What does Pharrell, Kanye West and Jaden Smith have in common?

They’ve all rocked enviable colorful hair, from blondes, to greens to pinks, it’s as if these celebs have done it all. Because they have, through the expertise of their stylist and colorist, Vernon Scott, a NYC-based hair guru who also counts Zayn Malik as one of his clients.

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While coloring might change your entire attitude and brighten you mood, it’s probably the worst thing you can do to your hair. “After all, coloring your hair is very abrasive and you’re stripping pigment from your hair follicles,” says Vernon, to Very Good Light. He tells us that when it comes to bleaching your natural hair, you have to get to a point where you’re ready to lead follicles go. “You need to come to a point where it’s about aesthetics more than it is the health of your hair,” he says.

For guys like Jaden, that means going through an hours-long process of bleaching and coming back to brighten it more if the hair doesn’t respond the first time. Below, is everything you need to know about bleaching your natural hair for the first time, and the one step most are doing wrong.

Cut and style first

Ready to take a plunge into the bleaching pool? Cool. But if you do, Vernon says to remember to get the shape and style you want at least a day before you color. “A major part of coloring a lot of guys don’t know is styling and cutting it first, which prevents your scalp from being too agitated,” he says. “Bleaching is strong and you should take precautions to make it as easy as possible. Messing with your scalp will make it sensitive to any kind of bleach.”

Go the extra (moisturizing) mile

Days ahead of your color, try to prepare as much as you can with deep-conditioning treatments. A popular choice is Daily Damage Defense from Philip Kingsley, $27, a product especially for coarse hair. Simply scrunch into dry hair or apply throughout with wet. Do this at least three days before to strengthen your hair.

When you bleach do it in sessions

Unless you have no pain receptors, you’re probably going to want to bleach your hair in a series of days. The first two hours are going to turn it into a light yellow, but if you want a platinum, Vernon says to think about coloring like the process of tattooing. “When you want to go lighter or even lighter, you’re going to have to do it in sessions,” he says. Don’t forget that it’s also extremely painful as the bleach will burn your scalp. BE WARNED.

Kinky hair = more maintenance

For those with textured hair, you’ll need be a little more attentive. That’s because, according to Vernon, your hair is prone to being a little more fragile and drier. The more tightly curled, the less the hair is able to absorb natural oil. “Your hair could change textures completely, some hair can even turn into what Brillo Pad feels like,” he says. “The chemicals really do alter your hair shape, so don’t be surprised. If your hair has changed shape or form, don’t fret. Using a leave-in conditioner days after will bring it back to life.

Find a product that works for your hair type

“Not everyone is Odell Beckham Jr.,” says Vernon. “His hair is very textured and isn’t coiled or kinky.” For the rest, it’s about finding a hair product that styles and moisturizes, what Vernon says is a two-in-one. He’s keen on three categories: water, cream and oil-based products. To find what works for you, you really have to try the products out. “The great misconception is that one type of product will work with a specific type of hair, that’s not always the case.” To see which product works for you, Vernon says to go with a “wait and see” approach. “If your hair isn’t absorbing the product but is shiny on the outside, it’s not doing you any good. You have to find a product that helps with maintenance and the health of your hair. If healthy isn’t working you go on to the next.”

If worse comes to worst – chop it off

The luxury of being a celebrity means you can buzz off your hair whenever it’s bleached and dead. “Most of my clients like Jaden will bleach their hair and start again with new hair,” he says. “Unfortunately there’s no way to get around it.” If your blonde hair is falling out, it’s probably a clear sign that it’s time to move on. “Bleach is super damaging so if you’re experience your hair cutting off by itself, buzz it off and start over again.”

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