Foiling is often thought of as a pretty standard service. After all, most stylists and colorists include foiling in their general repertoire of techniques; some people even foil their own hair! Nothing special, right?
Wrong. Yes, most salons and stylists offer foiling services to their clients. But so very few do it well.
The truth is, with the right techniques, understanding, and nuance, it’s possible to take a standard foil and turn it into something stunning.
Ready to elevate your foiling game into something truly spectacular? Below, Salt’s very own foiling expert Kristina Petrini shares tips that will help you give your clients the subtle, natural, sun-kissed look that they want.
But first, a refresher course on what foiling is (and isn’t).
What is Foiling?
The term foiling (or foil highlights) refers to a hair lightening technique in which hair is sectioned. A lightening product is then applied to the hair as necessary. After the product is applied, the hair is wrapped in foil (hence the term foiling) for processing.
The foil is perhaps the most critical differentiator between foiling and other kinds of lightening. Because the foil conducts heat better than plastic film or open air (common to balayage), the product is able to penetrate deeper into the hair. This can allow for more dramatic lift compared to many other lightening techniques. The foil also acts as a barrier between the treated and untreated hair, ensuring that they’re kept separate from each other during processing, creating less diffuse highlights.
(Want to learn more about how foiling is different from balayage and foilyage? Click here!)
Kristina’s Tips for Creating the Perfect Foil
With the basics out of the way, below are four great tips that you can use to really up your foiling game and wow your clients and guests.
1. Make use of fine sectioning for maximum lift.
If your client or guest wants a high-impact foil, your mission is to get as much lift as possible out of the treatment. While there are typically limits to how much lift you can get out of a single session, there are ways that you can increase the amount of lift you get. One way is to make sure you’re working with fine sections of hair.
Working with finer sections increases the amount of lift you get out of processing for a couple of reasons. First, it ensures that you’re applying an adequate and even amount of product to each strand of hair, which can be harder with larger sections. Beyond this, finer sections means more foil, which means increased insulation during processing, which allows the product to work its magic even better.
2. Weave highlights for a more blended dimension.
Though foiling can be great for high-impact lift, not all guests want such dramatic results. Some want a subtler, more blended look.
In cases like this, you might wonder whether foiling is the right technique to use on your guest. You could try balayage or foilyage. But the truth is that you can still achieve a beautiful blend with foils.
How? By weaving the highlights. Doing so will preserve some of your guest’s natural lowlights, helping the final results appear more natural and blended.
3. Work off of the natural parting.
This tip doesn’t just apply to foiling; it applies to virtually any lightening or coloring treatment you might perform for your client.
The lightest hair on someone’s head will tend to be the parts that see the most sunlight. Naturally, this would be the hair that falls on top when it is parted. The natural part is the spot on the head where the hair naturally wants to fall. Centering your service around this natural part will help ensure that the end results look natural, especially important if you are going for that popular sun-kissed look.
4. Three to four back-to-back slices will help you create the perfect money piece.
Most stylists and colorists will agree with me when I say that no balayage, foilyage, or standard foil highlight is complete without a money piece. A great money piece frame the face, gives the client even more dimension and brightness, and just ties the whole look together.
But the contrary is also true. A bad money piece can leave a treatment looking like it’s lacking something. Worst case, you might wind up with blorange, brassy hair, which no one wants.
If you want to avoid a brassy look (and you do!) the key is working with thin slices along the face. Three to four back-to-back slices should be good. You want the slices to be thin enough that you can actually almost see through them, to ensure that there’s product covering each and every strand.