Care for Hair After Foil Highlights

by Barbie Carpenter ; Updated September 28, 2017

A foil highlighting treatment lets you enhance your natural color without making a dramatic change. Naturally blending a lighter hue into your tresses can brighten your look, but these highlights require regular upkeep so they're looking their best.

Foil Highlights: The Basics

Using foils to highlight your hair gives your stylist extreme precision. Using this technique, the stylist can apply color to your hair root or ends, allowing you to touch up existing highlights, create ombre hair color or lighten or darken specific sections of your hair.

Immediate After-Care Tips

After a foil highlighting treatment, you have two goals: protecting the new hair color and nourishing your tresses. Don't wash your hair for about 24 hours after a foil highlighting session -- this delay will give the hair color time to be fully absorbed into each strand.

The first time you do wash your freshly highlighted hair, follow with a deep conditioning mask, which you leave on your damp, clean tresses for about 10 minutes. This treatment, which you can perform at home, can help restore any moisture loss that occurred during the chemical treatment.


  • Make a DIY hair mask using ingredients from your kitchen. Massage coconut oil into damp hair, wrap a warm towel around your tresses and rinse it out about 10 minutes later. Your tresses will enjoy the natural moisturizing properties of coconut oil.

Long-Term Maintenance and Care

Cleansing and Conditioning

Use a shampoo and conditioner designed especially for color-treated hair. These products are infused with pH-balanced ingredients that make your color last. Plus, you can enjoy the nourishment of vitamins and minerals packed into these formulas.

Styling Tips

While you might not be able to ditch heat-styling tools entirely, minimizing their use is a simple way to gently care for your highlights. Blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons don't just damage your hair -- the heat can also fade your foil highlights. When you do have to use heat-styling tools, spray a heat protectant on your strands beforehand.


  • Read the labels. Avoid hair care products that include alcohol, which can dry your hair and fade color.

Sun Protection

While the sun might naturally lighten your hair, it can also damage foil-highlighted color. The sun can oxidize your highlights, resulting in unwanted shades. Using a color-correcting shampoo once a week can soften brassy or coppery undertones.


  • Talk to your stylist about using a toner on your tresses after a foil-highlighting session. Toner can make your color last longer and protect it from the sun and heat-styling tools, which can have a harsh effect on your freshly colored tresses.

Highlight Upkeep

A few minor changes to your hair care routine can make those highlights last:

  • Water temperature: Wash your hair with lukewarm, rather than scalding hot, water. Hot water is more likely to strip the color right off your strands.
  • Shampoo frequency: To reduce fading, skip daily shampooing. Use a dry shampoo in between to soak up oil and improve shine.
  • Chlorine: Avoid swimming in chlorinated pools when you can. If you do take a dip, wet your tresses and spray them with a leave-in conditioner before diving in. 

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.