These Products Transformed My Hair To Vibrant Copper In 10 Minutes

Copper hair is having a moment right now. From Doja Cat at the Billboard Music Awards to Anya Taylor-Joy's character in The Queen's Gambit, subtle and electric copper shades have gone on to influence many of us to take the plunge. There's the strawberry blonde tresses that Gigi Hadid recently debuted at the Versace AW21 show, not to mention Justine Skye's subtle cinnamon spice tones. The best thing about copper hair? There are so many different shades to suit a multitude of skin tones, making it flattering for everyone.
Last year, I decided I was ready for something drastic so I bit the bullet and asked my hairdresser to take my hair from a brown-toned red to something akin to Vivienne Westwood's shade of copper. But when the UK began to enter in and out of lockdown, like many others I was left with inches of long roots, straggly ends and, of course, dreaded colour fade. While I longed for the day that a colourist could fix my hair once again, beauty brands stepped up.
From colour depositing shampoos to colour-filled conditioners and hair masks, quick in-shower products replaced fiddly box dyes. And if Google Trends is anything to go by, copper and strawberry blonde are two of the most searched shades right now.

What is colour depositing shampoo and conditioner?

Colour depositing products are not that new but formulations have come on leaps and bounds, and actually do what they say they're going to do: revive, refresh and transform your hair colour without the faff. A colour depositing shampoo, conditioner or hair mask contains the pigment of colour that you'd most like your hair to be and offers a quicker, easier way to refresh your hair colour than using permanent dye. In recent years, colour depositing products have increased in popularity with brands like Moroccanoil, Josh Wood Colour and Wella all creating their own versions. The colour range may be less extensive than traditional box dyes but if you're not too keen on the result, then you can wash it out a little easier.
Before copper hair products
As a copper hair advocate, I was intrigued by the multitude of copper colour depositing products on the market. Aside from choosing which to try, the real challenge was how the pigment was going to take to my combination of virgin roots and both very bleached and toned ends (the result of my 2020 hair escapades). If that wasn't challenging enough, my hair is frizz-prone and curly so I'm difficult to please when it comes to haircare.
I have to confess that I have used pigment depositing products in the past but the stakes felt much lower, as I could always book in for an emergency appointment. With salons closed until 12th April, that's not an option. While there are a handful of brands dreaming up colour depositing conditioners and masks, I was most interested by the promise of the Celeb Luxury Gem Lites Colourwash Shampoo in Fire Opal, £26.50. In my honest experience, colour depositing shampoos rarely work as they're in the hair for such a short amount of time. To dial things up, I used this product in harmony with the Osmo Colour Revive conditioner in Intense Copper, £14.65. Both buys are available at Just My Look, which has a good selection of copper hair products. In fact, I've been a longtime fan of Osmo since my hairdresser introduced me to its purple tone shampoo a few years ago.
Over the years, I've discovered that some colour depositing shampoos only really work the more you use them. That said, after the first wash I noticed that my colour was not only more vibrant but just a few shades away from the professional colour I left the salon with in December. Three washes later and you might not mistake me for someone who has been visiting her hairdresser in secret but, equally, you wouldn't think it had been three months since I'd last booked in.

Do colour depositing shampoos work and how long do they last?

To confirm whether or not the Celeb Luxury shampoo was really pigment depositing, I didn't section off the blonde accent streak I have framing my face. During one of the washes, it tinted my blonde lengths a creamy copper shade, which proves it does work depending on your hair colour. This shampoo could also be a great alternative to more permanent dyes for any blondes who are looking to give their hair a low-maintenance copper tone. However, on its own it wasn't quite enough to save the dire situation which is the rest of my hair...
After using the Celeb Luxury shampoo
When it comes to Osmo, it's clear that they don't mess around and this conditioner did not disappoint. Not only did it smell great but it imparted an impressive amount of colour to my strands, even when left on for a few minutes in the shower. It gets bonus points for not staining my gel nails. As I mentioned, my hair is naturally curly and often frizzy but I was pleasantly surprised that swapping my usual conditioner for this didn't impact my curl pattern, which some conditioners tend to do.

What are the best colour depositing masks and conditioners?

Even though these products did a great job at refreshing my faded colour, my hair required something a little more heavy hitting. After a few washes using the Noughty Detox Dynamo Clarifying Shampoo, £6.95, which faded the colour, I looked to the new Wella Hair Colour Refresh Mask in Copper Glow, £15.50. This is a post-shampoo hair mask and supposedly works its magic in 10 minutes. The texture is like a pre-mixed box dye so I applied it to damp hair about two inches away from my roots. I decided to get out of the shower and do this in the mirror to be as precise as possible. Even though this is a conditioning mask containing pigment (not actually hair dye), I wanted to give it as much chance of succeeding as possible.
After 10 minutes, I rinsed the product away and can safely say the colour was vibrant, my hair looked healthy and my curl pattern was still intact. Even after a wash or two, the colour didn't fade straightaway. Next time though, I'll only leave the product on for about five minutes or so to minimise the amount of red that develops in the colour.
After using the Wella Hair Colour Refresh Mask in Copper Glow
An alternative to the Wella mask would be Moroccanoil's Colour Depositing Mask, £28.85, which harnesses the brand's signature argan oil blend. Loved by R29 staffers, too, it delivers an excellent colour refresh and healthy-feeling hair to boot. Like the Wella mask, this is available in a variety of shades, including pink, blue and varying shades of blonde and brunette. This is especially helpful to those of us whose hair is quite porous or over-processed, which typically speeds up colour fade.
So are colour depositing products worth it? In my honest opinion, they're only getting better and, right now, they certainly fill the gap of regular salon appointments. What's more, they're a lot cheaper than a professional dye job and if you're a hair colour commitment-phobe or have been burned by permanent box dyes in the past, they are a hair innovation you've got to try.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

More from Hair

R29 Original Series