The Fundamentals of Foil Highlighting


LOOK & LEARN What you need to know to color and style like a pro.


There are many different ways to foil hair, but they all begin with these essential steps.

Before You Begin

Pre-cut and pre-fold aluminum foil. Use 4x5 pieces, or larger, depending on the length of the hair.
Study your client's cut and style and discuss the dimensional effects desired.
The client's hair must be brushed out and completely tangle-free.
Take a Color Preview Strand Test.
Do not apply mixture if skin is red or irritated or if Preview Strand Test shows any sign of breakage or damage.
Map out where your foil wraps will be placed and comb the hair into working sections.
Clip loose hair to allow for control during the foiling process.
Mix the highlighting formula in a non-metallic bowl.
Follow the weaving or slicing method of foil wrapping within the design you have mapped out.

Doing the Wrap

Part dry hair according to desired effect and begin foil application in the back nape section. (This gives you easy rinsing access if these strands lighten before total application is complete.)
Using the handle of a tail comb, weave through each section, selecting fine strands of hair. Remember, every foil wrap becomes a highlight...the more you weave and the more strands you wrap, the more highlights you’ll get.
Hold woven strands out at a 90-degree angle from the head. Slip comb through the fold in the foil. Holding firmly, center edge of foil under woven strands, as close to the base of strands as possible.
Lay selected strands in the center of the foil, holding the ends of the hair taut so they lay flat against the foil. Remove comb.
Start application away from the scalp, working the formula down the strand. Be sure each strand is thoroughly and evenly saturated with mixture. Keep product 1/8- inch away from the edge of the foil. Fold bottom edge of foil to top edge. Do not press foil down where mixture is on hair.
Gently fold both sides of foil inward about inch.

Check Development

Check strand for development 20 minutes after the first foil placement. Select a foil from the first wrapped section.
Hold a towel under the selected foil. Unwrap the foil and, with a spray bottle, spray strand with water.
Check results. Dry strand thoroughly. If additional time is needed, reapply mixture and rewrap as before.
When hair has lightened as desired, remove foil wraps (in the same order as applied) at the shampoo bowl and thoroughly rinse mixture from hair. Shampoo.

Additional Advice:

If it takes a long time to complete the entire foiling application, and the first section foiled is sufficiently decolorized, remove each of the processed foils by holding a towel under the foil, wetting the strand, and wiping the formula off the strand.
If you prefer to increase the volume of developer as you proceed through your foiling, make note of the time you began. This will help to determine the entire processing time for the foils.