Brushing Up

Airbrush makeup has a firm foundation in looking good and lasting long
Brushing Up
Photograph By Cybelle Codish

We can’t help but admire — and yearn for — the seemingly flawless complexions of models and celebrities who grace the glossy pages of fashion magazines.

Most of us know, of course, that such radiant skin comes courtesy of optimum lighting, skilled makeup artists, digital retouching, and, yes, airbrushing — a technique whose popularity is increasing in direct relation to intensifying photographic pixel quality.

And when we know that the spotlight is going to be turned our way, we naturally want a bit of that celebrity perfection. With my wedding less than a year away, I’m on a quest for the best camera-ready makeup for my big day.

For insight, I turned to my former Michigan State University sorority sister Kelli Zink, who is now a reporter for Celeb TV. “I love the look airbrush makeup provides,” says Zink, who does on-location reporting from a variety of A-List Hollywood events. “It gives your skin the most flawless appearance, almost a doll-like quality.”

Zink’s TV schedule has certainly put the makeup technique through some rigorous testing. “Sometimes I have shoots from 6 a.m. until 9 at night; then I may have an event after. Believe it or not, airbrush doesn’t budge,” she says.

With that positive feedback, I went to see Marlene DeWitt, an airbrush-makeup artist at Bocci Salon & Spa in Sterling Heights. The airbrush technique is still a fairly new concept in Michigan; most area salons don’t yet offer the service. “People don’t like to get out of their comfort zone,” says DeWitt, who has been honing her airbrush technique for five years. That experience persuaded me to try her four-set process.

Step 1: DeWitt wiped my face to remove unwanted oils. Any moisture must be oil free so that the airbrushed foundation will adhere to the skin.

Step 2: After colors were selected to match my skin tone, DeWitt loaded the liquid foundation into her airbrush pen. At the time, I was wearing a cream-colored sweater and worried that the spray might stain my clothes. But DeWitt explains that the makeup doesn’t stray beyond the face. No smock is needed. With that assurance, DeWitt begins methodically spraying the foundation with even strokes that feel like a warm breeze on my face. She does the same with the blush application.

Step 3: After the foundation and blush are applied, DeWitt adds a setting liquid moisturizer, which, she says, “helps the makeup melt into the skin.” The setting solution is finished off with a dusting of powder.

Step 4: With the foundation set, DeWitt applies typical eye shadow, liner, mascara, and lipstick. In 25 minutes, I’m done.

With no mirrors nearby, I’d been unable to view the transformation. DeWitt hands me a mirror and I’m overwhelmingly impressed by the results.

I’d been told that the makeup would feel heavy and artificial looking. Jon Jordan, WDIV-TV style editor, is among those who think the results may be less than natural looking.

“As the industry transitions to high definition, we are rethinking many of the makeup practices that have long been in place,” he says. “Airbrush makeup is definitely a hot topic, but, in my opinion, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

“I have always been a proponent of natural-looking, beautiful, but believable makeup. Luckily, the technology keeps advancing and the results keep improving. At this point, I’m not sold on the benefits of airbrushing. We don’t use this technique at Local 4.”

Jordan also says the results can look artificial.

That was not my experience, however. On the contrary, I found the look to be quite natural.

And, as my friend had experienced, the look lasted all day with no budging or flaking. There was never a point when I felt I needed a touchup.

“It keeps you matte a lot longer than a regular foundation does,” DeWitt says. “It’s not waterproof, but it’s pretty darn close.”

For $65 and all-day coverage, this is definitely a treatment to which I could say, “I do.”