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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 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. Still, it’s enough to combat brassiness in your blonde highlights, enhance your brunette base, or revive your all-over red. 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 whenever your hue needs a little help.
Read on for our favorite color-depositing conditioners.
A favorite of 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 ten 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.
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.
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 strands extra soft and smooth. There’s a version for redheads, too.
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 strands pick up pigment differently than lighter ones. 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.
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 neutralize unwanted yellowing and brassy tones.
There are three different variants of this formula for brunettes to choose from—cool brown, chestnut, and mahogany—making it easy to find the one that matches best with your particular shade. The conditioner is super nourishing, great for smoothing out frizz and leaves hair beautifully shiny. For best results, apply it to towel-dried hair and let sit for three minutes before rinsing.
It may not seem like dark brown or black hair is prone to color-changing issues, but it is. Enter this option, perfect for intensifying and enhancing these deep shades. And while it’s obviously 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.
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. This conditioner quickly refreshes a wide array of red tones, thanks to tone-correcting pigments that attach to the hairs (and stay put through multiple washes). As an added benefit, this product also features UV protectors that fight sun-induced fading.
Those rocking silver strands 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.
Not only does this multi-tasking formula deposit semi-permanent color and condition, but it also gently cleanses. The pigment lasts anywhere from ten to fifteen 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.
Apply it onto dry hair for the best results.
Buriti oil, apricot oil, and shea butter give this mask it’s luscious consistency—it's a perfect choice for anyone with tresses that need 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.
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 perfect. It works on all hair colors and boasts a special silicone microemulsion that conditions, adds mirror-like shine, and even helps shield your strands from heat damage.