Differences between cap and foil highlights: Which technique is better for you?

long hair

What are the differences between cap and foil highlights?

Which technique is better for your hair?


I’ll help you discover that here.

To choose the best highlight technique for your hair, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have long or short hair?
  • Do you have straight or curly hair?
  • Do you have gray hair? A little bit or a lot?
  • What effect are you looking to get with the highlights?


You’ll be able to decide whether the foil or cap highlight technique is better for you based on your answers to these questions.

But, to make quick, I’ll go ahead and tell you this.


  • If you have straight or wavy hair, then I’d recommend the cap technique because it will brighten your features.
  • If you have curly hair, then I’d recommend the foil technique, which is ideal for lightening certain parts of your hair. That will allow you to lighten your eyes if you focus the highlights in the front part of your hair or your face’s shape if you focus the highlights around your ears.
  • If your hair is short, then I’d recommend the cap technique, which will make your hair look longer.
  • If you have a lot of gray hair, then I’d recommend the cap technique because that will help to hide any gray better, but if you have a little bit of gray, the foil technique can be good since you can focus on covering certain areas.


That’s the short version of what my recommendations will be.

Are you still unsure about which of the highlighting techniques is best for your hair?


 Now, I’m going to tell you some of the differences between the cap and foil highlighting techniques, which should help you to decide between the two techniques. 


  • The biggest difference between the two techniques is that cap highlights are thinner and even throughout all of your hair.

Foil highlights are a little bit thicker and focused in certain areas.


On the other hand, foil highlights work well for people with long hair or curly hair.


The reason is simple. If your hair is really long, it can get tangled beneath the cap while the hair colorist is separating your hair, which would make it impossible for them to continue the job with the cap on.

If your hair is curly, then foil highlights will be easier to apply, since you’ll be able to tell the stylist in which parts of your hair you want more highlights.


  • Depending on your hair color, cap highlights are a way to get blonde tones quickly.

On the other hand, foil highlighting is a gradual process, where the bleaching happens little by little, which takes longer.


  • Lastly, you can only get uniformly blonde highlights with cap highlights because of the bleaching process.

Foil highlights allow the hair colorist to take off the foil of different parts of your hair at different times to stop the bleaching process.

That way, your hair will end up with varying tones of blonde so that you can have anywhere from very, very light blonde to dark blonde.


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Which highlight technique is better for you if you have lots of gray hair, and which is better if you have just a few gray hairs?

takes longer than foils

If you have a lot of gray hair, then I’d recommend cap highlights, since even though the result is similar, the thinner highlights will help to hide your gray better.

The lighter blonde your highlights, the better hidden your gray will be.


Now, if you only have a little bit of gray, the foil technique will work perfectly well to hide them.

But, only if you have just a few.

Are you wondering why?


With foil highlights, the sections of your hair that you end up bleaching are much thicker, which would make it so areas with a lot of gray wouldn’t get the full highlighting effect, since in certain areas, the gray would show through.


Can you do cap highlights at home? Can you do foil highlights at home?

Can you do highlights at home?



Will they end up looking good?

It depends.


If you have experience with dyeing your hair, then your highlights might look good no matter which technique you choose.

 If you don’t have experience and have never dyed your own hair, then you won’t be able to get the highlights you’re looking for. I’m sorry to be pessimistic, but it’s the truth. 


A lot of women think that by watching a few video tutorials online, they’ll be ready to do their own perfect highlights.

Then, they go to the store, buy a highlight kit, and then the results are disastrous, or at least not exactly what they were looking for.


You can get a bunch of different kits in stores that come with everything you need to do highlights; some even come with a cap for doing the highlights.

The thing is that having the materials is only half the battle – or less. Afterward, you still have the hardest part: deciding where to do the highlights, getting your hair through the holes in the cap, or wrapping your hair in the foil, depending on which technique you use.

 Those are the parts that make the most difference in the result, and they’re also the hardest parts. 


  • The cap technique requires a lot of precision to get your hair through the holes. It’s also important to know which hairs to choose to pass through the holes and which ones not to choose, depending on what effect you’re going for.
  • And, it’s the same with the foil technique. The key is choosing the right hair to wrap and not to wrap.


And that’s just the beginning. There are still many other factors that will influence the results.

For example, how long will you leave the bleach mix in your hair? 


If you leave it longer than necessary, then you might end up burning your hair.

If you leave it less time than necessary, then your highlights won’t look right, and you’ll need to bleach your hair again, further damaging it.


So, that’s why my advice is that whether you decide to go for the cap technique or the foil technique, it’s best to go to a professional salon.

If you do have experience with dyeing your hair and you’re confident in your abilities, then you can do it on your own.


Which highlight technique is quicker to apply?

takes three hours

Of course, this will depend on the person who’s working on your hair’s experience. But, in general, cap highlights are quicker than foil highlights.


 Once your hair is perfectly detangled, passing your hair through the holes in the cap shouldn’t take too long. Of course, the longer your hair, the longer it might take to get your hair through the holes.  


The foil technique tends to take longer. Remember that the hair colorist working on your hair will need to wrap each of your locks of hair in foil to achieve the highlighting technique.

In some salons, two hair colorists will work on the highlights to speed up the process and make the wait time shorter for the client.


Are foil highlights more expensive than cap highlights?

Although foil highlights take more materials than cap highlights, cap highlights take more work.

That’s why there’s almost no difference in price between the two techniques.


  • When it comes to the cap highlights, you are mostly paying for the work and time the highlights take.
  • Whereas, the main cost of foil highlights comes from the materials that they require.


Maintenance for Cap and Foil Highlights

There are few differences in the maintenance of the two different kinds of highlights.


  • If you decide to do cap highlights, you should go back to the salon every 60 days. Remember that this technique leaves space at the top of your roots.

That’s why you only need to go back to the salon every 60 days because your hair needs to have grown at least an inch to be able to bleach your roots correctly.


  • If you decide to get foil highlights, you should go back to the salon every 40 days, since foil highlights don’t leave that space at the roots, so you’ll need to touch up sooner.


The maintenance periods are just estimates, since every woman’s hair grows at a different rate, depending on many different factors like nutrition, washing habits, genes, etc.


  • Your maintenance schedule will also depend on if you have gray hair or not.

If you have gray hair and you don’t like how it looks, then you might need to go back to the salon sooner than the times we established above.



Now you know all the differences between cap and foil highlights.

Are you still unsure about which technique is best for you?


I understand if you have questions, and it’s perfectly fine that you do.

 After all, the decision to get highlights isn’t something to take lightly. You have to be very sure because it’s tough to go back. You can’t just get rid of them with a pencil eraser.  


So, if you’re still unsure about which technique to choose, you can leave me a comment here below.

Tell me a little bit about what you’re looking for with your highlights, if you have gray hair or not, and all of the information about your hair that you can give, and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

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