Despite, or perhaps because of, the hot, humid, and sticky climate, haircare is sacred in Brazil. And as summer looms, we can't think of a locale with more authority on how to keep hair looking gorgeous in summertime.
From naturally-derived hair potions to old beauty lore, here a slew of Brazilian hair experts break down ways you can channel your inner Gisele.
1. Mask early and often. For mothers and daughters in Brazil, haircare is a family affair. "Mothers start hydrating their daughters' hair at 5 or 6 years old, bringing them to hair salons or deep conditioning at home once a week," explains Amelia Alves, senior hairstylist and coordinator of training at Novex.
Often times, hair is treated with homeopathic remedies. "My mom and I used to do warm Brazil nut oil treatments on our hair," says Valeria Cole, founder of Teadora. "Warm it, apply it, put on a shower cap, leave it on for 30 minutes, then shampoo and condition." Cole also loves to use nut oil as a hydrating mask, leave-in conditioner, or pre-sun exposure protectant.
2. Try a hair beanie. For Cole, one of the oldest hair traditions that is passed down by moms from generation to generation is a technique called Toca de Cabelo AKA a hair beanie.
"This is a technique that allows you to naturally straighten your hair without heat and much time or effort," she explains. "You simply use hairpins to create a very tight hair 'beanie' around your hair with large hair pins, and then cover it with an old stocking or something similar overnight. Remove pins in the morning and wake up with beautiful, straight, and soft hair."
3. Tap into the rich ingredients of Brazil. Cole lists a slew of the most popular as:
- Brazil Nut Oil: For hydration, softness, and shine.
- Cupuaçu butter: For deep hydration and softness
- Buriti Oil: For hydration, shine, and scalp health
- Pequi Oil: For frizz reduction and curl retention
4. Capitalize on Keratin. "It reinforces the hair structure, reestablishing its natural movement, shine, and softness," explains Alves.
It's also a key ingredient for the popular Brazilian Keratin straightening technique. "It's a bath of keratin that makes the hair thick and shinier for four weeks," adds NaturaBrasil expert Cintia Andrietta.
5. Cut you hair according to the phase of the moon. "Brazilians are very superstitious people in general," explains Cole. "A lot of women in Brazil cut their hair according to the different phases of the moon to obtain different results. According to my mother and many women in Brazil, one should never ignore the moon when it comes to cutting hair. Timing is everything."
According to Cole, each phase of the moon represents the following:
- New moon: Strengthens the strands.
- Crescent: Accelerates growth and increases shine.
- Full: More volume.
- Half Moon: For weak strands or hair that's falling out. It also helps tame wild hair.
6. Treat dark hair with chocolate. Particularly for women with dark hair, chocolate, which contains a slew of vitamins and minerals that nourish hair, is a popular ingredient in Brazil.
Cole has a special home-spun recipe which yields deep hydration, shine, definition, and reduces frizz with a delicious chocolate scent. All you need is: A cup of bottled water, 1 heaping table spoon of cornstarch, 1 heaping tablespoon of your favorite conditioner or mask, 1 teaspoon of powered cocoa, ½ teaspoon of vegetable glycerin, and1 teaspoon of brazil nut oil (or another hair hydration oil).
"Mix together the cornstarch, water, and coco, then warm it in medium heat until it thickens," she instructs. "Let it cool and mix in the other ingredients, apply generously to damp hair after washing, leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off in cold water."
7. Candle split ends. Velaterapia, or candle-cutting, was invented in Brazil in the '60s and consists of using a lit candle stick to burn split ends off your hair to open the hair follicle and help it retain moisture.
"It's more effective than a normal haircut when a client wants to keep hair length and get rid only off the split ends," explains Fernanda Lacerda of the Maria Bonita Salon in Soho, one of the most well-known Brazilian salons for the treatment. "With the hair twisted, only the split ends are burned off, so pretty much all length is kept."