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Airbrush Tattoos - The Ultimate Temporary Tattoos Guide

If you are looking to learn how to do airbrush tattoos also called temporary tattoos and need a quick easy-to-follow guide with everything you need to get started, you have come to the right place. Jest Paint is the premiere spot for free information, tutorials, and guide in the body art world. Please keep reading to find everything you need to know about airbrush tattoos.

What are Airbrush Tattoos or Temporary Tattoos?

Airbrush tattoos are the art of spraying the face and or body with makeup-grade face and body paints that come in a liquid form to create unique temporary tattoo designs, either realistic ones or more fantasy-like. Airbrush artists use a compressor, an airbrush (also known as an airbrush gun), liquid face paints, and stencils to paint their designs on the skin.

Airbrush Tattoos

Image Courtesy of Barbara Breitung - Tappy's Face Painting

Airbrush Tattoo Supplies You Need for Temporary Tattoos

To do airbrush tattoos you will need to have several temporary tattoo supplies. As a face paint store, we carry almost everything except for the equipment itself. We strongly recommend consulting a professional airbrush supplies store for the compressor and its accompanying accessories. Face paint stores typically have a limited selection of these items due to their cost, whereas an airbrush supply store will have the widest range of options available and can provide you with expert advice to help you determine the best setup to meet your requirements.

airbrush face painting

But just as they are the pros with the machine parts, they don't usually carry a huge selection of makeup options and stencils as we do, so, stick with us for that part.

Airbrush Compressor, Guns and Accessories

A typical airbrush kit consists of a compressor, multiple airbrushes or spray guns, hoses, adapters (if applicable), bottles (if applicable), a holster or holder, fittings, regulators, valves, and, depending on whether you are using electricity or not, a CO2 tank.

different kinds of airbrush face painting compressors

When it comes to airbrush tattoos, you don't need a large compressor to produce the desired outcome. Smaller compressors with a low PSI work just fine. Be aware of battery-operated compressors, as they tend to only last for short periods. If you need to operate in an area without power, a compressor that runs on CO2 tanks may be necessary, but this isn't always a requirement for just getting started. CO2 tanks can be quite heavy and add complexity to the process.

When it comes to choosing the right airbrush applicator or airbrush gun for your needs, there are many options available. You can choose from top-fed (gravity-fed) models, bottom-fed (siphon-fed) models, no contact or zero-G models, side-fed models (which can work as either gravity-fed or siphon fed depending on the angle), and models with single or dual action triggers. The best way to find the right airbrush applicator for you is to discuss your needs with the supplier, who can then guide you to the most suitable model for your project.

Type of Airbrush Guns

Usually, a small starter set that includes a compressor, hoses, and airbrushes should cost around $200.

Airbrush makeup - liquid body paints for airbrush tattoos

We will be exploring the various types of airbrush face paints available, and discussing their benefits and drawbacks. From water-based paints to alcohol-based paints, we will examine the best options for your airbrush needs. We will also review the various techniques involved with airbrushing and how to properly care for your airbrush equipment. With this knowledge, you will be able to make an informed decision when selecting the right face paint for your project.

Water-Based Airbrush Temporary Tattoo Paints

Water-based airbrush body paints for temporary tattoos are the cheapest kind but are not used very often because they have now been replaced by the hybrid kind. We only sell two kinds, one by Global Body Art that comes in a concentrated formula that needs to be diluted with distilled water. These kinds of airbrush face paints are super easy to apply and very easy to remove with just soap and water. They are great when you are working with young kids since they are so easy to wipe off, but they are not very smudge resistant and they are not sweat or water-resistant at all.

There is another kind of water-based airbrush face paint that is like a hybrid because although it is water based it is also very water and sweat resistant as well as smudge-proof. VODA from European Body Art is the new name for VIBE and it provides a great selection of colors that are long-lasting and easy to remove. Its alcohol-free formula is ideal for use with children and people with special needs, as it won't irritate the eyes or nose. It's quickly becoming the preferred choice for body art applications.

Silicone Based Airbrush Makeup

Silicone-based airbrush paints are ideal for those who need a long-lasting, sweat-proof finish. These paints are often used in the beauty makeup industry and they are not as common in the airbrush tattoo world. The paints have a slightly greasy finish so it is important to use a setting powder to ensure the paint stays in place. These paints usually come in more subtle shades and do not have a wide variety of vibrant colors like water-based or hybrid airbrush paints for temporary tattoos.

Hybrid Alcohol-Based Airbrush Body Paints for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

Hybrid Water-Based Airbrush Tattoo Paints are quickly becoming the go-to body paints for temporary tattoo artists. They are extremely durable, smudge-proof, and long-lasting. Many brands make these hybrid alcohol-based paints, but the most popular is ProAiir. Their paints are made with a combination of castor oil and alcohol that make them water-resistant and sweat-resistant. They can be easily removed with just soap and water, and a gentle sponge or rag. They give a beautiful and vibrant look that lasts all day long.

When applying any kind of airbrush face paint, it is important to always make sure that the person closes their eyes and holds their breath. This is especially important for alcohol-based temporary tattoo paints, as the alcohol fumes can be slightly irritating to the eyes and nose. The smell will go away after a few seconds, but it is important to make sure that the person is not breathing in any of the fumes while you are applying the paint. Following these simple instructions will help to ensure that the person is as safe and comfortable as possible while they are being painted.

Alcohol-Based Airbrush Inks for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

Alcohol-based airbrush inks are similar to hybrid inks, but they contain a higher concentration of castor oil. This makes the inks much more durable and resistant to water, sweat and smudging. Depending on how you take care of your paintwork, the inks can last up to seven days. However, taking too many showers, exposing the paintwork to excessive heat, or rubbing it against sheets and clothes can cause it to decay faster.

When it comes to creating temporary tattoos or body paintings, hybrids are usually the best choice. However, if you need a tattoo that lasts a long time, then inks are the way to go. It's important to remember that inks are more difficult to remove and take extra scrubbing, so they should not be used on sensitive areas of the skin like the face. 

When it comes to inks, two of the most popular brands are European Body Art's Endura and ProAiir Inks. Both of these brands offer great coverage and long-lasting results, with ProAiir boasting a larger selection of colors.

Airbrush Stencils for Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

If you're looking for a great selection of airbrush temporary tattoo stencils, then look no further! We offer a wide range of stencils, from large ones to help you create stunning airbrush body art, to small ones perfect for airbrush tattoos or airbrush face painting. 

With the ShowOffs full face stencil sets, you can easily create an entire face painting design, no matter your skill level! 

For those who like to mix freehand and stencils, or create their own unique designs by combining different stencils, we offer an extensive selection of face painting stencils, such as TAP Stencils, BAM Stencils, Boomerang Stencils, Ooh Stencils, and more!

You can also get stencils used for glitter tattoos, they might be easier to use for beginners since they stick to the skin reducing chances of paint bleeding under the stencil, but they are a one-time use kind of stencil unlike the other ones mentioned above.

You should check our Face Painting Stencils collection to see what you can get.

Brush and Sponges

Some temporary tattoo artists like to add a few finishing touches by hand using sponges and or brushes although this is more common in the face and body painting of a world with temporary airbrush tattoos. This is not necessary and you can do without, but if you wish to, you should always get professional quality sponges and brushes.

The Extras for Your Temporary Airbrush Tattoos

If you want to take your airbrush tattoo designs to the next level you can add fine loose glitterchunky glitter, and gems as finishing touches to create a one-of-the-kind design that will stand out from the crowd.

How to do Airbrush Tattoos / Temporary Tattoos

Creating a unique great-looking airbrush face paint design requires some practice, but once you have the right tools and enough practice, you will be able to do it in no time!

Here are the steps to do airbrush temporary tattoos:


  1. Set up your equipment: Make sure you have all of your airbrushing equipment properly set up. Gather the different colors you'll need and have them ready to access. If you're using a siphon type or zero-g style airbrush, make sure you have pre-filled the containers. Attach the hoses to their airbrushes and test each airbrush to make sure they work and have some extra ready to go in case some clog. Have some towels ready and cleaning fluid like 99% alcohol or water, depending on the type of paint you use, to clean and flush your airbrush in between colors if you are using top-fed or gravity/side-fed airbrushes. Have all of your stencils organized and easy to access, along with some towels and an alcohol spray to help you clean them between customers. Place a design board nearby if you use one and make sure your compressor is plugged in or hooked to its CO2 tank.
    Airbrush Setup
    Image Courtesy of - Trisha Dyer-Lopez
    Airbrush Face Painting Setup
    Image Courtesy of Karen Nagy - @karens_facepainting
    Airbrush Face Painting Setup
    Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores
  2. Create the base work: When creating an airbrush tattoo design, it is important to layer the design to achieve the desired look. Start with a base layer or background, then add a top layer with more intricate details. You can choose to freehand the background with your airbrush or use stencils to create a textured effect. It is vital to use the correct PSI setting on your compressor to avoid hurting your model's skin. Make sure to give your model instructions to keep still, close their eyes, and hold their breath when you are about to spray. Following these steps will ensure you get the perfect airbrush temporary tattoo design.
  3. Add the details: Now that you have your background, it is time to add the details. If you are using stencils, make sure that the background and stencil are both dry before you begin. Hold the stencil firmly against the skin and “walk” your fingers along the stencil as you move from one section to the other with your airbrush. To avoid paint bleeding under the stencil, ensure that the paint hits the stencil at a 90-degree angle and that the pressure from the airbrush is not too strong. Keep the airbrush at a distance from the stencil so that the paint doesn’t pool, but not too far so that it will overspray outside the stencil area. If you are new to airbrushes and stencils, it's best to practice first before attempting to paint.

    Airbrush Temporary TattoosImage Courtesy of Candis Murphy

  4. Add the finishing touches: Once you have completed the design with stencils and paint, you can add some extra glitz and glamour with fine loose glitter, chunky glitters, glitter cremes, gels, and gems. Adding a touch of sparkle to the design will bring a smile to people's faces and make it sparkle in the light.

airbrush face painting

airbrush face painting

Cleanup and Maintenance

At the end of the day when you have finished your airbrush tattoo gigs, it is essential to take care of your airbrush and accessories. Make sure to flush your airbrush with the appropriate cleaner and take it apart to clean the needle, ensuring that the tip of the needle is not bent or smashed. Clean the airbrush tip and the area that holds the paint, and once they are dry reassemble the airbrush. If you use Zero G or siphon-style airbrushes, make sure the paint containers are airtight sealed (you might need to add some electrical-style paint around the caps and the screw-on lids). Soak your stencils in water and soap or alcohol, depending on the kind of paint used, and clean them gently so they are ready for storage. If you use a CO2 tank, check that it has enough CO2 for your next event, and if you use a battery-operated compressor, make sure to recharge it. Finally, don’t forget to clean the humidity trap if your compressor has one.

We hope this guide helped prepare you for your next airbrush temporary tattoos session. If you need supplies to get started, please visit our online shop. For inspiration, take a look at our Airbrush Temporary Tattoo and Body Painting gallery. Thank you for reading!

Airbrush Face PaintImage Courtesy of Nancy Vargas @nvargas86

Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores

Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Claudia Flores

 Airbrush Face Paint
Image Courtesy of Karen Nagy - @karens_facepainting


Disclosure: The author used GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model to aid with the writing (to get better formulated sentences, synonyms, etc). Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication. The actual ideas are 100% the author's creation, the AI was just used to aid in redaction and sentence structure.

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