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Shiny, glossy color with supreme condition — the impact of a Redken Shades EQ treatment has become mainstream knowledge. But before it was asked for by name, salons worldwide knew of the secret powers it wielded. With the ability to instantly banish brassy tones, add a hint of creative color, and neutralize pH levels post-lightening, Redken Shades EQ is the toner of choice for most professionals. Whether you’re just starting with Redken Shades EQ or are looking for a refresh, we’re sharing some of our favorite Shades EQ tips all in one place!

Shades EQ Cheat Sheet

When in doubt, add clear

There are a few great ways to add clear.

  • Apply a Redken Shades EQ Bonder Inside Clear to any hair color (previously color-treated or natural) to add shine, build bonds and enhance condition.
  • Add clear to your Redken Shades EQ color formulations to slightly soften the results of your toner. This helps if the hair is overly porous, damaged or if you’re looking to soften the intensity of the finished look to create a more sheer result.

Understanding background tones

The background tone determines how strong the end result is and how natural the finished look will be. Redken Shades EQ has formulas that come in the following backgrounds.

  • Black to gray
  • Brown to tan
  • No background

Black to gray backgrounds creates a strong foundation for removing warmth, such as orange or yellow tones. However, if the hair is overly porous it can create a darker finish than intended. (Adding clear can be a great option to soften this).

Brown to tan backgrounds creates a natural tone with a slightly warmer finish than others.

Shades EQ colors with no background are often seen with fashion shades and offer true-to-tone results. The V series is a common Shades EQ color family used to cancel out orange and add a cool finish to the hair.


Process for the full amount of time


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Redken Shades EQ glosses are recommended to process for 20 minutes. The biggest mistake stylists make is washing the hair too early and now allowing the color to fully develop.

Apply on wet or dry hair?

Glosses are often applied at the shampoo basin after lighteners are washed from the hair. However, Shades EQ and Shades EQ Bonder Inside is formulated to be applied on dry hair. The reason for this is because when hair is wet, the moisture it holds can dilute the formula and processing solution and lead to varying (often weakened) results.

Know your zones



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When applying color there are three main zones to know:

  • Zone 1: New growth/root area, which starts about 1/2 to 1 inch from the scalp.
  • Zone 2: Mid-shaft. This begins where Zone 1 ends.
  • Zone 3: *Not all clients have a zone 3. This is classified as the overly porous hair that usually extends past the shoulders.

While some formulas (Cover Fusion or Gel Lacquers) should only be applied to Zone 1, Redken Shades EQ can be applied to all three zones.

Using Shades EQ Bonder Inside


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Shades EQ Bonder Inside is an all-in-one toner, and bonder treatment that helps strengthen sensitized hair and rebalance the pH of strands post-lightening. The addition of Citric Acid and Taurine strengthens the hair while providing the trusted tonal results Shades EQ is known for.

Color corrections

It depends on the level of correction needed. However, many clients can be instantly color-corrected with Redken Shades EQ. If you’re dealing with unwanted warmth or are looking to brighten or refresh washed-out color, Shades EQ is the perfect place to start. They can be used to pre-tone or fill overtightened hair, to correct brass or uneven tones, or add dimension with lowlights in an instant.

What about pre-toning?

Pre-toning is a great way to create even toning results. Similar to prepping a canvas before you paint it, adding clear or a no background toner before layering your final toner can help create a neutral base for your final color.