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This Is Why We Love Pintura Highlights for Curly Hair

Summer is coming to a close, and we’re not afraid to admit that we miss it already. We’re holding onto warmer weather and sun-kissed blonde shades for as long as humanly possible. Bring on the balayage, it’s golden hour every hour this September.

We’re expecting flecks of gold and bits of blonde in every mane this season. And a lilt of lightness particularly complements curly hair textures, adding dimension without a drastic change. While there are lots of ways to highlight curly hair, there’s one method that reigns supreme among stylists and clients alike—enter pintura highlights. This low-maintenance, high-impact color process is so well suited to curly hair textures that it’s insane.

To dig into this curly color trend, we consulted three pintura highlighting experts: NY-based curl specialist Candace Witherspoon, Orlando-based colorist Desiree Coleman, and NY-based City Curl Studio stylist Rachael Urrico. Read on for a breakdown of fall’s coolest color trend.

So, What Are Pintura Highlights?

The pintura process isn’t just trendy or of the moment—it’s been tried and tested for decades. Developed with care by Devacurl, this process gives stylists the utmost flexibility when it comes to crafting bespoke hair color for curly manes.

“Pintura is a technique that was created over 20 years ago to help paint curls strategically to help create a natural pop of color,” Witherspoon explains. “It allows you to apply color on curls freely while creating beautiful dimensions.” Painting curl by curl without folded foils, allows “you to have more control over the placement of each painted curl,” according to Urrico. 

Unlike other highlighting methods, this technique is ideal for curly hair. “Regular babylights or highlights are beautiful and noticeable on straight hair but usually get lost in curly hair because the sections are too thin,” Coleman says. She recommends taking the hair in heavier sections, even including the entire curl, so the color is visible when finished and styled.

The Pintura Highlighting Process

Pintura is similar to balayage in that it’s achieved by a hand-painting mechanism. Stylists should focus on “strategically painting curls one at  a time while gently gliding lightener on top of hair shaft,” Witherspoon says. She recommends stylists work with their client’s natural head shape to achieve the perfect shade, working from the back to the front of the head.

In addition, our experts recommend that colorists consider the clients curl pattern, along with the density and porosity of the hair when applying this technique. “Ask yourself, ‘have the curls been over expose to sun? Are the curls too brassy?’ Once you understand your clients hair condition you can create any look using the pintura technique,” Witherspoon says.


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A post shared by Candace Witherspoon (@curlsbycandace)

The Importance of Hair Color and Texture

When it comes to ideally-tailored pintura highlights, stylists must also consider the client’s hair color and texture. “The finer your hair is, the more likely you are to lift quicker as opposed to someone who has coarse hair,” Coleman explains. “Coarse hair tends to be thicker, therefore it usually takes longer to lift.”

On that note, a clear consultation is the key to success. “You always want to be honest with your clients about the capability of their hair for where it’s at currently,” Coleman says. “Naturally dark hair, previous box color, and current hair integrity play a huge part when it comes to providing a color service, so having a thorough consultation with what your client wants as well as what’s realistic is key,” she explains.


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A post shared by Rachael (@rachael__citycurlstudio)

A Low-Maintenance Look

Great news: this color process is actually so low maintenance. “Pintura highlights grow out naturally on curly hair,” Witherspoon says. So little color upkeep is required. All three of our experts say touch-up appointments can comfortably be scheduled every four to six months. “For someone who wants to keep their color fresh and closer to their roots, I would recommend getting it done three to four times a year and making sure to keep the hair healthy by getting regular haircuts and treatments in between,” Coleman says. 

Because salon visits could be few and far between, at-home care is essential. “To maintain your color you should stay clear of products containing sulfate, silicone, and alcohol,” Urrico cautions. Regular moisture and protein treatments are an absolute must, according to our experts. Coleman recommends AG Balance Shampoo and Boost Conditioner for moisture, as well as Olaplex for protein.

Pintura Highlights We Love

Speaking of inspiration photos, we’ve got that covered. Here are five gorgeous pintura highlight color moments we love.

1. Rosy Hues

This is the epitome of subtle. Hints of auburn and rose tones look so right when paired with brunette curls.

2. Blonde Face Framing

The pintura process provides the ultimate customizability. We love a little bit of face framing with a shaggier curly cut.

3. All-Over Blonde

The pintura process is great for barely-there shade alterations. But it also works well for a major mane overhaul. A multi-dimensional all-over blonde can easily be achieved with this method.

4. Pops of Color

Even bright pops of ultra-blonde color look better with this process. Pintura helps you pinpoint exactly which curls to highlight and define—the result is simply stunning.


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A post shared by MODERN SALON (@modernsalon)

5. Caramel Tones

Have you ever seen better blending? Rich caramel tones are an easy addition to brunette curls with pintura.


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A post shared by Dylan G Bray (@thecurlpusher)

We’ve covered color, now it’s time for a cut. THESE curly hair mullets are an absolute dream.

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