Q&A

Clogged Airbrush

Q.

I have an airbrush machine that I have used one time. After that I have not been able to get any paint to spray out. I even bought a new attachment just in case I did something wrong or did not clean it properly. But before I try it again and risk ruining another attachment, can you please tell me what I might have done wrong? Is there a way to fix this problem?

A.

First thing is to get your owner’s manual out and look at the diagram of the airbrush and parts list. You really need to know your equipment and have it become your best friend.

Airflow is often hampered by dried paint. Even if it is as small as a grain of sand it can cause a problem. The usual culprit is “tip dry,” which is where the paint dries right at the tip. Look at the tip of your needle while it’s in your gun. If you see paint dried at the tip, which can happen after airbrushing even just one nail, then that is likely the problem. Simply remove the crown needle cap and pinch the tip of dried paint off. I do this often. Sometimes even twice per client.

There are a couple things you can do to try to prevent tip dry. One is to remember to thin your paint out with water if necessary. The paint should have a consistency like milk, and remember pearl colors are always thicker. The other is at the end of the day, after you’ve thoroughly cleaned your gun, take the needle out and swipe a little cuticle oil on it while gliding between two fingers. This helps keep paint from sticking to the needle. 

—  Tonya Dodson of Hair Sessions Salon in Massillon, Ohio, is a 19-year airbrush user.

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