Pintura: The Latest Color Technique for Highlighting Curly Hair

person with curly highlighted hair

Cortney White / Stocksy

We all know that feeling of looking in the mirror and realizing it’s time to go back to the salon and sit for what feels like a whole day just to get a little color for a lot of money. Well, curly-haired folks, things are looking up for you. Say hello to the days of less color, less salon time—and color and brilliance beyond compare.

Pintura is a highlighting technique gaining popularity for its delicate nature and dimension-supplying color. It's name literally means "painting," getting it from how individual curls are painted with color. Chad Kenyon, celebrity colorist, adds "Pintura is “painting” in Spanish. It’s a form of hair coloring or lightening that does not use foils, as it's 100% freehand, much like it’s sister technique balayage."

Curly-haired folks are flocking to their nearest salons, which are all opting to offer this popular coloring method. Not only does it cut down the time in the salon chair, but its helps the stylist/colorist create a customized look. Colorists are able to get right up to the root with this technique, and it’s especially great if you’re only going in for a touch-up: The colorist will only color what has grown out—meaning no adding unnecessary chemicals to already-colored strands. Curly hair is already delicate and more dry than other hair types, so reducing how many chemicals you put on it will help keep it healthier in the long run. Like Kenyon mentioned earlier, The pintura technique is similar to balayage, but there is a big difference: Pintura refers to the process of painting each curl individually, without any foil.

Shari Harbinger, vice president of education at DevaCurl, says pintura “helps create light reflecting highlights that work to boost hair’s brilliance and dimension.” It creates a gorgeous “ribbon of light” effect that looks natural, because it gives the stylist freedom to paint partial strands, placing color in the perfect places. Balayage, on the other hand, is used to color larger sections, and the color is applied to the entire section rather than curl, meaning it's less precise. Since, with pintura, the color is applied individually to each curl, the color (whether it be highlights or lowlights) helps accentuate the natural movement of your hair—making for a flawless selfie from any angle.

"With my pintura we locate the actual precise curl that we wish to enhance with color or light and is then paint on it. This in turn accentuates the unpainted hair around it creating an effect that brings light and enhancement to facial features," adds Kenyon.

Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask
Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask $42
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Not only does pintura highlight the natural movement and growth of your hair, it also uses significantly less color, which helps to keep your hair super healthy. Plus, because it's only "ribbons" of color instead of root-to-end, the regrowth looks very natural, unlike traditional highlighting methods like foils. For your first pintura treatment, it's probably best to head to a professional.

Each curl is individually colored, so it can be hard to do it yourself, especially when you make it to the back of your head. Plus, there's less risk of accidentally over-bleaching your strands, which can cause a ton of damage to your hair.

But as with all dye jobs, you still need to take extra care of your colored strands. You should be using a sulfate-free shampoo and a weekly deep-conditioning mask like Rahua's Omega 9 Hair Mask or the Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque ($63) to keep your curls moisturized and shiny. Kenyon recommends the Olaplex No 6 Bond Smoother ($28) to enhance curl, eliminate frizz and hydrate textured hair, as well as the Olaplex No 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask ($28) to give curly hair a weightless, but ultra-hydrated feel.

Oribe moisture and control deep treatment masque in green container
Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque $63
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