How Long Have We Lifted?

When our roots say it is time for a trip to the salon we think of spending 3-4 hours in a chair, reading magazines with a couple pounds of aluminum foil sticking out of our head. The lady sitting next to you with the perm is probably the worst part of the entire visit.

Now backtrack over two millennia...4th Century B.C

Long before the free handed balayage techniques were considered 'techniques' and before salons were ever called salons, women were lightening their natural hair color. Back then, a trip to the salon would be an all day event.

Women of Ancient Greece would lighten their hair using a homemade elixir of olive oil, gold flakes, lemon juice and pollen -- add a little gin and now it's a drink! These mixtures usually worked by swelling the cuticle layer of the hair and allowing sun bleaching of the hair’s natural color. Unless you know what you are doing, these products can be harmful to the skin. Alkaline mixtures can cause burns -- especially if you have sensitive skin.


Egyptian women in 1400 A.D 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 on rooftops in the desert for hours to lighten the hair. You could imagine that brassy was classy! And how about that tan?!


 Now let's fast forward to the 1800's. By then chemists had discovered hydrogen peroxide would lift the hair without burning the scalp. Within one hundred years, French chemist Eugène Schueller created the first commercial hair lightener, Aureole.  It would later become the global brand leader L’Oreal. By the 1950s hair lightener was being distributed across the world.


Highlighting began evolving through the '60s and '70s. The highlighting process was developed by hairdressers of targeting and isolating sections with a plastic cap. The cap was pulled tightly to the skull, and with a metal pin and hook device the hairdresser would pierce the cap and pull locks though to be painted with lightener. Although the technique was effective, it was an uncomfortable experience for the client.

During the 1970's free hand painting, known today as balayage - the French word for sweeping - was being experimented with by hairdressers taking bleach and painting it down the hair by hand. Special developers equivalent to 80 or 100 volume catalyst were created to lift the hair to bright white within 15 minutes, making blonde more achievable.


Around 1980 the foil makes its way on to the salon floor. Hairdressers had developed a technique where slices of hair are painted with bleach and folded into squares of aluminium foil, giving the client limitless options for how she wanted her hair. This technique is still today's most popular procedure.


So when you think of a trip to the salon, imagine what it was like to be your grandmother's grandmother getting her hair highlighted. No wonder she doesn't like the new look! It's completely different from what they used to look like.