Articles > Hair Color > Balayage or Foil? Choosing a Lightening Method
Last updated: June 13, 2018

Balayage or Foil? Choosing a Lightening Method

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When we need our tough color questions answered—especially when it pertains to balayage—we know just who to ask: our resident hair painting expert Jamie Sea (@prettylittleombre). Our latest quandary? When lightening up a client’s locks, when do you use balayage and when do you foil?



“When you understand the amount of brightness you want to achieve on your guest is when you decide which technique to use,” Jamie says. Let’s meet Jamie. 


Balayage Lightener: Used to Achieve Level 6 to 8

This type of lightener has a thicker texture so it stays precisely where painted and doesn’t drip through the hair. Cream-based lighteners can achieve up to seven levels of lift, while clay-based lighteners (which have the consistency of toothpaste) can offer three to five levels of lift.



Foil Lightener: Used to Achieve Level 9+

If you need the highest lift, foils offer the fastest path to maximum brightness. When mixing, create the texture of yogurt for the most precise foil application. Don’t use this type of lightener for freehand painting because it can get gritty and dried out, which can lead to splotches, Jamie says.