long time, otherwise, it is best to use hybrids.

There are two major brands of inks, European Body Art's Endura, and ProAiir Inks. Both of them are equally good, providing great coverage and lasting results. ProAiir tends to have a larger color selection.

Face Painting Stencils

There are thousands of airbrush face painting stencils to choose from! Some are large, to help you cover extended areas of the body when doing airbrush body painting, while some are small, mostly designed for airbrush tattoos or airbrush face painting.

Some brands like ShowOffs offer full-face stencils that help you create an entire face-painting design using only your airbrush and a stencil set.

If you like to mix free hand and stencils, or to create your designs combining different stencils then you can choose from the huge variety we offer at Jest Paint, including TAP Stencils, BAM Stencils, Boomerang Stencils, Ooh Stencils and more!

You should check our Face Painting Stencils collection to see what you can get.

Brush and Sponges

Some artists like to add a few finishing touches by hand using sponges and or brushes. This is not necessary and you can do without, but if you wish to, you should always get professional quality sponges and brushes.

The Extras

If you want to take your airbrush face painting design to the next level you can add fine loose glitterchunky glitter, and gems as finishing touches to create a one-of-the-kind design that will stand out from the crowd.

How to do Airbrush Face Painting and Body Painting

Creating a unique great-looking airbrush face paint design requires some practice, but once you have the right tools and enough practice, you will be able to do it in no time!

Here are the steps to do airbrush face painting and body painting:


  1. Set up your equipment: the first thing you need to do is to set up, a proper setup will help you stay organized and be fast. Make sure you have all the main colors you will need easy to access if you are using a siphon kind of airbrush or a zero-g style then make sure you have pre-filled your containers. Have all of your hoses attached to their airbrushes, make sure to test each airbrush to make sure they work, and have some extra ready to go in case some clog. Have some towels ready, cleaning fluid like 99% alcohol or water, depending on what kind of paints you are using to clean, and flush your airbrushes in between colors if you are using top-fed or gravity/side-fed airbrushes. Have all of your stencils organized and easy access, some towels and an alcohol spray to help you clean them in between customers, a design board if you use one and your compressor plugged in or hooked to its CO2 tank.
    Airbrush Setup
    Image Courtesy of - Trisha Dyer-Lopez
    Airbrush Face Painting Setup
    Image Courtesy of Karen Nagy - @karens_facepainting
    Airbrush Face Painting Setup
    Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores
  2. Create the base work: many airbrush face paint designs have a background or base layer and then a front or top layer with more details. Sometimes that background is freehanded with your airbrush and others use textures like stencils to create that background. Make sure to always use your compressor with the right PSI setting so as not to hurt the face, ask your model to stay still, close their eyes and hold their breath when you are about to spray.
  3. Add the details: now that you have your background it is time to add all of the details using your stencils or free-handed. If you are going to use stencils please keep in mind that the background needs to be dry, your stencil needs to be dry as well and you should use the right technique. Hold the stencil firmly against the skin, if the stencil is too large that you can not press the entire stencil against the skin at once, then put your fingers close to where you will start spraying and then "walk" your fingers along the stencil as you move from one section to the other with your airbrush. Any time your paint hits the stencil must be pressed firmly against the skin so that the paint won't bleed under the stencil. If you have not used an airbrush and or stencils before, you should practice before going out to paint.
    To avoid bleeding under the stencil make sure your paint hits the stencil at a 90-degree angle, that your PSI is not too strong, and that your airbrush is far enough from the stencil so paint won't pool, but not too far that it will overspray outside the stencil area.
    Airbrush Face PaintingImage Courtesy of Teresa Gonzales
  4. Add the finishing touches: Once you are done with the stencils and the paint you can add some finishing touches with fine loose glitter, chunky glitters, glitter cremes, or gels and gems. People love to see sparkling things on their faces so always make sure to have some sparkle available to add to designs.

airbrush face painting

airbrush face painting

Cleanup and Maintenance

All professional airbrush face and body painters know that the day is not over until you have cleaned up your airbrushes and accessories.

Paint can build up and ruin or clog your airbrushes so it is very important that at the end of the day, you flush them with the right cleaner and you then take them apart to remove the needle and clean it (watch for the tip of that needle, if it gets bent or smashed your airbrush won't work). Clean the airbrush tip to prevent splatters, clean the area that holds the paint, and once they are dry put them back together.

If you are using Zero G style airbrushes or siphon style airbrushes that require you to put the paint into special containers, make sure those containers are airtight sealed (it might require you to tape the tips and the cap to the bottle so they don't evaporate and/or dry out).

Then you need to soak your stencils in water and soap or alcohol (depending on what kind of paint you use) and then gently clean them so they are back to new and you can store them again.

If you use a CO2 tank make sure the tank will have enough CO2 for your next event, if you are using a battery-operated compressor make sure to recharge it, and always clean the humidity trap if your compressor has one.

Thank you so much for reading this comprehensive guide to airbrush face and body paint. Please leave us your comments with suggestions and visit our online shop to get all the supplies you need to start airbrush face painting today!

Please see below our Airbrush Face Painting Body Painting gallery for inspiration.

Airbrush Face PaintImage Courtesy of Nancy Vargas @nvargas86

Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores

Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores

 Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Karen Nagy - @karens_facepainting

Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Barbara Breitung - Tappy's Face Painting

Airbrush Tattoos
Image Courtesy of Candis Murphy

Previous article Airbrush Tattoos - The Ultimate Temporary Tattoos Guide
Next article 50+ Easy Clown Face Makeup Ideas

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields