Best colour depositing masks: how to try different hair colours – with zero commitment

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If you’ve always been curious about switching hair colours for a few days without actually dyeing it, or need to refresh your colour, then welcome to the world of colour-depositing masks…

Navigating the world of at-home hair colour can be tricky. Even more so if you’re after something less temporary than even temporary hair dyes. Until recently, the only truly temporary options were either hair chalk (too fiddly), hair paint (leaks onto everything), or spray-on shades (turns hair into coloured straw).

If you’re a bleached blonde in any way, chances are you’ve already tried a purple shampoo or conditioner to ice up highlights and tackle brassiness. But there’s so much more potential in using these kinds of temporary solutions: enter the colour depositing hair mask. Like your average nurturing mask, these products contain intense colour pigments that temporarily (and I mean temporary) coat your strands. 

Lasting for a few washes to about a month, they’re the perfect way to boost your current colour or experiment with something entirely new – although the end result will be heavily influenced by your base hair colour (so deep brunettes won’t go blonde or red, but will take on a tint). Make sure to do a strand test on a small section (ideally at the back) so you can see the final colour.

As someone with bleached highlights that tend to go brassy, I’ve been using purple hair masks (purple shampoos are too drying) for years to balance my colour out and achieve a unique caramel shade that I’ve never managed with a hair dye. My hair is really weakened after bleach, so rather than go in with a hair dye and cause further damage, a colour mask is the perfect way to restore lustre while altering the colour. I only need to use one once a month, as I wash my hair twice a week. 

When I started to miss my natural dark brown hair, I picked up one of Moroccanoil’s Colour-Depositing Mask in Cocoa Brown and applied it to most of my hair, leaving a few highlights, and just like that I was back to my natural colour for just three weeks. 

My hair slowly went back to its usual shade, and I really enjoyed the midway point between dark brown and light brown along the way. I’ll definitely be experimenting with more colours and different brands.

Here, I round up the most highly recommended options.

One day after testing Moroccanoil’s Colour-Depositing Mask in Cocoa Brown.

Best colour depositing hair masks

  • Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask

    best colour depositing hair mask Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask
    Best colour depositing hair mask: Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask

    These little packets are so ideal for trying different colours without committing to a full-sized tube. Choose from Cocoa (rich medium brown), a warm and a cool blonde, Rose Gold, Hibiscus (bright floral pink), Bordeaux (rich burgundy) and Aquamarine (cool blue).

    With apricot kernel oil, amino acids, and Moroccanoil’s repairing ArganID technology, hair is left feeling glossy and vibrant. Apply like you would a hair mask (just use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after, in the shower is best), leave for five minutes, rinse, and admire your new colour. 

    Shop Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask at FeelUnique, £28.85

  • Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss

    best colour depositing hair mask Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss
    Best colour depositing hair mask: Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss

    Created by legendary hair colourist Josh Wood, these colour treatments serve to amp up colour, stop fading, and impart glossy shine onto virgin or coloured strands. With quinoa, perilla oil, shea butter and UV protection, it’s a total treat for hair. 

    Choose from four shades: Chestnut Brunette (warm brown), Smoky Brunette (ash brown), Champagne Blonde and Icy Blonde. 

    Shop Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss at Josh Wood Colour, £19

  • Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask

    best colour depositing hair mask Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask
    Best colour depositing hair mask: Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask

    This creamy, rich treatment gives strength and shine to hair while seriously transforming the colour. They come in Ash Brown, Warm Chestnut, Chic Copper, Baby Blonde (cool) and Golden Blonde (warm).

    I’ve been using the Baby Blonde shade (a vibrant purple-blue) to balance my bleached bits for years, giving me an iced latte shade within just an hour that lasts for up to a month. Try the travel-sized pouches if you don’t want to commit.

    Shop Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask at lookfantastic, £11.25

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Images: Ava Welsing-Kitcher/courtesy of brands

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