It happens to us all: We love our hair color when we’re fresh from the salon, but within a few weeks, we notice that the once-vibrant hue is fading and starting to look dull. Before you pick up the phone to schedule (yet another) appointment with your colorist, consider trying one of the best color-depositing conditioners to keep your tresses looking glossy and rich with your chosen shade. These specially-formulated treatments are an easy and cost-effective way to keep your color fresh between salon visits.
Not sure which color-depositing conditioner is right for you, or never even heard of color-depositing conditioner before? Don’t worry! We’re here to break it down for you. Keep reading to get the full scoop, or just scroll down to shop our picks for the best color-depositing conditioners for every shade of hair!
What is a color-depositing conditioner?
We love coloring our hair, but let’s face it: Colored hair requires some maintenance. Whether it’s due to heat styling, sun damage, or simply the passage of time, all hair colors fade. This where the best color-depositing conditioners come in. If you want to keep your chosen hue looking vibrant, a color-depositing conditioner will be your saving grace.
Color-depositing conditioners are hair conditioners that contain a small amount of pigment. This can preserve and amplify the shade of your hair, and also help to neutralize unwanted brassy tones that are often found in blonde and naturally gray hair.
How often should you use color-depositing conditioner?
It’s really up to you how often you want to use a color-depositing conditioner. If you wash your hair every day, you might want to save the best color-depositing conditioners for use just once of twice a week. On the other hand, using it every day is perfectly safe — and if you love the results, why not use it every time?
Whether you use a color-depositing conditioner in place of your regular daily conditioner, or more sparingly, adding one of the best color-depositing conditioners to your routine can make you look like you stepped out of the salon, even when it’s been a while since your last visit.
Can you make your own color-depositing conditioner?
It stands to reason: If the best color-depositing conditioners are simply regular conditioners mixed with a little bit of semi-permanent hair dye, can’t you just make your own? However, it’s not that simple. While it may seem like a tempting and cost-effective DIY, it’s a safe bet that you’ll regret whipping up your own mixture in the long run.
Semi-permanent hair dyes, while safe to use on hair, contain drying alcohols and acids that can throw off the blend of emollient ingredients found in regular conditioners. At best, you’ll end up with a mixture that adds a small amount of pigment to the hair but barely hydrates it. And at worst, you could end up creating a chemically unbalanced concoction that actually damages your hair, leaving it frizzy and dry.
Sticking with the best color-depositing conditioners will help you avoid a failed science experiment and keep your locks looking lovely. And since we’ve rounded them up for you, finding the perfect one for you couldn’t be any easier!
To get the best results, use a conditioner specifically formulated to add color to the hair — their ingredients are designed to work together. Not sure where to start looking? Keep scrolling to shop our picks for the best color-depositing conditioners, guaranteed to keep your hair color dark, vibrant, and fade-free.
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What is the best color-depositing conditioner to use in 2021?
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Black Hair: dpHue Color Boosting GLOSS+ Deep Conditioning Treatment
- Best Drugstore Color-Depositing Conditioner for Brunette Hair: John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Color Deepening Conditioner
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Brown Hair: Aveda Clove Color Conditioner
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Chocolate Brown Hair: One’n Only One N Only Argan Oil Condition Color Chocolate
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Auburn Hair: Davines Alchemic Conditioner Tobacco
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Red Hair: CHI Ionic Illuminate Mahogany Red Color Conditioner
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Copper Hair: Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask – Chic Copper
- Best Bold Color-Depositing Conditioner: Celeb Luxury Viral Colorditioner: Professional Color Depositing Conditioner
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Blonde Hair: Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Conditioner
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Ash Blonde Hair: Shu Uemura Color Lustre Cool Shades Reviving Hair Balm
- Best Color-Depositing Conditioner for Gray Hair: Keracolor Clenditioner Color Depositing Conditioner Colorwash
Why we like it:
- Keeps dark hair vibrant
- Adds depth and gloss
Is your black hair starting to look a little lackluster? If so, reach for a conditioner with a cool, deep-brown tint like dpHue’s Color Boosting GLOSS+ Deep Conditioning Treatment. Whether it’s with touch-ups or during the initial dyeing process, going with a stark, jet black color can end up looking harsh. With just a slight brown undertone, this conditioner will give you that beautiful raven mane you desire, along with some beautiful dimension for a look you’ll love for a long time.
Promising review: “After [my] color started fading I didn’t want to go back to the salon for more damage. I stumbled upon this and selected copper. My hair drank it up! I have short hair and needed four pumps for my whole head. I let it sit for about 20 minutes while I showered. Yes, I wore gloves too. I’ve washed my hair once more since the glazing and my hair is still vibrant!”
Why we like it:
- Super affordable
- Warms up grays
For the longest time, color-depositing conditioners have been found solely in salons and high-end beauty suppliers — but not anymore. Hair-care expert John Frieda has taken his iconic “Brilliant Brunette” drugstore series and amped it up a notch with his Visibly Deeper Colour Deepening Conditioner. Designed to enrich the dark tones of natural and color-treated brunette hair, this conditioner deepens hair color for brunette hair like none other. And at drugstore prices, what’s not to love?
Promising review: “This product … gives your hair the ‘just got my hair colored at the salon’ look. It makes my gray streaks look blonde and the rest of my auburn hair look rich and shiny. I look like I paid hundreds in the salon for a weave of highlights. In fact, I have not colored my auburn hair in over a year thanks to John Frieda products. I use all the brunette products. I use the color deepener a couple times a week, the brilliant brunette color glaze daily, the luxurious volume treatment a couple of times a week, and I love all the John Frieda shampoo / conditioners.”
Why we like it:
- Smells amazing
- Leaves hair super soft
Looking for a quick way to give your brunette hair a boost? Well, the experts at Aveda have created an organic conditioner that might be exactly what you’re searching for. Made with organically-grown clove to enhance warm tones and organically-grown coffee to intensify brown shades, this conditioner leaves the scalp purified and the hair soft, with rich color 365 days of the year.
Promising review: “This deposits color and gives dull hair a perk. While it doesn’t cover grays, it softens and blends them. It conditions my fine hair perfectly. I usually put conditioner on my mid-hair to ends, but because I want to blend roots I start from the roots and go to ends. I use a wet brush in the shower to distribute and let sit for maybe five minutes before rinsing. I end up with deep chocolate hair that feels fuller with more swish than usual. I love it.”
Why we like it:
- Works quickly
- Adds shine
For deeper brunettes who want to add warmth to their hair color without a trip to the salon, One n’ Only’s Chocolate Argan Oil Color Conditioner is the only way to go. Formulated with argan oil to help nourish, condition, and smooth hair, this conditioner delivers incredible shine while transforming your color into an autumnal hue you’ll love all season long. Best of all, it’ll only take five minutes of your time.
Promising review: “My hair is very short and I don’t want to be doing harsh chemical processes all the time, so I wanted to keep [going] the color-depositing route, but in something richer. After just one use, this conditioner immediately deepened and warmed up my color from dark ash blonde to a light dusty brown, and a second use to a light warm brown. The product itself is a rich, true brown color (not green- or purple-based, a true chocolate brown) and has a floral scent. It does not smell like dye like some color-depositors do. My white hairs look sandy and blend well. I would recommend either wearing gloves or immediately washing hands after application, otherwise I have not experienced any unwanted staining.”
Why we like it:
- Brightens up red tones
- Infuses rich brown tones
Continuing with the red hues, auburn hair is easier to maintain thanks to its brown undertones, but it still needs help. The next time you head out to buy a conditioner, there’s one brand you should start with – Davines. Davines Alchemist color-depositing conditioner in Tobacco is specially formulated to evenly distribute the warm, red notes you associated with auburn hair at the base, while infusing cool, brown tones to give you rich, multi-dimensional color at the drop of a hat. With this conditioner in hand, you’ll be giving Julianne Moore a run for her money in no time.
Promising review: “I have natural hair and wanted to brighten up my red highlights and make some grays less noticeable. Unlike the other color depositing conditioner I’ve used, this one saturates evenly and produces a very natural looking color. Unless you’re going for an Ariel look, you WANT the pigment to look subtle. Nobody notices I’ve done anything, but I keep getting compliments that my hair looks nice.”
Why we like it:
- Keep red tones vibrant
If there’s one hair color that needs be actively maintained with a color depositing conditioner, it’s any (and every) shade of red. Because the red hair molecule is larger than other molecules, red dye can’t fully penetrate the hair shaft, meaning color can begin fading as soon as the first wash post-salon visit. To ensure your red hair stays vibrant, reach for a conditioner, like this one from the CHI Ionic Illuminate series in the shade Mahagony Red, to keep your burgundy tresses looking as luxurious as when you stepped out of the salon.
Promising review: “I love this conditioner for keeping my color bright and fresh between salon visits. I’m never one to be too much on directions, so I actually like to put this on my hair DRY. Be sure to use gloves. It will stain. A shower cap is also helpful. Then, I take my shower as usual and rinse my hair last with cool water. Once a week is all you need to look like you just came from the salon. Highly recommend!”
Why we like it:
- Great for both natural and dyed hair
- Adds moisture to dried-out locks
One of the most beautiful shades of red, copper might also be the hardest shade to upkeep. But with Christophe Robin’s Shade Variation Care Nutritive Mask in Chic Copper, it’s so much easier. Safe for both bottled and natural gingers looking to boost those gorgeous God-given locks, this deep-conditioning mask revitalizes color, adding rich, warm hues blended with almond butter and buriti oil for adding hydration.
Promising review: “I have coppery red hair that I get colored every six to seven weeks at the salon. This product keeps my hair from fading as I get closer to my next salon visit. It’s the most effective red color conditioner I’ve found, and it also makes my hair silky soft and impossibly shiny! It isn’t a miracle product, so if you’re looking to get salon results, just go to a salon… but if you’re looking for a pick me up to use between appointments, this is a godsend. I use it two or three times a month, or whenever I notice my color looking a little faded or dull.”
Why we like it:
- Fun, bright shades perfect for gray or white hair
- Semi-permanent color washes out over time
Is lavender a little too muted and pastel for you? Looking for a fun, bright color to shake up your locks? Then it’s time to pick up a bottle of Celeb Luxury’s Viral Colorditioner. This vivid semi-temporary color is perfect for anyone who wants to liven up their hair or maintain an already bold look. Available in 10 vivid fashion colors, from magenta and coral to emerald and turquoise, this shampoo also comes equipped with their proprietary BondFix complex to rebuild bonds deep in the hair fiber. The end result? Stronger hair after your first use. (Note that, like its pastel oVertone counterparts, these colors work best on hair that is blonde or has blonde highlights. Also, these bright colors are highly pigmented, meaning less is more when it comes to application.)
Promising review: “Best product ever invented. I am going gray and wanted to put make all of my hair a more silver tone. I tried bleaching and using several different types of silver dyes, but nothing worked. The final product was always yellow and nasty oranges. My wonderful hairdresser found this product and after the first time my hair turned into a beautiful silver. I am getting compliments on old lady gray hair and it’s all because of this wonderful new system of coloring your hair…The multitude of colors and the ease of use make this product my favorite hair care products ever! Have fun or keep with the more natural colors, have fun without the destruction of your hair.”
Why we like it:
- Keeps brassiness at bay
- Violet pigment counteract warm tones
While the other conditioners on this list explicitly add pigment to your hair, the Blonde Ale Brightening Conditioner from DryBar takes a different approach when it comes to maintaining light, luscious locks. Whether it’s your whole head or highlights, having blonde hair is tricky. Achieving a blonde shade typically doesn’t come with dye but with bleach and toner, so instead of worrying about the color running down the drain with each wash, you’re faced with a different problem: brassiness. Brassiness can occur for various reasons, but primarily occurs once the toner in your hair wears off. To keep your blonde hair from turning an unflattering shade of orange-y yellow, Blonde Ale conditions and tones hair with violet pigments to counteract those warm shades, ensuring your hair remains the right shade of blonde, each time.
Promising review: “I love this shampoo and conditioner … my hair was getting a rusty blonde until I used this product. It has brought out great shiny hair, and with continuing use it has given me my blonde hair back! Buy it, you won’t be sorry!”
Why we like it:
- Helps prevent blonde hair from yellowing
- Great for maintaining ash-blonde tones
Looking for an easy way to keep your ash blonde hair looking its best? One of the hardest colors to maintain, it’s easy for this muted shade of blonde hair to fade and become yellow after time. To keep your ashy hair looking as fresh as when you left the salon, pick up Shu Uemura’s Color Lustre in Cool Blonde. Designed to counteract any warm or yellow tones that may appear after time and countless washes, this conditioner is a must-have for anyone loving their ashy locks.
Promising review: “Nothing compares to this wonder. I have tried many purple shampoos, conditioners, and glazes to get rid of the brassiness — this is the only item I will purchase (and have to hide from my daughter). I have thin, highlighted hair that gets brassy very quickly and this completely lifts my color to a beautiful tone. I will never bother getting anything else.”
Why we like it:
- Keratin base strengthens hair
- Makes grays more vibrant
Ideal for women with dry, gray hair, Keracolor’s Color + Clenditioner is a cleansing conditioner that will revive and revitalize your gray hair in no time. Non-lathering and gentle on the hair, this conditioner instantly infuses color into the hair with each wash, so you’ll get the most vibrant gray of your life. Best of all, it was aerated with a keratin base to strengthen hair with each use, so not only will your hair look better, it’ll be healthier too.
Promising review: “I absolutely LOVE this product! I have naturally white/gray hair and this just gives it that extra something. It takes my color from dull salt-and-pepper to shiny silver. I originally bought this for my 17-year-old daughter who had dyed her hair silver. It kept her color from fading and looking dull … I’ve now reordered three times. I will mention that although this is a cleansing conditioner I still use shampoo and then use this product as if it was normal conditioner – I comb it through my hair and leave it for however long it takes me to shower.”