Chromatics vs Inoa :: No Contest, Redken wins.

For those of you who opt for salon color over at-home options, it’s safe to say that you’ve probably experienced some kind of hair coloring drama at some time or another. I like to think that I have a pretty good idea of how to keep my expectations in check after 22 years in the beauty business, but even with that experience, I sometimes get blindsided. That said, it didn’t stop me from looking for a better, healthier, way to color my hair. Enter Redken’s Chromatics prismatic permanent hair color. This oil based, permanent hair color had a hefty PR buzz going but true to Beauty Sleuth form, I was on a mission to get the nitty gritty details from my own experience.

I have been a longtime fan of Rodney Cutler —His cut and styling prowess have graced hundreds of magazine editorial, runway shows and a plethora of top models locks, worldwide, so it made sense to me to turn to his namesake salon, Cutler Salon NYC (and where Redken professional products can be found) for help with my hair. At my consultation, I went right to the top and sat down with lead colorist, Summer Parham who is based in his the New York City salon. For those in Miami, Rodney also has a salon at the Perry Hotel in South Beach.

I had a lot of questions for Summer about Chromatics, especially as I had experienced another oil-based permanent color product released by a rival company, a few years back. Since the release of Inoa, there have been several problems that have cropped up— predominately with repeat processes, removal of the product from skin or other areas at the time of coloring and lack of vitality or dimension to the hair after the coloring process. While Chromatics is also an oil-based color, it has several pluses over Inoa. First of all, the capacity to customize color and “paint” the hair like you would traditional custom color to add dimension and fractional color makes this product a stand out. The oil delivery system reaches deep into the shaft of the hair and as Summer says: “ After using chromatics, the hair becomes two times strong, we call that 2x fortified, than without or by comparison to other similar products. For people who have never colored their hair, it was proven to be stronger after Chromatics color.”

Parham also says the Chromatics formula is ammonia-free and has absolutely no smell, which I can attest to. “The mixing process is better for stylist as well, it’s easier to get out of the hair and is easier for the colorists to mix as well. The coverage is fantastic. It’s not only the palette we put in the tubes but it is extremely customizable. 100 % grey coverage. clearer options to create as many shades can be customized to each client. Other similar oil based color lacks the dimension and range of Chromatics.”

There is a built-in luminosity to this hair coloring system which captures a variety of tones and colors from within, building color on color revealing subtle shades in a Vellum-like way. This Reflecting of secondary and tertiary color enhances the overall look of the hair. What this translates to is with the natural movement of the hair and under a variety of lighting conditions, the color constantly refracts and changes, adding dimension and vitality to the overall look.

The application process takes time and cannot be rushed, and therefore costs a bit more. Parham says that colorists have to be pretty precise and clean in order to produce great results with Chromatics but that by taking it back to principles, colorists can achieve consistent results every time. Summer says: “Bringing it back to basics ensures that we, as colorists stay on point as far as application , accuracy and cleanliness. This in the long run creates a situation where we become better colorists as a result.” Another key point for Chromatics is that because the color reaches so deeply into the hair shaft, the color doesn’t tend to fade or loose intensity between touchups. For brunettes like myself, who usually ends up with dried-out brassy ends by the time we’re ready for touch ups, I for one, was really looking forward to seeing how this color handled travel, UV exposure and the general wear and tear that my hair goes though.

For my session color, Summer thought she would like to bring back some richness of my natural hair color at the root and through my fringe but wanted to add highlights and dimension at the mid to lower ends of my hair. Kind of like a very subtle ombré look. I liked the idea but was worried about brassiness. On darker hair like mine, it can be challenging. Parham put me at ease “ It’s totally possible to adjust the ash and neutral tones to be completely neutral and is key to achieving a rich brown tones without any brassy undertones.” To play up the texture and cut of my hair, she suggested painting in some lighter shades in and around my face concentrating on the ends. The painting process took quite a while, with Parham taking time to work all the color elements we had discussed earlier. I loved that my hair didn’t smell with the usual coloring chemicals and Summer was constantly jumping back to me to monitor my progress. Finally, it was time to wash and style. The color was a rich chocolatey brown with caramel and tortoiseshell colored midsection and ends. I loved it! After a blowout from the awesome, Sha Zaam (ok, that’s not his real name but trust me his blow outs are really ALL THAT!) I looked at my now, perfectly neutral, rich, brown hair with just the right amount to dazzle. It was shiny and the color was really, really amazing.

After booking my followup session with Summer for 7 weeks later, I knew the real test was going to happen the following day when I would be in 85 degree weather on yet another photo shoot in Miami.

Week Two/Three Update:

I have to say that Summer had convinced me to purchase and use Redken’s Color Extend Total Recharge, which I did and as I was already using Pureology Hydratelite shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair I kept on with that at home but for my upcoming trip to Miami, I invested in Kérestase Soleil Anti Damage shampoo, conditioning mask and Anti-Damage multi protection creme for color treated hair which were all created to protect hair exposed to UVA and B for long periods of time. That would be me for sure with long shoot days ahead, I was armed and ready for anything! As it turned out, with my arsenal of anti-fade products, Miami proved to be no challenge as far as keeping the condition of my hair was concerned.
It’s been another week, and I am back in the Big Apple. I have returned to using Pureology and Color Extend after every wash. So far, my color looks like it did when I left the salon. I have had a ton of compliments (which if you ask any girl, she’ll tell you that’s worth a million in the confidence bank!) and my hair looks and feels healthy. Come May ( and just in time for the Memorial Day weekend) I’ll be getting my touch-up. For the first time in ages, I am actually looking forward to it. Thanks to Redken, Cutler Salon and Summer Parham. My hair’s beauty trifecta!

Wanna get your own locks Chromaticized? Check out for salon listings, or Cutler salon for those in New York or Miami.


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