Monday, 29 March 2010

DIY Beauty: Colour Conditioner

Many colour conditioners promises the world, but don't really deliver, in my opinion.  Most contain very little colour, and so at best only enhance your colour if you use them frequently.  My previous favourite, Aveda Madder Root, was the only one I'd found that actually made a noticeable difference to my hair - unfortunately it also made a noticeable difference to my wallet!  I've been mixing my own colour conditioners for a fair old while now, and they are a fabulous way of refreshing colour between salon visits, brightening up an easily faded colour, or adding a tint to dark hair.

Read on for simple instructions and tips on making your own.

To make your own colour depositing conditioner, you will need:
  • Thick conditioner
  • Semi-permanent vegetable based colourant
  • Mixing pot
  • Tint brush
  • Gloves
  • Shower cap (optional)

Choosing a Conditioner

You will need something that's fairly thick.  If it's too thin, the resulting mix will drip off your hair, staining all and sundry.  Something that's billed as an intensive conditioner or treatment works well.  If it holds its shape when dolloped into your mixing pot, it's thick enough.  As you'll be leaving it on your hair for fifteen minutes (or more), try to choose something that's suitable for your hair type; if your hair is oily, a super-thick super-moisturising conditioner is going to weigh your hair down unless you wash your hair after use.

Choosing a Colour

There are a fair few semi-permanent vegetable based colours on the market.  Bear in mind that these products work mostly by staining the hair; they don't contain ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, so they can't lift your hair colour.  I've personally used Fudge Paintbox (the colours are significantly less unnatural than other brands) and LaRiche Directions, and found both to be pretty good.  HairCrazy is a good resource for comparing colours.  If you can't find your perfect shade, you can mix colours to create it (within the same brand!).

How To

Put a dollop of conditioner into your mixing pot. 

Add in some of your colour.  I tend to use a ratio of about 1 part colour to 3 parts conditioner; you can use more conditioner if you want a gentle tint, or are being cautious. 

Mix well with your tint brush.  This is LaRiche Directions Poppy Red, which is a pink-toned bright red.  It gives my hair a bit of a ruby glow while keeping my red non-coppery.

Apply the colour conditioner to your hair.  I do this upside down over the bath, on damp hair; you can apply to dry hair, but may need more conditioner to saturate the hair.  Concentrate on the mid lengths and ends first, and work slowly up into your roots.  Too much on your roots will result in a stained scalp, so be careful. 

Tie your hair out of the way (I put mine in a pineapple on top of my head) and rinse your bath/tiles/anything else you've accidentally splattered immediately.

If you want to, you can put a plastic shower cap on, and maybe wrap a towel around your head.  Heat helps the vegetable colour to stain effectively.  An added bonus is that unexpected drips are caught by the towel.

Leave on for fifteen minutes upwards.  Make sure that when you rinse, you massage the scalp well to help remove any staining.  Once dry, you shouldn't get any transfer provided that you've rinsed well enough; I'd still avoid wearing white for a couple of days though!  Your hair may bleed a little colour when you wash it after this treatment though, so be sure to catch drips in a towel so that they don't stain.

The result should be glossy, well conditioned hair with an injection of colour.


  1. Your hair is a glorious colour. I swear by Aveda Black Malva to prevent my ends going brassy, but when I've finished my current tube I will give this a go.

    What conditioner are you using there?

  2. Thankyou! The conditioner I used is Naked Boost, which I like because it's thick and silicone free :) Anything thickish will work well - generally if it comes in a pot instead of a bottle, it'll be OK.

  3. I love your hair colour! what is your natural hair colour. did you have to bleach your hair before to get that result?


  4. My hair is dark blonde naturally - and no, no bleaching required. My hairdresser uses a permanent colour once a month which includes hydrogen peroxide to lift, and I maintain with the above. Worth mentioning that the photo is in bright sunlight!

  5. I can confirm that Gemma's hair is a stunning colour, kind of like maple leaves in autumn.

  6. I shall have to have a look at that conditioner; I do like the Naked body washes.

  7. Thank you for this post!
    A question: did you find that the color you use makes a great difference in your shade tone?
    I'm asking because all i can find in these parts is pink-toned reds such as the one you mention, however i'm looking for more coppery tones.
    If I used Poppy Red would it change my (coppery red) color a lot or in a more subtle way (that still beats faded brassy color)?

  8. Hi Trog! If you used the Poppy Red I think it would change the tone of your colour; I use it because my red it more pink toned, and so it gives me more of a ruby colour once it's stained my hair.

    Did you have a look at HairCrazy? They ship worldwide and have a variety of colours with a more coppery base - try mousing over the images here:

  9. what hair color did u use for your hair?

  10. Poppy Red for the colour conditioner - my regular colour is L'Oreal Magirouge 6.66 with a splodge of red concentrate.

  11. hi, sorry i know this post is from sooooo long ago, but i was wondering if you can store the pre-mixed dye? i dyed my light brown hair dark red a few months ago and i've been struggling to keep it looking as glossy and red as it does after i dye it. it'd be much easier for me to bring pre-mixed conditioner to school with me than to mix it in my tiny dorm room, but if it doesn't hold up over time then i won't bother.

    thank you!!

    1. I don't see any reason why not - the likes of Manic Panic, Directions etc are a stain on a conditioning base anyway, so I should think pre mixing it should be fine. Maybe keep it in a pot inside a water tight container just in case?


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