Why You Need A Color Depositing Conditioner

Color depositing conditioners are an absolute necessity if you dye your hair, in my never-that-humble opinion.
Publish date:
May 28, 2013
shoppables, conditioner, beauty products, hair dye

I don't want to say I'm a lazy person, but I have not done a full face of make-up daily since high school. I get my nails done, not because I'm a sloppy manicurist but because I have no patience for the whole polish removal process. I haven't straightened my hair in like 6 months. And I absolutely HATE the act of dying my hair.

It's a necessary evil, because leaving the house with visible roots makes me physically ill. And while "visible roots" to most people would constitute an inch or larger line of demarcation between their natural and artificial colors, it means something entirely different to me. If, for example, the light hits my hair at a very specific angle, making my roots slightly brown instead of the uniform dark blue on the rest of my head, it's a situation.

While these "roots" may be virtually undetectable to most when pointed out, my efforts are not in vain. Quite the contrary, I've been stopped on the street and asked how I keep my color "so black." Short of dyeing your hair so often it falls out, the answer is color depositing conditioner! Well actually, it's obsessive compulsive borderline unhealthy behavior, but recommending that on xoJane would be nothing short of irresponsible. So on that note, let's talk about color depositing conditioners!

Color depositing conditioners are an absolute necessity if you dye your hair, in my never-that-humble opinion. These conditioners not only moisturize colored hair, keeping it shiny and healthy, but they also lightly deposit color with each wash. This keeps your hair vibrant and helps you go longer in between touch-ups. While there are color depositing shampoos as well, and they certainly help preserve your hair, I find that the conditioners give the best results.

It's especially helpful if your natural color is a different tone than your dye. I, for instance, have auburn roots, while I dye my hair blue-black. If left to its own devices, my red roots would be instantly visible just a few days after dyeing. The conditioner not only keeps my color from fading, it adds enough cool tones to my roots that they are really not visible for a long time.

If you are dying your hair red, which easily fades, color depositing conditioners are absolutely essential. I had a red ombre for a bit last year and the only thing that kept it going as long as it did was these conditioners. Red will leave your hair from the second wash onward, so do everything you can to minimize fading.

Many shampoos emphasize how they are for color treated hair, but in my experience if you are washing your hair at all, you are stripping your color. Not washing your hair as frequently can help, but dry shampoo can only go so far. If your hair is the slightest bit oily, you will have to wash it at least every other day.

Even if you've kept your natural shade of hair, color depositing conditioners can add depth and subtly change or add undertones. If by chance you like your brown hair, but feel it's a bit flat, this conditioner can add some subtle warm tones. Similarly, if you've been curious about dyeing your hair but even semi-permanent colors seem like too much of a commitment, this product is for you. Using a bright red conditioner on brown hair will change your shade just enough, while still being temporary.

There are many brands of color-depositing conditioners, but these are a few of my favorites. While sadly, many of them do not have a black shade, my hair has been every color under the sun so I have tried them in just about every shade.

Aveda Color Depositing Conditioner

This is the conditioner I am using currently, as this range contains one for black hair. Even if this did not keep your color fresh, it would have a special place in my heart. Leave it on for five minutes or so in the shower and it works as well as a deep conditioner. It's certainly kept my hair soft and shiny which is all you can hope for with color treated hair. This shade is meant to take any brassiness out of the hair and it maintains my blue highlight perfectly. I have also tried the red shade and was quite fond of it.

L'Oreal Colorist Color Depositing Conditioner

This was the first color depositing conditioner I ever used. When I had virgin auburn hair, the red version really brightened it. As far as conditioners go, these aren't amazing. I would absolutely recommend a separate deep conditioner. They do however have a great range of colors. They are much more specific than the standard red, brown, blonde and you can really tailor your results to your own personal preferences with many different undertones to choose from. This is also one of the more potent brands that probably has a ratio of more dye than conditioner.

Evo Fabuloso Color Intensifying Conditioner

Fabuloso was the conditioner I used for my ombre in the purple red shade. I found this to be a decent conditioner and a very nuanced beautiful red. Their range is not quite as varied as the L'Oreal but will still meet most people's needs. Except me, since there is no black, boo!

Clairol Shimmer Lights

Once upon a time when I was a high school freshman and fitting in with my Long Island peers was important to me, I had a brief stint as a blonde! And a horrific fake tan, but that's a story for another time. This conditioner kept my blonde completely brass free which any blondes with natural red tones will know is no small feat. This is the typical "toning shampoo" that folks with bleach blonde locks use to prevent yellowing. It delivers some super strong blue tones. There is also a version for brunettes but I found the color less dynamic than other brown color depositors as it was sort of "one size fits all."

While this is a great place to begin, there are countless others on the market. Which specific brand is right for you may require a bit of experimentation, but you can only be helping your hair by using one at all. If you want to have healthy, bright color inbetween touch ups, just stick a bit on while showering and sloth will never get in the way of your vanity.

*Photos by Mark Raker

Kristine Rose has shiny, happy hair on twitter @prtoftheprob