How to Highlight & Lowlight Your Hair Like a Professional

By Kathy Mayse

Foiling is a technique used by most hair care professionals to highlight and lowlight hair. Highlighting is lightening select strands; lowlighting is darkening select strands. Foiling involves sectioning off the hair and applying color to certain sections of hair that are protected by the foil and folded away to prevent the color from touching the rest of the hair. Foiling is a little tricky to perform on yourself, so having a helper is recommended.

Hands coloring hair
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Step 1

Divide your hair into four sections by creating one part that runs from the middle of the forehead to the middle of the nape area and one part that runs horizontally, ear to ear. Hold each section in place using hair clips.

Step 2

Tear out a long sheet of foil and cut it into 3-inch strips. Mix equal parts of the crème color and developer in the mixing bowl. Blend with the color brush until the color is smooth and even throughout.

Step 3

Section off a 1/2-inch horizontal section of hair. Weave the pin-tail comb through the section. Grasp the hair on top of the comb with your fingers and allow the hair that was weaved under the comb to fall free. Place a strip of foil underneath the hair you are holding. Hold the hair flat down on the foil to hold the foil in place.

Step 4

Apply color to the hair along the length of the foil using the color brush. Fold the sides of the foil in over the hair, and fold again in half. Clip the foil up and out of the way using a hair clip. Create another 1/2-inch section, and pin it up with the previously foiled section. Weave the next 1/2-inch section, place foil and apply color. Continue in an alternating pattern, moving from section to section, from the top of the head to the lower hairline.

Step 5

Process the hair for 20 minutes after foiling the last section. Check the color of the first section by removing the foil and eyeballing the result. If you like the color, continue to the next step. If not, replace the foil and process for an additional five minutes.

Step 6

Remove the foils. Rinse, shampoo and condition.