special effects/raw and manic panic colors are hit-or-miss with me. bright reds never want to stay very long; i used to reapply sin-a-min or hot rod red color every two weeks or so (letting it sit for several hours) because it faded very quickly. however, i have had special effects' purple passion color in my hair for nearly a month, and it's still bright (it's initially quite dark, which shocked the crap out of me when it was rinsed out--it makes hair nearly black for the first couple of weeks). bleaching is generally not needed unless your hair is dark, or if you want a red color. showering using only shampoo before dying, and blowdrying until the hair is completely dry, should make the hair porous enough to take the dye for longer periods of time. i'll be experimenting with manic panic and jerome russel's lighter purples in upcoming months. never heard of stargazer, though, but i may have to order some in the future if it is long-lasting.