Iwata Airbrush Makeup Equipment – The Choice of Professionals

The last few years have seen some really impressive advances in the quality of airbrush makeup kits. Great brands like Temptu, Dinair, The Kett Jett, MAC Air are familiar to most people who have an interest in airbrushing.

But if you want to use the best equipment, Iwata is the top name in airbrush makeup systems. Originally built for airbrushing artists and industrial use, Iwata recently started producing compressors and airbrush guns specifically for makeup artists and are also partnering with big makeup brands like M.A.C. Cosmetics and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics to produce both professional and home-consumer level airbrushing systems for use with their makeup.

Iwata produces many different compressors which differ in PSI strength and function and they also sell several types of makeup gun–but not all of them are suited to airbrushing makeup so be sure to read on for advice in selecting the right Iwata equipment for use with cosmetics.

The cheapest place to buy Iwata equipment is on Amazon where you’ll usually get a 30-40% discount to RRP.

For makeup artists the ‘High Performance’ line of airbrush guns are the most popular and recommended by Iwata for use with cosmetics. These are the best quality airbrushes in the industry and can handle makeup from any brand whether silicone or water-based. Both the earlier model HP-CS and the upgraded HP-C Plus are perfect for airbrushing makeup and are built to last forever. Both are extremely well balanced, dual-action airguns, with large cups that sit close to the front in order to reduce makeup lag and results in an instant response when you press the trigger.

I am a big fan of the HP-C Plus which is beautifully designed, easy to assemble and disassemble, and built to the highest standards out of the best quality materials like stainless steel and Teflon. The cleverly designed nozzle and needle configuration means that the airbrush works extremely well with variable PSI compressors for when you need to move from large areas of coverage to fine detail. The large cup in combination with the almost indestructible needle/nozzle means that the HP-C Plus is perfect for those of us who like to mix color combinations and experiment with makeup from every brand out there.

The compressors produced by Iwata are second to none. Since Iwata originally produced compressors for industrial use, some of these are far too powerful for use with cosmetics (some go as high as 100PSI!). For use in the home the Silver Jet seems to be the most popular choice for makeup though I would not necessarily recommend it. It is relatively quiet and powerful with a variable PSI from 10 to 18 but I would much prefer a compressor that can go under 10PSI for fine work. The Ninja Jet is much smaller and lighter with a gentler PSI range from 5 to 18. A lower PSI is better for beginners as well as finer work but unfortunately the small size has resulted in a much louder motor.

My favorite Iwata compressor… in fact, my favorite compressor of all time is by far the Smart Jet Pro (not to be confused by the previous model smart jet). It is the perfect compressor for airbrushing makeup with a true variable PSI range of 1-35 as well as a super quiet motor. If you are really serious about airbrushing makeup then this is the compressor for you.

For studio and salon use, the Power Jet series take airbrushing makeup to the next level with greater PSI range, dual ports, pressure regulators and a much higher price tag! But, for me, I take great comfort knowing that Iwata has been around for many years and has a great reputation in all the different fields they cater to.

20 Comments + Add Comment

  • I am currently going to beauty school in order to specialize in special effects and monster movie makeup. I also live in an area where there are a lot of very expensive weddings going on and every bride insists on being airbrushed. I am looking for a gun and compressor, as well as good brands of makeup, for both areas I will be working in. We recently had PURE Pro Airbrushing at our school and I wasn’t particularly impressed. Any advice is much appreciated, thanks!

    • Hi Stephanie – thanks for visiting and sharing your experience with PURE Pro. There are so many different brands out there now and not all of them are great. Once you have a bit of experience with a few different brands and get a bit of knowledge as to what makes one ‘good’ and another ‘bad’ then you can tell pretty quickly which brands are going to be good for you.
      Probably most Special FX airbrush makeup artists use Graftobian products and makeup. Graftobian are predominantly Iwata brand compressors and makeup guns and it’s their makeup which is their own unique formula. You want a bigger and more powerful compressor like the Smart Jet when doing body art because the smaller compressors won’t be as good for covering larger areas and, most likely, will overheat after 40minutes or so. The compressors that have a range of 0-45PSI are much better, especially when you combine these with an airbrush gun like the HP C+ which can do fine lines for detail as well as larger areas. These are more expensive though but the investment over time is worth it – you’ll learn a lot more from a machine like this and, if it’s something you really know you are going to do over then next few years (and longer) then a good airbrush makeup system like this will last (and, holds its value if you want to sell it).
      I wrote a more on Iwata here but am also in the process of writing more reviews on the individual airbrush makeup set-ups as well as some of the Graftobian ones as a lot of people have been requesting this.
      Let me know if you need any more advice! :)

  • Hello,
    I mostly do bridal makeup, what compressor would you recommend? I have Dinair, Temptu compressors & systems but looking for something different…

    • Hello Aute – Lots of MUA’s use the Silver Jet but it’s not quite as pro as the Smart Jet Pro. The Smart Jet Pro won’t overheat. But the Silver Jet is smaller and more portable and a very capable machine. It really depends how many people you are doing in one day. If you are doing makeup for the bride and bride’s maids then the Smart Jet Pro is perfect with the HP C+ or HPCS airbrush gun. You can use practically any brand of makeup with this set-up and you can do fine detailed work as well as larger areas. It’s also a very professional looking machine so the bridal party will be impressed! The down-side though is that it is way more expensive than the Silver Jet or Dinair/Temptu systems. Temptu does have a pro machine which is very good too.

  • This article was great! Thank you so much for all the info. I’m a licensed cosmetologist in Chicago and am breaking in airbrush as well. I will mostly be doing weddings but want to do special FX as well. I recently received and Iwata airbrush machine for my birthday and was wondering what foundations you feel work best? I’m going to the Chicago makeup show this weekend and can do a lot of shopping ;) thank you so much! I appreciate it. Also, I have the high performance plus (HP-C Plus) gun and the sprint jet air compressor :)

    • Hi Sarah! A lot of makeup can be put through the Iwata systems and the HP-C+. Put OCC on your shopping list (they’ll be there)! Definitely MAC too – their airbrush makeup is perfect for your setup. Graftobian, Temptu and Kett are also going to be there so you have basically all the best brands right there! :)
      Let me know how you go after the makeup show – it will be fantastic!

  • Hi! I have an Iwata HP CS and smart jet compressor. I’m a beginner and got the deluxe set that came with water based paints. I want to start using it/experimenting with make-up. What brands of foundations can I use for my airbrush? Do I have to go to special beauty shops for it or would good ones be available at local grocery stores?

    • Hi Amanda – congratulations on getting the Iwata Smart Jet! It’s a great compressor. You can use basically anything in this. The key is not to MIX brands. Don’t mix silicone-based with water-based foundations for example. Make sure you clean out the airbrush gun thoroughly before using a different brand.
      Good makeup brands to look out for are MAC, OCC, Temptu, Dinair, Graftobian, and the Camera Ready Cosmetics. You can actually get samples of a few of these from Camera Ready.
      Let me know which becomes your favorite!! :)

  • Ok so I’m starting out and have been reading reviews on various machines . I kno I want a machine that will Primarily be used for bridal makeup … What would you suggest ?
    And would you mind including why / how to. Choose one system to another

    Thank you !!!

    • Hi Kelly – that’s actually a very complicated question! To keep things simple, Temptu Pro is a great choice because of the range of makeup (water/silicone/alcohol based). They also have all the accessories and fixers/powders you’ll need. I’m almost finished my big review of Temptu but it’s a few days away (sorry!). However, I do have this code for 40% Off Products and 20% Off Kits – PRO2014 – :) – note, this works when you are a Pro Artisan member only.
      There are 3 airbrush makeup systems sold by Temptu but you probably don’t want the AirPod system because you can’t mix colors. The S-One compressor is a bit bigger and doesn’t have a portable battery, but is a better compressor than the Temptu Air (which is a bit more expensive because it’s portable). The SP-35 is their best airbrush gun. They have a few different kits that you can look at which will probably contain everything you need.
      Hope that helps! Have a look around my site too because I have lots of reviews of different brands – these should help you decide. :)

      • hi michelle, great website! been looking all over for comprehensive information. thank you for breaking things down. saw the code you posted for temptu products (PRO2014) but it doesnt seem to be working.. any advice?

        • Hi Vivian – I just double checked and it’s a code that works for Pro Artisan members (membership is $30 a year and then you get the discounts) – I’ll update those details in that comment. You can find details on the membership here: http://temptu.com/pro/pro-membership
          Let me know if it works for you (if you choose to join!)

  • Hi Michelle. Thanks so much for this! Particularly useful as I’m looking to surprise my girlfriend with her first airbrush system. Based on the review I was considering the HP-C Plus with Smart Jet Pro compressor. The local supplier made some alternative recommendations though which I wanted to ask your thoughts on. He recommended the Eclipse brush as it has a slightly larger needle and nozzle set (0.35mm), which he said is good for make-up as it is usually thicker than normal airbrush paint. He also recommended the Smart Jet Plus compressor (which he said is the same price locally as the Pro) as the Plus has a small tank (inside the handles) which means you get a constant stream of air and no pulsating; and the compressor switches off when the tank is full. I am way out of my depth so any advice is most welcome :-)

    • Hello Mel – what a wonderful gift! :)
      You sound like you are on the right path so don’t stress out. The Eclipse (HP-CS) is a great choice for airbrush makeup. Most MUA’s will choose either the HP-C Plus or HP-CS. The HP-C Plus will give you finer details but the HP-CS will work perfectly for most airbrush makeup.
      The Smart Jet Plus (or any compressor with a storage tank like the Power Jet) are fantastic to work with. These are for professional makeup artists but aren’t necessary for people doing personal makeup only. If your girlfriend is going Pro then this setup will be perfect and will last her whole career! You can also run a second airbrush gun off this compressor so it’s a great choice.
      However, if she needs an airbrush makeup system for herself only, then the Silver Jet would be the better option because it’s smaller and more portable. The compressors with the tank reservoir are much quieter though so if that’s a concern then definitely go with those.
      I’d love to hear what she thinks of it!! Let me know if you need makeup recommendations! :)

      • Thanks Michelle. She has wanted one for so long so think this will make a great birthday gift! She will use it for herself and for bridal makeup – I am debating between the Smart/Power Jet and one of the smaller ones like a Silver Jet – which is about a third of the price (perhaps that money is better spent on a better brush like the HP-C Plus, and on some starter makeup?) In terms of makeup, I will probably look to get some Kryolan as I know she loves their products and they are meant to be very good? Thanks again!

        • Hi Mel – The Silver Jet is still a great machine and can be used for bridal. But it is a smaller motor so can overheat if you leave it running for over 30 minutes or so. But it’s smaller and more portable so sometimes preferable – especially for personal use. The other compressors are professional machines and she will never need any other compressor. So, it’s really a question of size, use and cost. Kryolan makeup is perfect. Camera Ready Cosmetics also sell sample sizes of different brands and she may want to try all sorts of brands once she gets going (like MAC, Temptu and OCC). The Smart Jet or Power Jet with the HP-CS will be compatible with most of the airbrush makeup brands. Also, the HP-CS is still a great brush so don’t stress about that though. Good luck! :)

  • Hi Michelle,
    Your website is amazing and so helpful :)
    I’ve just bought an sliver jet system and I’ve got a mac pro card but now I’m not sure what shades to buy to begin with, I live in Scotland so most people have fair skin if you could give me any advice on shades? also I was wondering about highlighters? I always use YSL touche eclat could I still apply this after using the airbrush? also can you use powdered blushers? and one final question is art deco’s setting powder good for over the top? sorry for all the questions,


    • Hi Gillian – thanks for visiting and congrats on getting the Silver Jet! :)
      With MAC you have the options W, NW, C and NC (warm, neutral warm, cool and neutral cool). The Warms and for yellow to beige undertones and cool is for pinky hues. MAC have nice pale shades and you’ll probably want to look at NC10 and NW15 for Scotland. Remember you can also dilute the MAC foundation with the cleanser.

      You will probably be safer using YSL touche before airbrushing rather than over the top – using it like a concealer. But, try it over the top – it’s always good to experiment! And there’s no problem powdering blush over MAC airbrush makeup – their blush is very smooth and great to use. Beautiful colors too!

      Art Deco Setting powder isn’t really necessary with MAC airbrush foundation. You’ll probably prefer the look you can achieve without setting powder. I also find that a finer powder like Mist & Fix works better with Silicone Based makeup.

      Hope that helps!! :)

  • Hi Michelle; Thank you so much for this article. I just purchased the HP-C Plus and the Smart Jet Pro. I have been looking to replace my equipment, and your breakdowns were very very helpful. Thanks for making my decision very clear. It is most appreciated. :)

    • Thank you Jacqueline! I’m glad I could help you find a great machine – you’ll LOVE it! :)

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