Do color-depositing shampoos and conditioners work?

BlogHer Original Post

Color me obsessed, but once again, I'm blogging about my salon-colored, highlighted, low-lighted, glazed hair. I love my colorist, but my hair costs me so much money, it's like I've become a vintage Jaguar; I'm ridiculously expensive, and I'm always in the shop. The most obvious problem is roots, which I've dealt with in my previous post. But there's also the issue of color fading. After all, I'm using permanent color. Why isn't it ... well, permanent?

The ugly truth is that to make dye permanent, it has to penetrate the cuticle of the hair to reach the pigment at the core. This roughens the hair's cuticle, which leaves each strand porous and prone to tangling, breakage, and fading.

You've probably been told to protect your hair from sunlight and chlorinated swimming pools, use color-protective shampoos and conditioners, shampoo as infrequently as possible, and finish each shampoo with a cold-water rinse. If you're doing all that and your hair color is still fading, you're probably ready to try color-depositing shampoos and conditioners. They contain either plant extracts or actual hair dyes, and are designed to fill in the damaged part of the hair's cuticle.

I wouldn't bother with these products unless you have fairly long hair. If your hair is shorter than chin length, touching up the roots and pulling the color through the rest of the hair will probably be enough to refresh your color. But if your hair is long, it's been colored enough times to get pretty porous. My hair is currently about an inch longer than it is in this picture. (I'm the one on the right, in red.)

Usually, by the time my roots need attention, the bottom half of my hair is looking washed out and drab, especially the longest parts in the front. Color depositing shampoos and conditioners can prevent that.

On a recent trip to England, I picked up a bottle of Boots Botanics Glossy Brunette Shampoo and Conditioner with walnut leaf extract and honey. I've been using them twice a week for the past month and have noticed much less fading at the ends of my hair.

Not to say these products are perfect. For one thing, they're messy. I put a small blob of each product on my hand so you could see what they're like. In the following picture, the shampoo is the amber colored fluid on the top, while the conditioner is on the bottom.

The conditioner is very opaque and very thick. And as you can see from its greenish color, it really is made of walnut leaves.

Obviously, Boots means what they say when they tell you to keep this stuff away from your towels, tiles, and shower curtains. And I'm here to tell you, taking a towel off your head and finding a blob of that conditioner left in your ear is pretty scary.

Still, the results are worth the extra trouble. Some people who use these products complain that their hair feels dry and coated. All I notice is that my hair is easier to style! When I blow it out, I'm finding that I need to use less gel, and my hair stays wrapped around the hairbrush. So far, it's actually easier to handle.

Of course, the Boots Botanics hair care line isn't being sold in the States, so when I need a new bottle, I'll probably try Aveda's Clove line, which like the Boots line, is based on herbal ingredients.

If I don't get results with Aveda, I'll try Artec. Artec isn't for the brown rice and Birkenstocks set; it's a professional product designed to tone down brassiness, eradicate yellow tones, and enrich color that has faded. ARTec shampoos and conditioners deposit semipermanent color and don't contain peroxide or ammonia, which means they will coat your hair, but won't open the cuticle or damage it any further. >

That being said, these products should be used as needed. Many people only use ARTec products once a week or so. Others mix the ARTec conditioner half-and-half with their regular conditioner, or use it only on the ends of their hair. If you have problems with color fading, you should definitely give them a try.

(Now that I've said all I have to say about color-depositing shampoos and conditioners, would my brain please stop playing the Stones's cover of Bo Diddly's "Not Fade Away?" Thanks!)


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