A highlighting cap, aka frosting cap, is a method where hair is pulled through tiny holes of a cap, later processed with bleach or hair color. The highlighting cap has resurged in the salon industry gaining popularity in Brazil. In the 1980s the highlighting cap was all the rage; it enabled a stylist to create a heavy blonde effect without changing the root color (think of Madonna's early days). At that time, dark roots and blonde hair were en vogue.
The highlighting cap will give optimum color coverage in a "baby-light" fashion. After processing the roots can be softened with a complimentary shade. The DIYers, at-home color, find greater control when using a cap since there tends to be no color bleeding and skunk stripes, but they must proceed with caution. One slip of the cap can lead to a hair disaster.
Foiling allows stylists to target specific areas which are void of highlights, I prefer foiling since it requires a well-trained eye and an artist to create the perfect outcome. The highlight/lowlight foil technique in which foils contain a mix of hair color, and highlights, in varying tones, is an impossibility when using a highlighting cap.
You may have seen viral videos on TikTok and Instagram featuring a stylist named "Robson Peluquero" pulling off a highlighting cap on freshly bleached long hair, the videos gained popularity because they are mesmerizing. In reality, long hair is difficult to color with a highlighting cap, the process of pulling long hair through tiny holes is not only painful but can break hair.
Robson sells a silicone cap that is strong, contains over 500 holes, and is known to be very gentle on the hair, and pain-free. I hunted one down, waited one month for its arrival, and decided to test it for myself. I am familiar with the cap highlighting process, but I steer clear when a client's hair is long. I had a volunteer that allowed me to highlight her long hair with the silicone cap, I applied oil inside the cap to avoid pain, tediously pulled her hair through every hole on the cap, applied bleach, covered her hair with a plastic cap to avoid the bleach from drying out. Then the fun started, after processing, toning, washing, and applying a conditioning mask, I proceeded to pull the cap off of her head. Pulling off the cap was nothing like social media videos, the cap was very secure and her head was in a bit of pain. Although she had precisely placed strands of highlights, I would have preferred to have done a baby light technique with foils. There were still some areas under the cap, at the nape of the neck that was not covered, and foils are a great heat conductor leading to a consistent highlighted tone.
A highlight through a cap is much better on virgin hair where no other color is present. It is also better suited to use on short to mid-length hair. It is difficult to touch-up regrowth with a cap, although, there is a technique of only pulling the roots through a cap and highlighting the little loops of regrowth. Once again, not the optimal technique to utilize when using bleach.
The ever-popular, "balayage", the freehand highlighting technique is impossible to create with a cap, there is no way to expose a decent amount of root and use an expert eye to apply color in a free-hand fashion, other than to color melt the roots after highlighting.
For Best Results
Pictured below is a client with mid-length, fine to medium density, virgin hair with a natural dark root. Her hair was pulled through the highlighting cap, lifted with Schwarzkopf Blonde Me Bleach, and toned with a violet-based toner. Our guest's final hair color result was a gleaming silvery blonde.
Highlighting hair through a cap is limited, therefore, we keep one in the backroom for a rear occasion when the optimal guest enters our salon. Have you worked with or had your hair highlighted with the Robson Peluquero cap? We would love to hear your opinion, feel free to use the below to comment.
Note: While there is a lot of fun to be had with a hair color chart and hair dye, if you have an existing hair color on your hair, you might need to be careful on the hair color remover and its process to achieve your baseline hair color to start from. While hair color trends for 2021 might get you ready for a fun season, taking the right precautions will get you there stress-free.