Hair Tips and Tricks With Foils

In the hairdressing world, foils are commonly used to add highlights to a client’s hair. Very few people other than hair artists know the other amazing uses for foils!

In addition to highlighting, you can use foils to do the following:

  • lowlight
  • dye most of the hair and leave a few bits natural (sort of like the opposite of highlighting)
  • protect sections of hair from becoming over-processed
  • add in additional streaks that are bleached or coloured
  • touch up just the roots of colour that’s growing out

The truth is that hairdressing foil is a very versatile tool and can be used for several different tasks to create an array of interesting looks.

First, I’ll tell you the right way to apply foils to the head. Then, I’ll explain all the different things you can do once the foils are in, and along the way I’ll show you some videos to illustrate the process.

Can I Use Aluminum Foil?

Yes, you can use regular aluminum foil for your hair, as long as the dye you’re using says it’s safe with metal. You could even use waxed paper if you wanted, and of course the stuff you buy at a beauty supply store will work, too, although it may be more expensive.

How to Determine What Thickness to Use

Since foil comes in various strengths and thicknesses, you’ll want to consider this, too. The trick is using a material that is tough enough to hold up to the chemicals in the dye and still malleable enough to keep the sections of dyed hair separate. Another way to make sure your foil will hold up is to fold about an inch of the foil down on the end that will touch the roots of the hair. This will make that end doubly strong and will help ensure that the dye will be contained.

How to Cut It

Before you begin, you’ll want to cut the foil into strips of manageable size, depending on the length of the hair you’re working with. Usually, you’ll cut strips that are 4 or 5 inches (10–13 centimeters) wide and 8–12 inches (20–30 cm) long. Because you’ll fold the foil up to encase the hair, cut strips that are about twice the length of the hair you’re dyeing. For extremely long hair, instead of folding one piece of impossibly long foil, you can use two separate pieces of foil that are each the length of the hair as a kind of foil sandwich.

You can use a piece of foil that is less than double the length of the sectioned hair, but the hair will need to be curled or tucked up inside the foil. Be careful while doing this so as not to bend the hair (and leave a visible crease in the dye).