Highlighting Hair with a Highlighting Cap

Highlighting with a frosting or tipping cap
Highlighting the hair is probably the most commonly used coloring method for adding some visual interest and enhancing the look of the hair without completely changing the hair’s color. This may be traditional highlighting. That is where a color that is one or two shades lighter than the natural base color are applied to add some brightness in the overall look of the hair.
It could be low-lighting, where a color that is a shade or two darker is applied to add depth to the color of the hair. Finally, this technique may even involve accenting the hair with a different color altogether.
Whatever the desired goal, the methods of highlighting application vary from the very basic to very advanced. Today, we will discuss the easiest method for the application of highlights to the hair: the cap method.
The “cap method” refers to the use of a plastic cap (frosting cap or tipping cap) that fits snugly over the skull. Thin locks of hair are then pulled through the cap using points that are marked on the cap. The number of “holes” used determines the amount of highlighting that takes place.
The hair is pulled through the cap using a long slim tool with a small hooked end. The tool resembles a thin crochet needle, and in fact, a crochet needle can be used in many cases. The needles come in many sizes, allowing for finer control of the amount of hair that is gathered and pulled through the cap.
The caps are usually marked with patterns to help individuals space the highlighting evenly over the scalp. This helps to avoid unbalanced results in the finished look. These patterns may be color-coded, and a cap may have a variety of numbers of holes, depending on the kind of highlighting effect that is desired.
The success of traditional cap highlighting has led to adjustments in the cap design to allow for different effects to be created. The most readily notable variant of the highlighting cap is called a “streaking” cap, which allows for larger, bolder streaks of color to be applied to the hair. Naturally, this involves using a large tool to gather and pull the hair through the streaking cap.
How to Get Your Best Results
In spite of the fact that the highlighting cap is the easiest method of applying highlights to the hair, there are still ways in which the process can be poorly performed. The following are some tips to help you get the most of your highlighting cap usage:
• The cap method of highlighting works best with short to medium length hair that is cut in layered styles. Longer hair can become more easily tangled and knotted up when trying to pull it in thin locks through a highlighting cap.
• Comb or brush the hair thoroughly before applying the cap. This will help keep tangles and snags from blocking the hair being pulled through the cap.
• If your hair is coarse in texture or prone to tangles and snags, use a light spray of detangling spray or a shine oil to lubricate the hair before applying the cap to the scalp.
• Use the smallest tool necessary to gather the amount of hair you want to highlight and pull it through the cap. It is important to keep the holes in the cap as small as possible so that they form a secure collar at the base of the locks of hair that are sticking through the cap’s plastic. This keeps the color that is later applied from seeping through the holes and spreading onto the rest of the hair.
• Carefully use the patterns on the cap to keep your locks of hair evenly spaced. Failing to do so may result in uneven color application or a splotchy look in the finished style.
The greatest benefit of using a highlighting cap is that it does help to reduce the risks of error in highlighting the hair. In many cases, an individual may find that he or she can actually perform their highlighting service all by themselves. If the intention is for all-over highlighting and the assistance of a friend is required, you can be assured that there is more confidence in doing the highlighting.
Once you’ve pulled the hair you wish to highlight through the cap, the rest of the process is simple. Apply your haircolor as directed on the package instructions, only take care to avoid pressing the color around the holes in the cap.
Once processed, the color can be rinsed away, then shampooed in a preliminary wash and the cap removed for a second shampooing and conditioner application.
Photo: Andi Berger/Shutterstock
See also:
Highlighting and highlights
Highlighting with foils
Highlighting questions and answers
How to choose natural-looking highlights