Once again, thank you for visiting my Organic Hair Color Review blog, where I take a hands-on, unbiased approach to dissect, examine, and review organic, non-toxic, and ammonia-free hair color lines. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Melanie Nickels, master hair colorist and a ranking member & examiner for the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists, as well as the owner of the first organic & non-toxic salon in Southwest Florida, Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples. I DO NOT SELL HAIR COLOR.

Chromatics is the latest color line on the market by Redken Laboratories, which was founded in 1960 by an American actress named Paula Kent. Paula dealt with frequent style changes in her career, and she was extra sensitive to many of the products that her hairdressers and make-up artists were using at that time. With the intent of changing the way these hair products were being used, she partnered with her hairdresser and formed Redken. Starting with only three products and an intensive education program for hairdressers, Paula and her business partner went out to change the world of hair care. By 1965, Paula had full ownership of the company. In 1993 Redken was purchased by L’Oreal and is now a global leader in hair care products, based in New York City on 5th Avenue. They sell the Redken product line in about 50 countries as of this writing.

Chromatics was launched in March of 2012. It was, and is, promoted as “The Haircolor Breakthrough”, and a “Prismatic Permanent Color. Zero Ammonia. Zero Odor”.  It is also marketed as leaving the hair “2X Fortified”, meaning that by using Chromatics hair color it will leave the cuticle fortified and account for 2X less breakage when using 20 volume Oil In Cream Developer and Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo vs. uncolored hair treated with a non-conditioning shampoo (per their company website). They also claim “100% Gray Coverage, Flawlessly”. Chromatics features a broad range of shades, which allows an experienced, talented colorist to custom blend colors that are a perfect fit for the client.

The technology behind how Chromatics fortifies the hair (per the company) is to surround the hair with protective oil (using the ODS+ Protein Extract Technology), propel the long-lasting color pigments & protein extracts deep into every strand of hair, and then 2X fortify it, leaving behind brilliant, multi-dimensional color. Redken claims 100% client comfort, 0% ammonia, 0% irritating odor, 100% gray coverage, with 48 amazing shades creating multi-dimensional 4D color results.

I was not about to miss the class offered at this years Premiere Orlando Hair Show on this one!  I was anxious to hear how Redken was going to backpeddle and present this non-ammonia color line as great and wonderful since the color that they have had on the market for all these years is one that is very high in ammonia and ppd’s and other chemicals.  It intrigued me as I wondered how they would promote this without contradiction to their current lines.

Well, the class was actually one of the better ones I attended at the show.  The educator was very good, and seemed to present good facts and information along with models and formulas for “real hair” scenerios instead of smoke and mirrors for the show.  Redken is promoting Chromatics as the latest and greatest cutting edge technology and as another option to the ammonia based colors.  I agree, except that other companies have been using these technologies like no ammonia and oil delivery system for at least 18 years.  That being said, it has been cutting edge and it’s about time more companies and stylists are finally catching on!

The educator did a great demonstration of how oil and water separate and that the oil in the ODS colors pushes or propells the hair color and then traps the color and oil into the hair giving great coverage, lasting color and condtioned hair.  He did also mention that MEA is used in place of ammonia and actually admitted (to my shock) that it is less aggressive than ammonia….WHAT, OH OH……REALLY…..better tell all those that have been running around teaching that MEA is bad and doesn’t rinse out of the hair, and dries out your ends!!!  That is a whole separate blog topic that we can tackle, but I’ve been battling that one out with most other well known and respected educators and chemists in the industry.  Let me just point out for now that MEA has been used in Shades EQ and I think this has been a favorite of most stylists for a very long time and used to gently freshen and condtion the ends of hair when coloring.  And, I have been working with a permanent ODS color line for 6 years and have not seen my clients hair getting dried out at all….quite the opposite in fact.

Ok, back to the Chromatics color.  One of the most interesting things about this line is that they have a Clear color that will lift the hair and will lift other color.  They said that clear and 20 vol developer can be used instead of a bleach cap, it can be used alone to “lift highlights”, and is great for breaking the base.

So, I purchased the Chromatics by Redken color, with my own money, and took it to my salon in Naples, Florida to put it to the test.  I did my own hair with the Chromatics color and  did a base breaker with the clear on my  co-worker on one of my very few days off (yes, I work on my days off…in the salon). We video taped the process of doing the base breaker so you can see how it worked.  Please excuse the absense of my face and the presence of my dogs as I told you, I had color on my hair and it was a “day off” from the salon so my family joined me in the fun.

Overall, I felt that the color worked well, covered gray no problem, & did not irritate my scalp.  There was no smell, it was easy to mix(equal parts) and had a good working consistency.  I don’t know the % of MEA, but they also use m-aminophenol and then toluene 2.5-diamine and resorcinol for pigment.

For my co-workers base breaker, I used clear with 20 vol and processed at room temp for 12 min.  She did experience itching.  She has wheat allergies, but I do not see any wheat listed in the ingredients so she may have been experiencing sensitivity to the peroxide, because there is no ppd’s or pigment and no listed fragrance.


On a scale of one to five (5 being highest) I rate it a 3.75.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to post them here, or contact me directly.

Hope you enjoy!