Photo: Franck Prevel/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Trading in your inky locks for fiery ones can be a bit tricky. The good news is, if you do it right, the results can be stunning. When choosing your new red shade make sure it's the right tone of red for your skin color. Cool skin tones require cool, violet-based reds, while warm skin tones need copper or auburn shades to rock a red hair color the right way.
Mix up your bleach powder and 20-volume developer in a color bowl. Stir that stuff good so you remove any and all lumps. Slip on your latex gloves to protect your tender digits.
Apply the bleach to all of the hair in ¼-inch wide sections. You'll first apply the bleach to the mid-shaft of the hair sections -- 1 inch from the roots and 2 inches from the ends -- to ensure your hair lifts evenly from root to tip. Since your roots will be warmer, thanks to heat from the scalp, and your ends more porous, you need to apply the bleach in stages.
Once the bleach is on the mid-shaft, you'll go back and apply to the roots and ends. When all the hair has bleach on it, place a plastic bag loosely over your head and start a timer for 20 minutes.
Now let that bleach lift your hair's pigment until it reaches a medium-brown color, with orangey-red tones (a level four on the color level chart). You'll want to lift your hair to this level because it will be light enough to take a great red hair color, but won't be so light that you'll have fried the heck out of your hair getting there. Continually check the hair for color every five minutes (bleach can work pretty fast). Rinse the bleach off when you get to this stage, regardless if you're timer has gone off or not.
Mix up a level five red hair color with 20-volume developer, according to the product directions, in the cleaned color bowl. Use the cleaned color brush to remove any lumps in the mixture.
Apply that red hair color just like you did the bleach -- mid-shaft, roots, then ends. Set a timer for 30 minutes, but this time let all the time expire before you rinse.
Rinse off the hair color when the time is up and slather your hair with a moisturizing conditioner. Your hair has been through a lot, so give it a break and let it have a good, long drink of conditioner (leave it on for a minute or two) before rinsing it off. Congrats! You should now have left that black color far behind for a fiery red hue.
Applying the bleach and color 1 inch from the scalp and 2 inches from the ends only applies if you're coloring medium to long-length hair. If you've got short hair, just apply the bleach and color from root to tip all at once.
For a subtle red color, choose a brownish-red or auburn hue. Go for a violet or copper hue if you want a more vibrant shade.
Trying to lift your hair more than four levels lighter with bleach in one session will likely cause your hair to dry out and break off. Don't say you weren't warned!