Illuminated Brunette Is the Trendy Way Brazilian Colorists Are Brightening Up Brown Hair


The Instagram hashtag #morenailuminada is huge in South America.

By Marci Robin-Allure

Like so many brunettes, I often find myself torn between loving the depth and richness of my natural color and wanting to brighten things up. And sure, any colorist can do that with highlights, but I’ve found that highlighting darker brown hair can end up not so much in a brightened look, but in an unblended, high-contrast result. A color trend that’s surging in South America, however, proves it’s possible to brighten brown hair without that unnatural-looking contrast.

The hashtag #morenailuminada (sometimes written plural as #morenasiluminadas) — Portuguese for “illuminated brunette” — has become a hugely popular way to describe a gorgeous look colorists are giving their clients in Brazil. Instead of looking blatantly highlighted, brown hair appears almost as if it’s lit from within.

Refinery29 reports that João Bosco of São Paulo salon Salão 1838 is one of the biggest proponents of the look, and his Instagram is full of proof that illuminated brunette is a beautiful way to brighten brown hair without giving up the depth of a darker color.

In Peru, stylist Bruno Raphael has been sharing a number of his #morenasiluminadas, the photos of which often show caramel tones seamlessly blended with a dark brown base color to create a glowing look.

Another Brazilian colorist, Patricia Scariot, proves the effect can be created with both warmer and cooler tones, as long as there’s no noticeable demarcation.

The illuminated brunette look is definitely making its way to the U.S. — and it’s definitely gorgeous on a variety of hair textures — as proven by Nikki Ferrara, colorist at White Rose Collective in New York City. “It’s a soft balayage with a deep brown smudge at her root to create depth,” she tells Allure of how she achieved the radiant hair color below. “Then I did an all-over glaze to keep the ends lighter but still rich.”

For those interested in getting and maintaining the look, Ferrara says the seamlessness is all about the smudge. For upkeep, she says, “Just get routine root smudges to keep the depth at the roots, and biannual highlights.”



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