Airbrush 101 & Troubleshooting Guide
Just purchased your Airbrush Mini/Max and don't know where to start? Airbrushing is a nail technique that involves spraying paint on the nails using a hand-held air powered tool. It's a super easy way to create the fastest and easiest Ombré effect. Instead of having to wait for the nail polish to dry before nail art designs could be added on top of it, airbrushing is the only nail technique that is dry upon contact, saving you lots of time.
We totally understand that purchasing a new tool can be overwhelming to learn, however after reading the guide below you will find that it's easier than you think! Some of the most common errors made result in a clogged airbrush, colors coming out blotchy or spotted. Read down below to learn how to properly use and clean your airbrush, as well as how to troubleshoot, avoid, and correct the most common mistakes beginners usually make with their new Airbrush!
What's the difference between the Airbrush Mini and the Airbrush Max?
The iGel Airbrush Mini has a smaller compressor in contrast to the larger-looking one the iGel Airbrush Max has. The mini is less bulky for travel, but bulkier when in-use. This is perfect for users who like to use a thicker handle or have a heavier grip.
The iGel Airbrush Max is a little bulkier to carry around when you travel, but it's much lighter and more 'pen-like' when in-use. It also has a pen-holder! This is often the aesthetic, more professional-looking choice manicurists go for. Due to its size, it also will create a stronger pressure and has a longer lasting battery.
Both tools work equally as amazing to create the fastest and easiest Ombré effect, and the aesthetics are mainly due to preference.
How does the Airbrush work?
The Airbrush Mini and Max are both a single-action airbrush gun.
When the trigger is pressed, the air powered by the compressor will automatically come out of the gun. The tail piece of the handpiece will be the main compartment to control the flow of the air, maximizing and minimizing the airway. The front of the airbrush is made up of three components: a rubber ring and two metal components to protect the needle.
How to Use your Airbrush:
1. Fasten the handpiece onto the air compressor.
2. Fill the cup halfway with 100% Pure Acetone.
3. Add in about 3-4 drops of iGel Beauty Gel or Lacquer Polish of your choice.
4. Mix the solution thoroughly with a gel brush or a soft bristle paint brush.
5. Test spray a small area. Adjust the screw on the tail of the handpiece left to loosen the airway and allow the liquid solution to spray through the nozzle as needed. Pressing the trigger down to release air, and pull back gently to release the pigment.
6. Spray from left to right in layers until your desired look is achieve.
How to Clean your Airbrush:
1. Refill the cup with acetone.
2. Use a soft gel brush to wipe away any remnants of color from the sides.
3. Continuously spray until empty. Repeat until the cup and the liquid is completely clear and clean.
4. Wipe the airbrush handpiece cup down with a lint-free towel or alcohol swab.
5. Remove the two front metal caps and also wipe down gently.
6. Gently wipe the needle and be careful not to bend it.
7. Recap and replace all pieces promptly when completed
Common Mistakes Made, and How to Avoid Them:
Mistake #1: Clogs
Clogs are the most common factor for why an airbrush may not be working properly.
The ratios are extremely important to keep in mind because the airway is very thin.
When do they occur? Clogs occur when adding polish into the cup before the acetone. The polish dries too quickly, or from not cleaning thoroughly and immediately after each use.
How do you fix a clog? You can unclog the machine in two ways:
1. Fill the cup with acetone. Cover the nozzle in the front where the air compressor and liquid would spray out of. This action should cause the liquid inside the cup to bubble and force the air back into the gun. This will remove the clog, however, you will need to pour out liquid inside the cup to ensure that any dried paint from previous use will be removed. Add acetone to the cup and spray out until clear.
2. You can remove both pieces of the gun in the front of the airbrush handpiece. Wipe down these pieces after each use to avoid paint build up. Light tread and wipe around the needle as well. You want to be sure to clean it, but not to bend the tip of the needle. Also remove only the cover piece of the airbrush gun. You can pull back the needle and let go to slowly inch out any jammed paint from the front nozzle. Repeat until all the dried or excess paint is removed. Add acetone to the cup and spray out until clear.
Mistake #2: Incorrect ratio & pressure resulting in colors coming out blotchy or spotted
When using an Airbrush, the color itself will not spray until the trigger is pulled back with a gentle force. The amount you pull back determines the amount of color that will be released. It is recommended to start by slowly pulling back the trigger and spraying lightly as you learn the process of airbrushing; however, the optimal results will be at a medium-high pressure on the trigger.
For best results with use, I recommend using layers in the motion of left to right.
If the color is coming out blotchy and in large chunks - You are too close to the surface or you are pressing on the trigger too hard.
If the color is coming out spotted - You are not using enough pressure, or the air compressor is experiencing a leak. Adjust the tail piece and use a medium-high pressure on trigger.
The ration of the acetone to gel polish does absolutely depend on the thickness of the gel polish droplets.