10 DIY Hair Dye Mistakes You're Making (& How To Fix Each)

Photo: simona pilolla 2, Subbotina Anna / shutterstock
hair dye mistakes

Some of us never leave that phase from high school where you bleached your hair in your friend's bathroom and tried to hide it from your mom. (Babes, please go to a hair professional!)

However, if you must keep using your friend's bathroom to color your hair, or even your own bathroom, it's essential to be aware of what could possibly go wrong.

Knowing how to fix hair dye mistakes and perfecting your hair color correction can save you embarrassment.

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Now, hair coloring is a science, and not the kind you learned in your school’s chemistry class, so it can be difficult to get it right. Make sure you do your research on developers and dyes before buying the first box dye you see and, for goodness sake, read the instructions (several times if you have to)!

The painful reality is that even the most accomplished colorists experience hair color fails. (Trust me, I’ve cried in the hair salon more times than I’d care to admit.) So, it’s likely that you — yes, you with the rubber gloves and box dye — might not nail your color from your bathroom.

If you’ve found yourself frantically searching the internet for advice with tears in your eyes and messed up dye in your hair, you might be in need of some remedies for common hair dye mistakes.

How To Fix Hair Dye Mistakes

Here's what to do if...

1. Your blonde looks brassy

This is a common one for blondies.

You had visions of an icy, platinum look and ended up with some serious orange/yellow tones. Bleaching your hair strips out all the color and, especially on dark hair, leaves you with all those unwanted brassy colors.

A good toner should bring you closer to your desired look, but sometimes even the hairstylists won’t get you to your lightest shade in one sitting. It can take a few rounds of bleach over the course of a few weeks to totally wipe out the yellow.

Don’t freak out, though. This is actually one of the easier hair dye mistakes to correct.

Get yourself a good purple-toning shampoo and conditioner to neutralize warm tones. In my blonde days, I used to apply the shampoo to slightly damp hair and leave it on for 15 minutes before washing it out in the shower to lighten my hair to an icier shade.

2. The blonde went too ashy

Blonde can be a hard color to nail, and the opposite of the brassy problem can be just as annoying.

Sometimes, your toner might over-color the hair and leave you with those awful gray tones that look green in certain lights. While silver-gray is totally a vibe, this may not have been what you were going for.

Luckily, toners fade with time, and ditching purple shampoo will speed the process along.

Try using a strong clarifying shampoo. Dyes work by binding to hair oils, so using a shampoo that targets grease will strip some of the color away in a few washes.

3. You left your dye on for too long

Light colors won’t over-tint your hair (unless it's bleach), but going darker can sometimes result in a way deeper shade than you intended.

Maybe you lost track of time or just really wanted to ensure your hair would color properly, and now you’re left with a deep shade that you never wanted.

Dark dyes can be removed the same as ashy tones, or any other toner shade, for that matter. Use a clarifying shampoo or even some dish soap if you’re really stuck.

Giving it a couple of good rinses with the soap directly after dyeing will lift your hair to a lighter color before the pigment sets in fully.

4. Your hair is dry or breaking

This is everyone’s worst hair dye nightmare, but it's a risk you take once you decide to take hair coloring into your own hands.

After any hair dye, use a deep conditioner, but if you’ve bleached your hair, you’ll need one more than ever. Bleach removes your hair’s melanin and pretty much takes out all of the good nutrients that keep your hair together.

Therefore, when left on for too long, it can result in breakages or dry, crunchy hair. Bleaching over hair that has not been recently color-treated or washed will give you the best results without totally destroying your hair.

Sometimes, though, no matter what you do, bleach ruins your ends. Find a hair mask to save yourself from dry, damaged hair.

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5. The color came out uneven

Dyeing your hair at home can make you into a contortionist while you try to cover your whole head, bending backward to see the back of your hair in a mirror. Even though you might follow every last instruction you read online, sometimes your hair comes out uneven.

If you missed a patch entirely you can easily go back in with more dye over that one spot.

But if you’ve ended up with a kind of reverse ombre with light roots and dark ends, you’re probably freaking out a little. This happens because heat speeds up color processing, so the hair closer to your scalp tends to lighten first.

To prevent this, work the dye from the bottom of the hair to the top, rather than starting at the roots. If you’re reading this with uneven hair color, get your hands on a color one shade darker than the tone you used, and apply it just to the lighter parts.

6. You stained your skin... and the bathroom sink

I bet you never considered the amount of cleaning hair stylists do until you went at your own locks with a box dye.

DIY hair jobs can be messy, and even though you might want some crazy color to last on your hair for weeks, it won’t look as good on your neck, ears, and bathroom.

If you want to prevent staining, coat your ears, neck, and forehead with a thick moisturizer or petroleum jelly so the dye will be blocked from touching your skin. If that didn’t work and you still got some on you, put rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and rub your skin for a couple of minutes.

To clean up the hair dye crime scene on your kitchen or bathroom tiles, spray the surface with a bleaching agent. Let this sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing it off.

7. Your ends are green

This normally happens when a blonde goes brunette, using a cool brown color that has very smoky undertones. The best advice is to see a professional, but if you want to save your dye job yourself, it's time to get your color theory into shape.

Take a look at the color wheel and find the color that is opposite of green. This should be red.

Look for a dye that has warm, reddish undertones and dye your hair with that. Of course, wait at least two weeks before dyeing your hair again.

8. There's too much gloss

Glosses are great to use to refresh your hair, but if you leave it on too long or use too much of the product, it can actually cause your shade to darken drastically.

But don't panic, because gloss can be easily fixed using shampooing. With each shampoo session, your color should lighten.

9. Your brows don't match your hair

If you've dyed your eyebrows with the intent to match your hair, but the color just doesn't look the same, it may lead to alarm. But there are ways to fix this.

You may want to have dark brows with light hair, but if not this is for you, brows usually look best either one or two shades darker than your hair color. You can use makeup to achieve this, but you can also use root powder to help even out those brows.

10. You regret ever dyeing your hair

It happens to the best of us. You did everything right but you still just hate it.

Sometimes, you learn the hard way that you don’t look like the girls on your mood board. Different colors look better on different people, and maybe this just wasn’t the color for you. Besides, you looked great with your natural hair color anyway.

Thanks to science, color removers are a thing and could be your new best friend. They work by shrinking hair dye molecules and stopping them from holding onto your hair follicles. That way, you can simply wash them away.

The good news is they can be used straight after dyeing, so you don’t have to wear a hat to the store to pick up another box dye. I suggest having it on in your house if you’re doing any home dye — you know, just in case.

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Alice Kelly is YourTango’s Deputy News and Entertainment Editor. Based in Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.