Skip to content

Airbrush Tattoos - The Ultimate Temporary Tattoos Guide

Want to create airbrush tattoos – also known as temporary tattoos – that look amazing and won’t start to fade in just a few hours?

Then you’ve navigated to the right place!

At Jest Paint, we're your go-to for reliable information and tutorials on all things body art. With the help of our comprehensive guide, you’ll soon be on the road to mastering the art of airbrush tattoos.

What are Airbrush Tattoos or Temporary Tattoos?

Airbrush tattoos are created by applying makeup-grade liquid body paints to the face and other areas of the body to create unique temporary images on the skin. In addition to temporary liquid paints, airbrush artists use a compressor, an airbrush (also known as an airbrush gun) and stencils to create designs ranging from realistic to fantasy.

Airbrush Tattoos

Image Courtesy of Barbara Breitung - Tappy's Face Painting

Airbrush Tattoo Supplies You Need for Temporary Tattoos

Creating beautiful and professional-looking airbrush tattoos requires the following:

airbrush face painting

Airbrush Compressor, Guns and Accessories

A typical airbrush kit consists of a compressor, multiple airbrushes or spray guns, hoses, adapters (if applicable), bottles (if applicable), a holster or holder, fittings, regulators, valves, and, depending on whether you are using electricity or not, a CO2 tank.

different kinds of airbrush face painting compressors

You won’t need a large compressor to create amazing temporary tattoos; smaller compressors with a low PSI will work just fine. But be aware of battery-operated models, as they tend to lose power after short periods. If you’re just starting, you won’t need a compressor that runs on CO2 tanks unless operating in an area without power. Those tanks can be pretty heavy, and they add complexity to the process.

When it comes to airbrush applicators or guns, you can choose among top-fed (gravity-fed) models, bottom-fed (siphon-fed) models, no-contact or zero-G models, side-fed models (which can work as either gravity-fed or siphon-fed depending on the angle), and models with single or dual-action triggers. A reputable supplier can help you select the suitable model for your needs.

Type of Airbrush Guns

You should be able to purchase a small starter set that includes a compressor, hoses, and airbrushes for roughly $200.

Airbrush makeup - liquid body paints for airbrush tattoos

Your ability to create stunning temporary tattoos will depend on the quality of the airbrush makeup (liquid body paints) you use.

Water-Based Airbrush Temporary Tattoo Paints

While they’re probably your cheapest option, many experienced airbrush tattoo artists have abandoned water-based airbrush body paints in favor of newer hybrid products. Here at Jest Paint, we only sell two:

  • Global Body Art has a concentrated formula that needs to be diluted with distilled water. This and similar airbrush face paints are extremely easy to apply and can be just as easily removed with soap and water. While that makes them ideal for use on young kids, but they’re not very smudge-resistant and won’t resist sweat or water at all.
  • VODA from European Body Art is the new name for VIBE water-based airbrush face paint. It comes in a great selection of long-lasting and easy-to-remove colors. Its alcohol-free formula is ideal for use with children and people with special needs, as it won't irritate the eyes or nose, and it’s quickly becoming the preferred choice for body art applications. While water-based, VIBE is very similar to a hybrid in that it’s extremely water and sweat-resistant as well as smudge-proof.

Silicone Based Airbrush Makeup

If you want a long-lasting, sweat-proof finish, you can’t go wrong with silicone-based airbrush paints. While not as common in the airbrush tattoo world, silicone-based products are very popular in the beauty makeup industry. They have a slightly greasy finish, so you’ll need to use a setting powder to ensure the paint stays in place. Unlike water-based or hybrid airbrush paints for temporary tattoos, these products tend to come in more subtle shades, and you won’t find a wide variety of vibrant colors.

Hybrid Alcohol-Based Airbrush Body Paints for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

Extremely durable, smudge-proof, and long-lasting, hybrid water-based airbrush tattoo paints are quickly becoming the go-to body paints for temporary tattoo artists. ProAiir is the most popular brand on the market. Made from castor oil and alcohol, these paints are water-resistant and sweat-proof. Yet, they can be easily removed with just soap and water using a gentle sponge or rag. Their beautiful and vibrant look will last all day long.

When applying any airbrush face paint, it is essential to always ensure your model keeps their eyes closed and holds their breath. This is especially important for alcohol-based temporary tattoo paints, as the fumes can be slightly irritating to the eyes and nose. The smell will go away after a few seconds, but it is important to make sure your model is not breathing in any of the fumes while you are applying the paint.

Alcohol-Based Airbrush Inks for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

Alcohol-based airbrush inks are similar to hybrid inks but contain a higher concentration of castor oil. As a result, they’re much more durable and resistant to water, sweat and smudging. With care, the paintwork created with these inks can last up to seven days. However, taking too many showers, exposing the paintwork to excessive heat, or rubbing it against sheets and clothes can cause it to decay faster.

When it comes to creating temporary tattoos or body paintings, hybrids are usually the best choice. However, if you need a tattoo that lasts a long time, then inks are the way to go. It's important to remember that inks are more difficult to remove and take extra scrubbing, so they should not be used on sensitive areas of the skin like the face.

European Body Art's Endura and ProAiir Inks provide excellent coverage and long-lasting results, although ProAiir does boast a more extensive selection of colors.

Airbrush Stencils for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

Jest Paint offers a wide range of airbrush stencils for temporary tattoos, from large models perfect for stunning airbrush body art to smaller varieties typically used for airbrush tattoos and face painting

  • With ShowOffs full face stencil sets, you can easily create an entire face painting design, no matter your skill level.

  • For those who like to mix freehand and stencils or create their own unique designs by combining different stencils, we offer an extensive selection of face painting stencils from TAP Stencils, BAM Stencils, Boomerang Stencils, Ooh Stencils, and more.

  • While they are single-use, many beginners prefer glitter tattoo stencils because they adhere to the skin and help prevent paint from bleeding under the stencil.

To explore all your options, be sure to check out our entire collection of Face Painting Stencils.

Brush and Sponges

Some temporary tattoo artists like to add a few final details by hand using sponges or brushes, though this is more typical in face and body painting with airbrush tattoos. It's not required, but if you choose to do it, make sure to use high-quality sponges and brushes.

The Extras for Your Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

To elevate your airbrush tattoo designs, consider adding fine loose glitterchunky glitter, and gems as finishing touches. These additions can create a unique, standout design that will make you shine.

How to do Airbrush Tattoos / Temporary Tattoos

Once you’ve gathered the right tools and supplies, you’re ready to get started. Developing the skills needed to create unique and stunning airbrush face paint designs will take some practice, but with a little dedication and patience on your part, you’ll perfect your technique in no time!

Here are the steps to do airbrush temporary tattoos:


  1. Set up your equipment: Make sure all of your airbrushing equipment is properly assembled. If you're using a siphon type or zero-g style airbrush, make sure you have pre-filled the containers. Attach the hoses to their airbrushes and test each airbrush to make sure they work and have some extra ready to go in case some clog. If you’re using a design board, place it nearby, and make sure your compressor is 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. Have Your Supplies at the Ready: Organize the various colors and stencils you’ll be using and place them somewhere that’s easy to access. Keep some towels and an alcohol spray nearby to help you clean them between customers. Depending on the type of paint you're using, you’ll also need some cleaning fluid or alcohol to clean and flush your airbrush in between colors if you are using top-fed or gravity/side-fed airbrushes.
  3. Create the base work: When creating an airbrush tattoo design, it is important to layer the design to achieve the desired look. Start with a base layer or background, then add a top layer with more intricate details. You can choose to freehand the background with your airbrush or use stencils to create a textured effect. Before you begin, make sure your compressor is set at the correct PSI to avoid hurting your model's skin. Instruct your model to keep still, close their eyes, and hold their breath while you’re spraying.
  4. Add the details: Once the background is completed, you can begin adding details to your airbrush tattoo design. If you are using stencils, make sure that the background and stencil are dry before you begin. Hold the stencil firmly against the skin and “walk” your fingers along the stencil as you move from one section to the other with your airbrush. To keep paint from bleeding under the stencil, ensure that the airbrush pressure isn’t too strong and that the paint hits the stencil at a 90-degree angle. You’ll also want to keep the airbrush at a distance from the stencil so that the paint doesn’t pool, but not too far so that it will overspray outside the stencil area. If you are new to airbrushes and stencils, it's best to spend some time practicing before attempting to paint.

    Airbrush Temporary TattoosImage Courtesy of Candis Murphy

  5. Add the finishing touches: Once you have completed the design, you can use some fine loose glitter, chunky glitters, glitter cremes, gels, or gems to add a little glitz and glamour to the temporary tattoo. A touch of sparkle will allow the design to shimmer in the light and bring a little smile to people's faces!

airbrush face painting

airbrush face painting

Maintenance and Cleanup

It’s important to take proper care of your airbrush and accessories. Once a gig concludes, make sure you always:

  • Flush your airbrush with the appropriate cleaner. Make sure to take the airbrush apart to clean the needle, taking care that the tip of the needle is not bent or smashed. Clean the airbrush tip and the area that holds the paint, and reassemble the airbrush once they’re dry.
  • If you use Zero G or siphon-style airbrushes, make sure the paint containers are airtight sealed (you might need to add some electrical-style paint around the caps and the screw-on lids).
  • Soak your stencils in water and soap or alcohol, depending on the kind of paint used, and clean them gently so they are ready for storage.
  • If you use a CO2 tank, check that it has enough CO2 for your next event. If you use a battery-operated compressor, make sure to recharge it.
  • Finally, don’t forget to clean the humidity trap if your compressor has one.

Thank you for reading!

If you need supplies to get started, please visit our online shop. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, be sure to check out our Airbrush Temporary Tattoo and Body Painting gallery.

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


Disclosure: The author used GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model to aid with the writing (to get better formulated sentences, synonyms, etc). Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication. The actual ideas are 100% the author's creation, the AI was just used to aid in redaction and sentence structure.

Previous article Body Makeup and Waterproof Body Makeup Guide
Next article Airbrush Makeup Face Paint and Body Paint - The Complete Guide

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields