I Tried Overtone’s Brown Conditioner On My Hair & I Have Thoughts

Here's what to know about the brand you've seen all over Instagram.

by Jessica DeFino
Originally Published: 
Overtone conditioner review for brown hair

Like all good stories, the tale of my Overtone conditioner review begins in a precarious situation. Well, my hair was in a precarious situation — and by that I mean I put my hair in a precarious situation. Against all professional advice, I decided to dye my blonde balayage highlights back to brown at home, and it did not go well. I paid the price for my impatience with piece-y, watered-down “highlights” — if you can even call the blah patches of bronde at my ends “highlights.” Needless to say, it was not quite the deep, rich, raven-haired thing I was going for.

I should’ve known. “Just adding brown color to blonde hair will leave the hair looking muddy and washed out, because blonde hair is missing all of the pigments needed to make a rich brunette shade,” Jaxcee, a color and curl specialist with Hair Rules in New York City, previously told TZR. Whoops. At least it gave me a great excuse to finally buy and try the Overtone Coloring Conditioner I’ve been seeing all over Instagram.

In case your targeted ads haven’t told you yet, Overtone is a “semi-permanent alternative to hair dye,” ideal for testing an out-there color trend or keeping up at-home maintenance. Think if it as a purple shampoo for blondes, but better: Overtone (supposedly) deposits all kinds of color onto all kinds of hair — from rose gold and teal to more basic shades like black and brown, no matter what your natural shade. It’s worth noting that there is a line specifically for darker hair, so if you’re starting from a base of brown or black, that’s the best route to take.

The results I’ve seen online have been pretty incredible (one Allure editor went from dark brown to straight-up purple in a single treatment), so I figured Overtone’s Espresso Brown conditioner could probably handle my little at-home mishap.

Trying Overtone Conditioner For Brown Hair

The process starts out the same as any box dye situation: You slap on some gloves and apply the Overtone Coloring Conditioner to dry hair, until every strand is saturated. The main difference is that there is no box, and there’s also no mixing; the color is pre-prepared and comes in a tub of creamy conditioner. It has a refreshingly minty scent, which made me feel like I was giving my hair a holiday treat.

Overtone needs to sit for 10 to 15 minutes (about half the time of a typical box dye) before it’s rinsed out, and both the waiting and the rinsing were very easy. While it soaked in, I went about my morning as usual — heating my daily cup of bone broth, chopping veggies for a breakfast bowl — with zero mess. The formula is thicker than other at-home hair dyes, so it doesn’t drip all over the place. It rinsed out pretty quickly too, and didn’t stain my hands or my shower tiles.

As I combed through my wet, freshly toned hair, I realized it still felt like hair, rather than an assemblage of twigs and straw better suited to a bird’s nest than a human head (which is how my hair normally feels after box dye). Seriously, it was — and still is — so soft, and because my curls weren’t fried by dye, they dried into perfect ringlets. Best of all, my muddy “highlights” were gone. Rich, raven-haired mission: accomplished.

"Highlights" Before Overtone / After Overtone - Jessica L. Yarbrough

There is one tiny catch. Since it's semi-permanent, Overtone color washes out fairly easy. It’s recommended to reapply the Coloring Conditioner once a week (or use the Daily Conditioner every day) for best results. For me, that’s not an issue. I use a weekly deep conditioner as-is, so I’ll just swap that out for Overtone when I need it — and with that, the story ends. I found the Holy Grail of at-home hair color.

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