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.

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Sarah Conley
Focusing on style and self-esteem with her inimitable sass, Sarah has helped change the conversation about plus size fashion. She is a socially connected influencer, has been the star of viral videos, and helped lead an anti-body shaming campaign that earned an apology from O, the Oprah Magazine. With an approach that is more Role Model than Runway Model, Sarah has built a credible connection with the fashion community as a whole. As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in TIME, CNN, Teen Vogue, Glamour, InStyle, Lucky, and more. As a consultant, her social strategies have been executed by former clients ELOQUII, Undone Beauty, NARS, MAC Cosmetics, David Yurman, Diane von Furstenberg, Nine West, Clé de Peau Beauté, and many more. Currently, she serves as the Director of Marketing for Arkansas’s only cut-to-order cheese shop, Sweet Freedom Cheese in Bentonville, Arkansas. When she’s not educating people on the wonders of artisanal cheese or taking her rescue dog, Blueberry Shortcake Flowers, for a walk, Sarah can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @imsarahconley.


    • Hi Danielle, Thank you for sharing your perspective. My hair is very fine and within most weeks it’s next to impossible for me to stretch my hair to even three days between washes. In addition, because my hair is bleached, it’s important for me to continue adding moisture into my strands and although I add oil and leave in conditioner regularly, my fine hair can’t handle much product. I’ve discussed this issue with many stylists and brand experts, and different hair types react differently. This post was written from my point of view and with my experience. It’s clear that you too are passionate about this topic and if you’ve written any pieces or find any resources relevant to this topic, I’d be happy to take a look.

      • I actually have very fine hair(also pretty long hair) and I agree with Danielle.

        I had move my hair washing to once every two weeks because of how damaging I found frequent washes are for me. But there are many factors that go into what is and isn’t damaging, as well as the perspective of the individual, aka at what point does the oil become too much. Factors like length, texture, thickness, styling techniques, products, weather, ethnicity, how much oil your scalp produces, etc.

        Anyhoo thank-you for the article, it is exactly what I was looking for. I have a bottle of Arctic Fox waiting to be used, will be trying this technique with my next wash!

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