As a colorist, you get clients that come in daily for highlighting services. Whether they want to add a few lighter pieces to their look, dimension or movement, it’s one of the most popularly requested and upsold salon services.

Highlights have evolved throughout the decades from using foils to freehand balayage. Eric Charles Mokotoff, master colorist and educator for 20 years ( offers this highlighting lesson which can benefit students to long-time beauty industry veterans.

“Consumers ask for today’s newest looks so let’s take a look beyond the most common racking and stacking of foils,” says Mokotoff. Here, we take a close look at the complete architecture of a highlight:

#1. Geometric Design/Foundation: “Will you highlight the top of the head, sides, back? Establish which zones of the head based on the haircut (length and fall) you want to see a particular effect in. And choose your geometric shape. The possibilities are limitless.”

#2. Direction of the Light & Shadow: “How will the light and shadows affect the color? The next step is to decide how the light will fall within your chosen zone.”

Horizontal: a waterfall of color/light going across

Vertical: ribbons of color/light that etch into the depth of the hair

Diagonal Towards: angles of color/light moving towards or forward

Diagonal Away: angles of color/light moving away or back from

#3. Choose Your Textures & Mix it Up: “What goes into the foil will determine the effect of the direction. You can slice, weave, slice jump slice, micro weave etc. Mixing up the texture of what is in your foil will help create a more organic, seamless feel.”

#4. Density of the Texture (how much hair is in the foil): “How thick or thin your texture is too will also determine how closely set and compacted the slices, weaves or other textures are.”

#5: Density of the Design (how much foil to use): “The amount of foil and how close together they are will either give the appropriate room for the look or too many foils too close together will compact and bunch the desired effects together.”

#6: Empty Space is Your Friend: “Feel free to leave some emptiness, background. This will give more justification and ‘oomph’ to your dimension. Natural space and shadow will give you desired look just the natural attention it needs. Not everything needs to be colored or lightened. Too many foils over crowd and become either too linear, too busy or simply resemble a single process color.” (SEE PICTURES ON PAGE 2!!!)

What color levels and tones will you use to complete your desired creation? Check out these cool highlighted styles tagged to MODERN's #hairdressermagic hashtag!

6 Steps to Perfecting Your Client's Highlights

6 Steps to Perfecting Your Client's Highlights


4 Hair Color Looks That Add Depth, Dimension and Richness

By Lauren Salapatek | 08/13/2014 | WWW.FIRSTCHAIR.COM | FEATURES
Hairstylist and Make-up Artist Cristen Smith created these looks on four separate clients. In each, she explains her color formula/process in order to add depth and dimension to each look.
Read more

HOW-TO: Platinum Blonde Highlights on Virgin Dirty Blonde Hair

By Lauren Salapatek | 06/26/2014 | WWW.MODERNSALON.COM | HAIR-PHOTOS
Who doesn't love flawless platinum blonde highlights? We have the how-to for you by Alexa Mansa, colorist at Salon Couture!
Read more

HOW-TO: Pretty-in-Punk Highlights by Joico

By Lauren Salapatek | 06/17/2014 | WWW.MODERNSALON.COM | HAIR-PHOTOS
Pink, Yellow, Green-Blue and Indigo are the colors you will find in this "Pretty-in-Punk" color formula by Joico Artist Stella Livoti. Get the full steps inside.
Read more

6 Steps to Perfecting Your Client's Highlights

6 Steps to Perfecting Your Client's Highlights

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about