Foilyage Techniques for Different Hair Types

Foilyage for different hair types

Foilyage can be an incredibly powerful tool for stylists who need to impart greater lift than is possible with balayage, but who want to maintain that natural, painted look for their clients. That being said, in order to be truly effective in their foilyage treatments, stylists need to be capable of adjusting their foilyage technique to meet the unique needs of their individual salon guests.


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Why is that? Simply put, everyone’s hair is different, and the service you perform needs to be tailored to that reality. Fine hair, coarse hair, damaged hair, virgin hair, curly hair, straight hair—they’re all different! The techniques that you use to lighten them will very likely need to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis to get maximum results.

To help you understand how foilyage might differ depending on hair type, here we discuss the importance of conducting a hair consultation and offer a few examples of how you might tailor your foilyage technique to meet the needs of your client.

Get to Know Your Client’s Hair

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: If you want to do your best possible work every time a client sits down in your chair, then you NEED to start your treatments with a hair consultation

Performing a hair consultation allows you to ask your guest questions about their hair goals, which is a crucial part of establishing realistic expectations. But beyond this, it gives you the opportunity to look and feel the hair to understand its current condition. Is it fine? Is it coarse? Is it brittle? 

Aside from this, a hair consultation will give you the opportunity to ask other important questions around hair history and hair care. Is the hair virgin hair or is it treated? How often does your guest shampoo? What type of water do they have at home—hard or soft? Do they style with heat often? 

The insights you gain from this conversation will all influence how you ultimately carry out your service, and might even cause you to recommend a different service or treatment altogether if you realize that foilyage actually isn’t the best path for you to take.

Adjusting Your Foilyage Technique for Different Hair Types

After completing a hair consultation, it’s up to you as a stylist to adjust your foilyage techniques to best deal with the reality of your client’s hair. 

This might mean adjusting your product consistency so that it is either thicker or looser than you might typically use; it might mean adjusting your processing time to be longer or shorter than usual; it might involve incorporating or omitting certain products in your formula.

For example, if your client has coarse hair, that means that product will naturally cling to it more readily than if she had finer hair. In order to facilitate the application process, you’d probably adjust your product to a thinner consistency. On the other hand, if she’s got incredibly fine hair, product will be more inclined to drip and travel from the application point. In this case, you’d make your product thicker to encourage it to stay in place.

Foilyage on Fine Hair & Coarse Hair

In the case of damaged hair, you should always start slow to prevent further damaging the integrity of the hair. Start with very fine sections, and build as necessary. And be sure to adjust your formulation accordingly. Based on how damaged the hair is and the density of the hair, for example, I probably wouldn’t go past 20 volume with a bond builder in the formula.

If your client showers with hard water, you might need to cleanse the hair prior to treatment to ensure adequate uptake of the color and to better control the progression of lightening. 

If your client has curly hair, you can probably treat it the same as you would straight hair, but be sure you advise your client that foilyage can cause curls can relax over time. If she doesn’t want this, then a different treatment will probably be necessary.

Curly hair before and after foilyage

One Final Example

Of course, every single scenario is different. Seemingly unrelated factors can sometimes come together in a client’s hair that, while rare, could make foilyage the wrong choice for treatment. For example, I typically wouldn’t recommend foilyage for a client:

  • Who has fine hair
  • Whose hair is all the same length
  • Who uses hard water at home

Why? Because I’ve found that it’s just way too much work and too difficult to comb out the teasy lights. In this instance, I would typically recommend standard foil work with a root smudge or a color melt to erase the foil lines. 

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