Airbrush Makeup Review: Iwata Silver Jet (The BIG Review)
This airbrush makeup review is a very detailed and long review of the Iwata Silver Jet Airbrush Makeup Compressor. Click here to skip to the final verdict if you don’t have time to read through the entire article.
Iwata is the #1 brand in all types of airbrushing and probably the most popular of the Iwata compressors for airbrush makeup artists who are looking for a balance between affordability and high quality. The Iwata Silver Jet is a great choice when combined with the right airbrush gun and can be seen as a step up into the ‘pro’-grade machines. It may not be as good as the Power Jet or Smart Jet, but it’s still a fantastic compressor, especially for those who look for reliability and great price. With a working pressure ranging between 10-30 PSI it is perfectly suited to foundation, blush and highlighting.
The Iwata Silver Jet is a little more expensive than the smaller home-use compressors, but you definitely get what you pay for in quality and reliability. It uses an oil-less, piston motor that won’t need any servicing and includes top quality materials and features like the coiled air-hose, Pistol-Grip Filter, pressure adjustable knob, handle, airbrush holder, pressure gauge and air-hose connector.
Keep in mind that with Iwata equipment you almost always buy the compressor and the airbrush gun separately. They don’t often get sold as an ‘airbrush makeup system’ like other brands. This means you need to do a little bit of research to see which airbrush gun and which makeup you want to use with the Iwata Silver Jet. If you are looking for the compressor and Iwata CS Airbrush Gun combination on Amazon, you can find it via the link provided (ships from TCP Global).
Iwata The Company
Iwata is a pretty awesome company. They have been around for a very long time and have developed a reputation amongst airbrush artists as being the best of the best. They are also very popular with hobbyists who use Iwata equipment to spray paint their designs, often requiring very fine detail. Iwata has more recently become popular with Airbrush Makeup Artists and is also the choice for MAC Pro with their fantastic makeup and system. There are a few different Iwata compressors ranging from the personal-use Iwata Neo Miniature Compressor, to the amazing Studio Series Power Jet Pro Double Piston Air Compressor.
All the compressors are backed by a 12 month warranty and all the airbrush guns are backed by an amazing 5 year warranty! They also provide a cleaning and maintenance service for $25 which is fantastic – you know your airbrush will be in good hands. If you don’t want to pay the $25 for the service they also provide technical support over the phone in which they provide general usage information, cleaning tips, and troubleshooting.
The Iwata Silver Jet Airbrush Makeup Compressor
The Silver Jet is around about the middle range of the Iwata compressors. It’s like the Goldilocks of compressors for airbrush makeup because it’s ‘just right’. The working PSI range is just what you’ll need for foundation, blush and contouring and the variable airflow allows you to do fine work too. If you need it for bodywork or tanning the higher PSI range is adequate for full body tanning.
Iwata Airbrush Guns – What To Use With The Silver Jet
The Silver Jet isn’t always sold with the airbrush gun (so be careful when you’re buying it because sometimes it is pictured with an airbrush gun!). There are a few airbrush guns that work well with the Silver Jet for makeup. These are some I recommend–there are more that are compatible but these tend to work best for makeup. Look for an airbrush that is gravity-fed with a large cup and also variable spray pattern. Also check what working PSI the airbrush is compatible with. “HP” stands for “High Performance” by the way! The Silver Jet should include adapters for use with non-Iwata branded airbrush guns like Sparmax and Badger.
The Iwata HP-CS: An earlier model from Iwata, it’s very popular with makeup artists. Spray pattern – Hairline to 2″ (50-mm), Round; 0.35mm needle and drop-in self-centering nozzle combination; large 1/3 oz gravity-feed cup (funnel shape, which makes for easy clean up and more efficient paint flow)
The HP-C+: My personal favorite because of the generous cup size (1/3 oz -9 ml) gravity-feed cup. It’s dual action and works with almost all types of liquid makeup with a 0.3-mm needle/nozzle configuration. Spray pattern – Hairline to 1″ (25-mm), Round.
Iwata-Medea Revolution: A good entry level airbrush gun with a generous 1/3 oz (0.9 ml) Gravity-Feed cup and a Larger nozzle and needle combination (0.5-mm) that makes for easier spraying of thicker or heavier liquid makeup (like silicone-based) but doesn’t give fine detail.
Sparmax DH103: 0.3mm needle/nozzle and a 0.7 ml gravity feed cup
Sparmax SP35: A popular and affordable airbrush for makeup artists with a nozzle size of 0.35mm but a smaller 0.2cc gravity feed cup.
Which Airbrush Makeup To Use With The Silver Jet
The great thing about Iwata compressors and airbrush guns is that they are suitable for a wide range of liquid makeup. Iwata aren’t specifically a makeup brand–because they cater for fine-artists, hobbyists and nail artists (and much more) they are built to be compatible with all types of liquid paints.
As Airbrush Makeup Artists we have to be aware of what combination of Iwata compressor and airbrush gun is best suited to liquid makeup that can be silicone-based, water-based, alcohol-based or aloe-based. If you have the right set-up, then you can put any of these through your Iwata airbrush makeup system!
This means that you can experiment!! Find your favorite airbrush makeup brand (or brands) and keep trying new ones.
MAC exclusively use Iwata equipment with their MAC Air system. So, you might want to make MAC one of the first brands you try. However, they are only available from the MAC Pro stores and can be difficult to track down elsewhere (be careful of counterfeit bottles sold online).
Another silicone-based airbrush makeup that is great through this system is Temptu. For a dewy look that will be longer lasting than water-based makeup, check out Temptu.
For great water-based makeup Dinair is usually the first option. They have a strong share of the market and they bring out new collections all the time. You can also use their paramedical (thicker) makeup through the Iwata – but not at the same time as their normal foundation.
Also, check out the vegan OCC makeup. Wonderful liquid makeup that you can also apply by hand! One of my favorites. Others you may like are Belloccio, Tickled Pink (an aloe-based makeup – make sure you don’t have an aloe allergy – very gentle on the skin) and Camera Ready Cosmetics.
Graftobian produce very good makeup too and have a range of body-paints. Graftobian are a favorite with the Special FX makeup industry and most of their airbrush makeup systems are actually Iwata brand equipment too!
Remember – don’t mix different makeup brands! Otherwise there will be clogging! And, also, use a cleaner that has the same base as the makeup you are using.
Customer Service is a hard one to judge with Iwata because they don’t sell their equipment directly but are available through various approved distributors. However, they are renowned for their very robust and well-built equipment which is much less likely to fail than a lot of the cheaper, personal-use brands. Iwata have a 12 month warranty with free telephone Technical Support which covers general usage information, cleaning tips, and troubleshooting. Since they have one of the best reputations in the airbrush industry, they want to keep their customers happy and are a big enough company to provide good service and support for their products.
Using The Iwata Silver Jet Airbrush Makeup System
The Iwata Silver Jet compressor is very simple to use and easy to put together out of the box. Like many compressors, it has an adjustable variable airflow knob which ranges from 10-30 working PSI (indicated by a positive (‘+’) and negative (‘–’) symbol. You can monitor the PSI via the PSI gauge which is on the right hand side of the front.
There’s a little airbrush dock in the center of the compressor which is a handy place to keep the airbrush gun when you’re not using it or in between applications. You can actually sit the airbrush gun quite securely here which allows you to put a few drops of foundation in the cup without having to hold the airbrush gun with your other hand. So, it’s kind of ‘hands free’!
The Iwata Silver Jet is not a continuous flow compressor so it will only release air when you press the trigger on your airbrush gun. Have a play with this to get the right PSI for you. When you are new to airbrushing, stick with a lower PSI which is easier to work with. You can increase the pressure (and your speed of application) as you learn. The air comes out of the Air Outlet on the right side of the compressor.
NB: Don’t forget to keep the trigger pressed to release all the pressure from the compressor when you switch it off to avoid pressure build-up!
Sometimes water may collect in the Pistol Grip Filter (more on this below). You can release the water by pushing up on the release valve with your finger and aiming into a cotton swab or paper towel.
I guess I should mention that the on/off switch is on the right panel – but I’m sure you’ll find that when you buy it! A few things to note are the rubber stand and steel plate covers which really add to the robust and durable feel of the Silver Jet. It also helps to reduce noise.
Who Will Like The Iwata Silver Jet Airbrush Compressor?
The Iwata Silver Jet is really a great choice for a lot of airbrush makeup artists. It’s the perfect choice for those wanting to start a business or who are early into their career as a professional and it’s also great for those who want a personal-use machine that is very reliable and also versatile. It’s a great machine to learn on because it has variable and consistent airflow but it’s also a great machine for professional MUA’s who are on a tight budget or don’t specialize only in airbrushing, but need this as an additional service for their clients. It’s portable enough to take to the clients but also looks great in the salon. However, it’s not super-light like some of the other machines.
Who Will Not Like The Iwata Silver Jet Airbrush Compressor?
There are more affordable options out there and, though they might not be as good, you may not need a high quality machine. For many, the personal use airbrush makeup systems like Dinair, Belloccio and Tickled Pink are fine and they take up a lot less space! If you aren’t really interested in using a large variety of makeup and are happy with one brand, then you don’t need the Iwata setup. Also, if you aren’t really sure you will like airbrushing, then these personal-use systems are probably a better choice because they aren’t as expensive and also are a little easier to learn out of the box. However, the combination of the Iwata Silver Jet with an HPCS gun is not much higher than a lot of the smaller personal-use systems (not including the makeup samples).
Also, if you are starting a salon and have the budget, you are better off looking at the smart jet or power jet compressors.
For those who are more technically minded, the technical specifications of the Iwata Silver Jet are: single piston 1/8 hp motor (perfect for infrequent/short period use); continuous run with pressure bleed valve; working pressure from 10 psi to 30 psi; air flow is 0.26 cfm: 8 litres per minute; Weight 2.8kg; coiled plastic air hose “CT110”; 3 metres in length; pistol grip moisture filter.
Probably the most important of these specs to you are the weight and working pressure. It’s definitely not a ‘light-weight’ machine and isn’t the most portable compressor. However, the working pressure is perfect for airbrush makeup which makes it a popular option for Airbrush Makeup Artists.
With a good PSI range of up to 30PSI the Silver Jet is a great option for tanning. Though a lot of airbrush compressors can go as high as 60PSI and even up to 100PSI you can really get away with 20-30PSI for tanning and it’s definitely possible to get your whole body bronzed in 10 minutes with this setup.
Remember that it’s still technically not a “Pro” machine and lacks features like an air-tank reservoir so you can’t keep it running for over an hour as it will overheat. Most airbrush makeup compressors are like this and it is really only when you get into the true professional machines (like the smart jet or power jet). However, the silver jet has just the right balance between price, quality/reliability and portability to make it worthwhile for a semi-professional, part-time MUA, a second/back-up airbrush makeup compressor or even for home use only.
Packaging: What’s in the Box?
- Compressor: (note that a lot the time the Silver Jet compressor is sold separate from the airbrush gun but sometimes includes a product photo WITH the gun. Double check to make sure you are buying what you think you are buying. The Silver Jet has a few features for convenient storage such as the cord wrap-around and the airbrush gun holder.
- Airbrush Airhose: This is a coiled, 6 foot airhouse which is extremely durable. It won’t kink at all and is much better than the thin, rubber or silicone hoses you get with many other brands.
- Pistol Grip Filter: The Pistol Grip filter which comes with most Iwata compressors attaches directly to the airbrush and is designed to trap moisture before it builds up inside your machine. It’s basically a filter that collects the moisture which you can visually inspect as it builds up in the little clear filter bowl and then can be removed. This ensures only dry air is delivered to your airbrush gun which means better makeup application and longer life for your airbrush!
- Airbrush adapters: Sometimes the kit also includes adapters for other airbrush brands (these can also be purchased separately). This allows you to use a lot of different airbrush guns with the Iwata compressor.
- Manual: You should receive a manual for the Silver Jet if buying from an authorized seller.
Setting up your compressor
Screw the Pistol Grip Filter onto the airbrush (*important: finger tighten only); Screw the airhose onto the Pistol Grip Filter (finger tighten only); Screw the airhose onto the compressor; Press down on the trigger before turning on the unit; Plug the unit into a grounded wall outlet; Turn ON the unit by pressing the top side of the switch; Adjust the air pressure by turning the air adjustment knob to the desired pressure.
As the unit is being used, water may collect in the Pistol Grip Filter. Release the water by pushing up on the release valve with your finger and aiming into a cotton swab or paper towel.
- Pros: Very good quality; Perfect for makeup application.; Also good for tanning and body art as well as nails; Reasonably affordable; You can use many different types of makeup with different bases (not at the same time though!)
- Cons: The price may be higher than many are willing to pay for an airbrush makeup system (since many personal use brands have sales and include makeup etc); Doesn’t come with Makeup; Doesn’t always come withe the airbrush gun.