Patchy gray hair dye: 3 possible causes and solutions

even out gray hair color

If your color turned uneven after dyeing your hair gray, it could be due to one of these three reasons:

  • You didn’t bleach your hair evenly beforehand. What you should do is tone your hair with a purple shampoo. Then, after a few applications, dye your hair gray again.
  • You didn’t apply the dye correctly. So, some strands are light gray, and others are dark gray. In this case, you’ll need to reapply the gray dye to even out the color.
  • Your hair is gray in the areas where you had balayage or highlights. In this case, you should bleach your hair and reapply the gray dye.


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In the hairdressing world, there are two big disappointments for women sometimes:

  •   A new hair color that doesn’t turn out as expected.  
  • A new haircut that makes you feel like the ugliest woman in the world.


Believe me when I tell you that every day I get people in the salon who follow YouTube tutorials. They change their hair color or try to change their look, and it’s a disaster.


Tell me the truth.

Do you really think that a five-minute YouTube video can teach you what it takes us, professional colorists, years to learn?


No, I don’t, do you?

Now there’s a fantasy color boom.

They are flashy and unusual colors, often inspired by characters from movies and series.

I still remember when, at the peak of “Game of Thrones,” all women wanted to dye their hair snow-white like Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons.


Then, the ice blonde gave way to the platinum blonde of famous women like Gwyneth Paltrow or Taylor Swift.

And now it’s the moment of gray. All it takes is for the influencer of the moment to dye her hair gray and set the trend. Then, all women want that color.

But things don’t turn out as well as Instagram shows.


Then, after applying the gray dye, you notice that the color turns uneven and doesn’t even compare to the model.

What happened?


You probably didn’t know that   colors as light as gray, white, or fantasy need an extra light blonde 10 base.


To reach that level, you must bleach your hair several times.

   If bleaching your hair left uneven yellow areas, the gray dye will turn out patchy.  

Can you fix it?


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But first, you’ll need to identify what went wrong when you applied the gray dye. That’s what I talk about below.

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If your gray hair is patchy yellow, you should use a purple shampoo

washing hair with purple shampoo

Why did some parts of your hair turn yellow after applying gray hair dye?


  You probably bleached your hair over a patchy base.  

Since the gray doesn’t cover the yellow, the result was uneven.


In that case, reapplying the gray dye wouldn’t help.   The first thing you have to do is remove or neutralize the yellows.  

You have two options.

  •   Bleach your hair to remove the orange strands.   However, I don’t advise it in this case. Bleaching is a very aggressive chemical process. Besides, you already bleached your hair once, remember? So, you should give it time to recover.
  •   Neutralize the yellow color with a violet shampoo.   This is a less damaging option for your hair because violet shampoos contain no developer or ammonia.


You should use the purple shampoo twice a week for two weeks to neutralize the unwanted yellow.

  Once you notice that your hair is free of any yellow, you can reapply the gray dye.   At that moment, the base color of your hair will be even and the resulting color will be even too.


If the resulting gray is patchy because you have dark and light gray strands, you should reapply the dye

darken highlights naturally

However, you should do it correctly this time.

What do I mean?


My experience as a colorist tells me that you didn’t do something right when you colored your hair.

  • Maybe you didn’t evenly cover your hair with the grey dye.
  • Or you didn’t respect the proportions of the peroxide and dye mixture.
  • Or you didn’t respect the exposure times of the dye.


Do you want to know how I apply the dye in the salon to even out the lighter and darker areas?

  • Comb your hair and divide it into four sections, from forehead to nape and from ear to ear, holding each section with hair clips.
  • In a plastic container, place the gray dye and the 20-volume developer.
  • Mix to blend.
  • Put on gloves and, with a dye brush, apply the mixture to each section from root to tip, covering all of your hair.
  • Cover your hair with a shower cap to keep the heat of the reaction in and   leave the dye on for 45 minutes.  
  • After the exposure time, rinse with plenty of warm water and apply shampoo and conditioner.

Now, take a look at your hair.

How does the gray look?


Flawless, right? Even gray hair with no spots.


If the gray dye is uneven because the dye didn’t cover all your hair, you should bleach your hair again to reapply the gray dye

bleaching powder in a bowl

In this case, I’m sure you had some highlights in your hair. So, the dye covered the highlighted hair because it had been bleached.

Therefore,   if you apply gray dye on balayage or highlighted hair, the dye will only cover the bleached areas.  

The rest of your hair will keep the base color.


  The solution is to bleach the hair to even out the base color.  

I recommend you go to the salon to have it done without damaging your hair. Otherwise, bleaching can even break your hair if it’s not done correctly.


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If you don’t want to go to the salon, I recommend the following:

  • Allow at least three weeks to color your hair after bleaching it.
  • During those three weeks, moisturize and repair your hair with natural hair oil or a moisturizing keratin mask.
  • Don’t wash your hair for at least 48 hours before bleaching.
  •   Don’t use a developer higher than 30 volumes   if you don’t want to damage your hair irreversibly.


Here is the step-by-step:

  • Comb and divide your hair into four sections and hold each section with hair clips.
  • In a plastic container, place the bleach powder and the 30 volume developer. Mix to blend.
  • You can add a few drops of coconut oil to protect your hair.
  • Loosen one of the back sections. With gloves on, apply the bleach from roots to ends.
  • Repeat the application on each section until you cover all your hair with bleach.
  • Leave the bleach on for 20 minutes. Check the progress every five minutes.
  • After the exposure time, or when you reach the bleach level you want, rinse your hair with plenty of cold water.
  • Wash your hair with your regular shampoo to remove all traces of the bleach.

Once your hair is dry, you can apply the gray dye without fear. As your base color is even, the gray dye won’t look patchy.



If you color your hair gray and it turns out patchy, your base color wasn’t light enough.

Alternatively, the color could turn out patchy due to mistakes in the coloring process.

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