The new black

Airbrushing is hailed by those in the know as the future of make-up. Used for years by the Hollywood studios, the technique is now available to ordinary punters - well, those who shop in Harvey Nichols or Selfridges and are willing to pay Estée Lauder a £10 booking fee (albeit one that is redeemable on buying something). Estée Lauder claims that, after a few minutes of the airbrushing, even the most crater-like face can be turned into a flawless complexion - although, of course, they don't put it quite like that.

As Estée Lauder started doing dark foundations only a year ago (better late than never, eh?) and as I haven't tried them, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and test the new foundations using the airbrush. There are two shades, Rich Cocoa and Rich Ginger, in three foundations: Equaliser, Double Wear, and Revelation. Rich Cocoa is selected for me by Elly Hillier, my make-up consultant. It's a great match, so a tiny amount is put into the airbrush. I perch on a stool, she takes aim and fires. I expect it to feel uncomfortable in some way - either like putting your face out of a train window or having someone spit on you - but it's very relaxing, and the spray is so fine that you can't feel it (if you can, they're not doing it right). It's a bit like someone blowing softly in your face, which I'd pay £10 for at the best of times.

The airbrush gun, powered by a low-pressure compressor, sucks the liquid foundation from a small vial and finely atomises it through a tiny nozzle and on to the face. Unlike manual application, airbrushed foundation does not look heavy or uneven, and there are no textural marks left by fingers or sponge - just a flawless finish. The other bonus is that coverage can be controlled, so you can have a translucent finish yet with heavier coverage on problem areas. And, because of the gradual way the colour is built up, there is no danger of having a different colour face and neck.

The only downside is, you can't take the machine home, although a little bird tells me that handbag-friendly aerosol foundations are being developed by most of the big cosmetics firms, so streaky foundation might finally become a thing of the past.

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