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Learn How to Fix Streaky Hair at Home (and Prevention Tips)

Cute African American female with dark brown hair with orange tones wearing rose-colored glasses.

You did your research, bought your supplies, and did your best to follow the instructions to a T…and still ended up with streaky highlights.

You may have panicked or shed a few tears – most of us have been there.

Unfortunately, as is common with at-home hair color, we imagine dimensional, even, lustrous color, but often get much less. So, what do you do with your streaky curls?

Luckily, there are many things you can do to fix streaky hair, and we will reveal all of your options in this article. Without further ado, let’s learn how to fix streaky hair at home.

Why Your Hair Is Streaky?

Blissful woman with brassy tones on naturally curly hair wearing a green t-shirt and blue jean shorts.

One of the first questions people have after looking in the mirror and noticing a disaster on their head is, “Why did this happen?”

Streakiness occurs for various reasons, and knowing about these causes can help you prevent a similar result in the future. In this section, we will give you several reasons why people get the dreaded streaks. 

  • You colored thick sections of hair instead of thin ones. If you want natural-looking streaky highlights, your sections should be no larger than two or three millimeters.
  • You left the bleach or color on for too long. When there is a stark contrast between your lowlights and highlights, you tend to get that tiger stripe look.
  • The color placement was wrong. 

If you made one of the above mistakes, don’t feel down on yourself. Know that it’s normal for DIY home colorists to mess up in these areas. 

What matters most is what you do after realizing that your hair is streaky. That’s what we’ll get into in the following sections.

Black woman with warm tones on her 3C natural curls wearing casual clothes while preparing to skateboard.

How To Fix Streaky Hair

Though the causes of streaky hair may seem a bit complicated, the fixes are relatively straightforward. To tone down the streakiness, you will need to apply a hair dye to your roots and blend it toward the ends.

Here’s how to do it: 

1. Examine Your Hair

Checking the condition of your hair before you start is essential. You need to assess the condition of your hair to ensure that you don’t incur any damage as you fix the streakiness.

Knowing how compromised your hair is before fixing your streaky hair will also help determine which type of dye you should use. 

  • If your hair is in relatively good condition, with no severe split ends or dryness, you can use either a permanent hair dye or a semi-permanent hair dye.
  • If your hair is compromised, you should opt only for a semi-permanent hair dye to fix the issue.

2. Select Your Hair Dye

In the previous step, we introduced the two choices you have when fixing your streaky hair: semi-permanent and permanent hair dye

The choice is yours, but make sure that the shade you choose matches the base color of your hair. The base color is the darkest color on your head. 

3. Get Your Space Ready for the Process

Since hair color can be messy, put on a shirt that you don’t mind ruining, put down a few towels where you think dye may spill, and ensure that there is proper ventilation in the room that you’ll be working in.

4. Mix Up Your Dye

If you’ll be using a semi-permanent color to correct your streaks, you will not need to mix your dye with anything. Just dispense the dye into a plastic mixing bowl and stir it up a little bit with your tinting brush.

Semi-permanent colors are direct dyes that you can apply straight out of the box/tube. If you will be using permanent hair color, you need to mix the dye with a developer to activate it.

Reference the instructions on the packaging to determine what strength developer is recommended. The typical ratio you should follow for streak correction is one part hair dye to one part developer. 

5. Apply the Dye

Since you are just trying to create a natural gradient to disguise the streaks, you will need to use a rat tail comb in addition to your tinting brush to apply the dye.

Part out a small section of hair, apply the dye evenly at the roots and then comb It downward with the rat tail comb. Repeat this step for all of your hair.

The amount of dye you use at the roots of each section will depend on how much coverage you need to disguise the streaks. If your streaks are extremely light or bright, you’ll need to use more dye at the roots than someone who has subtler streaks.

6. Leave the Dye on Your Hair

Leave the dye on your hair for anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. Once time is up, rinse it out, apply your after-color conditioning treatment, and enjoy your less-streaky hair.  

Note: If you use semi-permanent hair dye, you may not get the coverage you want the first time around. If that happens, you can repeat the process with more semi-permanent dye. 

Young black female with ashy tones in naturally curly hair strands wearing rose-colored eyeglasses.

How To Prevent Streaky Hair Going Forward

The process to fix highlights (or streaky hair) is not a monumental task, you can still save time and money by preventing tiger stripes in the first place. So, in this section, we like to give you actionable tips you can use to avoid a streaky disaster in the future.

Always Highlight Super Thin Sections

Unless you’re going for a 90s-inspired stripy look, you’ll want to highlight only super-thin sections.

A great way to ensure that your sections are small enough is to part out two-inch horizontal sections of hair and weave the end of a rat tail comb in and out of the section as you go from one end to the other.

The sections should be no wider than a few millimeters. 

Mixed raced lady with bad highlights planning to fix streaky highlights with a color correction shampoo.

Don’t Overload Your Highlights with Bleach

You don’t need a ton of bleach to get impactful highlights. All you need is a thin, even layer of bleach on each section.

Use your tinting brush for precision and try your best not to go overboard. There are types of hair lightening techniques that require a hefty amount of bleach, but natural-looking highlights is not one of them. 

Hold Your Hair with Tension as You Apply the Bleach

Since you want the bleach to be applied as evenly as possible, you’ll need to hold each section of hair taut as you apply it. It’s unnecessary to pull hard on the hair, but there shouldn’t be any slack as you use your tinting brush to apply the bleach. 

Black woman with a noticeable streaky hairdo treated with clarifying shampoo.

Follow the Instructions on Your Hair Dye or Bleach

If you choose a hair dye that is supposed to turn your hair light brown, but you leave it on too long, and it ends up dark blonde against your dark brown hair, you could end up with tiger stripes.

So, you’ll want to ensure that you follow all of the instructions on the hair dye and bleach packaging. They should tell you which developer level to mix the hair dye with, how long to leave the color and bleach on your hair, etc.

It’s in your best interest to follow it all to the letter so there will be no surprises.

If you heed the tips presented in this section, you will be able to avoid those horrible streaks in the future (and hopefully never need to fix bad highlights).

Related Articles

There you have it, what causes streaks, how to fix streaky hair, and how to prevent it in the future. We trust that if you follow the tips and tricks presented in this article, you’ll be able to get rid of those streaks in as little as an hour. Here’s to loads of stripe-free days!