[beauty tips] Project Redhead: DIY Color-Depositing Conditioner, or, Battling Fade (on a budget)

One thing everyone tells you about dyeing your hair red but that you probably don’t really pay attention to until you finally dye your hair and find out the hard way: RED HAIR FADES.


Because the particles of red colour are the largest amongst the artificial dyes, they slip out of your hair the fastest, resulting in the most obvious fades in the shortest amount of time.  Also, the messiest fades–true red dyes bleed whenever you shower, no matter how good your salon job is, resulting in the need for frequent touch-ups and, ultimately, burnt-out wallets…which is something I didn’t want, so I did what any desperate, slightly-broke millenial would do: I Googled for a solution.

One hour later, and I stumbled upon this article by London Beauty Review explaining how to make your own color depositing conditioner.  You could, in theory, buy it ready made–Davines Alchemic Copper being a favorite–but it’s usually expensive and generally unavailable to people who live halfway across the world from a Sally’s Beauty Supply.  The ingredients for the homemade variant, on the other hand, are readily available thanks to Watsons’ and a Facebook retailer known as Pizzazz Republic.


My hair, freshly dyed at FiX by Alex Carbonell in Greenbelt 5.  Stylist: Sir Billy.



My hair, three weeks after dyeing and one week after applying Tints of Nature semi-permanent hair dye (from Healthy Options) in Copper Red.  As you can see, significantly faded.

Having used a homemade colour-depositing conditioner before (when I had more copper/ginger versus pure-red hair), I can attest that this process is effective and more-or-less safe.  Before, I would mix Herbatint Permanent Hair Color in Copper Blonde (just didn’t mix in the developer, or mixed in very little) and any deep conditioner/thick conditioner, eyeballing the proportion (more or less 1 dye : 2 conditioner) and leaving it in for about 25-30 minutes before rinsing.  But since Manic Panic (the hair color I used this time around) is know for its intense, unnatural shades, I’ve used exact measures to obtain a less radioactive head of hair.

Should you choose to repeat my hair experiment, you will need:

  • Cling film/Cling wrap.  You can get jumbo boxes of this at SnR.
  • A shower cap (I didn’t have one but it makes things so much easier.)
  • Plastic or rubber gloves (because Manic Panic does stain)
  • A plastic spoon
  • Manic Panic Classic or Amplified semi-permanent dye (I used Vampire Red for my hair, but you can go to HairCrazy.com and look through the various hues and how they affect bleached/unbleached hair to see which one matches your red better.).  This retails for PhP. 800 at Pizzazz Republic, and a tub should last you about 4-6 weeks if you use the proportions I’m using.
  • Dove Intense Hair Repair Anti-Hairfall Deep Conditioning Treatment (You can also used Sunsilk Damage Repair Deep Conditioning Treatment.  Or any deep conditioner that comes in a tub rather than a tube.)
  • Plastic hair-dye bowl (In my case, I used my empty tub of the aforementioned Sunsilk Damage Repair.)
  • Newspaper/Paper Towels
  • A butterfly clip/giant clip to clip up your hair
  • Two black or dark-colored towels.

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, here’s what you need to do.  I suggest you do this at night, before going to bed, because it’s going to take up a bit of time:

  1. Put the newspaper/paper towels down all over where you’ll be mixing/working, because I guarantee you, Manic Panic gets EVERYWHERE and is pretty much like poster paint raw.  It STAINS things.  So, well, best make sure you’re wearing ratty ugly house clothes that you don’t mind getting stained while you do this (or, as some people suggest, doing it in the shower/tub already.)
  2. Take 2.5 tablespoons (hence the plastic spoon) of deep conditioner and put it into the plastic bowl.  Wash the spoon after doing this because you obviously don’t want to get conditioner chunks in your Manic Panic bottle.
  3. Take 1 tablespoon of Manic Panic and put it into the plastic bowl with your conditioner.  Mix.  If you’re using Vampire Red you should get a mixture that looks scarily like bright-red acrylic paint.
  4. Let that develop on the counter and hop into the shower to shampoo and rinse your hair.  I suggest a clarifying/deep cleansing shampoo.  Once you’re done, towel dry.
  5. Put on your plastic gloves, hop into the shower, and schlepp the Manic Panic + Conditioner mix all over your head.  Massage into your scalp (I will warn you that bits of your scalp will be stained red/pink for a bit, but it won’t last long so relax.), then clip up with the butterfly clip.
  6. Shove a shower cap on, the cling-wrap your head until the shower cap–and by extension, your hair–is tight to your head.  Then wrap that in one of your black towels.  Leave this weird head-gear on for 30 minutes (Or more; Manic Panic is vegan and pretty safe to leave on, so some suggest leaving it overnight for a more intense colour.).
  7. After thirty minutes, rinse your hair until the water runs really pale pink (it’ll NEVER run clear, swear) and you’re sure that all the conditioner is gone from your hair.  You can opt to blowdry your hair before bed after this, but if you’re like me and a bit wary of heat tools, simply wrap your hair in the black towel you used earlier, then put the other black towel on top of the (DARK COLORED!) pillow you’ll be sleeping on.  If you do this, no staining should occur.

It looks really complicated, but take it from someone who is really bad at mixing things–this is pretty simple.  You can do this process every one to two weeks to keep colour fresh, and if so, the Manic Panic should last you about a month or two.

Photo on 6-6-14 at 11.15 AM


My hair (and my Pocky, LOL) after Manic Panic.  Note the intense color and closer resemblance to my fresh salon hair versus my three-week fade.

Final Care Instructions/Tips:

  • Wash your hair with cold water.  This is the golden rule of dyeing your hair red in general, but it is especially critical if you opt for this treatment.
  • Wash your hair only every other day.  I follow this regimen strictly, unless I want to intentionally fade my hair a bit before treating it.  This is also why my hair, despite being dyed in the salon three times in the last four months, isn’t super-damaged.  The general rule goes that if you wash your hair on the evening of Day 1, you should only wash it on the evening of Day 3, giving you more or less two full days between washes.
  • Don’t wear white if your hair is wet.  In fact, I wouldn’t wear a lot of white in general for the first three days or so after dyeing.
  • Don’t dye your eyebrows with Manic Panic.  Just don’t.
  • If you want a colour with less pink (which means more a orange-red than pure red), you can opt for Manic Panic Infra-Red instead of Vampire Red.  (I’ve gotten a bottle as well and will be trying it out.)  You can also try mixing Vampire and Infra-Red, but do so only if you’re really adventurous.  No worries though; Manic Panic does eventually wash out.

Pizzazz Republic also offers Adore, Punky, and Special Effects brands so you can check those out as well, and they all should work in this treatment.  Special Effects in particular is a brand many home dye-ers swear by, both for colour-depositing conditioner and just applying to the hair by itself, so I’d say that’s worth taking a look at.  Vampire Red‘s equivalent there is Blood Red, though some say Devilish or Nuclear Red are worth a shot.  Punky has Vermillion and Poppy Red though, which some say is just as good and is actually cheaper than Manic Panic.

Well, that’s all for now.  Have fun, folks!




    1. Haha thanks! (I guess?) :)) But it might just be the photo. I looked her up and she looks more like a schoolmate of mine than me, per se. 😛 Perhaps chalk it up to at-first-glance standard-Asian ‘resemblance’?


  1. As someone who has recently tried the copper/ginger route, I took your advice and purchased that shade of Herbatint. This may sound like a foolish question, but would I repeat your exact steps listed here using the Herbatint instead, or is there a different method you would recommend? I think I’m second guessing myself because the box says to only use on dry hair, but of course that would only be if I were using it as intended (to fully dye my hair) as opposed to just making a homemade color-depositing conditioner, right? Also, out of curiosity, does this process delay the development of noticeable roots?


    1. Hi Katie! I tried both the dry-hair-with-conditioner route and the wet route. I suggest the first process should be wet, and the succeeding dry if you feel the color is what you wanted. A warning though: this does not delay roots. For that, you might want to try mixing Manic Panic Infra-red (1 tbsp) with deep conditioner (3tbsp) instead. 🙂 Hope this helps!


  2. I tend to stick with Adore hair dye. What Adore color red would you suggest and would the measurements be the same?


    1. Hi Vanietra! I’m not super familiar with Adore colors yet but I think anything close to a tomato-red should suffice. Mix with a more orange-tinted red for a copper cast, and the measurements should be about the same. To be safe, do a test where you use about half the quantity I indicated here then slowly build up. 🙂


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