If you regularly bleach hair, you’ll be familiar with foils. Strips of aluminum foil help the bleach to better penetrate the hair. But can you use regular kitchen foil to bleach hair?
The answer is yes, you can. Whether you’re bleaching and coloring your whole head of hair or just adding highlights, aluminum foil is a suitable at-home tool to use.
Why Do You Use Foil When Bleaching Hair?
When you’re looking to color your hair, it’s likely that you’ll need a bleaching agent. Particularly if you have naturally dark hair that you’re looking to lighten.
The bleach opens up the hair cortex and penetrates the cuticle.
This dissolves the melanin in your hair, which is what allows the dye to take its place.
When stylists bleach hair, they’ll wrap foil around the section to which they’ve applied the bleach.
This creates a warm environment that allows the bleach (and toner, if used) to open up the hair cortex much quicker.
It also means that the bleach is more likely to distribute evenly.
Can You Use Kitchen Foil To Bleach Hair?
You can use regular aluminum foil to bleach your hair. It works to maintain and increase the heat that’s produced by the peroxide in the bleach. So, that’s why foil is used when bleaching hair – it speeds up the process and ensures an even distribution of bleach.
You can use strips of kitchen foil if you’re highlighting your hair – you just have to remember to cut them to size.
Alternatively, if you’re bleaching your entire head of hair and can find one, an aluminum cap will ensure that the bleach is evenly distributed throughout your strands.
Either strips or the cap will work, and you can use regular kitchen foil to bleach your hair.
If you don’t feel confident cutting the aluminum strips to the right size, however, it may be best to purchase professional strips, which will cut out this step.
Can You Use Saran Wrap To Bleach Hair?
You may suddenly realize that you’re out of aluminum wrap, but that you’ve got a supply of Saran wrap to hand.
Saran wrap can also be used to bleach hair, in the same way as aluminum foil. It really depends on your preference and what you have to hand, but both at-home products can be used to bleach your hair.
Which Is Better? Aluminum Foil Or Plastic Wrap?
It’s difficult to give a precise answer on whether aluminum foil or plastic wrap is better for bleaching your hair, because it’s down to personal preference.
The best way to find out is to try both for yourself.
That said, there are benefits to both:
Aluminum foil is a tried-and-tested favorite of stylists.
It’s easy to use with a variety of different color brands. It can be used for full-head coloring, balayage, ombre, highlights, or lowlights.
As kitchen foil is not transparent, stylists (or you) will have to unwrap them in order to see how the color is developing.
This is the main drawback, as well as the fact that removing these foils can involve a degree of tugging if not done carefully, which may be painful.
Saran wrap is far less commonly used than aluminum foil when bleaching hair.
However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t work just as well.
In fact, some people prefer plastic wrap, particularly for whole-head changes of color.
It allows you to get significantly closer to the scalp than kitchen foil, which means the result can look more natural and is closer to your roots.
If you have super long hair, wearing kitchen foils can be heavy, whereas plastic wrap is super light.
You or your stylist also don’t have to unfold the strips in order to check how the color is developing, as the plastic is transparent.
Plastic wrap is not the most environmentally conscious choice, however. It is plastic, after all.
How Should You Cut Foil For Highlights?
Inevitably, the thickness and strength of aluminum foil differ depending on the manufacturer.
You need a reasonably strong and thick foil for at-home bleaching, as it has to be malleable but also resistant to strong chemicals.
You can always double up weaker kitchen foil if it seems a little thin.
Depending on where you shop, you may be able to pick up aluminum foil that comes in ‘sandwich size’ wrappers.
These are cheap and easy to use and may make cutting it into strips easier.
Length of foil
The length of foil strips that you will need varies according to your hair length. Longer hair will need more foil, and shorter hair will need less.
Remember that you will fold the foil around the hair in order to lock the bleach in.
Cutting strips that are twice as long as the hair you’re planning to color is, therefore, a good idea.
A good guideline for the length of foil strips is anywhere from 4 – 5 inches wide and 8 – 12 inches long.
You can vary this according to your hair length.
If your hair is super long, you can always use two strips of foil sandwiched together – one covering your hair from the roots to midway, the other covering your hair from midway to your ends.
Remember that you need to avoid causing a crease in the bleach when you’re folding the foil around the section of your hair.
Otherwise, you’ll have uneven bleaching and this will result in uneven color. It’s worth taking your time to ensure it’s done correctly.
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Alice is an experienced writer and researcher with a background in the Creative Arts. She is a published poet and is currently completing her Ph.D., having worked in a variety of industries, including as a theatre dramaturg.
Alice is passionate about the environment, so is always on the lookout for the best zero-waste products that are vegan and cruelty-free.