Q: I have brown hair and recently got blonde highlights. I am in the military and my supervisor is arguing with me that my
highlights are not allowed and I disagree. I have found that highlights are allowed as long as they are not “faddish.” For me to prove
this I need to know around what year were highlights invented I guess you could say, so that I can prove to him that it is not a fad
and highlights have been out for years.
A: The specific methods for highlighting – hair bleaches and toning dyes - have been in use for decades. Modern-styled, chemical,
hair color lighteners were developed in the early 1900s, but different methods have been in use for centuries, as the desire for
lighter hair has been present in various ages throughout history.
In fact, in the Renaissance Era – around 1400 to 1600 A.D. – women would often use lemons and/or mixtures containing black sulfur, alum and honey and apply it to the hair spread over a wide-brimmed,
cap-less hat and sit in the sun for hours to lighten the hair.
There is even evidence to show that women in Ancient Greece (as early as 4 B.C.) used ointments
made of olive oil, citrus, pollen and gold flakes on their hair and sat in the sun for long periods to lighten the natural color of the hair.
Even the most modern methods and formula used for creating highlights (the targeted lightening of
random strands to create depth and dimension in the hair’s color) have been around for more than four decades, and have become so
widely used for such a long period of time that they can no longer be considered a “fad”.
Often the original “highlight processes” (in the 1960s) used plastic caps through which locks of hair were pulled using a hooked needle and isolated for bleaching. Later (in
the 1980s) the foiling method was developed, where slices of hair were painted with bleaching mixes and folded up into strips of foil.