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.

12 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!)

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