"Illuminated Brunette" Is Brazil's Buzziest Hair Color Trend—Here's Why




Just like how Korean women are known for "glass skin," and French women are known for low-key makeup that enhances their natural features, Brazilian women are known for long, shiny, and sun-kissed hair. Just think of the multitude of hair salons that offer Brazilian blowouts or Brazilian keratin treatments. Both are meant to make lackluster hair look bouncy and healthy, à la Brazilian supermodels Gisele Bündchen and Alessandra Ambrosio, and there is a new coloring technique that is making these hair goals even more attainable. It just takes finding the right colorist and properly understanding the technique.

While proper hair care and styling methods are key to achieving long and luscious Brazilian-inspired hair, there's a popular color technique from the South American country that might help. According to Refinery29, "illuminated brunette" is a tropical take on traditional brunette hair. In fact, it mimics the natural highlights that might result from a sunny São Paulo beach vacation. While we wish we could spend endless hours beachside to naturally gain sun-kissed highlights throughout our brunette locks, this technique brings a shimmery effect to your brunette locks, even if traditionally spend your days indoors at a desk.

Illuminated Brunette

Choosing a Shade: Refer to some examples that mirror the length and brunette shade that you desire.

Maintenance Level: Low. Since the highlights are being painted on your natural base color, your hair will grow out into subtle ombré perfection.

Goes Great With: Medium tan complexions, warm undertones, brown or hazel eyes

Similar Shades: brown balayage, tiger's eye, honey brown

Price: Cost will vary depending on salon and how many highlights required to get the look you want

Before you dash off to your colorist, scroll through to learn more about Brazil's buzziest hair color trend.

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Illuminated Brunette




Morenas iluminadas translates to "lightened brunettes" in English, and it's meant to balance between softly brightening up your hair, without escaping your original hair color entirely. The technique involves painting subtle, golden highlights on a naturally dark base in order to achieve a subtle and sun-kissed color transition.

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Tons of Highlights




Apparently, this golden brunette look has swept the entire nation of Brazil, and it's not difficult to understand why. Bosco said that it's the most highly requested hair color at his São Paulo salon, after traditional blonde. Instagram is any indication (which, when it comes to hair trends, almost always is), the same holds true for other salons.

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Balayage Brunette





It seems as if another name for this color could simply be "brunette balayage" since it involves highlighting the hair with hand-painted strokes of color that rise from the ends up through the mid-lengths of the hair. Even though balayage is most commonly associated with blonde hair transformations, this trend is proof that it suits brunettes just as well.

Balayage is the perfect technique to master this color trend, as the painting effect makes the brunette highlights more subtle. Rather than noticing the specific highlights themselves, your entire mane looks elevated.

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Sunkissed Waves

The ends of this bronde hairstyle are tinged with lighter highlights for a sunkissed appearance.

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Rich Espresso




This hair color trend incorporates a wide range of brunette shades. Whether you have naturally bright chestnut hair or rich espresso-colored locks, it can be customized to suit your exact shade of brunette.

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Chocolate Brown

This technique can be used in a lower-contrast manner to add light and bounce to a head of brunette locks. We love how full and shiny this head of hair is.

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Lived-In Illumiated Brunette




The best part about it is that it's probably one of the most—if not the most—low-maintenance hair colors you could possibly spring for. Take it from Bosco, who told Refinery29 that the color typically lasts upwards of six months without any salon upkeep appointments necessary. "I've even had clients who come just once a year," he said. Booking semi-regular color appointments can be timely and costly, so if you're looking for an upgrade that doesn't require constant updates, this may be the ideal style for you.

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Tinge of Auburn

Adding a touch of auburn can be another way to brighten up very dark hair without going the high-contrast route with blonde streaks.

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Short Illuminated Brunette




While this technique looks absolutely stunning on a long, flowing mane, it looks equally so on a shorter cut. This lob has been expertly painted with soft caramel hues, and livens up her wavy, raven locks.

Because you don't need to visit the salon consistently for touch-ups, this is the perfect color technique if you enjoy getting a dramatic cut, letting it grow out, and repeat.

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Curly Illuminated Brunette




This technique truly looks jaw-dropping on every hair type, including curly. Colorist Jotha Cunha takes credit for this glowing mane, as he's painted her voluminous corkscrew curls with a shimmering bronzed hue, almost identical to her deep amber eyes. This technique will look just as good as it grows out, and has that irresistible glowing effect.

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Subtle Highlights

Blink and you might miss the caramel highlights gently twining through the mid-lengths and ends of her hair.

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Beachy Highlights



For more illuminated brunette hair inspiration, check out #morenailuminada on Instagram, which has over 1.3 million posts. You have been warned: this may result in several hours of scrolling and screenshots, concluding in a spontaneous salon appointment. After all, who doesn't want their hair to look like they just returned from a sun-filled vacation to São Paulo? When you're sporting the morena iluminada, even a dark, dry winter day can't spoil your warm, beachy vibes—that's simply a part of its undeniable magic.

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Caramel Brunette

We love this bouncy caramel take on illuminated brunette, another great example of how this hair color trend can work for all different lengths and textures.

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Blonde Ombré

The concentration of blonde at the ends gives this miles-long hairstyle a beach-friendly ombré effect.

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Coffee Brunette

This beautiful rich espresso brunette has lighter streaks for a beautiful coffee bean-inspired shade.

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Loads of Shine

Illuminated brunette can help deliver loads of shine to your strands and prevent them from looking flat. Keep your strands at maximum glow-levels with a product like Sachajuan Shine Serum ($35).

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Mahogany Brunette

Dark mahogany brown overlays a raven-colored base for a less severe look than straight black.

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Versatile Highlights

This technique's versatility is part of what makes it such a great option for natural brunettes. In this case, the highlights become more or less visible depending on how she moves her head.

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Blondish Illuminated Brunette

Highlights of many kinds are a great way for natural brunettes to add some blonde to their hair without super harsh processing or intense maintenance required.

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Sparkling Brunette

We'd be shocked if you weren't already calling up your stylist to book a color appointment after all this brilliant illuminated brunette inspo, but just in case, we'll leave you with one more: Stunning curls with just a hint of reddish brown.

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