As much as I love a trip to the salon, visiting regularly for a color refresh isn't always practical in terms of time and budget. That's why hair-care brands created an in-between solution with color-depositing conditioners, which can be used to preserve your existing dye job or achieve a totally new hair color. No matter which result you're after, this guide breaks down the best color-depositing conditioners to try now.
Using a color-depositing conditioner is a simple and customizable process. If you're trying to preserve your current color, after shampooing your hair, evenly apply the conditioner from root to tip and allow it to sit for one to five minutes before rinsing. Because these products don't contain harsh ingredients like peroxide or ammonia, they're only capable of depositing so much pigment on your hair. That means some conditioners need to be used every time you wash your hair to maintain the desired color, while others last a bit longer and wash out after several shampoos.
Another thing to keep in mind is that certain color-depositing conditioners will only show up on pre-lightened hair tones. Others, on the other hand, can be used to intensify existing shades of brown, red, and blonde — so be sure to do your research and read the instructions thoroughly to achieve your desired results.
To keep your color fresher for longer or totally change your hair up, here are four of the best color-depositing conditioners on the market. Just don't forget to further fight color-fading by using a heat protectant when blow drying or heat styling your hair, and even when spending time out in the sun.
1. The Overall Best Color-Depositing Conditioner
The CHI Ionic Color Illuminate Conditioner gets top marks on Amazon for creating multiple options to better match your hair color with a formula that also improves your hair's health. Designed to preserve and balance your existing dye job, this conditioner can be used daily or weekly after your shampoo. While it works to deposit color in as little as one minute, if you want a more intense tone, you can let it sit in your hair for up to 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it out. To simultaneously care for your hair as it enhances color, CHI included hydrolyzed silk protein, olive fruit oil, and silk amino proteins in the formula to improve shine, restore moisture, and protect against breakage.
2. The Best Drugstore Color-Depositing Conditioner
Half the appeal of using a color-depositing conditioner at home is to save money, which is where this drugstore treatment comes in. Designed to be used in conjunction with its matching shampoo every time you wash your hair (whether that's every day or every three days), John Frieda's color-depositing conditioners help seal in color while giving it a boost. Each conditioner also includes different nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, sunflower seed extract, and pomegranate extract to leave hair smooth and shiny as it boosts color.
While John Frieda has a range of color-enhancing conditioners for red, brunette, and blonde hair, there are only a handful of options that truly deposit color, so be sure to triple check you've got the right treatment if you pick this one up in stores.
3. The Color-Depositing Conditioner With The Most Color Options
If you're of the belief that you can never have too many hair color options, the Keracolor Color + Clenditioner comes in 15 different shades. Whether you choose a more natural red, mocha, or platinum conditioner, or you decide to go for a bolder mint or rose gold, the product works to infuse color into your hair with each application. Instead of a traditional conditioner that goes on post-shampoo, Keracolor designed this to work as an all-in-one conditioning cleanser that cleans and strengthens your hair as it deposits color. You can leave this on anywhere between 3 to 20 minutes depending on the intensity you're after, and the color will slowly wash out in 10 to 15 shampoos. Expect the most dramatic results if your hair is already a lighter shade — the brand notes that dark blonde or brunette hair tones might require multiple washes.
It's also an Amazon reviewer-favorite, with nearly 1,000 five-star reviews. "The results were phenomenal," raved one fan. "Not only did the color turn out beautifully, but my hair is super-soft and smells so good."
4. Another Great, Long-Lasting Color-Depositing Conditioner To Consider
Part moisturizing conditioner and part strengthening treatment, the Joico Intensity Color Butter deposits serious pigment onto your strands in just five minutes (so serious, in fact, that it requires the use of gloves when applying). Because this treatment uses the same dyes found in the brand's semi-permanent color collection, you'll be able to get five to 10 shampoos out of your new hue before it completely rinses out. Even with its staying power, there's no risk of damaging your hair since the treatment is free of lightening agents like peroxide and ammonia. Instead, Joico infused this product with ingredients like shea butter, kukui nut oil, and their own bio-advanced peptide complex that helps hydrate your hair while improving elasticity, shine, and strength.
Keep in mind that Color Butter is only going to show up on pre-lightened (or dark to light blonde hair, as the brand notes on their websites), or hair that's already been dyed a vibrant color and needs a refresh. It's sold in six colors, ranging from titanium gray to pink.
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