DIY Color Depositing Conditioner

The first thing that people will mention to you is how difficult red hair is to maintain. Without getting too scientific, the red dye molecules are the largest, which means that they’re also the first to slip out of your hair. I’ve tried everything from frequent color refreshes to pushing the boundaries of cleanliness between washes, but that can be damaging and gross. Color depositing conditioners have always been an option, but I didn’t really feel like any of them were formulated with the shade of red that I prefer. I’ve also watched many YouTube gurus mention the concept of making your own color depositing conditioner, but none of them shared specifics and I also couldn’t find a blog post that I felt educated me enough to try it myself.

This week I felt adventurous and decided one evening to pick up a tub of Manic Panic on my way to a party to give it a try and you know what? It wasn’t that tough. Here’s what you’ll need:

DIY color depositing conditioner supplies:

  • a vegetable-based hair dye (most recommend Manic Panic or Special effects)
  • the deep conditioning treatment of your choice
  • plastic spoon
  • disposable gloves
  • shower mirror (optional, but very helpful)
  • wide tooth comb
  • large clip

WARNING: Manic Panic (and I assume Special Effects) is incredibly messy and will ruin anything it touches. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

On a paper towel covered workstation, I placed one plastic spoonful of Manic Panic Vampire Red into 1/4 jar of Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask and mixed well. Here’s how I applied the mixture:

  1. Put on the disposable gloves (dish gloves also work well
  2. Apply the deep conditioner evenly throughout your hair (much like dyeing your hair at home)
  3. Comb through your hair with a wide tooth comb to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed
  4. Clip your hair up out of the way
  5. Leave on for at least five minutes, longer if possible
  6. Rinse thoroughly

The result was a red haze that looked exactly like Vampire Red looked in the tub. Essentially what happens is the vegetable dye coats the strands of your hair, but doesn’t penetrate the shaft. It’s essentially a temporary hair color, but it is very handy for those of use with difficult to maintain shades, since it amps up the color similar to what the color looked like right after it was dyed. Don’t expect this to cover up roots or last after your next washing since this isn’t designed to open the hair cuticle any more than a typical cleansing.

Helpful tips:

  • Make sure that you cover all points of your hair, including your hairline (this is where the shower mirror comes in handy
  • If you get any of the mixture on your skin, you should be able to easily rinse it away, but that also depends on the strength of your mixture
  • Since this is a DIY, you can adjust the radio of dye to conditioner in your mixture. The more dye, the more easily everything that it touches will be stained, but also the more vibrant your color will be. Increase at your own risk.
  • If you’re feeling especially crafty, try mixing colors to achieve a more custom look

Hair color is supposed to be fun, so don’t forget to play around with a smile on your face. This is my experience with creating my own color depositing conditioner. If you have a recipe or tips of your own, please share them in the comments below!

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