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What is Airbrush Nail Art?

Janis Bennett
Janis Bennett

Airbrush nail art is a small fingernail design created using paint that's blown through an air-powered spray tool. Nail art is a popular way for people to express themselves, and there are many products available that allow people to be creative with their fingernails. It's relatively easy to create nail art with an airbrush when the correct tools are used.

Salon manicurists do the majority of airbrush nail art, but with the increasing availability of airbrushes in beauty supply stores, anyone can do it. Retail and pharmaceutical stores carry hundreds of nail polish colors, and nail art pens fill the shelves alongside nail art decals and stickers. All of these artistic fingernail decorations can be used alone or in combination with an airbrush.

Artificial fingernails with airbrush designs.
Artificial fingernails with airbrush designs.

After a design has been chosen, the manicurist will place a small stencil over the customer’s fingernail. He or she will spray paint over the stencil with the airbrush, wait a few seconds, and then spray again if needed. Only one color can be airbrushed at a time, so the manicurist might change colors during the process. More than one stencil also might be used to achieve the desired results. After the painting is finished, the manicurist will remove the stencil and apply a varnish top coat to protect the design.

An airbrush can be used to paint on real or acrylic nails. Most people tend to use stencils to create designs and shapes, and others prefer to decorate freehand. A nail art stencil is a small, cut-out shape that is placed over a fingernail to reproduce patterns and designs. Stencils also can be made using such things as tape, construction paper, or thin cardboard. What makes airbrush nail art so easy is that the only other thing needed besides the airbrush and stencils is paint, which can be purchased at beauty supply stores.

Airbrush art should last the same amount of time as regular nail polish. It will wear off over time, especially around the edges of the nails, but a good application should last about two weeks. People who are more active — who keep their hands in water or garden frequently, for example — will notice the artwork wearing off more quickly than those who do not use their hands as much.

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Discussion Comments


Airbrushed nail art is very attractive. I've noticed in the nail salons I have visited that they are using craft paint, which explains why it has to be protected with a good topcoat. For white tips, I prefer having those built in out of acrylic powder rather than sprayed on. Built in tips are more expensive, though. If you are considering airbrushed nails, be sure to pay the additional cost for a gel topcoat. This will ensure lasting, beautiful nails.

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    • Artificial fingernails with airbrush designs.
      Artificial fingernails with airbrush designs.