Airbrush makeup has been a staple on television and movie sets for decades (MGM first used it in the 1920s, on hundreds of Ben-Hur
extras). The technique infuses liquid makeup with air so that it can be sprayed on in a fine, even mist—and fast. But because it requires a large (and noisy) compressor, it hasn't been an option for civilians. Until now! Temptu, the company responsible for the Desperate Housewives' rosy cheeks and Brian Williams's poreless veneer, has shrunk its airbrush system into a sleek little unit (Temptu Airbrush Makeup System, $225; Sephora.com
) that easily fits on a countertop (though it does still hum rather loudly). But this is for serious makeup lovers: The machine isn't cheap, and before you can use it, you need to purchase "pods" of foundation, highlighter, or blush that snap into (and out of) the gun ($55 for two foundation pods; $35 for one highlighter pod; $30 for one blush pod).
Once you've picked your pods, it's time to pull the trigger—literally. (The compressor is attached to a spray gun that fits in the palm of your hand.) On my first go, I held the gun about six inches from my right cheek, said a couple of Hail Marys... and fired. I expected, frankly, a big old mess. But the mist was so fine, and so easily controlled, that I had no problem directing it where I wanted, leaving a sheer veil of color in some areas and moving in closer, and heavier, in spots that needed extra coverage. In about two minutes, my skin looked as smooth and even-toned as any anchorwoman's (or chariot racer's). The blush and highlighter didn't wow me—I get the job done just as well with my usual low-tech powder formulas—but I'm keeping a stockpile of those foundation pods on hand so I'll always be ready for my close-up. — Jenny Bailly