How to Thin Pearl Sheen

Thin Pearl Sheen colors with vodka. Did you know you might have to do that? You might need thin pearl sheen if you have become angry when you work with Pearl SheenGold Sheen or any sheen for that matter? Have your ruined a cookie because your airbrush gun “spit” the sheen onto your cookies? Well, don’t get mad! Get Vodka! Yes you heard me. You can use Vodka or Everclear to thin pearl sheen colors so your cookies will have a nice even coat and the sheen won’t “spit” onto your cookies.Thin Pearl Sheen

I am a southern girl and I get my corn from a jar! The first jar is Vodka;)

Pearl Sheen Comparison I sprayed Pearl Sheen straight from the bottle and then the thinned Pearl Sheen onto a piece of black paper so you can see the difference The thin pearl sheen gives an even coat without the splotches.

The “spitting” occurs because the sheen is made with insoluble pigments. So now you are asking me what that means.

  1. insoluble-That cannot be dissolved.
  2. pigment-a dry insoluble substance, usually pulverized, which when suspeneded in a liquid vehicle becomes a paint, ink, etc.

Pearl Sheen So you see, the spitting effect is caused by the sheen and not your airbrush gun. I had this bottle sitting on its side for a few days. I turned it over and all the liquid fell to the bottom and all the pigments stayed in place. That is a lot of pigment in one bottle.

Dried Pearl SheenWhen Pearl Sheen dries, it looks like this blob. This is what dried on the lid of the bottle and there is NO WAY my airbrush gun will work properly if this is dried in the gun. When you use sheen, you have to clean your gun really well or a blog like this will stop up your gun! To learn how to clean your gun after each use click here. If you have used any sheen and your gun is giving you trouble, click here or call the manufacture on how to curdle it.

Don’t be afraid to use sheen! This information is to help you use it without problems. If you follow these simple steps, you will love your sheen and want to spray them on everything. I have even thought about spaying it onto my skin like Mariah Carey’s fake 24-Karat gold tan but then I realized, I am not Mariah Carey and I don’t want to look silly! Thank goodness I came to my senses!

How to Thin Pearl Sheen:

I contacted Edward at the Pegasus place and he suggested we thin pearl sheen with Everclear. I can’t get Everclear and I talked to my friend Heather about it. I met Heather at Cookie Con and loved her instantly! She is so super sweet and I wanted to hang out with her forever! When I got home from my trip, I found this cute picture of Heather’s hubby Brian!

Brian SrockHe is one of those adorable hubby’s that believes his wife when she says, “I need Everclear for my cookies!” Mine would probably check me into The Betty Ford Clinic if I showed up this stuff! LOL

Brian with Everclear for CookiesThey even made this cute Everclear picture for us. I told you Heather was sweet!! If you thin pearl sheen a little you can airbrush like a pro. But wait! Everclear is 190 proof! As a matter of fact, I found a site that said it is illegal to sell the 190-proof variety in some states. They said it is illegal in California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Bet you didn’t know that did ya?

Don’t stress if you can’t get Everclear because, I called AmeriColor and asked them what they recommended for thinning their Pearl and Gold Sheen’s and they said Vodka would be fine. So let’s get started thinning.

*UPDATE: I have received a few emails about the alcohol leaving a weird taste on the cookies. The alcohol evaporates off and doesn’t taint the cookie in any way.

How to Thin Pearl Sheen

  1. First, shake your bottle of Pearl Sheen very well.
  2. Then, add a little to a jar. With the dropper that came with the airbrush system, add a few drops of alcohol. (I am a big old chicken and don’t want to mix my entire bottle at once. I am afraid I will add too much alcohol and ruin it so I only mix a little at a time.)
  3. Then, swirl it in the jar until it looks smooth like in the last photo. Edward said don’t shake it. He promised me swirling was way better so, I swirled.

How to thin Pearl SheenDon’t throw away your old AmeriColor gel bottles. They are great for storing your thinned pearl sheen. Just be sure to label it so you don’t think it is green! (Yes, I did that once!)

If you have any questions about airbrushing, check out these posts:
Airbrush 101
How to Use and Airbrush Gun
How to Clean and Airbrush Gun

Happy Creating,



  1. I get my EverClear in New Jersey, then sneak across the ‘border’.
    It’s fantastic too, for painting luster dust onto a surface because the high alcohol content evaporates so quickly, without any telltale aroma, like lemon extract.

    • I think that is why Edward recommended it. It dissolves very quick and I heard from a nice lady that photographers use it for cleaning their equipment. I have never heard of anyone drinking it! LOL

  2. I use clear rum, Lisa. Mainly because I like a daiquiri every now and then. :)

  3. I love this because I tried to buy Everclear at the ABC store…didn’t know it was illegal in Virginia! Awkward… 😉

    • There are 2 kinks and the 190 proof is the best for projects like this and the other is 150 proof. The 150 proof isn’t illegal. Good to know right! LOL

  4. I did this over the holidays and it really works! thanks for giving such good instructions and explanation of the “why” it happens.

    I am in an “Everclear” state………you would think it would be super-cheap, but oddly it’s not! Anyhow….little bit of advice……… careful what it “drips” on. It dripped on my cabinet and it will take color out of anything!

  5. Oh, I can’t wait to grab a bottle…one for me and one for you. Cheers! :)

  6. Amy Clough says:

    Lisa, you are the Airbrushing Queen! Thank you for your tutorial!

    • I don’t know about that Amy but, I like knowing how to use things without getting frustrated so I as a lot of questions! LOL

  7. You are the airbrush master … great article!

  8. Suzy Casement says:

    Does this taste funny going onto a cake ? taint the flavour at all ?

  9. Such a helpful post! Not only would I have never thought of doing that, but look how much farther that little bottle of sheen will go! Thanks so much!

  10. Lisa, would you believe I am decorating some winter themed cookies for a tea party I am hosting this week and I was planning on spraying my gum paste flowers with some pearl sheen. I will give the alcohol a try . Thanks for another great post.

    • I am so glad I posted this now so you won’t have any trouble with your cookies. I was amazed at the difference it makes. I would love to see a picture of your flowers when you make them!

  11. So all the alcohol evaporates off right? There is no funny taste or worries about kids eating several cookies. I know, it is probably a stupid question, but I just want to make sure since normally I bake things with alcohol in them.

  12. Great tips, thank you for sharing:)

  13. Oh how I wish we could’ve hung out more at CookieCon. I’m so grateful for all of the knowledge that you share so freely with all of us and I’m awfully proud that my hubbys “huh?” face made its web debut here with you.

  14. Confession. I bought an air gun right before CookieCon because I knew I’d learn how to use one while I was there. It’s still in the box……Lisa…I need you!! Can you just come and visit please!? Btw, I mean that in the totally silly way..not the stalker way…

  15. Karen Meister says:

    Actually my husband drank it once – mixed it with prune juice and called it a pile driver – true story. I am still married to him. Thanks for all your tutorials on using the airbrush. I won mine at Cookie Con and have not even taken it out of the box yet. Thats my New Year’s resolution – not to take it out of the box – but to actually use it on cookies – hey I’ve still got 358 days left to accomplish this. No rush! Cheers and Happy New Year!

  16. Great tip Lisa. Alcohol seems to have multiple uses for cake/cookie decorators!

  17. I do not use the ever clear with my airbrush, it gums up the sheens…Found out the hard way, I only use vodka for the airbrush, but I use ever clear for painting the luster dusts.

  18. Lisa, Thanks so much for this post! I am looking into buying an airbrush. I am on Amazon, and see the Pearl Sheen in a 9 oz. size has free shipping, but I am thinking i will be 92 years old before i can use all of that! Am I right? LOL I don’t even use an airbrush, but have tried them a couple times. Thanks for all your so informative blog posts!

  19. Hi,

    Thanks so much for referring me to this post. I will definitly try this next time. Quick question ~ what is the ratio of pearl sheen to vodka? It looks like quite a bit it the jar that is pictured with only a few drops of vodka?

    Thanks again. You’re great!


  20. Yes, I would love to know the ratio of sheen to vodka as well. Also, once I mix them, can I store that mixture to keep on hand? Thank you so much for all your tutorials. Very helpful.

  21. ChocolateDiva says:

    Luckily I live in the St. Louis area where Everclear is made (though I didn’t realize that before I read this blog…I never read the bottom of the label!). LOL But what I have found is that Vodka is best for “painting” with color/sheen because the Everclear mix dries too fast. But Everclear is GREAT for spraying! Also…I had no idea that Everclear was not legal in some states!! WOW!

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