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Paneling Hair Color Techniques

Updated February 21, 2017

Panelling, or foiling, is one of the most popular ways to highlight hair. Panelling allows you to choose how much -- or little -- hair you want to apply the colour to. Unlike using a highlighting cap, highlighting using foils offers a much more natural look. Also, using foils allows you to apply the colour right at the root of the hair. Getting foils done at a salon can cost you a pretty penny, but you can learn how to panel to give yourself the same look for half the price.

Mix your hair colour -- if necessary -- as directed in the instructions. Typically, most hair colours will require you to combine the hair colour with the colour developer.

Pour the hair colour into a dye bowl or plastic bowl.

Separate a section of your hair. This section can be as wide or thin as you'd like. Clip back the rest of your hair using hair clips.

Comb through your hair using a tail comb. Using the tail of the comb, weave through the section of hair to separate several smaller sections of hair. Hold onto this smaller section of hair with your nondominant hand.

Fold 1 inch of a hair foil around the tail of your comb. Slide the comb and foil under the smaller section of hair. Ensure the comb and foil are right against your head at the roots.

Dip your dye brush into your hair dye. Brush the hair colour onto the smaller section of hair. Ensure the entire section of hair is saturated in the hair colour.

Fold the foil into thirds to keep your hair enclosed in the foil and out of the way of other panels you'll create. Never crease the foils as this can cause uneven distribution of the hair colour.

Turn the foil up, and remove the comb. Take the 1 inch of folded foil that was around the tail comb and turn it up onto your scalp. This will prevent the colour from bleeding. Flip the foil back down.

Repeat Steps 3 through 8 with as many panels as you'd like to create. For light highlights on the top few layers of hair, you may only want to make four or five panels. To panel your entire hair, you may need as many as 15 to 20 panels.

Keep the panels in your hair for the amount of time suggested in your directions -- typically, it will take 15 to 20 minutes for the colour to develop.

Remove each panel when the time is up. Rinse your hair out using warm water and without shampoo. Once the water runs clear and there is no more excess colour to be washed out, you can dry and style your hair as you'd like.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair colour
  • Dye bowl
  • Hair clips
  • Tail comb
  • Dye brush
  • Hair foils
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About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.