The winning product here was trialled as a duo with the ‘matching’ shampoo. (In truth we’re going to trial everything in that way, in future. Saves a lot of headaches at this end, AND seems to be preferred by our testers.) The Davines mask, however, did well as a stand-alone product when used with testers’ own haircare. What we will say is that none of the specific brunette products we trialled notched up an off-the-scale score – but these are definitely worthy contenders for the darker-haired beauty-hound to try.
GOLD AWARD John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Conditioner
This was the hair-smoothing and sleeking element of the winning duo – we’d recommend you use both the shampoo and conditioner, as our testers did. (Click here to read about its Brilliant Brunette shampoo counterpart.) It’s formulated with evening primrose oi to nourish and enhance shine, along with actual cocoa to enhance darker brunette shades – and whether you’re a natural or a bottle brunette, works equally well. Use in the absolutely normal conditioner way, applying to wet hair.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘10/10. The conditioner is very easy to apply and does its magic very quickly - I just apply it - run it through my dry thick unruly hair and then rinse and it works a dream giving me manageable, bouncy, sleek, glossy, soft, smooth, bouncy hair with no frizzy aftermath. Ordinarily it tends to get very brassy after a few weeks but it maintained its dark hues for longer than usual after using this conditioner. This is my new favourite conditioner’ • ‘I have long, thick hair, which some conditioners can struggle with, but this one was so easy to apply and smooth through my hair leaving it tangle free. Within seconds I was able to detangle even the thickest of knots. I recently had a disastrous hair colour applied to my hair (bleach) which resulted in my having to undergo a series of permanent treatments with dark brown dye to try and restore its colour. My hairdresser was concerned that my hair would dry out and recommended a very rich - and expensive - conditioner. With this, the glossy effect is just amazing and there were also fantastic results with manageability. It helped tame my thick unruly hair and keep it smooth for a good couple of days so I needed very minimal styling/straightening’ • ‘The de-frizz factor is excellent. I have had sleek lock for months now. This conditioner and the matching shampoo were the prize discovery of the year for me, completely outshining all the very expensive products I’ve been using for years. My hair hasn't looked or felt this good in terms of shine and richness and colour for a very long time plus a small amount goes a long way. These are now must-have staples’ • ‘I really liked this product - enough to want to use it more often. I had lots of compliments and friends and family have starting using it! My hair feels in better condition, easier to manage and just looks healthier’ • ‘I loved how soft my dark brown slightly dry short hair felt after using this and the fact the product didn’t weigh it down. The packaging is very user friendly and the plastic has a non-slip quality, which is ideal for shower use.’ • ‘This hydrated my hair and made it soft and shiny, which made the colour seem 'richer' than usual. I don't think it darkened it, but it did give the brown tones a bit of a boost. It was very manageable too’ • ‘This enriched my brown tones and made the grey that little bit less luminous – always a good thing!’
£6.99 for 250ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD Davines Alchemic Conditioner
A celeb favourite, the Italian family-born Davines haircare collection is colonising the hair world with an ever-widening network of salons round the world. One of their specialities is the Alchemic range, designed to protect and enhance different haircolours – in this case, brunette, with a luxurious product rich in conditioning hydrolysed milk proteins for moisturisation, along with actual cocoa to boost hair tone for a vibrant, long-lasting effect. (Hence the name of this particular product: ‘Chocolate’.) They recommend squeezing or wringing excess moisture out of hair, with a walnut-sized dollop prescribed as the right amount to do its chocolate-ifying trick in just 5-10 minutes.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘An excellent conditioner, which I would buy. I loved the look it gave my hair. The thick luxurious product is very easy to apply (although you need to wear rubber gloves). I liked the fragrance very much. It is easy to smooth through my coloured, dark brown hair, which has a tendency to be dry and frizzy. The product delivers excellent gloss, my hair is much silkier and smoother, easier to style and it stays in good condition until the next wash. Colourwise, it looks richer and slightly darker and the colour has lasted longer. I haven’t used a colour-conserving product before but would now’ • ‘This always gave my hair a shine and the longer I left it on the more manageable and less prone to frizz it became’ • ‘Gorgeous smelling conditioner, which left hair silky and more manageable and enhanced the tones. It gave a lovely deep gloss and lustre - hair looked smooth and healthy. Surprisingly, my hair colour lasted and lasted with this conditioner and the greys peeking through had a darkish tint so blended out more naturally. Very effective’ • ‘I normally don’t get excited about anything hair care but this looked different from the outset. My formerly dull uncooperative hair looked great, felt soft, was shiny, more manageable and didn't tangle as much. I loved that it enhanced my colour – making it look deeper. I love this product’ • ‘My dry dull dark brown hair had some gloss, was more manageable and softer and less frizzy’ • ‘An excellent colour enhancing product that gave very good results - but do be careful as the strong colour can stain skin and clothes etc. The delicious fragrance stays on the hair when it’s dry. My dry, dark brown hair which is prone to frizziness became very shiny and glossy, was soft, easy to manage and less frizzy! It didn't actually darken my hair but gave a nice rich enhanced tone’
£20.40 for 250ml - click to buy