Master Foiling Techniques: Foilyage, Chunky Highlights & Ombré

Written by Redken TeamJan 28, 2022

Read time 5 min



No matter what your client’s goal is, achieving beautiful color results always starts with the foundation: a good lightener applied with the right technique. While the lightener impacts the brightness and vibrancy of hues, the application is key to creating the desired hair color effect.

From creating trending styles like ombré and chunky highlights to mastering methods like foilyage, using the right lightening technique will enhance your color results. While the options may seem overwhelming, knowing when to use foils and when to opt for open air processing is much simpler than you think. To help breakdown these popular techniques, we chatted with Redken Brand Ambassadors Cassandra McGlaughlin and Cassondra Kaedingabout about the power of foil.


Simply put, traditional foils give you the most lift and control of all the application methods. Foils provide heat conduction that increases lifting power and allows for more dramatic contrast. As Cassandra McGlaughlin explains, “Using foils is a great way to create a higher percentage of lightness and effect more noticeable change. "Because of the precision you get with foils, your technique allows you to create a wide range of results, from high contrast to super blended. To achieve the blended look, Cassandra recommends foiling on a 45degreeangle. By working on a diagonal, you’ll cover more hair with fewer foils. While many fear the lines of demarcation that can come from foiling, techniques like root smudging will soften those lines for a more natural finish.


Though foiling is most often associated with traditional highlights, there are a multitude of trending styles that benefit from foiling techniques. To highlight the power and variety of foils, we’ve rounded up tips and tricks for a few of our favorite trending styles and techniques.


Ombré has officially made a come backas the gradient look was one of the most sought-after styles of the year. To achieve ombré, hair is gradually blended from dark to light though horizontal lightener application. Because the darker shade is typically on top, this style is a favorite for dark haired clients looking for a low maintenance color option. While clients love the natural grow out, achieving the level of lift needed for dark-haired clients can be a challenge. Any brunettelooking to achieve more than fourlevels of lift will likely need the power of foils.

Using foils to process your client’s ombré will allow you to fully saturate hair before blending, allowing even your darkest haired clients to achieve the ombré of their dreams. And while some artists prefer to use open air balayage to create their ombré, this style can really benefit from foiling.


"Make a game plan so you don’t over-foil. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with our foiling applications, but game planning helps us to have predictable and intentional results.”Cassandra McGlaughlin


Redken Flash Lift Bonder Inside lets you achieve eight levels of lift while protecting the hair’s bonds with pre-dosed Bonder Inside.


No matter how you feel about the iconic ‘90s chunky highlights, it’s safe to say they’ve made a return. The Y2K inspired highlights have been seen on celebrities like Dua Lipa and Kylie Jenner, further boosting its popularity. To better understand the trend, we spoke with Redken Ambassador and celebrity stylist Cassondra Kaedingthe woman behind Kylie Jenner’s chunky blonde highlights.

Though reminiscent of the ‘90s look, the 2022 version of chunky highlights is slightly different. As Cassondra explains, “the 2022 version allows the client to help create the look. Placement is key and clients are given the opportunity to let their colorist know where they want to see the highlights pop!” Whether your client is looking for a bold face framing piece or a head full of chunky highlights, there is no wrong placement with modern chunky highlights. Because of this, Cassondra urges colorists to have fun and be creative with the application.

While placement is up to you and your client, processing time is key. To pull of the highlights and eventual blending, the hair needs to be well saturated. Because chunky highlights require weaving in bigger chunks of hair than you may be used to, even saturation is needed for proper lift. After application, be sure to lock the foils in place to avoid bleeding.


To soften the line of demarcation, add a big root melt or root shadow. Make sure the root shadow or melt is dark enough to help blend properly.”Cassondra Kaeding


Redken Flash Lift is a maximum power lighting powder. 


As balayage’s popularity continues to rise, you may have clients who need an extra bit of power to achieve the lookthat’s where foilyage comes in. Foilyage is a technique used to mimic the same hand painted balayage look when open air balayage will not achieve the desired lightness. It is exactly what it sounds like. As Cassandra explains, foilyage allows you get the incubation and control of a foil, while getting the blend and natural effect of a balayage placement. This is the perfect solution for your dark-haired clients who need the power and lift foils provide.


With this application, you use larger and thicker sections that traditional foils, but smaller sections than an open aired balayage. Cassandra suggests keeping your sections to ½-inch thick or less. While thinner sections may provide greater lift, if you go too thinresults may mirror traditional foiling whereas sections too thick will mimic a balayage. To ensure proper blending is achieved, she notes that teasing is key. No matter how much you need to tease, be sure to vary the heights of these sections across hair. Finally, combine teased sections with a woven section directly on top to create those ribbons of color balayage is known for.



A lightener with thicker consistency will help with the paint-like application. In this case, a cream lightener may be your best bet.”Cassandra McGlaughlin


Redken Blonde Icing is a conditioning cream lightener that offers smooth application with up to seven levels of lift.

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