The balayage and highlights hair trend shows no sign of slowing down, with hairstylists switching things up by adding strandlights, midlights and shadow tones into the mix. But for those with curly, wavy or textured hair, the foil technique typically used to achieve these natural blonde shades can sometimes be a little too precise, making colour look chunky and blocky.
But that's where Pintura comes in. Created specifically with curly and textured hair in mind, it's an intricate highlighting method that lightens hair without looking too try-hard or doing away with the hair's natural movement. While it has its roots in the US, the technique is slowly gaining traction in the UK, according to Zoë Irwin, Wella Professionals colour trend expert.
"Pintura is a colouring technique used to colour curly, textured hair," Zoë told R29. "It literally means 'to paint'. During the process, colourists hand-paint the curls without foils in a way that adds dimension and accentuates curls. Just like balayage, the technique brings light to the face but it differs because it is bespoke to every client – that's because it takes into account the tightness and shape of curls. It has the ability to lift the face and to create both softness and depth at the same time, and it works so well with hair left in its natural form."
Curly hair salon Devachan in the US was one of the first to develop the technique, Zoë continued, but it's making waves here, too. "With the rise of global hairdressers through Instagram, we are seeing lots of new trends like this coming to light," she told R29. "In fact, colour-obsessed British hairdressers are actually travelling to other countries to further specialise in techniques like Pintura, bringing them back here." Zoë also mentioned that the industry has seen a shift, with women moving away from relaxing and taming their curls to fully embrace their natural texture – but if they aren't relaxing their hair, they are colouring it a lot more, and it's all thanks to changing techniques like these, as well as clever formulas.
Typically, curly, textured hair is much drier and more fragile than other hair types, but with new protective, bond-building products and methods like the Wella Professionals Koleston Perfect with ME+ (ask for it in salon), Olaplex and INNOluxe, damage during colouring is significantly lessened. "Because of these innovations, colouring techniques are changing to create new dimensions in textured hair," added Zoë. "Curly, textured hair has its own specific needs when it comes to the products colourists should use and we need to ensure we are not damaging the hair fibre. Koleston Perfect, for example, is great for colouring this hair type because it totally respects strands, which means there is less damage the more your colourist uses it over a period of time."
But back to Pintura. The brilliant thing about the selective hand-painting technique is that you can keep things subtle by dyeing just a pinch of strands at a time to lend a sun-kissed look, or select numerous locks of hair, from the roots to the mid-lengths and ends. Of course, it always pays to visit a professional so that they can suss out your individual curl pattern – especially if you want to go considerably lighter or you haven't bleached your hair at home before. And if you want to steer clear of bleach altogether, talk to your colourist about a high lift tint, a process which lightens the hair without it.