I’m looking to brighten up my hair with some highlights, but I am trying to decide between cap highlights and foil highlights. I want to understand the key differences between these two popular highlighting techniques so I can choose the best option for my hair.
In this guide, I will compare cap vs foil highlights so you can also determine which is better for your style and hair goals.
What are Cap Highlights?
Cap highlights involve placing a perforated cap on the head and pulling small sections of hair through the tiny holes in the cap. The stylist then applies lightener or hair color evenly to the strands that are pulled through to create subtle, all-over highlights.
The specially designed cap with multiple perforations allows the hair color to be applied uniformly to the selected strands. This technique creates a soft, natural-looking highlight effect throughout the entire head of hair. The result is a beautifully balanced color that looks like the sun has naturally lightened the hair.
What are Foil Highlights?
With foil highlights, the hair stylist sections off pieces of hair and wraps them in foil before applying the hair color. The foil helps protect the hair strands, so they can be colored more intensely and with greater precision.
Foil highlights involve saturating the foil-wrapped sections of hair with a lightener or hair dye to create bolder, brighter streaks of color. Since each section is wrapped separately, the stylist has more control over creating variations in color intensity and placement.
Exploring the Differences Between Cap and Foil Highlights
On average, cap highlights cost $60 to $150, depending on the salon, location, and intricacy of the application. Occasional glazes and toning cost extra.
For foil highlights, expect to pay $100 to $250 and up. More dramatic ombre looks or precision placement with lots of foils lead to higher costs. You’ll need periodic touch-ups too.
Cap highlights are usually quicker to apply than foil highlights. With cap highlighting, color is distributed evenly in one step rather than needing time to wrap each strand section separately.
Foil highlights require more time to create foil packets and individually apply color to each one. If you want lots of fine highlights throughout your hair, foil highlighting will take more salon time.
Cap highlights create a soft, uniform look from root to end since the strands are colored evenly from where they emerge from the scalp. This can give a natural sun-kissed glow if subtle shades are used.
Foil highlights allow for more boldness and dimension. Each strand is colored individually, so a variety of shades and depths can be added. Foil highlights range from fine, face-framing pops of color to dynamic ombre looks.
With both cap and foil highlights, maintaining your vibrant color involves:
- Getting regular trims every 6–8 weeks to keep highlighted ends looking fresh.
- Using sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to help extend color between salon visits.
However, there are some differences to consider:
- Cap highlights require more frequent toning and glazing since the lightener is applied directly to hair shafts. The color washes out faster.
- Foil highlights may need less frequent shampooing and washing since the foils protect the color during processing. The color deposits more permanently into the strands.
With cap highlights, all the strands have a uniform look since the hair is colored evenly through the tiny holes in the cap. There is an all-over brightness that prevents spots from being too light or too dark.
Foil highlights create more dynamic results by lightening and coloring select strands separately. This allows for lowlights and highlights in varying shades and intensities for lots of depth and dimension.
The cap highlight technique involves placing a perforated cap on freshly shampooed hair and using a hook or comb to pull sections through the tiny holes. Lightener or hair color is brushed through these strands for broad, subtle highlights.
With foil highlights, the stylist isolates strands, applies color formulas, and wraps them in foil. Several wrapped sections are done throughout the head for defined streaks or a sweeping ombre. The foils protect the hair during processing for a vibrant color.
To keep your highlights looking fresh, regular trims and sulfate-free hair products are essential for both techniques. However, the maintenance schedules differ slightly:
- Cap highlights need re-toning every 4–6 weeks since the color washes out faster. Occasional glazing refreshes the shine.
- Foil highlights may only need touch-ups every 8–12 weeks, thanks to the color sealing within the strands. Less frequent washing helps too.
It’s also crucial to avoid chlorine, salt water, and sun exposure, which can cause premature fading of both cap and foil highlights. See your stylist promptly if you notice brassiness or dullness developing.
Cap highlights can be done in natural blonde tones, warm brunette hues, or even vibrant fashion shades. The uniform technique lends itself well to subtle all-over looks.
Foil highlights provide endless options, from beachy blonde balayage to vivid mermaid hues. Separating and foiling strands allows for ombre combinations. Bleached platinum foils contrast with dark shadow roots.
After foiling or capping, hair can be toned, glossed, or glazed for extra dimension. Consult your colorist to achieve your perfect shade.
Should I get cap or foil highlights?
Now that we’ve compared the differences, which technique is better?
If you want low-maintenance, all-over color, cap highlights are the way to go. The technique creates a soft, natural dimension for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
Foil highlights provide more dramatic color effects with babylights, bold ombre, or fashion shades. Foils require more time and maintenance but allow more creativity and vibrancy.
Schedule a consultation with an experienced colorist to discuss your hair goals. They can advise whether cap or foil highlights will give you that stunning new look you’ve been dreaming of.
With the right technique and stylist, you can get beautiful, head-turning highlights that leave your hair healthy and vibrant. Take these comparisons into account, and you’ll be on your way to finding your perfect highlights.
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