Care and Cleaning Your Airbrush Makeup System

Probably the biggest (or only) downside with airbrush makeup systems is the amount of cleaning required. But, once you have a good routine it isn’t much of a hassle at all and no more stress than keeping your brushes and sponges clean.

There’s cleaning between makeups and cleaning after applying your makeup and this all takes time. No airbrush will work properly without being cleaned regularly and correctly–this is just the nature of airbrushing.

However, there are a few simple tricks you can learn to cut down cleaning time and there are a few ways you can go about keeping the airbrush clean and functioning perfectly.

We’ve put together a handy guide and will be adding new tips regularly. Feel free to post a comment with any suggestions or tips of your own!

  • Most kits come with some kind of fluid cleaner which may be distilled water, alcohol based, chemical based or chemical free. It’s always recommended to use the cleaning fluid that comes with your kit and to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning guide. Some airbrush makeup systems also come with a cleaning kit which will have all the right tools for the individual components of the airbrush gun. You can also purchase cleaning kits online but sometimes just a Q-tip is good enough!
  • We prefer to avoid chemical based cleaners for both health and environmental reasons. You don’t need turpentine, alcohol, or any other harsh cleaners! Distilled water is often enough but when you need something stronger try Nurturing Force’s chemical free Alternative. It’s an awesome cleaner which does a great job and is non-toxic, food-grade, hypoallergenic and pH balanced.
  • Silicone-based makeups can look more radiant than water-based ones but they are also harder to clean. However, ALL makeup will have to be removed from the airbrush after use to ensure the long life of your machine. You can do this with specialized cleaning brushes or a Q-tip with some cleaner on the end.
  • Using a Q-tip (or cleaning brush) wipe out any makeup from within the cup. Always be careful not to damage the needle when you do this.
  • There will still be some residual makeup which can be rinsed off easily with distilled water using the ‘back bubbling’ technique. To do this, simply put a few drops of distilled water in the cup, block the nozzle of the airbrush with your finger and pull back on the control lever allowing the air to escape up through the cup which will cause the water to bubble and loosen the makeup in the airbrush. Then remove your finger from the nozzle and spray the liquid onto a tissue. Repeat the process until you no longer see makeup spraying out from the gun. This should take two or three passes.
  • Remember, it’s better to use distilled water when cleaning your airbrush because it is free from minerals (such as calcium) which will build up as residue over time.
  • Clean the needle by removing it and rub off the excess makeup which will have built up around it.
  • It is also a great idea to soak the airbrush in a container of distilled water, nozzle down, with the control lever open. Leave the needle out of the solution. Dinair sells a ‘docking jar’ and rubber band which are specially made for this purpose.
  • You can also do a maintenance clean of the nozzle by removing the air-cap and wiping it gently with a Q-tip soaked in cleaner.
  • When cleaning always make sure you don’t leave any bits of tissue, Q-tip fibres or cloth in the airbrush components! A lint-free cloth is the safest way to go as are the cleaning brushes and kits which are specialised for the job!

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • I don’t find cleaning a hassle at all – I got a cup for mine and it’s no problem. But you’re right that there are some parts in the airbrush makeup gun that might get damaged.. have to be careful

  • [...] Question: Is it difficult to keep an airbrush makeup gun clean? Answer: Not at all. Most airbrush makeup kits come with the cleaning fluid you need and it is usually simply a matter of running some of this cleaner through the airbrush gun as well as ‘back bubbling’ with some water. You may also need to wipe certain parts of the airbrush gun down with a lint free cloth. The best thing for your airgun is to soak it in a container of distilled water (some airbrush makeup kits come with this or you can make your own). For more detailed help with this please refer to our section on care and cleaning. [...]

  • [...] easily and can feel a little flimsy in the hand. This is why we always emphasize the importance of care and cleaning! Once you get a good technique going though it is possible to achieve a decent result. Remember, [...]

  • [...] As with pretty much all airbrushes, the Dinair does require proper cleaning and care so be sure to check out our guide to care & cleaning. [...]

  • [...] which come with the Belloccio airbrush on how to do this and I provide tips in the ‘care and cleaning‘ section of this website. The 1/16 oz gravity fed cup (which sits on top of the airbrush gun) [...]

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