Whether it is at home or the salon, having a dye job with poor results can seem like the end of the world. I know I have experienced my fair share of botched dye applications and unintended hair colors.
It may seem like there is no way to salvage your color, but fear not.
If you are stressing over how to fix patchy hair dye, remember that almost any hair disaster has a fix.
And more likely than not there are steps you can take to correct your hair color, and avoid future mistakes too.
I can understand being nervous to try and fix a color mistake at home, which is why if you have any doubt I would encourage you to seek a professional.
They have the skills, knowledge, and experience to correct your hair without causing further damage.
If you are worried about the price, you can always seek a consultation first.
That way, they will have a better game plan, and you will have a solid grasp on the price.
Table of Contents
How To Apply Hair Dye The Correct Way
The best way to “fix” a botched hair dye job, is to prevent it before it happens.
This means thoroughly researching reliable sources on how to properly get the results you desire, and understanding them so there are no mistakes.
Have an even starting point
The first thing you want to do is start with an even, healthy canvas.
Hair dye takes to healthy hair better, and if you have any damage, or have gone through any chemical treatments, there is a good chance that the porosity of your hair is all over the place.
You can even this out by using a bonding agent to close your hair cuticles.
If some cuticles are damaged or open and others aren’t, then the hair dye may end up darker in some spots and lighter in others.
Having an even starting point is important for the most even results.
Never skip the initial strand test!
Not only is this the best way to see how well your hair will take to the dye, and what your end result will be, but it also eliminates the risk of having a bad reaction to the chemicals you are using.
Trust me. As tedious, and time-consuming as it is, you should always do a fully processed test strand first.
Mix your dye well
Mixing your dye correctly is a huge factor in how even your color will turn out.
First of all, read and follow the directions on your products.
Use the correct developer volume, and make sure you follow all the steps.
You must thoroughly mix your dye.
If you do not mix it well enough, you can have more developer reactions in some spots, and more dye in others.
Make sure you mix your dye well.
So, get angry and be aggressive!
Shake that bottle, or whisk that mixing bowl!
Anything you need to do to ensure everything is properly combined.
How you apply your dye greatly impacts the end results.
Wherever you first start is naturally going to be darker, since the dye will be processing longer there.
Start by properly sectioning your hair.
Part your hair down the middle so one section is on each side of your head.
Then for each of those, start at the upper-most part of your head and part your hair down past your ear, for four even sections.
To apply the dye, start with one of the back sections, and pull smaller sections that are about ¼ of an inch.
Always work bottom-up.
This will give a more natural look, and generally will be less messy.
So at the very bottom take your small section and start to apply dye at the root, and work your way down to the ends.
Keep dyeing small sections and working your way up.
Then move on to the other back quarter section, and finally the two side quarters.
Make sure you fully saturate the sections and follow the directions on the products for the timing to get the best results.
Always rinse out the dye with lukewarm water and use a color-protective shampoo and conditioner.
What Causes Uneven Color And Patchiness?
There are a multitude of reasons why a dye job will come out uneven.
Knowing these causes and how to prevent them can save you the headache in the long run.
Failing to properly mix your dye
Dye that hasn’t been mixed properly can cause some areas to have more developer which will make it lighter, and other areas with more dye, making them darker – leading to a lot of patchiness.
You really want to make sure you mix everything completely and follow the instructions on your products.
Deviating from the instructions will end up giving you unpredictable and inconsistent results.
Incorrectly applying the hair dye
Having a good technique and application plan is crucial to have all around even coverage.
Dyeing your hair at home can be a fun time and simple process if you are thorough and follow instructions well.
I would highly recommend grabbing a friend or family member to help you with the back of your head.
I know from personal experience it is difficult to make sure all of your hair is completely saturated with dye.
Make sure, you take note of where you are starting the application because that will end up the darkest.
Starting with an uneven base
If you already have uneven color throughout your hair, your new color is not going to turn out anymore even.
You can go wrong very easily when you are bleaching your hair at home, and you must be sure to take the time to learn about the process and minimize the damage done to your hair.
You never want to start with your roots when you bleach your hair because of the heat your scalp gives off.
This processes the bleach faster and your roots can end up two levels lighter than the rest of your head.
This difference will affect the results of your dye job.
Having damaged hair, or uneven porosity
Hair dye takes to healthy hair and to damaged hair differently, and this can make a noticeable difference in the end results of dyeing your hair.
It is a good idea to use the week before dyeing your hair to prepare it for the process.
Do some deep conditioning treatments or hair masks.
If you have bleached your hair, you should use a bonding agent such as Olaplex.
When you put your hair through the bleaching process, your cuticles open and become more porous, which impacts how the dye is absorbed and processed.
A bonding agent will help to give your hair a more even porosity for a more even color.
How To Fix Patchy Hair Dye
The first thing you want to do is figure out what went “wrong”.
Look back on everything you did and try to find any mistakes that will help you identify the problem so that you can take the best approach to correct it.
Orange or yellow spots on bleached hair
The best thing you can do for brassy orange or yellow spots is to use a toner on your hair.
You will want to identify the color of the unwanted tones on the color wheel, and choose the color toner directly opposite to mute it.
Orange tones will need a blue toner, and yellow will need a purple one.
Using a toner should help even out your hair and mute the tones you do not want.
Next, use a bonding agent and pamper your hair for a few days.
Then, you can go through with the dyeing process.
If you are going back to a brunette color, this will be more difficult.
Be sure to use fillers to put the tones back into your hair.
You may need to do more than one round of hair coloring, and a couple of gloss treatments afterward.
Patchiness due to not mixing the dye thoroughly
Fortunately, if you figured out the problem, and it was caused by your hair dye not being mixed well enough, you are dealing with an easier fix!
Just use the same exact color to redye your hair, but make sure you mix it well!
I mean to really put some force into shaking or mixing the dye.
Imagine a friend you’re having a fight with, or treat it like an ex! Whatever works. Show no mercy!
Follow the directions, and apply the dye normally.
The lighter spots should dye to the correct color, while another coat of dye won’t do much to the darker spots.
If you are nervous, you can always apply the dye to the lighter spots first so they process longer.
Having an uneven base
Starting with an uneven hair base will cause your end results to be patchy and uneven.
The best way to fix this is to redye your hair, but with one shade darker.
An example would be, if you used a level 7 blonde, and ended up with an uneven color.
You will need to drop down to a level 6 blonde and dye your hair.
The darker dye should cover up the patches that appeared lighter.
Another approach that can be taken is to bleach the darker spots again.
This will be more tricky, as you really need to keep an eye on the processing, and not mistakenly bleach over light spots.
I would recommend going to a professional for this.
Fading darker spots
If you have only deposited a darker color dye onto your hair and did not use a developer, there are ways to encourage the dye to fade more quickly.
The best thing you can do, to fade dye that is too dark is to keep washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo.
The more you wash your hair, the more the dye will fade, again as long as it’s a deposit-only color.
Dishwashing liquid will also help to fade out the dye.
If you bleached your hair and started at your roots, you may notice they are significantly lighter than the rest of your hair.
Doing a root touch-up one level lower than the dye color used, should even out your roots, or make them just a little darker, which is more natural-looking.
The hair at your root is typically a little darker than the rest of your head.
Another thing you can do is use a color-depositing shampoo.
Just as the name suggests, this is a shampoo that deposits some color onto your hair, to prolong and refresh your color.
Finally, if it is only your roots that are different, then you can get a root touch-up or do one at home.
This means you will apply the dye (preferably cream, as liquid dye runs) just to your roots, let it process, and rinse!
Healthy Color Maintenance
Finally, you want to make sure you take care of your hair and new color.
Failing to factor in a color-preserving aftercare routine can result in your color fading unevenly.
You want to use a color-preserving shampoo and conditioner.
I would also recommend using a color-depositing shampoo or hair mask every two washes or so.
You want to minimize how often you wash your hair, and only use lukewarm water.
Lather and dry your scalp gently, and limit your exposure to heat and UV rays.
Get your damaged hair trimmed regularly, since breakage usually leads to more breakage.
Also, remember to indulge in the occasional deep conditioning treatment.
A dye job gone wrong can seem like the end of the world, but it really doesn’t have to be.
Instead of losing sleep wondering how to fix patchy hair dye, stay calm and do your research.
Think through the best course of action if you decide to fix it at home.
If you have any doubts, visiting a salon is always the best option.
These are qualified professionals who see these mistakes every day.
Be open, honest, and don’t leave out any details.
You may feel embarrassed, but I can assure you, they have seen it all and their goal is to help you get the hair that you will fall in love with!