Red series comparisons: Eleven, Pravana, Redken Shades EQ

This is part two of my color line comparisons. Don’t forget to check out Part 1.

Most color lines are good at the basics like your naturals and golds, but when you get into coppers and reds some of them just fall flat. Red is one of the most difficult colors to get longevity out of, so to really stand out a lot of color lines focus on being able to brag about their reds. This felt like a good opportunity to do a really in depth comparison between a new line and two that I had a lot more experience with.

With the other swatches I did to compare the lines I only used one level 10 swatch per color, but with the reds I used both a level 10 and a level 6 swatch for each color I tested. Why is this important? Undertones. At a level 10 there’s minimal undertones, although on my swatches there was a pale yellow undertone. At a level 6 you have more pigment inside the hairshaft, usually in the red/orange range. The short version is that at a lower level with already existing red and orange undertones, a red color will have more richness and depth than it will when deposited on a blank canvas. Most color swatches are done on purely white samples to give the best indication of the tones it will deliver; but aren’t good indicators of exactly what the end results will be since that depends mostly on the canvas you’re using.

I also wanted to be able to demonstrate why the starting point is important depending on what you’re using. The lighter you start, the more bold and vibrant results you’ll get, but at the same time you’re potentially sacrificing the richness and depth that can offer a more well rounded finish to your color.

Let’s start with the level 10 swatches and break them down:

From left to right we have our starting point for reference, Pravana Vivids Red, Pravana Vivids Everlasting Scarlette Red+10 Volume, Redken Shades EQ 6R, Pravana Chromasilk 6RR+0 Volume, Redken Shades EQ 6RR, and Eleven 6RR.

The Vivids Red is definitely the boldest, which I expected since I’ve been using it for so long. The recommended level for application on Vivids Red is a level 7, but if you want to be Ariel you’re gonna want a higher starting point. Everlasting Red has more of an orange deposit to it, as well as the Chromasilk 6RR.

Shades EQ 6R on a level 10 deposited an orangey pink, but the 6RR delivered a pretty deep bold red. It would work well as a more subtle bold color where a dress code is concerned.

Eleven’s 6RR falls somewhere in the middle for overall tone. It’s vibrant on a level 10, but not obnoxiously so. There’s some orange hue to it, but overall a nice red.

Let’s break down the level 6 swatches:

The swatches are in the same order as they were with the level 10, just swap in a level 6 instead.

While slightly darker than the recommended application level, the Vivids Red from Pravana is still a nice tone. At this level it’s almost indistinguishable from the Vivids Everlasting Red, with the main difference being that the Everlasting Red is still slightly more orange. The 6RR definitely has more richness and depth to it, but is still a little orange for my liking.

Redken Shades EQ 6R also has a more orangey finish to it, but the 6RR for sure has a lot of that richness and depth we were looking for and has a more brown appearance to it than the Pravana.

Eleven’s level 6 6RR lines up pretty close to the Shades EQ 6RR for overall undertones and finished results.

Final thoughts after initial application:

As someone who prefers a bolder red, I’m handing “best red at a lower level” to Pravana. There are subtle differences between the 3 at this level, but to me these had the most true to tone red finish.

Both the Eleven and the Shades EQ level 6 6RR swatches have a slightly more brown/orange finish and feel like they’re lacking slightly in comparison to Pravana. That’s not to say they’re not good, I just felt like Pravana tipped the edge slightly.

At a lighter starting level for a truer red, Eleven 6RR takes the cake, followed by Shades EQ 6RR if you want a more merlot-y feel.

Pravana Vivids Red was of course the most vivid of the bunch, but both the Chromasilk 6RR and the Vivids Everlasting left more of a coppery end result.

Of course with reds the initial application is only half the battle and I really wanted to know how they held up over time. Each swatch was shampooed individually with Eleven Australia Hydrate my Hair shampoo and conditioned with Eleven’s Repair my Hair conditioner. Eleven’s comparison to their mystery competitor showed results up to and after 12 washes, so here we go!

If you had asked me in the beginning which swatches I thought were going to come out on top, my guess would have been wrong.

I think what surprised me the most was that the Vivids reds stayed the truest to tone the longest. On the lighter swatch it’s definitely starting to turn pink, but the level 6 swatch is still a deep and rich red. Both the level 6 and level 10 swatches of the Vivids Everlasting turned to a coppery orange color, with the level 10 being bolder. Chromasilk 6RR with 0 volume became a coppery brown at level 6 and a muted copper at level 10.

Redken Shades EQ 6R became a nice shade of brown at the level 6, and a sort of rosy brown on the level 10. 6RR also became a rich brown at level 6, and while the level 10 definitely did lose some of the merlot depth, it’s still a pretty vibrant red, even if it’s a little more pink than when it started.

Eleven 6RR is almost identical to Shades at level 6; a beautiful rich brown color. However on the level 10 swatch it definitely turned a bit more pink. Looking at it in person it’s what I would have expected to see from a vivids swatch over time, which makes some sense to me because Eleven has this color categorized as a fashion shade.

Based just on the swatches from this experiment, my top two choices would be the Shades EQ 6RR and the Pravana Vivids Red.

All that being said, it’s easy enough to repeatedly wash all the swatches and dry them for a fast answer, but I’m also experienced enough to know that sometimes controlled experiments are too controlled and decided that since I needed a new color anyway, I might as well see how they hold up to real life. Stay tuned for a follow up on some of those colors, as well as a comparison of the fashion lines!

If you have questions about color, or hair in general, I want to hear them! Don’t forget to share what you learned on social media and subscribe for more content!

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