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Is shades eq a toner or color?

Shades EQ is a professional hair color product line made by Redken. It offers salon hairdressers a wide range of options for coloring, toning, and glazing services. But is Shades EQ considered a toner or a color? The answer is a bit complex.

What is Shades EQ?

Shades EQ is a demi-permanent hair color made up of a conditioning base and liquified color tones. It deposits color onto the hair gradually, blending away gray hair and enhancing natural or colored hair. The Shades EQ line includes:

  • Gloss – Clear gloss adds shine
  • Toner – Counteracts brassiness and alters tone
  • Color – Adds subtle, translucent color
  • Glaze – Blends away grays and enhances color

Shades EQ contains lower levels of developer compared to permanent hair color. It gently opens the cuticle to deposit color inside the hair shaft. This makes it less damaging than permanent color. The results last 4-6 weeks before fading out.

Is Shades EQ a Toner?

Shades EQ is considered a toner because it can alter the undertones of hair without significantly changing the main color. Toners are used after coloring services to perfect the color result.

Here’s how Shades EQ toner works:

  • Neutralizes brassiness in blonde hair
  • Cancels unwanted red/gold tones in brown hair
  • Intensifies cool tones to reduce warmth
  • Adds shine and enhances vibrancy of hair color

The Shades EQ toners come in families based on color goals:

Toner Family Color Goal
Beige Counteracts brassiness in lighter blondes
Gold Adds warmth to blond and brown shades
Ash Cools down warm hair tones
Neutral Balances warm and cool tones
Violet Neutralizes yellow in white and gray hair

The toners can be used alone or mixed with color formulas. When used after coloring, a Shades EQ toner perfects the results to look natural and vibrant.

Is Shades EQ a Hair Color?

Although it’s primarily used as a toner, Shades EQ can also be used as a hair color. The brand markets itself as an “intelligent color system” because it offers stylists flexibility.

Here’s how Shades EQ can color hair:

  • Blends away gray hair seamlessly
  • Deposits translucent color with a soft, natural look
  • Can be mixed to create custom shades
  • Lightens, darkens, or intensifies existing color

The Shades EQ color tones are organized into families:

Color Family Color Tones
Clear No color deposit, only shine
Natural Soft beige blondes to light chestnut browns
Ash Cool smoky tones in blonde, brown, red
Gold Warm golden blonde, auburn, and brown
Red Copper, mahogany, vibrant red
Violet Anti-yellow tones for silver, gray, and white hair

The color families can be layered and blended to customize shade and depth. This allows stylists to use Shades EQ as an all-over hair color.

Key Differences Between Toner vs. Color

While Shades EQ has color and toner abilities, there are some key differences between using it as a toner vs. an all-over color:

Toner Color
Fine-tunes color results Deposits new color
Doesn’t lighten or darken Can alter depth and level
Applied to pre-lightened hair Applied to natural or pre-colored hair
Temporary results Longer-lasting color change
Usually only applied to mid-lengths and ends Applied to full head of hair
Quick & simple application More complex application and timing

While both change the tone and enhance shine, toners make subtle tweaks while all-over color makes more noticeable changes.

How to Use Shades EQ as a Toner vs. Color

As a Toner

To use Shades EQ as a toner:

  • Select a toner shade like Beige, Violet, or Ash based on your goals
  • Mix with clear or natural gloss for soft results
  • Apply to pre-lightened hair, usually mid-lengths to ends
  • Time 5-15 minutes depending on tone desired
  • Rinse thoroughly and style as usual

Toning typically takes 10-15 minutes at most for refined results. The toner should deposit evenly for a natural finish.

As an All-Over Color

To use Shades EQ as an all-over color:

  • Select your desired shade from color families like Natural, Ash, Red
  • Mix to customize your color formula
  • Apply to clean, dry hair from roots to ends
  • Time for 20-30 minutes based on depth of color desired
  • Rinse thoroughly and style as usual

When applying as an all-over color, the process takes longer to allow the color to deposit fully. Exact timing depends on the final results you want to achieve.

Advantages of Shades EQ

There are many benefits that make Shades EQ a top salon brand for toning and coloring services:

  • Versatility – Can be used as a toner, glaze, gloss, color, or gray coverage
  • Personalization – Extensive shade options to create custom color
  • Gradual deposit – Looks natural as color builds up over time
  • Damage control – Lower ammonia keeps hair strong
  • Moisturizing – Conditions and adds shine while coloring
  • Trendy techniques – Works for balayage, ombre, sombre, and shadow root looks

Both professional stylists and clients love the seamless gray coverage, multidimensional color results, and healthy hair benefits from Shades EQ.


In summary, Shades EQ is a hair product line that can work as both a toner and an all-over demi-permanent hair color. The versatile formulas allow stylists to use it as:

  • A toner to perfect and enhance color results
  • A long-lasting glaze to blend away grays
  • A full demi-permanent color for noticeable changes

While the toner shades alter tone and vibrancy, the demi-permanent colors make more significant color changes. So whether you want a subtle tone tweak or an entire hair color transformation, Shades EQ offers the flexibility professional stylists need to create beautiful, customizable color.