Because there have been so many questions recently about highlighting the hair with multiple colors
or adding both highlights and a base color that would be problematic to accomplish without being able to isolate the highlights, I’ve
decided to show you the basics of applying foils for highlighting.
The benefits of using foils for highlighting the hair are:
• It gives better control of highlight placement.
• It allows for the application of multiple colors in the same procedure.
• It gives easier management of the amount of highlighting you get.
• It provides more even coverage in the highlights all over the scalp.
• Allows the preservation of targeted areas of the hair when wanting to
apply a general color and use the natural or original color as a
There are other benefits as well, depending on the specific effect desired, that foils can provide.
Getting a foil highlighting procedure done can be costly. Some salons charge an additional amount per
foil applied over the base charge for a color service, while others charge a flat rate for foils that is generally twice the cost of
standard highlighting service. Multi-color – also called dimensional color – procedures are even more expensive. Depending on your
location, foil coloring services can range from US $85.00 and up for single color foil highlights, to US $200.00 and up for dimensional
color services or special coloring services.
The benefits of getting the service done by a professional are that you know your professional is
practiced in performing the service, and you can be reasonably assured of good looking results, particularly if you have access to
references or the stylist has a portfolio of previous clients. However, for the addition of simple highlights, you might want to try
using foils yourself. (Actually, you will need a friend’s assistance.)
A good friend and client of mine wanted a dual-color highlighting process recently and agreed to let
me photograph her before, during and after the procedure. This allows me to show you what the foils look like in the hair, and the
difference in her haircolor from before to after. “L” wanted to add some lighter highlights to her already blonde hair, as well as adding in a reddish color to “spice things up” a bit.
We chose a level 6 coppery red color for the “spice” and used standard hair bleaching powder with
developer to give her some additional lightening. (Note: Using bleaching powder to lighten the hair is only acceptable when performing
off-the-scalp processes like foils or cap highlighting. The bleaching powder is very strong and can cause chemical burns if it comes in
contact with your skin. As with any chemical service, always wear gloves.)
We began our color service with clean, dry hair. I sectioned L’s hair to separate the sides, top and
back and decided to begin with the top section of hair. It is necessary to work quickly because once it has been mixed the haircolor
will only be active (able to color the hair) for about 30 minutes, before going inert. This also makes it important to begin in a
section where the highlights will be most visible. This lets you be sure that these highlights have plenty of time to take the color applied.
In L’s case, there was an additional reason to be speedy: Because she wanted parts of the
hair bleached and other parts colored, we needed to be sure that we finished quickly allowing the bleach to process properly on the last
highlights without having to wait so long that we ran the danger of “over-processing” the first highlights.
Once I was ready to begin, I donned my gloves and mixed the color and bleaching mix in separate
bowls with separate brushes. After taking down the top section of hair and combing the hair to smooth it, I sliced a thin segment for
the first highlight. The foils I used had been pre-cut to be approximately two inches longer than the hair I was working with.