Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Avoid Hair Foil Creep

Introduction - Avoid Hair Foil Creep

Hair Foils Hair Foils

Hair color foils, which used to be limited to strips of bright and shiny silver, now come in a dizzying array of colors, brands and even sizes.

{{asin=B003CHQYDA,text=Foil Club}} foils, which is a popular foil brand used by hair professionals, are available in red, green blue, silver and gold.

Foils are also available in embossed silver foil or other options.  You can also purchase {{asin=B00AQ4ZZKU,text=see through foils}} for more control of product placement.

Even though a head full of hair foils will attract the attention of Magpies and humans alike, sometimes these shiny strips can go awry, causing bleach and hair color to creep, run, ooze or weep.

Of course the last thing you want when you use foils is to have any type of leakage.  Hair colorists worth their salt will go out of their way to avoid hair foil creep.

While some experienced hair consumers may use foils at home, it is best left to the expertise of professionals.

Folding Foils The Correct Way

Although applying foils seems like a no brain er when your hair colorist does it without breaking a sweat, don't be fooled, it takes some practice.  One of the biggest mistakes consumers, new colorists or hair stylists make is improper foil folding.

The big secret to avoiding hair foil creep?  Color experts often fold a crease approximately 1/4" to 1/2" from the top of the foil before placing the foil into the hair.   The pre-creased foil is then positioned against the target hair section. 

The hair to be treated is laid inside the foil.  The foil is then folded around the hair with 1/4" to 1/2" seams on all sides.

Some colorists alternate an array of foil colors to signify different formulas  applied in different sections of the hair for a unique layered result.

Purple Foils Purple Foils

Color expert Barbara Lhotan explains it as making a hem around the target hair with the {{asin=B007UO4TNI,text=foil}}.  She warns against over folding.  Barbara notes you should fold once from the top or bottom up and then fold the two side in for a very neat seam.

Too much folding can be just as bad as not enough.

Although most colorists will pre-crease 1/4" to 1/2" she suggests experimenting until you find what works best for you, the hair you're foiling and the needs of the clients.

Advantages To Proper Foil Folding

When foils are folded properly it offer several advantages including:

1.  A properly folded foil holds heat in which assists with processing the color.

2.  Neatly folded foils assist in the proper placement of the chemicals.

3.  Foils which are properly applied and folded are less likely to creep or slide down the strand.

4.  Properly folded foils prevent bleach and/or product from leaking from the foil onto adjacent strands.

5.  Foils which are properly folded speed up the coloring, highlighting or low light process.  Speed is important, especially when processing an entire head of foils.

6.  When foils are precision folded and applied they prevent unnecessary treatment mistakes while looking neat and organized.

Easy Does It With Foil Folding & Placement

See Through Hair Foils See Through Hair Foils

Barbara advises against being too aggressive with your foil folding and placement.  She remarked that if you aggressively push the foil you may inadvertently force product out of the foil, which can result in leakage or creeping.

When in doubt, be gentle during the application and folding of the foils.

Experienced colorists also caution against flattening the foils, after they're folded and wrapped, with the back of a comb.  This can also displace the product and may encourage an uneven finish such as banding or bleeding.  The product may be pushed towards the roots causing it to bleed.

Foil Mapping

While it's possible to purchase foils in a wide array of colors, sizes and styles, ultimately hair foiling comes down to the ultimate hair color goals desired.

With the popularity of alternative types of hair coloring techniques such as Balayage and Ombré,  traditional foiling techniques used by many hair salons, have changed.  Foils are still popular, but may be applied with alternative color goals or to support Balayage or Ombré techniques.

What Is Balayage?

Balayage is a French hair coloring technique which was developed in the 1970s.  It’s a freehand technique where color is applied by hand rather than using traditional foiling or historic cap highlighting techniques.

Balayage may be used in a range of hair lengths from a super short crop to hair which falls below the shoulders.

Hair Foiling Hair Foiling

What Is Ombré?

Ombré is often created utilizing a combination of darker roots, highlights positioned mid-shaft and lighter ends. Depending upon the colorist creating Ombré, they may or may not utilize foils.

When hair color clients desire a full head of highlights they often request lighter hair in front around the hairline with darker strands progressively extending throughout the sides and in back.

To achieve face framing highlights with darker sides and back, the foiling is started at the front and ends at the back.  This is because the lighter the hair is to be processed, the longer the product has to remain on the hair.

Bleach & High Lift Tints

Bleach and high lift tints behave differently when painted on hair inside foils.  Bleach only processes where they are applied.  High lift tints are more integrative.

They will work their way through hair fibers changing the hue of the entire strand.

Bleach Sandwiching Technique

Khloe Kardashian Ombre Hair Khloe Kardashian Ombre Hair

When utilizing bleach to lighten hair, it's recommended individual sections be sandwiched between two layers.  A thin coating of bleach should first be applied on the foil, the hair should be positioned on top with another layer of bleach painted on top of the hair.

This bleach sandwich technique ensures total coverage.

For high lift tints it's best to place hair in foils before brushing the tint mixture on top of the target hair. Since high lift tints do all the work, once the foil is folded, the section should be left alone to do its work.


Celebrity hairstylist Robert Hallowell notes whether a colorist or hairdresser utilizes powder lighteners or creams, they should be mixed to the consistency which works best for most efficient application.

Robert was a huge fan of ARTec Enamels before they were discontinued.

Note:  L'Oreal acquired ARTec and eventually phased out the ARTec product lines.

Lauren Conrad With Shorter Ombre Hairstyle Lauren Conrad With Shorter Ombre Hairstyle

He reported they worked really great in foils because they were so creamy that they would flow evenly through the hair for very consistent coverage.

When Robert utilized ARTec Enamels he told he didn't have to worry about missing any pieces of hair.

He also loved the ARTec color pigment shampoos "more than life itself."  Robert confided he used all the ARTec products on actress Geena Davis' hair during her vibrant red and rich brunette eras.

Summary - Avoid Hair Foil Creep

When discussing foil creep Robert warned that when using powder lighteners or creams, they need to be mixed thick enough so they're pliable for painting onto the hair, but not too loose or they tend to weep or bleed.

He also noted that when applying bleach and/or lighteners on hair before folding the foil, to brush in a downward motion towards the ends of the hair.  Even coverage with proper folding and handling of the foils will result in desirable results without bleeding or foil creeping.

Ultimately the goal when utilizing hair foils is to avoid hair foil creep which can sabotage even the most precision planned hair color plan.  While some hair consumers might feel very comfortable applying foils at home, for the majority of people, it's best to leave foiling to the expertise of a skilled hair professional.

Social Media Network Information

Please follow us on Twitter at: I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets.

New On
Active HairTalk Threads
Wanna talk?
HairTalk® is the place for you!
Recent Topics:
Quick Poll
Which Celeb Is The Current Best Short Hair Icon?
Sienna Miller
Natalie Portman
Keira Knightley
Ellen DeGeneres
Lauren Holly
Holland Taylor
Halle Berry
View Results
Daily Hair Tip
It is important to take good care of your hair because for most people a single strand of hair can live for up to seven years.
Top Gallery Images