‘Foilayage’ Is the Newest Technique for Sun-Kissed Hair


When balayage came along it seemed all our hair color prayers had been answered. Finally we could kiss goodbye to stripy highlights and hello to softly sun-kissed, multidimensional color. The technique, which originated in France, used painterly strokes of dye applied freehand by a colorist, instead of the traditional technique of weaving through sections of hair with a comb before applying dye from root to tip and folding foil around the section.

“Traditional highlights will almost always use foils, and color is applied to the root of the hair, whereas balayage is a visual hand-painted technique working with pieces of hair,” explains Hari’s creative colorist, Francesca Dixon. “The results are very different as balayage gives hair a blended and overall softer subtle finish, whereas highlights, because they are added from the root, can often look stripy.”

For years balayage has been the go-to hair color technique in salons and by far the most popular among customers. But recently, perhaps as a reaction to salons being shut for so long during lockdown, there’s been an explosion of bold hair color looks emerging, with trends like peekaboo color and “money piece” highlights taking our salons and our social media feeds by storm.

While the subtle effect of balayage is still very much in demand, many are opting for a new, more pronounced version of the look using a technique that’s being dubbed foilayage. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is foilayage?

Foilayage is a combination of balayage with the use of foils more often seen in the traditional application of highlights to create brighter, lighter sections throughout while retaining a natural-looking finish.

How is foilayage applied?

The colorist sections hair and strategically applies hair dye, then wraps the section in foils and leaves it to develop. This amplifies the brightness and lightness of the section while retaining the flattering, face-framing benefits of balayage.

The key to the look is all in the way the colorist applies the foils. In traditional highlights, the colorist would apply dye from root to tip before folding the entire section in one piece of foil.

With foilayage, the section has been carefully painted, often leaving out the root or with dye applied at a specific angle. To avoid mixing sections of hair that have had dye applied with the sections that have been deliberately missed out, the colorist uses two sheets of foil to sandwich the hair, keeping the color perfectly in place while it develops. The foils speed up the lightening process and create a brighter, more brilliant result.

What are the benefits of foilayage?

The result of foilayage is a more brilliant, brighter balayaged effect that has a beautiful gradient from root to tip. Many people prefer the greater contrast in color, akin to an ombré finish but far better blended.

Like balayage, foilayage is one of the most low-maintenance hair color techniques and can look just as gorgeous grown out as it did fresh out of the salon.

This story originally appeared on Glamour U.K. 


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