I typically use Redken Shades EQ to color my hair. I have been using a 9GB and 7GB to make an 8GB. Redken doesn't make an 8GB in the Shades line. My friend is a stylist and usually colors my hair for me. I am trying to grow my hair out to it's natural color and I have about 3 inches of roots, which are a light brown and the rest of my hair is highlighted. The 8GB in Redken was enough to blend my roots with my ends and give me an overall slightly warm light brown color with dimension from the old highlights. I bought the Ion color today to attempt coloring myself. I've had good and bad experiences with at home color. I used the booklet they had at my local Sally's to find the equivalent of the Redken 8GB. They do not carry a GB, or gold beige, in the Ion line, but they did have a NB, neutral beige. I was scared to try the warm because I wanted more neutral tones and was afraid the natural/ash would be too ashy. So, I purchased a 9NB and a 7NB in the Ion line. After reading several MUA's reviews about this brand going up to 3 shades darker, I decided to use 2 parts 9NB and 1 part 7NB in a 1:2 ratio with the developer. I ended up using 2 oz of 9NB, 1 oz 7NB and 6 oz of developer, which was WAY too much color for my shoulder length hair!! Oops! I will cut that in half next time. My hair actually turned out really beautiful! The roots are blended with the old blonde highlights and I actually like the overall color better than Redken Shades. My hair always looks dull after coloring with Shades and a little over-saturated and takes a few days to look normal. With the Ion, my hair is super shiny and soft and beautiful! I will definitely use this again once the color fades! It's so much cheaper and I can do it whenever my schedule allows! I mixed this in a bowl and applied with a brush. I find that using a brush gives the most even coverage.