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Airbrushing/Dangers of airbrushing.


I am curious to know all the safety precautions of airbrushing.

For example is proper room ventilation needed for long-term health reasons or compressor explosion (if that's something that happens)?

Are there different precautions to take when using acrylics, silicones, or beauty make-up?

Please let me know, thanks.

First of all, let me say that for some reason this question never showed up in my email and I only found it by coming to AllExperts looking for something else.  My apologies.

On to your question, if you're still interested, or for those who might come searching later.

I actually had a compressor "blow" one time, sort of.  I hadn't been draining the moisture from the tank properly and it was an old compressor.  It went 'pop' and 'psssshhhttt' and I unplugged it.  Rust had eaten a weak place in the tank and it let go.  No injuries, no damage, just a new compressor.  That said, I think I was probably lucky, and I think it would be possible to have a catastrophic tank failure if you don't drain the moisture on a regular basis, and keep the motor oil fresh if you have one that requires that.  

Don't use flammable paints near your compressor.  When a compressor cycles on and off it can spark inside the housing and I suppose that could cause a fire or explosion if there were enough fumes accumulated in the room.  Run a fan, paint outside or put your compressor in another room.

Ventilation is your friend anyway.  You don't need lungs full of pretty colors.  A mask or respirator is a very good idea.  

When airbrushing make up, make sure you keep the pressure low, 10 or 15 psi max. Cover your subjects' eyes with cotton pads when airbrushing foundation.  Be careful.

As far as different precautions for different paints, as long as you're talking about water based paints, the only thing is to protect you by using a mask or respirator so you don't breathe the stuff all day.  

I hope this answered your question fully; if not, let me know and we'll have another go at it.

Happy and healthy painting!


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Ellen Choate


I can answer questions relating to basic and advanced airbrushing technique, general how-tos, preparation and compatible media for different substrates, proper paint-to-air ratios, troubleshooting, color theory, maintenance and repair, stencil cutting and use, and most other areas relating to airbrush. I'll be posting tutorials in the future if that would be helpful, and if possible.


I learned to airbrush the hard way, watching and collaborating with people who didn't know much more than I did. Later I got instruction from people who knew what they were doing and learned what I had been doing wrong. I have been airbrushing for over 30 years; the first two years were in an amusement park painting as fast as I could, often for 12 hours a day, six days a week. You get good real fast. I have painted on almost everything imaginable, from walls to a bus to prosthetic limbs.

I studied art at the University of Texas at Arlington for three years but haven't made the time to complete my now obsolete "graphic arts" degree. We did layouts and color separations by hand, thank you very much. It has served me well, but not in the way I expected.

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