Articles > WWYD- What Would You Do? > What Would You Do: Client’s Foils Get Too Hot Too Fast
Last updated: November 16, 2023

What Would You Do: Client’s Foils Get Too Hot Too Fast

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Advice From The BTC Community On What To Do When Foils Get Too Hot

When a client straight-up tells you she’s been using box dye, how do you handle it? And what if her foils heat up SUPER fast? One stylist reached out asking for advice on a recent color processing disaster when her client’s foils got too hot too fast during a balayage service, so we reached out to the BTC community to try and find out what could cause a super fast lift like this. Scroll down to read their input!


Here’s our anonymous hairdresser’s situation:

  • The client came in with level six warm neutral hair and wanted a balayage
  • Had been home coloring her hair but couldn’t remember what she had used (she admitted it was a few different brands)
  • Lengths were balayaged with 30-volume
  • 15 minutes into the application the client’s hair got extremely hot and was a level nine yellow 
  • Hair was rinsed immediately and toned with 10-volume
  • Even after a deep conditioning treatment, the client’s hair had a substantial amount of damage


“Why would this happen? What went wrong? And how can I correct it?”



There Are Many Factors for this Happening



“It all really goes back to the consultation. I feel like after you’ve had time in the industry and you’ve been behind the chair so long, you sometimes lose touch on the importance of a thorough consultation. I would have pre-warned my client of the potential dangers of lightening her hair just based off the fact that she wasn’t sure of the brands that she used. There are certain metals in some hair dyes that can cause reactions and even some natural dyes…I would have gone with a lower volume developer and under promise results. I always tell my clients it CAN take 2-3 sessions to ensure the hair isn’t completely compromised. Much love hair fam.”– @madeleinethecolorist


“Metallic dyes! They’re a b****! They don’t mix well with bleach!” – @ri.invent


“Medications can cause that reaction as well. My daughter had surgery and the pain meds and anesthesia stay in your hair until it grows out. I was balayaging her hair and the foils got as hot as a flat iron. I immediately rinsed and do the rest open air and watched closely. Another client of the salon had switched her anxiety meds and again hair heating up and breaking. It’s hard to ask clients what medications they may be taking though….” – @emmascissorhandz


“Hair getting hot? She probably had straightening or keratin treatments done in between colors.” – @fabriciony


“Probably metal or iron in her water. Also, if she used something with non-water soluble silicon it’ll cause a chemical reaction as well.” – @curlybeth5


“It happened once with a client that had had chemo and radiation treatments six months before her highlights.” –@wendy.atkins


“Definitely a chemical reaction. Like someone else said, box dye and henna = metallic salts. So, you did nothing wrong. But maybe next time if you’re unsure bump the volume down to 20 just in case and let them know you just taking precautions. So, if it turns out it doesn’t lift enough it’s ok. You can always leave it on just a touch longer and if by that point you think it needs heat and can handle it then do so. It’s a process and you were just being cautious. Sometimes just taking it a step at a time is better.” – @cas_lei94


When in Doubt, Test it Out!



“I would have test stranded prior to committing to the service to save myself the worry, especially with a consultation that didn’t have direct answers. Clients sometimes don’t tell the whole truth because they are embarrassed or think you won’t know the difference. Clarify the hair prior to starting the service based on what they had said about box color as well. I also would have used only a 20-volume for this initial appointment and told the client it would take multiple appointments to reach her goal. This would guarantee me saving my own butt and integrity of the client’s hair. Hope this helps and you got some answers you wanted/ needed!! Good luck in the future!!!” – @yassshairqueen


“Always strand test, and if you don’t know for sure the history of a client’s hair don’t use 30-volume.” –@laurentomsett


“Always strand test that way you can show the client the realistic shade the hair will lift to before discussing toner. Also, you will see what the condition is like before going ahead with the service. We use Matrix Bond Ultim8 in the salon and always recommend it, especially if clients are wanting to go lighter for balayage/ ombre.” –@hanlauren85


“You can test the hair for metallic salts by cutting and placing a small test strand in a plastic bowl (do not use metal) that contains 1/2 perm lotion and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide. If the solution bubbles, heats, etc. then the hair contains metallic salts, meaning no color or lightening products should be applied to the hair. Do this any time you’re unsure of a client’s hair history, better safe than sorry… Hope this helps.” – @leanne_rob


“Test strands are seriously key and I suggest even doing it in two different areas in nape. This will save the hair from damage and hours of work. I am so sorry this happened. Been there, done that.” – @wild_hair89


“Girrrrrl the same exact thing happened to me using 20-volume. An old friend from high school came to see me for a balayage. I didn’t even think to do a stand test. She had hair down to her butt and left with it at her shoulders, now she’s seeing my manager once a month for free deep conditioning treatments. This experience broke me and really made me question my career….but this is my passion so I’m not going to give up! After talking to other stylists (they shared their stories and literally this or something similar has happened to all of us!!!) and educating myself I feel much better and look at this as a chance to grow! We still don’t know for sure but most likely she used color that had metallic salts that reacted badly to the bleach. I definitely learned my lesson, I will always perform a stand test!!!!!” – @kelseydoeshair1


Cover Your Bases with a Pre-Treatment Service!

“My first step with EVERY new client is to use a Crystal Gel Treatment or CPR Color Pigment Remover by Malibu C! Pre-treating guarantees that I will not stress over a possible reaction with any chemicals, minerals, or meds that are in the hair. Also, since these treatments are antioxidants they stop oxidation on contact. I squirt Crystal Gel into my foils to stop the lightening action safely without the need to run to the shampoo bowl!” –@hairdiva73


“I add an extra 20 minutes to their appointment and apply the treatment at the start. I do most of my color/lightening services on damp hair so it works best for me to do it that way.” – @hairby_cheychey


“I would definitely contribute this to possible metallic salts that are in home color. My first step would definitely be to do a Malibu C! CPR Color Pigment Remover. The metallic salts are reacting to lighter which is an oxidizer. Which caused a chemical reaction to happen on the hair. If you are dealing with an oxidizer you need an antioxidant to neutralize the reaction and the biggest source of an anti-oxide treatment that we all know is Vitamin C. Which is contained in the Malibu C! CPR, it’s my insurance policy and safety net.”– @azmynthestylist


“I usually strip their hair and start over, that way you get rid of the metallic salts. Pravana makes a good color strip product that I use. You have to be careful when you go back in with color or bleach after you strip because the hair is porous and it will process faster and darker. I usually level up with color a shade or two. I use Olaplex as well.” – @king_0331



Try a Lower Volume


volume, gif


“Starting off with 30-volume instead of 10 or even 20 was most likely your downfall on this, but luckily you immediately washed it out and took the necessary steps. Don’t be too hard on yourself life happens. WE HAVE ALL DONE IT.” – @avianamakeswaves


“The first time I use lightener on a client I use 10-volume and I tell them, “I do not know your hair, so the highlights, ombré or whatever I’m doing, I’m starting at your foundation and that we can build on this.” I use this as basically an extended strand test.” – @black_orangesf


“I would not have done a 30-volume on a client that has a level 6 color. In my experience balayage also takes me some time to apply so I would have used 20-volume with Olaplex, which dilutes it, and kept an eye on it. You did right by rinsing out immediately though. It’s really hard with previous at home likely box colors especially on new clients.” – @_amandagarza


“I believe in the future with clients like this the volume of developer should be low to begin with. Due to the fact that clients who cannot remember brands or home color have hair that is ALWAYS unpredictable. So, forcing the hair to take it’s time through this process is the only thing we can do to avoid breakage and dryness.” –@mmeredithowen


“30-volume on light hair (not a 4 or darker) is quite harsh. Especially without knowing what had been done to her hair previously. I agree with everyone, test strand and still 20 volume. Like an oven, turning up the heat doesn’t cook it faster, just burns and ruins the food. Same with hair, although I know how impatient clients can get and they can be intimidating if they want that immediate gratification of having it done fast. Always better to play it safe and slow so you don’t have to clean up a mess and panic afterwards.” – @lexinesalazar


And Remember, We’re All in This Together

“The advice here is great! I’m learning so much” – @p31_artistry


“Reading these comments has made me really check myself. Someone talked about strand tests, I can’t remember the last time I did a strand test. I’m always in such a hurry! Lesson learned, I feel for each and every person that this happened to… like heart break. I can’t imagine this at all! I messed up a color once, I couldn’t sleep for three weeks. It was gut-wrenching, I almost quit.” – @therealserenablair


“This was so educational 🙌🏾🙌🏾thank you!” – @candihair


“I’m newly licensed, and this thread has been an eye-opener. 👀This is what we don’t learn in school. I’m pretty sure that every one of you who shared your experience saved me from making some big mistakes. Thank you!” – @loloshipp


“Wow this made me feel so much better. I had this happen to my client a couple of months ago and I was sick for days about it!” – @bk.streetz


group hug, gif


Click here to see what everyone had to say on our Instagram!