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Understanding Hair Color: Why Foils Are a Colorist's Best Friend

Updated: Jun 26

Foiling hair is a common technique used by colorists to add dimension and depth to a client's hair color. By sectioning off the hair and wrapping it in aluminum foil, stylists can apply different shades of color or lightener to specific sections of the hair. This allows for precise and controlled color placement, resulting in a beautiful and natural-looking color. Foiling techniques can also be used to add some fun accent pieces with fun colors and placements.

Highlight, Lowlight, and a little Extra: The Basics of Foiling Hair


Highlights are a hair coloring technique where sections of hair are lightened to a shade lighter than the natural hair color. These foils are typically placed on the top layers of the hair, giving a more natural sun-kissed effect, and applied in various patterns depending on the client's length and thickness of hair. If foil placement stays towards the top of the head, this would be considered a Partial Foil. Full Foils would be additional foils used due to thickness of hair, or if more foils are needed for a bolder look. Think of it as a Full Head versus Part of the Head with foils. Highlights can range from subtle and natural-looking to bold and dramatic, depending on the client's preference.


Lowlights are a hair coloring technique where sections of hair are colored in shades darker than the natural hair color. The purpose of lowlights is to add depth, dimension, and contrast to the hair, therefore the foil placement is usually underneath the top layer of hair to create a shadowing effect. Lowlights are also a great to blend in grey hair or to create a more natural look by breaking up a solid hair color. This technique isn't limited to a natural look though. It can also be used to create a more dramatic effect by adding bold and vibrant colors to the hair.

Basically the main difference between highlights and lowlights is the color used. Highlights are lighter sections of color, while lowlights are darker sections of color. Highlights are used to create a brighter, more luminous look, while lowlights are used to add depth, dimension, and contrast to the hair. When used together, highlights and lowlights can create a multi-dimensional look that can enhance a client's natural beauty, as well as complimenting your skin tone, eye color, and facial features. Having both highlights and lowlights done together in a visit would be considered a Full Foil service.

Accent Foils

Accent foils are used by stylists to add pops of color to a client's hair. They involve applying a few foils in strategic places throughout the hair, such as around the face, to create a subtle yet noticeable effect. Accent foils can be used to add depth, dimension, and interest to a client's hair color without committing to a full head of highlights or lowlights.

They are also a great way to experiment with bold and vibrant colors, as they can be placed in a way that allows the color to peek through the natural hair color. Accent foils can be customized to each client's desired look, whether it's a subtle enhancement or a bold statement. They are a quick and easy way to update a client's hair color and add a touch of personality to their overall look.

Foils: Not Just For Highlights

  1. Balayage: Balayage is a hair coloring technique where color is painted onto the hair in a sweeping motion, creating a natural-looking, sun-kissed effect. If or when using foils for balayage, a stylist can create a more precise and controlled environment for the painted color, resulting in a more dramatic effect.

  2. Ombre: Ombre is a hair coloring technique where the hair color gradually fades from dark to light. When using foils for ombre, a stylist can create a more gradual and blended transition between the colors, resulting in a more natural-looking ombre.

  3. Color Correction: Foils are also used in color correction to isolate and treat specific areas of the hair. For example, if a client has uneven color or brassy tones, a stylist can use foils to target and correct these areas without affecting the rest of the hair.

The Benefits of Foiling Hair

There are many benefits to using foils in hair coloring. Here are a few:

  1. Precision: Foiling allows colorists to apply color with precision, resulting in a more controlled and natural-looking color.

  2. Customization: Foiling allows colorists to customize a client's color by adding different tones and shades, resulting in a unique and personalized look.

  3. Versatility: Foiling can be used for a variety of hair coloring techniques, including highlights, lowlights, balayage, ombre, and color correction.

  4. Efficiency: Foiling can be a more efficient way to apply color, as colorists can treat specific areas of the hair without affecting the rest of the hair.

In conclusion, foiling is a versatile and effective technique used by colorists to add dimension and depth to a client's hair color. Whether it's for highlights, lowlights, balayage, ombre, or color correction, foiling allows colorists to create beautiful and natural-looking hair color that is tailored to each client's unique needs and preferences. If you're looking to switch up your hair color, consider trying foiling for a personalized and stunning result.

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