Which foundation is right for me? Airbrush vs. Mineral vs. Traditional

Authors Note: While the following is an excellent synopsis of each system of makeup and its results, bear in mind that all makeup is only as good or bad as the artist applying it. Application and skill will always be the more significant factor regarding any makeup service. As neutral as this article attempts to be, other makeup artists may agree or disagree with it depending on their own personal experience. The actual makeup product does not make or break the look, regardless of what makeup medium is used. It is the artist and their method alone that truly create long-lasting, flawless and impeccable beauty, and therefore should be considered with more care than the product used.

Makeup today has evolved so far from even 20 years ago, where a slick and oily foundation dominated the main market and therefore, by lack of option, determined what women wore. Today, we have a wide range of products at our disposal, from oil-free, non-transferable, medicated, and even makeup that touts claims to make skin look younger. When it comes to a big event, be it photo, wedding, or just plain fun, the claims makeup lines can make to prove their product worthy of your hard earned dollar can be somewhat contradicting. Here’s the real scoop on the three main stream and most requested types of makeup.


What it is: A light-weight makeup applied through an air gun machine that produces a thin, even layer of makeup and creates a very matte finish.

How it’s used: A small amount of a very thin makeup designed for air brush use is put into a chamber of a gun. When the machine is turned on and the gun trigger pulled, a light spray of makeup comes out of the gun in a fine mist.

Airbrush makeup has become extremely popular in the past few years. This is largely due to perfect complexion models that are “airbrushed” to give every part of their body a flawless finish. Most women confuse “airbrush” with makeup, when it is actually a technique used in PhotoShop, a picture alteration program, to make the models look flawless. Airbrush makeup is non-transferable, meaning that slight rubbing or brushing against something or someone will not cause the makeup to come off of the face.  Black clothes will remain black after hugging someone wearing airbrush makeup.

Airbrush makeup, like any other makeup, has it’s ups and downs. On the upside, once it’s on, dry rubbing won’t make it transfer, and unless it gets wet, it won’t go anywhere until you wash it off. On the other hand, if it does become wet thru crying or sweating, you run the risk of it streaking. Imagine a dusty table, if you ran your finger across it, you could clearly see a line from the surface underneath, even if the colors are the same. And like a dusty table, once that line is there, you can do nothing to blend it back. The table must be wiped entirely clean. Same thing with airbrush makeup, if the makeup for any reason gets wet and leaves a streak, there is nothing than can be done to blend it. Even airbrushing over the area will not blend the streak. The solution to this problem is to constantly be aware of any wetness and to maintain it throughout the day by dabbing your tear ducts and remaining cool so you don’t sweat heavily. If your attending an event where you’re positive you will stay and remain dry, airbrush makeup can offer that red-carpet finish you have always wanted.


What it is: Several minerals are treated through various oxidizing processes to create different shades, and then crushed together to form fine powders that can be applied to the face and used as makeup.

How it’s used: Mineral makeup is usually applied with a brush, although it can be used with a sponge for thicker and more precise applications. Some lines offer different steps to wearing their mineral makeup, including primers that are applied to the face before the foundation to provide holding power, create an even porosity on the skins surface, and a smoother, more matte finish all around.

Mineral makeup is another makeup that has taken the nation by storm over the past few years. With science and research looking into the effect we have had on our planet over the past hundreds of thousands of years, we are starting to become more aware of our environment, and therefore, more aware of our own health and well being. The organic industry has soared to new heights, as we search to become a healthier nation filled with natural living options as opposed to chemically enhanced lifestyles. Makeup is no exception. When the chemicals that were used to manufacture makeup were exploited in a whirlwind of propaganda, mineral makeup became popular and the chemicals in our every day makeup caught some flack for why our skin is too dry, too oily, too acne, too wrinkled, so on and so forth. Using mineral makeup creates a feeling of good health, both on the inside and out.

As wonderful as mineral makeup is, it’s not suitable for everyone in every situation. Women suffering from acne, or getting at any time facial treatments that compromise the integrity of their skin, will greatly benefit from the use of mineral makeup as their daily main stay. Its minimal ingredients assure that no unnecessary chemicals are being added to their already sensitive skin, and creates a minimal reaction to any treatments they may be under going. It is not appropriate, though, to use mineral makeup in any situation where photographs are an important part of the event. Its natural composition includes minerals with reflective properties, creating an almost pearly finish. When worn while taking a picture, the light from the camera and any surrounding light will reflect off those minerals, creating a bright and distinctly lighter face than any other body part. This makeup, while a great choice for daily wear, is simply not camera ready.


What it is: Pancake, liquid, cream, or pressed powder that is usually applied with a sponge or finger tips. Traditional makeup comes in the widest variety of any other makeup, with every shade available. It’s also the most versatile of all the makeup; it can be as basic as a sheer tint of coverage, or combined with other properties to create a makeup that targets specific problems.

How it’s used: This particular makeup is the only makeup that, given the appropriate formula is chosen, can be used in any situation at any given time. It can be applied many different ways, from brush methods used with thicker foundations, to finger tips used for light and well blended applications.

Ah, the days as kids when we would sneak into our mother’s vanity to smear that thick, gooey substance across our faces and prance around as if we were going to a party. This is probably the makeup that is sitting in your case right now. It can be liquid, it can be pressed, and it may even come in a stick form that you have to twist up. Whatever form it takes, the right formula can do wonders for your look. Women with dry or mature skin benefit from the thicker of the traditional foundations. As their skin typically needs large amounts of hydration, the oils that compose of a cream based foundation lend kindly to their skin, creating a smoother finish. Young adult women tend to prefer a more liquid, oil free foundation or a pressed powder with good coverage. The formula that suites you best would be based on your skin type, and with many more options to be listed than could possible fit into this article. Nothing but good research and trial error can lead you to the formula that’s right for you. Then the teenagers have their makeup too. Usually a cheap, watery substance to make them “look” and “feel” like they are wearing makeup and to cover the occasional pimple, investing large amounts of money is not usually needed. However, if the teen as severe acne or other skin problems, you will want to talk to a dermatologist and find the best solution for their skin, as their makeup may be part of the problem. If you or your teen is fair and the skin in good condition, the best bet is a tinted moisturizer with a high SPF or sunscreen underneath.

Traditional makeup, put simply, can be amazing or disastrous depending on what the formula is and how it’s applied. This is the one makeup that it totally dependent on the person applying it- even a good, high quality product can look awful if applied in a sloppy fashion. And a low quality, inappropriate formula can some times be adjusted with an experienced hand to create the right look. And although, like its main competitor airbrush, it typically does rub off slightly or fade a little over the course of the day, it is highly bendable therefore anything can be fixed within seconds. It’s my personal belief, off the record, that this is the most versatile, therefore the best option, for wedding makeup.

Every makeup has its own virtues, and its own sins. Ultimately, your personal preferences will be the biggest factor in choosing what you wear on what occasions. However, if you take nothing else from this, understand: The best kind of makeup you can wear is the makeup that is customized to fit YOU. Don’t buy into the propaganda about how this versus that is oh so much better. In reality, that foundation may be great for their skin, but your skin has different properties, different assets, and different problems of its own. A great makeup artist won’t have a set way of doing makeup; she’ll have a variety of styles to choose from so she can create the best look for you and your event. So what if your beautiful sister-in-law had her makeup done with the fancy airbrush machine? So what if your organic-yet-so-cool co-worker ONLY wears mineral makeup? And if your rich Grandma swears by that $400 bottle of liquid foundation? Who cares? Trust me when I say this, no one is going to look at your makeup and know if it’s one of those three, or how much you spent on it. They are only going to see how beautiful you are.