The Best Color-Depositing Conditioners

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Byrdie / Lecia Landis

If you've gone a while between salon visits or your hair color is simply looking a little lackluster, a color-depositing conditioner offers an incredibly easy, fast, and foolproof way to refresh your hue. This isn’t an at-home color that you have to mix and painstakingly apply yourself (with the potential of goofing up). These are exactly what they sound like—conditioners with pigments that are left behind on your hair for a subtle brightening and color-enhancing effect.

You really can’t mess these up since the color is very minimal and ultimately washes out, and it’s a product that pretty much anyone could use. “Anyone who would like to add shine, enhance their existing color, or cool down yellow or brassy tones can benefit from using a color-depositing conditioner,” says colorist Giselle Luza, founder of Giselle Luza Studio. The point is, they work to combat brassiness in your blonde highlights, enhance your brunette base, or revive your all-over red. Plus, a color-depositing conditioner is also great for experimentation if you want to try a tone without committing to permanent dye. And yes, you use them exactly as you would any other conditioner, simply letting the formula sit on the hair for a few minutes longer to reap the benefits. Swap one out for your usual conditioner a few times per week, or use it whenever your hue needs a little help.

Read on for the best color-depositing conditioners.

Best Overall: Maria Nila Colour Refresh

4
Colour Refresh Dusty Pink

Maria Nila

What We Like
  • Great shade range

  • Softening formula

  • Long-lasting results

What We Don’t Like
  • Difficult to wash out

A favorite of former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue, this pick deposits a soft wash of color onto the hair. It straddles the line between color-depositing conditioner and demi-permanent color, given that the pigment lasts for anywhere from four to 10 washes. The formula is packed with softening argan oil as well as a color guard complex. There are 17 shades to choose from, ranging from more standard options to fun tones like pink and violet if you want to temporarily change up your look.

Active Ingredients: Argan oil | Hair Type: Color-treated | Size: 10.1 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Overall, Runner-Up: dpHue Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner

dpHue Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Great shade range

  • Works on solid color and tones highlights

  • Adds shine

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

True to its name, this hybrid formula imparts high shine and tons of smoothing and softening benefits. It comes in 11 natural-looking colors, including plenty of options for blondes, brunettes, and redheads. It can also be used to refresh all-over color, as well as to tone highlights or lowlights.

Hair Type: Coarse, color-treated, curly, dry, damaged, fine, balanced, oily | Size: 6.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Color Deepening Conditioner

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Color Deepening Conditioner
What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Great shade range

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be drying

There admittedly aren’t a ton of color-depositing conditioners to be found at the drugstore, making this pick all the more noteworthy. It deepens and darkens a wide range of brunette shades in the most natural way possible and leaves hair extra soft and smooth. There’s a version for redheads, too.

Active Ingredients: Evening primrose oil, cocoa extract | Hair Type: Color-treated, dry | Size: 8.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range: oVertone Coloring Conditioner

Overtone Coloring Conditioner

Courtesy of Overtone

What We Like
  • Great shade range

  • Specially made for darker hair

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

This well-known color-depositing conditioner comes in—wait for it—40 shades. Yes, you have basic brown options, but there’s also a large variety of on-trend hues (think teal and magenta). Also nice: There are many colors specially formulated to be used on darker hair, which is important since brown hair picks up pigment differently than lighter hair. And per the conditioner part of things, the formula is loaded with hydrating oils—coconut, jojoba, avocado, just to name a few—plus other moisturizers such as glycerin and shea butter.

Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, avocado oil | Hair Type: All | Size: 8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Blondes: Kerastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Mask

Kerastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Mask

Amazon

What We Like
  • Protects against damage

  • Prevents brassiness

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Blondes may have more fun, but they can also be more prone to color fading and unwanted color changes. Enter the beauty of color-depositing shampoo—more specifically, a purple-toned one like this option. Why purple, you ask? Purple falls opposite yellow on the color wheel (remember that from elementary school art class?), so using this helps to counteract unwanted brassiness. “This is my favorite option for blondes who want to neutralize yellow tones,” says Luza. It’s especially nice to pair with purple shampoos, which can tend to be a little bit drying, she adds.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Hair Type: Lightened, highlighted, blonde | Size: 6.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Brown Hair: IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Brunette Toning Drops

IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Brunette Toning Drops

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Customizable

  • Can be mixed with any conditioner

  • Offers built-in UV and heat protection

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

“These blue toning drops cancel out orange, brassy tones in brunette hair,” says Luza of another one of her picks. Because they’re meant to be mixed in with your regular conditioner, it’s a great more moisturizing option, and the amount of toning you need can be customized based on how many drops you add, she points out. 

Active Ingredients: Blueberry extract, artichoke extract | Hair Type: Straight, wavy, curly, coily | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Black Hair: Davines Alchemic Conditioner in Chocolate

Davines Alchemic Conditioner in Chocolate
What We Like
  • Great shade range

  • Silicone-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be drying

It may not seem like dark brown or black hair is prone to color-changing issues, but it is. Enter this option, great for intensifying and enhancing these deep shades. And while it’s not as long-lasting as actual hair dye, it's a good way to temporarily camouflage unwanted grays that can be super noticeable on darker hair colors. Plus, it’s free of both silicones and parabens.

Active Ingredients: Jojoba oil | Hair Type: Color-treated, brown, black, natural | Size: 8.84 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Redheads: Biolage ColorBalm Color Depositing Conditioner

Biolage ColorBalm Color Depositing Conditioner Chai Tea
What We Like
  • Great shade range

  • Works quickly

What We Don’t Like
  • Can stain scalp and hands

Fun fact: Red hair color is the most prone to fading because the dye molecules are larger and more likely to slip out of the hair shaft. Enter the beauty of using a color-depositing conditioner whenever your hue needs a refresh. It comes in two red shades—saffron red and red poppy—and gets the conditioning and coloring job done in just five minutes.

Hair Type: All | Size: 8.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Gray Hair: Hair Biology Silver Conditioner

Hair Biology Silver Conditioner
What We Like
  • Improves tone and texture of gray hair

  • Great value

What We Don’t Like
  • Only good for gray hair

Those rocking silver hair are prone to the same issues as blondes—namely yellowing and brassiness that can make gray look dull and dingy. Again, a purple-based conditioner is a great option, but this one goes above and beyond the call of duty. Yes, it deposits violet pigments to counteract those discoloration issues, but it’s also specially formulated to address the unique needs of gray hair, which tends to be dryer and more coarse.

Active Ingredients: Biotin | Hair Type: Gray | Size: 12.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multitasker: Keracolor Color + Clenditioner

Keracolor Color + Clenditioner

Courtesy of Ulta 

What We Like
  • Multi-purpose formula

  • Great value

  • Great shade range

What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn’t lather

Not only does this multi-tasking formula deposit semi-permanent color and condition, but it also gently cleanses. The pigment lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 washes, and ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, and keratin make the blend equal parts softening and strengthening. It comes in an array of 18 pretty shades.

Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, keratin | Hair Type: Dry | Size: 12 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Apply this formula onto dry hair for the best results.

Best Mask: Cristophe Robin Shade Variation Care Mask

Cristophe Robin Shade Variation Mask Chic Copper

 Courtesy of Sephora 

What We Like
  • Works on solid color and tones highlights

  • Silicone-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited shade range

Buriti oil, apricot oil, and shea butter give this mask its luscious consistency—it's an amazing choice for anyone with hair that needs a little extra TLC and a color refresh at the same time. It comes in four shades, including two options for blondes and two for brunettes, all of which are specially formulated to reduce color fading.

Active Ingredients: Buriti oil, apricot oil, shea butter | Hair Type: Coats, color-treated, curly, dry, damaged, fine, balanced, oily | Size: 8.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range: Evo Fabuloso Colour Boosting Treatment

Evo Fabuloso Colour Boosting Treatment
What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • Great shade range

What We Don’t Like
  • Must wear gloves when applying it

The eight shades of this color-depositing conditioner really do offer a little something for everyone, ranging from a light beige to cool brown (and everything in between). Also nice: The bottles come in both large and mini sizes, the latter a great choice if you just want to take the product for a test run. And no matter which hue you choose, the formula helps combat frizz and imparts tons of shade. FYI, it’s meant to be applied on towel-dried hair and left on for three minutes before rinsing.

Hair Type: Balanced | Size: 7.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Clear: Pureology Clear Top Coat + Sheer

Pureology Clear Top Coat + Sheer

Ulta

What We Like
  • Long-lasting results

  • Adds shine

What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn’t have conditioning properties

Yes, we know, this isn’t technically a color-depositing conditioner so much as it is a clear gloss. But if you don’t color your hair but do want some added vibrancy to your natural hue, this formula is amazing. It works on all hair colors (and types and textures) and adds a mirror-like shine that lasts up to eight washes.

Active Ingredients: Oat milk, camellia oil | Hair Type: Straight, wavy, curly, coily | Size: 6.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

A color-depositing conditioner is one of the fastest (and easiest) ways to refresh your color, no trip to the salon is needed. The Maria Nila Colour Refresh (view at Maria Nila) and dpHue Gloss + Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner (view at Sephora) tie for our overall favorite because of their creamy, hydrating formulas with a nice shade range. Brunettes should consider the affordable John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Color Deepening Conditioner (view at Ulta) or customizable IGK Mixed Feelings Brunette (view at IGK) toning drops which can be mixed in with any conditioner, while the Kerastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Mask (view at Sephora) is a top choice for blondes. Redheads will appreciate the two red shades from Biolage ColorBalm Color Depositing Conditioner (view at Ulta).

What to Look for When Buying Color-Depositing Conditioner

Consider Final Outcome

“Identify what you’d like to accomplish, then look for the correct product—do you want to neutralize warmth, do you want to enhance your current color, or do you want to add shine?” says Luza.

Shade Close to Your Own

Don’t venture too far from your natural color, advises Luza. Stick within a shade or two of your natural hue, and keep in mind that these products won’t lighten hair, she adds.

FAQ
  • What are color-depositing conditioners?

    “Color-depositing conditioners are conditioning treatments that add shine, enhance the hair’s natural color, or neutralize brassy, unwanted tones,” explains Luza.

  • How often should you use color-depositing conditioners?

    Luza suggests reserving these for bi-monthly use, as these definitely aren’t meant to be an everyday type of product. 

  • Do color-depositing conditioners work for all hair types?

    Yes, although keep in mind that if your hair is on the finer or more porous side, it could absorb more of the color and appear darker, notes Luza. 

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s very particular about the tone of her blonde hair and refrains from using any type of at-home hair color products, so she relied on expert input and consumer review research to come up with the products on this list. 

Meet the Expert

Giselle Luza is a colorist and the founder of Giselle Luza Studio in New York City. She’s especially known for creating beautiful blonde hair colors.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any color-depositing conditioners from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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