How To Create Your Own Color Depositing Conditioner

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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 and I was blown away by the results.

Essentially, the vegetable dye coats the strands of your hair but doesn’t penetrate the shaft. It’s a temporary hair color, but it is very handy for those of us with difficult to maintain shades since it refreshes 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.

How To Create Your Own Color Depositing Conditioner

Sarah Conley Red Hair Color
Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy


  • On a paper towel covered workstation, I placed one plastic spoonful of Manic Panic Vampire Red into 1/4 jar of Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask and mixed well.


  1. Cover your workstation with paper towels, newspaper, or anything you don't mind getting stained for the mixing process.
  2. Add one spoonful of dye into 1/4 jar of conditioner (this is the measurement I use, but you can adjust this amount up or down based on your preference. I recommend starting small and adjusting as you go).
  3. Put on the disposable gloves (dish gloves also work well).
  4. Apply the deep conditioner evenly throughout your hair (much like dyeing your hair at home).
  5. Comb through your hair with a wide-tooth comb to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.
  6. Clip your hair up out of the way.
  7. Leave on for at least five minutes, longer if possible (I usually apply this mixture at the beginning of my shower and rinse out at the end).
  8. Rinse thoroughly.
  9. Style hair as usual.


WARNING: Manic Panic (and I assume Special Effects) is incredibly messy and will ruin anything it touches.

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, it should easily rinse away, but that also depends on the ratio of dye to conditioner.

If you’re feeling especially crafty, try mixing colors to achieve a more customized color.