We know that many clients are gravitating towards more natural-looking colour. And with balayage still going strong, more and more people are in search of low-maintenance colour. But let’s face it: That’s not necessarily good news for your salon business. Since lifting and lightening can be the key to getting clients back into the salon sooner, here’s how foilayage can be the solution for attracting more clients than you may think.
What Exactly is Foilayage?
Here’s where the debate begins! While many hairstylists believe it’s the combination of foils and balayage, in recent years foilayage has become its own trend. Not only can it be used for lifting and lightening the hair, it’s a great technique for adding depth and dimension to darker strands. “Foilayage is a technique we use a lot more than we think we do,” says Monia Grieco (@monia_grieco_colorist), a senior colourist at Salon Pure in Montreal. “It helps make a nice connection for grown-out colours. And it’s a good corrective technique, too.” For Lisa Dinh (@lisathidinh) and her team at Lisa Dinh Hair Studio in Toronto, foilayage is a key technique that the team uses and teaches in the salon. “For us, foilayage has been a major part of our business; it’s now more of a staple,” says Dinh. “Clients want lightness in their hair and in order to create that, we use foils.”
Why Clients are Obsessed
Foilayage is one of those trendy hair terms gaining steam on social media. So much so that you may be noticing clients request it by name! “Foilayage is great on so many people,” says Grieco. “I don’t think it’s colour-dependant; blondes, brunettes with soft caramel tones, redheads can play different variations of red. Everybody loves to feel special, and I think that one of the beautiful benefits of foilayage is that it pretty much works for everyone.” In addition to customizing the experience for clients by choosing colours that are right for them based on their hair shade, length, texture and face shape, Grieco recommends explaining the overall process. “In doing so we’re asking clients questions and analyzing their hair to create a personalized look. Clients get extra attention and will feel special.” “What clients love is that they can achieve the style they want in one to two sessions,” adds Dinh. “They can get the colour they want [faster], which is ideal. Lightening [without foils] can take three to five sessions.”
PRO TIP: Grieco suggests using a powder lightener rather than one that’s clay-based. “When I use foils, I try to avoid clay because it’s going to dry on the surface and the thermal action is different because of that. I like to use something more traditional.”
Dinh uses a “high and low” technique, which she teaches when hosting education classes in her salon. “In order to create a lot of depth and dimension in the hair while keeping it light, we place foils high and low [on the head] to create more depth and dimension,” she says. “The placement of the foils makes the hair look so much more natural. The technique is a game changer.” For higher-placed foils, Dinh recommends using babylights or balayage closer to the root or opting for a traditional full head of foils. For the lower-placed foils, she says this is more visual and creative “depending on how low you want the brightness and contrast. Foils are like contouring for hair, so less is more.”
Why Hairstylists Will Love It (If They Don’t Already!)
As a hairstylist, you know how much foils can help the lightening process, since they help conduct heat to take lifting to the next level—literally. Foils also allow you to lighten larger sections of hair, which in turn helps save you time. However, with foilayage, you’re still able to enjoy using balayage and freehand painting techniques but with more control over the placements. “Each artist is able to design and separate the head the way they want, depending on haircuts.” If there are layers or full weight line lengths or bangs, or depending on the thickness, texture and density of the hair, Grieco says she prefers using an “alternate angles” foilayage technique. “Starting at the occipital, I take a straight line and freehand paint it, but instead of following the same pattern throughout the head, I might take a straight line and then move into a diagonal,” she explains. “It covers more territory because of my alternate angled lines. And depending on if there are layers or a heavier weight line, the fall and fluidity of the hair is a little softer and more natural.”
PRO TIP: Dinh advises against overpacking the foils (Read: Not placing the foils too close together). “You lost that depth and dimension when foils are overpacked. It can look like a solid colour.”
Whichever technique you use for foilayage, the key is to practice, practice, practice. “When you’re going from darker to lighter [or vice versa], you need to respect that blend,” says Grieco. “It can already be difficult for some hairstylists to do, depending on the client’s hair, density, etc. Now that you’re adding a foil on top of that, you want to make sure that you still respect that blend and are not creating a hard cut-off line. Keep an eye on things and on how much you saturate the hair. It makes all the difference.”
Photo: Lisa Dinh Hair Studio