Foil Method for Lowlights on Short Hair

Actress Michelle Williams looks stunning with subtle lowlights in her short hair.

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

When it comes to adding lowlights, the process is pretty much the same as the method for creating highlights. The only real difference lies in the color used; a lighter color is used for highlights, whereas for lowlights you need to add in a hue that's deeper than the rest. Think of it as adding highlights or shadows to a painting. To create your own masterpiece, use the proper foiling method for the most professional-looking dye job.


Proper prepping is essential when you're adding any color to your hair. Don't make the mistake of shampooing right before coloring. This might seem smart to do -- starting with fresh hair -- but it actually means the dye won't adhere as well. Hey, the more you can do to get the most even, professional-looking results, the better. So let your hair get all grungy and dirty for a couple of days before you dye it.


Proper mixing of your dye is crucial to get the look you're after. It doesn't matter what color you're adding to your coif -- as long as it's darker than the rest of your hair, you create the lowlight effect. Always read over the instructions -- these can vary pretty significantly depending on the brand and the shade you choose -- so you know exactly how to mix your product up. With your short hair, you won't need a ton of dye to get the job done, even if you're coloring your whole head. One box of color is more than enough.


To color your hair, you insert a separate foil strip underneath each section, using smaller strips that fit better in your short hair. This creates a surface for you to paint the hair over, but even more importantly keeps each section covered. Fold the strip up around the hair after saturating it with the dye, ensuring you always get the most precise color placement. Without the foils, you could end up dripping globs of dye on hair where you don't want it -- have fun getting that out. For the most natural-looking lowlights, color random sections around your head instead of worrying about making it too "perfect," focusing them around the bottom layer where lowlights typically show through.


Without proper maintenance after coloring your hair, you can end up with less than desirable results even just a few days after dyeing. Stick with color-safe hair products, which are specifically formulated for protecting color-treated hair, keeping it fresh and fabulous looking instead of dull and faded. A gloss treatment can also help, making your hair look ultra healthy and shiny.


The results are more than worth it, but getting just the color you want can be a bit tricky. Once you have your hair oh-so-fabulous after coloring, keep it at its best with color-safe hair products. Use a purple-tinted shampoo and conditioner if your strands start to look brassy. The purple in these products neutralizes those brassy tones so you can kiss them bye-bye after a single shower session.

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