Foiling Hair: Hair Coloring Techniques

Foiling hair is a hair coloring technique used to separate sections, preventing different color formulas from mixing together. Using foils is an incredibly versatile method, allowing for unlimited creativity!

The foil technique involves coloring strands of hair from selected areas of the hair. This makes it an art that requires discipline and practice. However, it’s easy to master as it’s only made up of a few moving parts.

The entire foiling is done by highlighting strands of hair, weaving them into subsections, placing them on a foil, applying a permanent haircolor to them, and then sealing in the foil for processing.

There are a variety of patterns for placing foil in the hair. This could be full-head, half-head, face-frame, or three-quarter head techniques. Any of these can be used for highlighting a certain part of your hair.

It’s important to determine the method/pattern you’re going to use before you start coloring the hair. This will help you get the best/optimal result from your foiling attempt.

Tools and Materials

You’ll need a few tools and materials for your foiling. These are all going to be needed throughout the foiling process:

  • Plastic bag and latex gloves
  • Brushes
  • Metal tail comb
  • Spongy sheets
  • Tinfoil with 5″ wide strips
  • Saran wrap for long hair

Sectioning Your Hair

Foiling Hair

The first process involved with foiling is sectioning. It’s important to section your hair so that the result is neat and consistent haircolor.

Fortunately, sectioning your hair is quite easy when you follow simple procedures. To section your hair, follow these steps:

  1. Pick the hair from the center front hairline and part it towards the back hairline.
  2. Now part the hair from the center and place right under the right ear. Form a section by twisting and clipping the hair.
  3. Part the other side of the hair to the left ear, maintaining the same size and shape.
  4. Part another section to be parallel to the previous two sections.

Creating Subsection in the Hair

Achieving haircolor with foiling involves using a subsection with other techniques like weaving and slicing. When choosing a subsection, you’ll have to consider the density of the hair and the effect you want.

This means that the desired effect (achieved through weaving and slicing) will determine how wide the subsection will be.

Usually, the width should fall in between 1/8-inches to 1/2-inches. Also, you can achieve subsection vertically, diagonally, or horizontally.

Related: Hair Rollers for Men


Weaving can help you create a natural effect and it’s one of the patterns you’ll need when attempting to foil.

Put your little finger to your scalp and using a metal tail comb, weave in and out around the subsection on the scalp. This should be done on the hairline. Shape the weave equally and keep highlights (lowlights) at equal breadth.


You have to consider the density when foiling. There are light, medium, and heavy density, affected by the total number of foils you have in each of the sections.

To achieve a light density, make sure there are less than 30% of hair highlighted in the foil. For medium, it should be around 50% while heavy maintains 70%.

You’ll also have to consider the type of density as you’ll need to use that for slicing.


This is another technique for creating an effect but is bolder than weaving. To slice, lift out a subsection of the hair and use a metal tail comb to divide across the subsections on the hair.

The subsection on the top is the slice. There are three levels of effect you can get from slicing. This can be:

  • A fine effect, where you color a fine slice of hair in a foil packet.
  • A medium effect is achieved by taking out slices of hair in two opposite directions, with space in between and leaving out a slight slice of hair.
  • For a heavy effect, you’ll need two slices of hair instead of two.

Applying Product through Foil Packet

After weaving and slicing, you can now apply the haircolor product to your hair. Foiling is going to help here.

First, separate the section of the hair to be colored, away from the subsection. Raise it high enough that you can place a foil in between it and the subsection.

Now, take a prepared foil and place it on the scalp, just below the hair to be colored. Now, the hair subsection should be underneath the foil, so that the hair is now exposed for coloring.

Applying the Product

Foiling Hair

Remember that the foil is just a piece separating the hair you want to color from the scalp. So, to apply a product, place your hand under the foil, above the scalp so it serves as a platform for coloring and add stability.

Apply the product on the hair, starting from and around the subsection, making sure that you stop at the edge of the foil. Close in on the scalp so that the product doesn’t seep into the scalp, creating a blotchy area.

After applying the product, use a brush to go over the area slightly for better coverage.

Now seal the foil to process.

Classic Foil Applications

Foiling Hair

There are four foil applications.

Each one can be achieved by placing highlights (or lowlights) on foil packets.

There are a few different techniques here that you can use. This includes:

  • Tipping application – involves coloring (and tipping) the hair at the ends only. It’s often used for accentuating haircut.
  • Singles application – this helps to accentuate natural movement on curly/wavy hair. It creates single effects and can be used on the whole head or a certain area.
  • Partial head foil application – is an alternative technique to use when there is no desire to get a full head foil.
  • Full head foil application – is used for creating highlights that create a tone for how the hair falls.

Prep Your Hair

Don’t ever set on foiling (or similar technique) until you’ve prepared your hair. You’re changing your hair color, so you need to ensure to do it properly.

Product residues, minerals from water, environment dirt, greasy patch on your hair can impede good results. This means your hair should be cleaned from all of these things before you attempt haircoloring.

It’s easy to overlook these things and that can result in botched, unsatisfactory haircolor. And if you have previously dyed hair, a clarifying shampoo can do wonders for your hair.

Related Articles

Foiling hair combines art and science. Learn about specific techniques in the following articles:

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