Shades EQ 101: Which SEQ Family Should You Be Using?

There’s perhaps no other Redken color product more iconic than Shades EQ, a staple for more than three decades.“Stylists will say that as long as they have hairspray, they can create any style. If a colorist has Shades EQ, they can create any kind of color,” says Redken Artist Lori Zabel. “The fact that it’s been around for so long and is still at the top of its game is proof of that.” It’s fair to say there is clearly no shortage of Shades EQ options to choose from. Below, Lori shares her advice for selecting from the classics, plus weighs in on what she likes about a few of the newest SEQ families. 

It all starts with basic color principles, says Lori: “When I determine which Shades EQ family I should be using, I ask myself if I need a base, or if I just need a tone—and if I need a tone, what tone do I need?” Take, for example blonde highlights, she says. The hair on the mid-lengths and the ends can easily become too cool, and not match up with a beautiful beige highlight. In this case, you wouldn’t need a base, just a tone to match up the ends, she says. Shades EQ makes it easy because all of the families offer what you need, and all you have to do is check the swatch book to determine the tone and base you need, she points out. 

Read on to learn more about Redken's Shades EQ families and see how you can enter for a chance to win samples of Redken's newest Shades EQ shades!

Ash Browns


Available across Redken's Color Fusion, Color Gels Lacquers and Shades EQ lines, the Ash Brown shade family features a double-cooling blue-pearl reflect which makes it the perfect choice for creating trending Ash Brown looks, express services, and corrective toning. Use the Color Fusion and Color Gels Lacquers Ash Brown shades to achieve 100% ultra-cool gray coverage at the root, and use the Shades EQ Ash Brown shades to neutralize extreme brass and refresh previous color.

Level 10 Shades


Born out of popular demand, Redken created the Level 10 shades from Shades EQ. Stylists had long requested shades higher than a level 9 to help tone and perfect their high-level blonde clients. Enter these two newbies, the Shades EQ Level 10 delicate toners. These shades are ideal for neutralizing as well as cool or neutral blonde toning, 010VV Lavender Ice and 010N Delicate Natural are the perfect anti-yellow toners to use on the highest level blondes. 

Redken has recently expanded the Level 10 shade family to include three new shades, 010T Platinum, 010P Ivory Pearl, and 010GI Tahitian Sand. These three must-have shades feature Redken's most-loved reflects and deliver true-to-level toning power, so you can achieve your brightest blondes without the risk of over-depositing. 



If your guest is looking for cooler tone, the Shades EQ Matte family will be your go-to! With this shade family, you can create natural results with a kiss of cool. This new shade family features 4 new shades inspired by cool, earthy tones. On dark bases, Shades EQ Gloss Matte shades help to reduce unwanted warmth while creating natural looks like Mushroom Brown. On lighter bases, Shades EQ Gloss Matte creates iridescent natural looks like Beige Blonde.

Violet Blue


“We’ve had Violet Blue (VB) for some time, but this shade family has been a game-changer. The Violet Blue shades provide an additional tool to get that perfect blonde look, because they will help counteract yellow and orange tones,” Zabel says. The three new shades neutralize unwanted warmth, and can be used either on their own (for a full-strength effect), or diluted with Crystal Clear for less intensity.

Natural Ash


Talk about trending. “Everyone is asking for that very cool, flat, ashy tone that’s all over Instagram,” points out Lori. The six shades in the Natural Ash family are perfect for this because they’re just ashy enough, without veering into gray territory, she adds. Lori often likes toning the base color all-over with one of the NA options first, prior to highlighting her clients.“It gives the hair a nice neutral brown tone, the perfect palette to work off of,” she explains. Either way, this SEQ family is ideal for combatting brassiness, while still staying soft and balanced.

SEQ Gloss to Gel

The Shades EQ Processing Solution for Precision Application turns the classic SEQ gloss formula into a versatile gel. With a bit more stick and a little more control to it, it’s ideal for detailed technique work, such as lowlights or a shadowed root. “It also works well if you want to create any kind of special effects or ombré finishes, and also adheres better on hair that’s coarse or wiry,” points out Lori. 

No matter which Shades EQ option you go with, they all have the benefit of being an acidic haircolor. Hair is at its healthiest when it’s in a slightly acidic state, at a pH of 4.5-5.5. Lightening services push hair into the alkaline state, which is when toning with Shades EQ comes in big for preserving the health and integrity of the hair. By bringing that pH back down towards the acidic side of things, Shades EQ helps smooth down the hair's cuticle, leaving it smooth, shiny, and healthy.


Blog courtesy of Redken


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