Hair Roots Don’t Match the Rest of Hair? Fixes for Hair Dying Mistakes!

Dying your hair at home seems to be the quickest, easiest, and cheapest option. There are so many at-home hair dye kits you can buy these days, whether you want an all-over tint, an ombre look or just to touch up your roots. But what happens when your home dye efforts go wrong?

If you’ve chosen to add color to your hair at home, it’s highly likely that you’re not a salon professional. That means it can be difficult to know what to do when things go wrong. One of the most common problems that people face is their roots not matching the rest of their hair color.

When your roots don’t match your hair, it can give you a look that you didn’t intend. You might feel embarrassed or self-conscious about your mistake – and you might be wary about applying more dye over the top to try and correct the problem. What can do you in this situation?

Well, we’re going to look at what you can do when your hair roots are a different color from the rest of your hair. We’ll also look at other common home dye problems, including blonde hair coming out orange, or the color looking patchy.

The answers to all your at-home dye kit issues can be found right here.

Table of Contents:

The Science Behind Hair Dye

Before we start to look at specific hair dyeing issues, let’s look at the science behind dying your hair. This should give us an idea of what goes wrong when we end up with orange hair or strange-colored roots.

Dying your hair involves a series of chemical reactions. These take place between the molecules in your hair, as well as chemicals like peroxide and ammonia which are usually found in the dye itself.

Most of the dyes you can buy from the store are temporary, or semi-permanent hair coloring kits. This means they deposit acidic dyes onto the outside of the hair shaft, or they use a small amount of peroxide to help the dye get inside the hair shaft.

It’s important to remember that the hair shaft isn’t ‘opened’ during this process – it’s more accurate to say that the color is layered over the top. That’s why the dye fades after multiple washes.

When you use a permanent hair color, the hair shaft must be opened with ammonia so that the dye can be deposited into the hair, rather than sitting on top. The permanent hair dye process involves stripping the hair of its existing color, then depositing a new one. Peroxide is used to break down the chemicals bonds in the hair, removing the pigment from the melanin and allowing the new color to be bonded to the hair.

Why Am I Getting ‘Hot Roots’?

Hot roots’ is the name given to roots that appear lighter and brighter than the rest of your hair after dye application. It’s most common in redheads, but it can happen to anyone, with any hair color. There are many reasons why it occurs, including:

  • Peroxide control – there may be too much or too little peroxide in the dye you’re using.
  • Using the same timing on roots and ends – depending on your existing coloring, your roots may need more or less time with the dye.
  • Heat – the natural warmth of the scalp can cause the dye to react differently at the roots than it does further down.
  • Using the same color all over – many stylists will recommend using a slightly different color at the roots.

It’s also important to understand how hair growth affects the results of your dye. Hair grows out of the follicles on your head, which means the newest hair is closest to the scalp. The older hair is down at the tips of your hair. This is hair that’s been exposed to damage over time – from UV rays, pollution, heat styling, combing, wind, and so on.

Ironically, damaged hair is easier to color than fresh, new hair. We know that permanent hair color involves opening the outer layer of the hair so the dye can penetrate. It’s easier to penetrate damaged hair than the new hair found at your roots. This can mean that your roots end up a slightly different color from the rest of your locks.

How Can I Avoid Different Colored Roots?

There are different ways you can prevent your roots from turning a different color. Here are just a few of them, recommended by salon stylists and industry experts alike.

  • Leave the dye on slightly longer at the roots. Many at-home dyes will provide guidance on how long to leave the dye on for. If it says 20 minutes, consider starting with your roots and waiting 10 minutes before applying the rest. Then leave the dye on for the full 20 minutes. Your roots will have been exposed to the dye for 10 minutes longer than the rest of your hair, which may help.
  • Color the roots twice. If you can, save a small amount of the hair dye solution for later. Once you’ve dyed your hair normally, take a look to see whether the roots are the color you expected. If not, you can top up the roots with the leftover dye, which should yield better results.
  • Try a diluted dye. Vidal Sassoon Salonist Hair Color is an at-home kit with a two-step process. First, you brush the roots using the undiluted dye. Then, you add a serum to the remaining dye and apply to the rest of your hair. This ensures optimal coverage and gives you the best chance of minimizing ‘hot roots.’

If the damage is done and you need a quick fix, take a look at some hot root cover up products. They will cover roots instantly, and they don’t contain peroxide. Simply apply on your hair, and it will take care of the issue until your next hair wash.

SaleBestseller No. 1
L'Oreal Paris Hair Color Root Cover Up Temporary Gray Concealer Spray Light Brown (Pack of 2) (Packaging May Vary)
  • Temporary Root Cover Spray: Our Magic Root Cover Up conceals grays in seconds for flawless roots; Get seamless coverage with our lightweight formula that leaves no smudging or sticky residue when dry, and that’s ammonia and peroxide free
  • Colored Hair Spray For Gray Roots: Perfect for in-between color or salon visits, Magic Root quickly gives coverage to grey roots within seconds; Lasts until your next shampoo
  • Root Touch Up Solutions: Just a few pesky, scattered grays; Try our Precision Pen; For more gray coverage, use Magic Root Cover Up, the Number 1 root concealer in the world; For longer lasting gray coverage, use Root Rescue 10-minute permanent root kit
  • Match Your L'Oreal Paris Hair Color: Magic Root Cover Up shades are formulated to match your L'Oréal Excellence or Superior Preference shade, for an easy, quick fix between colorings
  • Long Lasting Hair Color: Get beautiful color from L'Oréal Paris hair color; permanent, semi-permanent, temporary hair color, and root cover up; Cover gray hair, highlight, go bold with bright color, or even try an ombre hair color
Bestseller No. 2
TRESemmé Root Touch-Up Temporary Hair Color Dark Brown Hair Ammonia-free, Peroxide-free Root Cover Up Spray 2.5 oz
  • TEMPORARY HAIR COLOR: TRESemmé Dark Brown Hair Root Touch-up lightweight formula instantly conceals unwanted gray roots and dries in seconds without leaving sticky residue behind
  • ROOT TOUCH UP: With this root cover up spray, your dark brown hair color looks refreshed and gray roots concealed lasting through to your next wash
  • HAIR COLOR TOUCH UP: This root concealer spray nozzle provides targeted application for instant root coverage and gray coverage in the areas you want to conceal
  • SEMI PERMANENT HAIR COLOR: this hair root touch up provides temporary hair color free of ammonia, peroxide and synthetic dyes
  • ROOT COVER UP SPRAY: Our root cover up sprays are smudge-proof and dries in just one minute for easy application, so you can spray and get going
SaleBestseller No. 3
Clairol Root Touch-Up Temporary Concealing Powder, Dark Brown Hair Color, Pack of 1
  • Precision coverage for gray hair on the go with our multi-use powder and application brush
  • Concealing powder blends naturally with your existing hair color and is available in 6 different shades
  • Use it to cover single strands, touch up your temples, refresh your root line, or even define your brows
  • Each package lasts approximately 40-60 applications and washes out with shampoo

Coloring Grey Roots

Grey hair is hair which has lost its pigment entirely. This means it soaks up dye in a different way to hair which retains its regular color. For example, if you’re a redhead with gray roots and you use the same box of dye all over your head, you might end up with bright pink roots.

If you have gray streaks running through your hair, or if your roots are starting to grow through gray, you’ll need to take a different approach to dying your hair.

  • Pro Tip: Use your gray hairs as a guideline natural highlights. Select a shade that is one step lighter than your natural hair, and use it to cover the grays only. They’ll act as great natural highlights, and you can still cover up the gray if you don’t want it to show.

You can also use a deeper color on your gray roots, to better blend them in with your natural hair. This will prevent the roots from looking a lot lighter than the rest of your locks and will create a natural, subtle looking variation that covers the grays up.

Experimenting with semi-permanent dye is also a great way to cover up the grays. Or you could use a dye that has been specially formulated to cover them up, with a brush to help you apply the dye at the roots only.

My Hair Has Turned Orange After Dying

If you’re trying to dye your hair blonde, or if you’re using bleach to lighten your hair, there’s a chance it can turn a vibrant shade of orange. Orange hair can look stylish – but if it’s not the look you intended, you probably want to know how to get rid of it without ruining your hair!

The main reason why your hair might turn orange during the dye process is that your hair wasn’t sufficiently lightened. When you’re dying your hair blonde, you need to strip out all the red pigment – otherwise, it mixes with the yellow in the dye and causes that unwanted orange tinge.

If you’re trying to go blonde from a much darker color, it’s recommended that you take it in steps over a number of weeks. Use bleach and other lightening treatments to reach lighter colors gradually. Eventually, you will be able to use a blonde dye and achieve the look you want.

What should you do when your hair goes orange after dying?

If you’ve fallen into the trap of trying to go blonde too quickly and ended up with orange locks, you have three options:

  1. Tone out the orange in the hair. You may have heard that people with blonde hair should use purple to tone their hair and prevent brassiness. For orange, you need to be looking for a blue toner. The blue toner will end up correcting the orange to an ashy light brown color. It’s not the perfect result if you were aiming for blonde, but it’s better than bright orange. It also gives your hair time to recover before you try again!
  2. Go blonde. Why not stick to the original plan? Wait a week from your last hair dye efforts and apply more bleach. This should help the hair get to the yellow stage you need to achieve to go blonde properly. Rinse out the bleach after 20-30 minutes, and you should now have a bright yellow head of hair. Great! This means you’re just one step away from the blonde you wanted. Now all you need to do is tone it with a blonde dye. Make sure you stock up on purple shampoo to keep your blonde hair maintained one you’ve achieved the right shade.
  3. Go for a darker color. Maybe your orange hair debacle has put you off the idea of going blonde. In this case, you can simply dye over the orange locks with a darker color. Any color that is darker than the orange you currently have will cover it sufficiently. You could go chestnut brown, dark red or even jet black.

All of these three options should help you get rid of the orange hair and return to a more natural look. If you’re in any doubt about what to do, speak to a professional stylist for their verdict.

My Hair Color Is One-Dimensional

At-home hair dye kits are never up to the same standard as a professional salon color. They’re a quick solution and a great way for those who can’t afford regular salon treatments to achieve the look they want. But they don’t always produce authentic, natural-looking color. Often the result of home dyes can appear flat, one-dimensional, and almost like a wig.

Out-of-the-box dyes that you can use at home often contain just one color. When you go to a salon, the colorist will use a variety of very closely matched colors to create a look with more body and depth. If you think about it, no one has hair that’s just one color all over their head. It’s a complex blend of hundreds of different shades that combine to create a look that appears natural.

So what can you do if you’ve ended up with hair that looks one-dimensional?

Why are my roots lighter than my hair color?

In the short-term, the best way to cover up the fact that your hair color has no depth is to add depth in other places – like the texture. Rather than wearing your hair straight, grab the curling tongs and add some body and movement that way. Make sure you add a shine serum to reflect the light and draw attention away from the fact that your hair color is flat and unnatural.

If you’re just about to dye your hair and want to avoid a one-dimensional disaster, you should change the way you apply the dye. Most people start at the front of their head when they apply the dye. After all, it’s the easiest place to reach. But the darkest part of your hair is supposed to be at the back. The sun often lightens the hair around your face, which leaves the hair at the crown and underneath a little darker.

Instead of starting at the front and letting that hair get overexposed to the dye, start at the back. Do your hairline last – this will create a more natural look, and you will avoid the dreaded ‘shoe polish’ look where the hair framing your face is a little too dark.

You could also head to a colorist and ask them to add some subtle highlights over the top of your at-home dye. Ask for some subtle balayage (hand-painted highlights) or some more traditional highlights throughout your hair. This will give it a little more body and depth and will look more natural than your at-home attempt.

Tips To Avoid At-Home Dye Disasters

  • Not all dyes are made the same – always read the instructions. Even if you think you’ve bought the same dye as always, the manufacturer could have tweaked the formulation. Make sure you follow the instructions to the letter every time.
  • Always look at the box chart, not the model. The hair color chart on the box will show the likely result of the dye depending on your existing hair color. Your own hair history is likely to be different from the model’s, so don’t presume you’ll end up with the exact shade as her!
  • Use a layer of petroleum jelly around your hairline to prevent dye from getting onto your skin. Dark patches or spots around your ears and forehead are a total giveaway that you’ve done a DIY dye.
  • Never skip the conditioner step. Most at-home dye kits will come with a conditioner to help seal the cuticle and finish the job. If you skip this step, the cuticle will remain open and the color will continue to develop. You could end up with a much darker color than you intended.


You’re always taking a slight risk when you dye your hair at home. You probably don’t have the expertise of a salon professional, and the dye itself is not as high quality. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect great results! If the instructions are followed properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t come out with the hair color you wanted.

In some cases, you might end up with roots that are a different color or the chemicals can make the scalp overly dry. This can happen for a multitude of reasons – it might be because your roots are gray, or the warmth of your scalp caused the dye to develop at a different rate. Whatever the reason, there are ways you can rectify the problem.

The same goes when you aim for blonde and end up with orange locks. It can feel disastrous at the time, but there are three options to restore your hair to a natural color and get rid of the vibrant orange look.

If you’re ever unsure about how to take care of your hair, or if you’re not sure about the dying process, it’s always worth going to a professional. It may cost a little more, but you can rest assured you won’t end up with hot roots, orange hair or one-dimensional color.

Last update on 2024-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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