Tips and Tricks: Using Foils

You’ve spent the last hour creating a masterpiece only to find those last few foils won’t seem to lift. Beyond annoying? Yes, but easy to work around. Read on for tips from the experts to pull off a successful highlight job without a case of the ughs.

Q: How do you handle stubborn foils?

A: When working with foils, I tend to start with a lower volume of developer and end with one a step higher—say, starting with 10 and finishing with 20 for example. This assures that the back can take its time lifting while the front catches up. If I end up with a straggler, I’ll mix a small amount of lightener and an even higher developer that’s thicker in consistency and apply over the area that is not lifting.—Samantha Ploskonka, Paul Mitchell Educator

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Q: What can colorists do to prevent foils that won’t lift?

A: Mix up small batches as you work to keep color fresh every time. Set a timer for every 20 minutes. When it goes off, simply remix. Incorporating this practice behind the chair requires a little more attention throughout the process, but it saves you and your client time at the end.—Siddeeqah Ra’oof, Manager Education Development at Redken

Q: Does it matter what types of tools you use?

A: The tools you use help you become a better colorist. Try different foiling combs to see which ones work best with the way you like to foil. It will help you become neater and cleaner in your work and can help you work in an easier manner that suits your style. For foil, I always tell people to start with neat foil and end with neat foil. If your foils are all creased and are different sizes and shapes when you start, you will never end up with clean, even, sharp foils that will take your work to the next level.—Ian Michael Black, Aveda Global Artistic Director for Hair Color

Q: What else should colorists keep in mind to avoid unlifted foils?

A: If only one foil is the issue, it’s likely the case that there’s a previous dark color or vivid metallic dye on the strand. Use heat on that foil or remix a fresh, higher volume formula. If it’s more than one foil, and most of the foils are not lifting, try upping the developer to the next level. Also, using a combo of a good hair color with low ammonia, like JKS Color Try Me, and a gentle acid base of developer/peroxide is key.—John Kaytaz, JKS International Hair Care Products