Highlighting your hair can instantly enhance your appearance, and can even help camouflage gray hairs. Professionally having your hair highlighted can get costly. To save money, you can do the job yourself right at home. Using foil to put in your highlights gives you more control of the placement of the lighter color. With the right setup and preparation, you can regularly highlight your own tresses.

Things You'll Need

Perform a strand test on a 1/4-inch section of hair at the back of your head, in an area that’s usually covered by other hair. Follow the package’s instructions for the strand test, since it varies slightly by product. Keep track of the time it takes to get the desired result, so you’ll know how long to leave the solution on your hair.

Cut out strips of foil that are 4 inches wide and at least 2 inches longer than the length of your hair. Cut out more strips than you think you’ll need, so you won’t run out.

Brush your hair to get rid of any tangles, and part it in the way you most often wear it.

Mix the highlighting formula according to the package’s instructions, and put on disposable gloves.

Stand in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room, typically a bathroom. Position a flexible, extendable, wall-mounted mirror behind your head, so you can see the back of your head by looking into the large mirror. Maneuver the mirror as needed when working on your hair, so you can always see what you’re doing. If there is sufficient space, you can use a self-standing, full-length mirror as an alternative.

Part your hair into square sections that are approximately 3 inches wide and 3 inches long. Start your sections parallel to the part, at the front of your hairline. Use hair clips to secure each section of hair.

Remove the clip from one section of hair at your front hairline, and comb through the hair. Weave the pointy end of your rat-tail comb horizontally through the upper layer of the hair. Make an up-and-down motion with the comb to pick up strands that are approximately 1/2 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick. As an alternative, “slice” the hair by picking up the surface strands along the horizontal length of the part — using the back of your rat-tail comb to separate the surface strands from the hair below.

Place a piece of foil under the hair you want to highlight. Use the back of the rat-tail comb to tuck the edge of the foil as close as possible to your scalp.

Brush the highlighting color over the strands with a flat hair-coloring brush. Saturate all the selected strands, from the roots to the tips.

Fold the foil in half, so the bottom meets the top of the foil, with your hair packed in the middle. Avoid pushing down on the foil. Make another fold down the middle of the foil, again bringing the bottom edge toward the top, to form a smaller foil pouch. Fold the outsides of the foil inward. Lift the foil pouch up and secure it with a hair clip.

Unclip the next section of hair below the pouch and highlight it in the same fashion. Work in layers from the front to the back, repeating Steps 7 to 10 for each section of hair.

Leave the foil in your hair for the duration specified on the highlighter packaging, or go by the time duration determined by your strand test.

Unfold the foil pouches and remove them from your hair.

Rinse your hair with warm water, and condition it with the conditioner included in the highlighting kit. Style your hair as normal.


  • Select a highlighting shade that is two shades lighter than your current hair color, to get the most natural-looking highlights.

  • Wear an old shirt or a barber’s cape when highlighting your hair.