I Tried a Redken Shades EQ Hair Gloss Treatment and It Gave My Hair Diamond-Level Shine

A hair gloss adds subtle color while conditioning and protecting hair. Call it a win-win-win.

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I went down a hair gloss rabbit hole a few years ago, scouring Instagram and binging Youtube videos with hair gloss before and after footage. I found the treatment, which can impart semi- or demi-permanent color and add shine to hair, to be super intriguing. After spending a concerning amount of time watching people bounce their hair in slo-mo, I mentally added the beauty treatment to my bucket list and moved on to my next fleeting obsession.

Cut to last year, when I wrote a story about hair glosses that renewed my interest. I learned that because the formulas are semi-permanent or demi-permanent, they're less likely to cause damage compared to more permanent dyeing methods. A gloss also coats your hair, filling in the gaps in the strands' cuticles (the scaly, outermost layer of each hair), which can reinforce it against damaging UV rays, prevent color from fading, and even make hair appear thicker. Sign me up.

As pandemic lockdowns lifted, I felt a strong urge to experiment more with my look — and that's what finally got me into a salon to get a hair gloss. I headed to Elizabeth Hiserodt, a colorist at Cutler Salon Soho, which offers the Redken Shades EQ Gloss treatment.

Billed as "hair color that thinks it's a conditioner," Redken Shades EQ formulas are free of ammonia (which can damage hair) and contain wheat amino acids, which are a fixture in conditioning treatments since they help strengthen weakened hair. They're demi-permanent formulas, meaning they wash out over time, so you don't have noticeable regrowth the way you might with permanent color. Demi-permanent formulas also contain less hydrogen peroxide than permanent color; hydrogen peroxide removes color from (or lightens) hair, which can help the new color show up better, but it can also be damaging. So, while demi-permanent treatments, such as glosses, are healthier for your hair, they won't allow you to make a drastic color change or to switch to a lighter shade. A Redken Shades EQ gloss can last up to 24 washes, and potentially longer if you're mindful about avoiding heat and the sun, says Hiserodt. (

Some people use gloss treatments such as Redken Shades EQ as a toner, using it as a follow-up to more permanent color that corrects fading or discoloration. It can also be used to blend grays, add lowlights, or give hair a new color that's not too far off from its current shade. (More dramatic color changes require more permanent color.) And if you're in it solely for the shine factor, you can even can go for a clear gloss treatment without pigment.

The Redken Shades EQ color chart is pretty extensive, and includes browns, blondes, and reds as well as pastel pink, violet, and other options that could make for a fun change-up. Since I was starting from brown, Hiserodt and I decided to go for a brown slightly darker than my natural shade. (

Courtesy of Renee Cherry

If you're used to hours-long color appointments, then you'd probably find gloss treatments to be refreshingly quick. After Hiserodt mixed and applied my color, I sat under the dryer for just 10 minutes while it processed (although your stylist could have you wait up to 20 minutes). After a quick wash and blowout, I departed the salon less than an hour after I'd gotten there.

Afterward, my hair did indeed look a shade darker — plus, it looked shinier than I've ever seen it and I've even gotten a few compliments that it looked particularly healthy. Nearly four weeks out, my hair still feels more smooth and manageable (as if I'm always one day out from a hair mask) and the color has barely faded. (

Salon hair gloss treatments typically cost between $50 and 100. Redken Shades EQ is a salon-only treatment, but there are also various at-home options — for example, Kristin Ess Signature Hair Gloss (Buy It, $14, target.com) is an in-shower gloss that lasts three to four weeks. The tradeoff is that salon treatments tend to last longer and can create more noticeable results than DIY. While I think I'll leave color gloss treatments to the pros, I'm also planning to experiment with clear at-home glosses after this experience.

The treatment certainly lived up to my expectations, and is something I forsee myself going back to on occasion. And that's the beauty of demi-permanent color — you can go months or years between treatments without ever having a line of demarcation. I kind of wish I'd just taken the plunge when I'd first become obsessed.

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