‘Foilayage’ is the new hair colour technique that combines balayage with traditional foils for brighter, more brilliant results

When balayage came along is was like all our hair colour prayers had been answered. Finally, we could kiss goodbye to tiger-stripe highlights and hello to softly sun-kissed, multi-dimensional colour. The technique, which originated in France, uses painterly strokes of hair dye applied freehand by a colourist using a brush or directly with hands, instead of the traditional way of weaving through sections of hair with a comb before applying dye from root to tip and folding foil around the section. As well as keeping the sections of treated and non-treated hair totally separated, the foil also helps to traps heat, allowing the dye to lift the hair colour more for a lighter, more pronounced finish. 

“Traditional highlights will almost always use foils and colour 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 Colourist, 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 colour technique in salons and by far the most popular among their customers. But recently, there’s been an explosion of bold hair colour looks emerging, with trends like peekaboo colour and ‘money piece’ highlights taking our salons and our social media feeds by storm.

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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 and seamless blending.