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Last updated: January 29, 2019

6 Toning & Root Smudge Tips For Better Blends

Root Smudge Toning Tips @heyelizabethfaye Redken Shades EQ Color Gels Lacquers
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6 Blonde Toning & Root Smudge Tips From @heyelizabethfaye
You’ve spent hours blonding clients with foils and balayage—how can you bring their rich dimension of highs and lows to life? Root smudge and toning services will help you achieve that seamless glow that’s both Instagram-worthy AND client-approved.


We hung out with Redken Ambassador Elizabeth Faye (@heyelizabethfaye) for her live demo at Redken Symposium 2019 and witnessed these amazing toning and smudging tips for better blends. Now, we’re sharing them all below!

Products Used

1. Smudge & Tone Formulating Rule
Keep your root smudge and toning formulas within two to three levels of each other. Elizabeth typically starts by applying her root smudge to damp hair using Redken Color Gels Lacquers in vertical sections. While that processes, she applies the toner starting in the back and using Redken Shades EQ. During the application process, both colors overlap to create the blend and this rule will keep ensure its seamless. “


What’s The Difference: Color Gels Lacquers & Shades EQ 
“I either use Shades EQ or Color Gels Lacquers for my root smudge, and I always tone with Shades EQ,” shares Elizabeth. Here’s how Elizabeth determines when to use Color Gels Lacquers (permanent) and Shades EQ (demi-permanent):

  • Color Gels Lacquers:
    • Root smudge on clients with Level 1 to 5 hair. “They almost always lighten out to a level where I need to do some color correcting or cancel out some serious warmth,” shares Elizabeth. 
    • Color corrections and harsh banding.
    • Clients with 50 percent gray coverage or higher. 
  • Shades EQ:
    • Clients who don’t want their base to darken.
    • To enhance natural hair and seamlessly blend.
    • Toning. 
    • Minor gray coverage.


For The Rule Breakers
For clients who want a high contrast color, the root and toning formulas will most likely be more than two to three levels apart. Elizabeth recommends applying the root smudge first, then allow to process and rinse. Then, go back and apply the toner over everything, process and rinse again—like this bold money piece look below!


Root Smudge Toning Tips @heyelizabethfaye Redken Shades EQ Color Gels Lacquers
Instagram via @heyelizabethfaye


2. Block Blorange On Brunettes
Blonding on brunette clients? After lightening with foilayage and highlights, try using Redken Color Gels Lacquers to tone out unwanted brassiness at the base.


Example: If you lift a natural Level 3 client super light, you will get some Level 8 and Level 9 pieces. You’ll also get some that are a bright Level 7 blorange. Elizabeth would then use Color Gels Lacquers 7NA and 7N to correct, blend and neutralize warmth.


3. Diffuse Banding
Clients with harsh banding? In the first session, start by using highlights and balayage to feather through the band and continue 1/4 of an inch past it. Then, apply a root smudge with Color Gels Lacquers to damp hair—this will start to diffuse and blend the band.


Elizabeth repeats this process gradually getting lighter and after three services, the band should be completely gone. When the natural starts to grow in, apply Shades EQ to richen the hair and avoid a line of demarcation.


Root Smudge Toning Tips @heyelizabethfaye Redken Shades EQ Color Gels Lacquers

Elizabeth slaying her live demo in the Gallerie at Redken Symposium 2019!


4. Charge Like A Full Color Service
Toning and root smudges are not an add-on, but included in the lightening service for Elizabeth’s clients. “I want my client to know that I am not just slapping 9V on everyone,” shares Elizabeth. “I’m formulating all of this based on their canvas today and it will probably be different next time.”


Root Smudge Toning Tips @heyelizabethfaye Redken Shades EQ Color Gels Lacquers

BTC’s Steph and Elizabeth hanging post-demo in the Color Gels Lacquers booth! 

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