Ah, Brazil. Is there a country better known for its beautiful people? It’s an easy association for the world to make, especially considering some of the most famous supermodels in the world (including Giselle Bündchen, Adriana Lima, and Alessandra Ambrosio) call the land synonymous with waxes and blowouts, home.
As a model oasis, Brazilians are serious about beauty. To find out what we’ve missed growing up in a markedly colder and less attractive climate, we decided to go straight to the source, tapping two Brazilian women who have literally turned their hometown beauty secrets into a worldwide business. Inocencia Manoel, the CEO of Brazilian haircare-based company Inoar, and Camila Pierotti, the founding partner and lead of product innovation at Sol de Janeiro, are cluing us into everything from the wonders of aloe and guava to cupuaçu butter. Discover all the Brazilian beauty secrets Brazilian women swear by below!
For Brazilian women, the most sought-after hair is as touchable as it is healthy. “In Brazil, everyone wants long, healthy, soft, shiny hair with lots of movement. We also want our hair to look effortlessly gorgeous, not over-styled or stiff. We want our hair to look amazing but natural,” says Pierotti. She emphasizes that hair “must be touchable.”
Before you picture your run-of-the-mill VS Angel, keep in mind that Brazil is diverse. “Brazil is the country with the most hair types in the world,” Manoel reminds us. She notes that every variation of curly hair dominates. “Having this whole range of hair makes us one of the largest markets for hair products in the world and a land of many hair specialists. We are a continuous research center.”
1. Choose vegan, natural, and cruelty-free products.
Hair health is important to Brazilian women, which is why the demand for all-natural, vegan, and cruelty-free products has grown steadily over the last decade. “The Brazilian woman reads the label,” says Manoel, adding that ingredients hold a special significance. “Whether it’s a reflection of diet or environmental and animal issues, the demand for vegan cosmetics has never been greater.”
2. Weekly scalp treatments.
Of course, the Brazilian lifestyle means the hair is always interacting with the environment. “Brazilian women love the beach and we love to be outdoors, all that exposure to the elements means we really need to take care of our hair so it stays super healthy and looks amazing, no matter what we’re doing,” stresses Pierotti. Somehow Brazilian women know that the shortest path to healthy hair is through the scalp. “We love scalp treatments because we feel that a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair. Also, frequent trims are a must to keep split ends away. Basically, we’re obsessed with hair and know how to take care of it,” she confirms.
3. Embrace natural hair texture.
This brings us to the Brazilian hair trends. Like in the U.S., ladies in Brazil are no longer obsessed with erasing their texture and are instead finally embracing their natural curl as beautiful. “Ten years ago there was a great tendency to reduce volume or straightening, but this scenario has changed a lot in recent years,” says Manoel. “The search for curly and afro haircare has had a very significant growth in the last years (more than 200%) and all this is a reflection of female empowerment and a new posture of assuming one’s own beauty, not mirrored in stereotypes.”
4. Healthy highlights
Pierotti adds to this, noting that “healthy hair is what everyone wants.” And let’s not forget color. “Highlights are also really popular since they add depth and dimension. This is the Brazilian ideal. It’s not about trends; it’s about beautiful, touchable hair. This is the iconic look in Brazil.”
5. DIY beauty treatments and hair masks.
Brazilian beauty is an international anchor for many reasons, but largely because you can’t separate the area from the ingredients indigenous to its landscape. Listening to Manoel talk about the foods she grew up with 1) makes us hungry and 2) sounds like the most powerful mane elixir we can think of. “Brazilians always look for secrets to take care of the hair at home,” she explains. “I used to do my first alchemies with what I found in my mother’s yard.” Her obsession began with aloe, which is apparently everywhere and can be used to soften strands and moisturize. “Our flora is very rich,” she notes, explaining how backyard haircare secrets pass from mother to daughter. “Aloe, rosemary, basil, guava tea, and fruits like mango and banana are used for hair treatment, moisturizing, shine, strengthening.”
To get these effects on your own, Manoel recommends blending banana, honey, and coconut oil to create a DIY Brazilian mask. Mango, honey, and almond oil also produce extreme shine, while chamomile tea helps naturally lighten the hair, and guava tea is known for aiding in hair growth. “There is a universe of possibilities in the nature of Brazil,” she adds.
“I remember a secret I learned from my mother,” Manoel continues. “She mixed olive oil with sugar and exfoliated the scalp. In Brazil, because of our climate, this is extremely beneficial for circulation. Then she washed with neutral shampoo and rinsed with rosemary tea. The mixture of honey with sugar and a few drops of oil is also a great detox treatment on the scalp.” It is with this background that Inocencia creates her products for Inoar, which she says rely heavily on natural oils, including argan and coconut.
For Pierotti, no matter how it’s achieved, her fave Brazilian beauty secret is to make sure hair smells as good as it would in Rio. “I spray Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush in my hair in between washes. I get so many compliments,” she says.
6. Exotic, natural homegrown ingredients like cupuançu butter.
If you want hair that rivals Brazilian ladies, start treating your locks like they do. This means putting the care in while being selective about the products you chose. “Brazilians rely on natural, botanical, and vegan products, as well as salon performance products,” emphasizes Manoel. “Like all consumers, they believe in what works, and also in products that are free of ingredients that can harm health, the environment, or animals.”
Pierotti seconds that the demand for the best is real, and makes the world of difference in your mane’s appearance. “We look for products with natural ingredients and proteins to strengthen hair and protect from heat and sun. We love natural butters like cupuaçu butter, which is an ingredient that’s very Brazilian. We look for a great shampoo and conditioner with nourishing ingredients, and we love our deep conditioning masks—these are all essentials.”
For essential Brazilian haircare, look for all-natural ingredients—and it’s even better if they come from the Amazon!