A Stylist’s Guide To Redken’s Shades EQ

Written by Redken TeamAug 1, 2023

Read time 5 min

Redken Usage Guide

Redken’s Shades EQ is an easy-to-use demi-permanent, acidic hair color that delivers beautiful, natural-looking color with incredible condition and shine. As the iconic demi-permanent color of choice for over 400,000 stylists in the U.S., it can be customized to create an unlimited palette of tones and used for countless hair color services. 

Discover Shades EQ Bonder Inside:

Using EQ Bonder Inside, stylists can color, tone, and repair in one step. With built-in bonding that helps strengthen and protect hair fibers more than leading bonding additives, there are also no additives needed and no compromising color results.

To learn more about when to use Shades EQ Bonder Inside click here.

The Redken Color Mantra:

Zone 1: The hair closest to the scalp—which is less than three months old—is also known as the regrowth or root area. When lifting or lightening, Zone 1 is approximately the first ½-inch of hair. When coloring level on level or deepening hair color, Zone 1 can be up to 1 ½ inches.

Zone 2: The mid-shaft area of the hair strand which begins where zone one ends. Being relatively healthy hair, Zone 2 can extend all the way through the ends of the hair strand. This is the part of the hair that has been altered with chemicals, such as coloring products, permanent waves, straighteners, relaxers, or exposed to brushing, combing and heat styling tools.

Zone 3: This is overly porous hair that is repeatedly permed, straightened, relaxed, colored, exposed to heat styling tools, or hair that extends past the shoulders in length. Stylists should note that not all hair has a Zone 3.

Explore The Different Services Shades EQ Offers

Shades EQ can be used to gloss, tone, refresh, correct, add dimension, and blend grays.

  • Gloss: Enhance, enrich, change, match, tone down or intensify natural or color-treated hair while harmonizing contrast.
  • Tone: Tone pre-lightened or highlighted hair.
  • Refresh: Refresh and renew faded zones two to three, while processing permanent color on zone one. During a refresh service you can restore color to highlights.
  • Correct: Fill over-lightened hair before a tint back service. Correct uneven, brassy, or overly vibrant tones
  • Add Dimension: Define or low-light to add depth and create multi-dimensional looks.
  • Blend Grays: Blend gray without lifting the hair’s natural pigment.

Formulation Guidelines

  1. Determine your client’s natural hair color level using the Shades EQ Neutral Brown/Blonde (NB) family swatches found in the swatch book. Remember to consider percentage of gray, hair texture, condition, and hair density.
  2. Determine the target color desired by your client.
  3. Select the Shades EQ Gloss or Shades EQ Bonder Inside shade to enhance, balance or cool to achieve the target color.

Formulation Example

  1. Natural Level: 5 light brown or 0% gray
  2. Target Color: Light golden brunette
  3. Formula: 2 oz. 05G Caramel Shades EQ + 2 oz. Shades EQ Processing Solution

What Processing Solutions to Use

There are two dedicated processing solutions that should be used with Shades EQ: Shades EQ Processing Solution, which is a liquid format and Shades EQ Processing Solution for precision application for hair toner, Gloss-to-Gel. Both are a 2-percent hydrogen peroxide solution, formulated to maintain an acidic pH and stabilize viscosity. 

Note that no other developer may be substituted for a dedicated Shades EQ Processing Solution. To do so would cause unpredictable results.

Mixing and Processing Directions

Shades EQ is mixed in a one-to-one ratio with one part color gloss to one part processing solution. It should always be applied to dry hair and processed for 20 minutes at room temperature.

For resistant hair or more vibrant results: Process 15 minutes with plastic cap under a pre-heated warm dryer. Remove cap and cool for five minutes at room temperature.

For resistant gray: Process 15 minutes with plastic cap under a pre-heated warm dryer. Remove cap and cool for five minutes at room temperature.

For lighter color deposit or porous hair: Process 20 minutes at room temperature with a diluted formula. When less color deposit is desired, use Shades EQ Gloss 000 Crystal Clear in your formula. When lighter color deposit is desired, use 09 or 010 level shades.

Pro Tip for Diluting Shades EQ: Shades EQ can be diluted with 000 Crystal Clear or a 09 or 010 level shade to lessen or lighten the tonal deposit of any Shades EQ formula. 000 Crystal Clear should be used when less color deposit is desired. 09 and 010 Level Shades are to be used when lighter color deposit is desired. Redken recommends using 09 or 010 level shades to dilute dark and medium shades for lighter or less intense color results.


  • Can I use regular developer with Shades EQ?

No, you must use one of the two Shades EQ’s Processing Solutions for the expected results.

  • Should I use heat to process?

For more vibrant results or when blending gray, process Shades EQ Gloss for 15 minutes with a plastic cap under a pre-heated warm dryer. Remove the cap and process for an additional.5 minutes at room temperature.

  • Can I achieve lighter color deposit results by processing for under 20 minutes?

No, to achieve lighter color deposit results use diluted formulas, not reduced processing time.

  • Can I apply Shades EQ to damp hair?

Redken recommends applying Shades EQ Gloss to dry hair for maximum penetration and durability of color results.