It’s Day 2 of Biorequiem Beauty Week ™, and I have doggedly scrolled to the very beginning of my Formspring questions page, selecting all the non-overlapping beauty questions I could manage to respond to in a relatively sane and timely fashion. Having done so, I realized that there are still too many and decided to make hair today’s topic, because, well, that covers over 65% of the beauty questions I’ve received in the past year. Not answering hair questions for at least one year, so I hope you get your answers here.

I’ve always wanted to dye my hair, but I’m afraid that it won’t suit me. How do you decide whether a color will look good before you go ahead and dye your hair?

There are a few ways to approach this decision. You might be tempted to try testing hair colors in Photoshop, but don’t. It’s actually the least accurate method of matching color to skin tone, because no photo will capture your skin and all its nuances correctly. Instead, try on a few wigs at a costume shop, or hold up a few of those little hair color swatches to your face, and check yourself out in the mirror.

Additionally, there are certain ground rules I’ve learned to stick to over the course of mine and my friends’ adventures in hair science. Here’s a super-basic breakdown of what to avoid in rainbow hair colors, organized by four skin tone groups. Of course there is a vast variety of skin colors out there, but this system covers quite a few.

Cool pale
Avoid: cherry or candy reds, as they will make your skin ruddy.
Embrace: “Natural” and orange reds, very dark cherry reds, blonds, grays, greens, especially emerald and blue-based greens, all blues, purple, pink, bright yellow, orange.

Medium-pale with olive undertones to Medium-dark
Avoid: yellowy blonds, yellowy greens, “natural” reds, orange reds, candy reds, and turquoise-based blue.
Embrace: white and ash blond, cool silver, cobalt, violet, purple, cherry and other blue-based reds, emerald green.

Congratulations, you can get away with anything!

Could you point me in the direction of a very easy to understand, step-by-step hair dye tutorial? It’s going to be my first time dealing with dyes and I’m going dark brown to blue.

You’re in for quite the experience, but are also in luck, because once you get there, the maintenance will be less painful, than if you were going light.

1. Bleach
I suggest Sally’s 40 Volume Creme Developer and L’Oreal Quick Blue powder bleach. Mix them together in a non-metallic bowl until your bleach has the consistency of cake batter [not frosting]. Wearing latex gloves, use a tinting brush, and brush on bleach, root to tip, in sections, starting at the back of your head. Do not rub into scalp, and expect your scalp to tingle anyway. Leave bleach on for 45 minutes, then rinse with warm water, and shampoo well. Do not condition yet. Is your hair this color?

If so, it’s light enough to dye. If not, repeat step 1, leaving the bleach mixture on for no more than 30 minutes. Check it at 20, just to make sure – sometimes that’s enough.

2. Dye
Just follow the directions here. You don’t have to leave the color in overnight – two hours is just fine!

My natural hair is black. how do i reach white hair?

I mostly answered this here. Since then, I’ve also discovered all sorts of toners, beyond just toning shampoo, which do wonders. Wella’s White Lady and Silver Lady are amazing. The keys are to use a mild developer with your toner, and to wait  a few days between bleaching and toning, in order to let your hair recover. Brace yourself: having naturally black hair may require up to 5 bleaching sessions, lots of repairing hair masks, and saintly patience. Also, maintenance positively sucks, proceed with caution.

I absolutely adore your white hair and I was wondering how you managed to get the blue out. I tried to bleach mine out and it just went in further and further into my cuticles. I think I should give up.

Honestly, it took forever. Months!

I just let my hair fade, and fade, then I tinted it a frosty periwinkle, then I let it fade some more until I bleached the ever-living fuck out of it. It was quite faded by the time I picked up the bleach, so my advice? Patience, young padawan. Shampoo, condition, enjoy all the variations, until your roots are an inch and a half to two inches. Then try bleaching again, and so forth. I’m actually looking at undergoing this process again fairly soon, as I’m planing on transitioning into something very streaky in a month or two. Good luck!

Which leave in products / hairspray do you use to give your hair such volume?

My holy grails, currently: Big Sexy Hair Spray N’ Play for lots of control and volume + Schwarzkopf Professional Dust N’ Powder for texture without stiffness.

When you went from blue hair to silver, was it really damaged? What did you use to revive it?

It was, and I did lots of hot olive oil masks. Just warm up a few tablespoons of olive oil in the microwave, then get it all over your hair whichever way suits you best – just saturate it well. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap, and then with a towel. Leave on for up to three hours, then shampoo and condition.

Also, I routinely saturate my hair with jojoba oil before shampooing, which does actual magic, and avoid blow-drying at all costs.

Is your hair naturally curly? Have you experienced loss of curl from bleaching and what would you do about it?

Yes and yes. See above.

You’ve had your hair in many colors; how do you keep your eyeglasses clear of stains?

I cover the rims with Vaseline when dyeing.

I’m worried about dyeing my hair in sections. how do you ensure your dyes stay separate if you’re dying more than one color?

See this and elaborate. Remember, if you’re using several vegetable/semi-permanent dyes, they will all bleed together a little during shampooing, unless you have the time and patience to wash each section separately!

The best hair straightener in your opinion?

I swear by my 1″ Revlon Perfect Heat ceramic straightener.

I’m a Korean male with a typical square head and exaggerated square jaw. Something atypical? I have naturally wavy/curly hair that rivals Mufasa, King of the Jungle. Do u have any tips on how how to tame the mane, or maybe suggest a decent haircut/style?

Could you please get the Eraserhead cut? I’m only half joking, actually. If a ‘fro or hobbit ringlets aren’t your thing, you might do well with a long undercut. Alternately, you could go short, clean-but-fun, or even dreadlocked! My suggestions:

I will soon be shaving my head for a cancer fundraiser to around this length, and I was wondering how you dealt with it when it reached 1-4 inches long? (thanks!)

That’s noble of you, congratulations! And there is so much fun to be had with short hair! So much, in fact, that I don’t even know where to start. Also, I’m zapped from answering all these other questions, so… Let Mia Farrow from Rosemary’s Baby be your guide!