Q&A about hair colouring with Louise Galvin

Haircolour specialist Louise Galvin answered Mumsnetters' questions about haircare, haircolour and how to treat coloured hair with her natural products.

Louise specialises in achieving natural, gorgeous, shiny and  healthy hair using as little colour as possible to protect the integrity of the hair and make maintenance simple. She is committed to 'guilt-free luscious locks' and ensures her line is not tested on animals, contains only natural and naturally-derived ingredients including essential oils, extracts and vegetable-based moisturisers in place of harmful, artificial preservatives, harsh detergents and has 'no chemical nasties'.

Colouring hair | Hair and hormones | Greying hair | Hair condition

 

Colouring hair

Q. 2Clackety: What can be done about colour fading? 

A. Louise Galvin: Using a more gentle shampoo, like my SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) free formulations really helps to protect colour from washing out. Darker hues will always fade quickly if using harsh detergent-based cleansers. Also regularly using a treatment masque will improve the condition of your hair. When hair is dry from colouring or environmental damage it becomes porous so colour will leach out very quickly. By improving moisture levels in the hair colour is locked in for longer. You may also want to ask your colourist to mix you a colour gloss (a transluscent colour that washes out), to keep colour more vibrant between salon visits.

"Using a more gentle shampoo, like my SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) free formulations really helps to protect colour from washing out. Darker hues will always fade quickly if using harsh detergent based cleansers. Also regularly using a treatment masque will improve the condition of your hair."

Q. KristinaM: What's the best way of keeping my ash blond highlights from going yellow?

A. Louise Galvin: Hair that has been highlighted is more porous and therefore more likely to be affected by environmental and product build up. Another key factor that can leave hair looking brassy is the mineral deposits found in our water supply, including copper. It is a common problem for lights to look lacklustre or brassy after a few weeks. My Louise Galvin Vitox Highlight Brightener is a vitamin-infused detox for the hair that naturally lifts out both environmental and product build up whilst conditioning the hair. Recently described as Berocca for hair, this two-part treatment opens the hair cuticle, lifts out any build up and leaves hair clarified and ready to condition. It's great to use on highlights to refresh the ends (when highlighting hair, colourists usually only colour the regrowth to protect the condition of the hair).

Q. janesaysl: I have dark brown hair. My parting is quite severe and I find that my grey roots need doing every 2-3 weeks but I can't keep dyeing the roots that often as my scalp is really dry from it. Is it time to go lighter? What would you recommend? 

A. Louise Galvin: For easy maintenance it is always best to go lighter, no more than three or four shades lighter than your natural colour. Maintenance becomes easier as the demarcation between colour and grey hair is reduced. As you can imagine, if you keep your hair dark the grey will start to peak through within a week or so. Often grey hair is not all over so it is possible to keep some of the darker colours on the underside of your hair and past the crown, this gives that fabulous multi-tonal look that keeps your colour looking natural.

You also mention your scalp is dry, this can be caused by colour but also can be as a result of harsh detergents in your shampoos, central heating, ill health or stress. Try my Sacred Locks products which contain inulin, a chicory-derived probiotic to improve scalp health, and are formulated using natural ingredients which are more gentle on the scalp and your colour.

Q. RichTeaAreCrap: I've had my hair coloured and I am really pleased with the colour, but the highlights have been so drying and my hair is in bad condition now. What can I do to help it?

A. Louise Galvin: My mantra for youthful, shiny hair is condition, condition, condition! I recently won an anti-aging Beauty Bible award for my favourite product, my Intensive Treatment Masque for Fine Hair. As we age the texture of our hair changes dramatically along with the colour, with hair becoming coarser. Restoring moisture and shine leaves hair looking youthful. Avoiding products that are full of silicone also stops the hair from being weighed down and becoming dull over time. One should approach hair care as you would skincare as you get older, remembering to moisturise hair regularly using a twice-weekly intensive treatment, leaving on the hair for as long as you have time for. Top tip when using a treatment is to not comb through the hair until you are ready to rinse allowing the product to really penetrate the hair. Before rinsing, add water to the hair to loosen the product and then tease tangles out working from the bottom of the hair and working up to the root , preventing tearing and damage.

Q. ScienceRocks: It is so expensive to get your hair coloured at the salon, is there actually that much difference between home and salon colourants other than skill of application?

A. Louise Galvin: I feel strongly that colour should be applied professionally, this is a chemical process and can be extremely damaging to your hair when not used correctly. The key to professional colour is also colour selection and understanding your natural colour. All too often we see clients who have chosen the incorrect colour for their hair. So many people think of themselves as light brown, when in fact they are a dark blonde. They end up with a colour that is far too dark which drains colour from the skin and eyes. My father has a great saying, "The first thing you notice about bad hair colour is the hair colour, the first thing you notice about good hair colour are the eyes."  When your colour is right for you, your eyes will pop and your skintone glow. Also, salon-applied colour is often a blend of colours - half a tube of this, a quarter of that and an eighth of something else. This is how you achieve truly natural colour, natural hair almost has an iridescence to it and by blending several shades this can be achieved.

"At the very least go to a salon for a professional colour consultation, most good salons offer this as a complimentary service. Listen to the colours they recommend and look at the swatches so you understand more fully which home colour you should be buying in stores. Also when choosing home colour do look at what you are buying and what you are trying to achieve."

At the very least go to a salon for a professional colour consultation, most good salons offer this as a complimentary service. Listen to the colours they recommend and look at the swatches so you understand more fully which home colour you should be buying in stores. Also, when choosing home colour do look at what you are buying and what you are trying to achieve. Glosses give sheer colour and a vibrancy but wash out after six to eight washes. Semi-permanents, which give greater coverage, wash out over a longer period of time and permanent colour gives full coverage and must grow out (although darker hues will lose their intensity over time). One thing to watch out for is that some home colours state they are semi-permanent when in fact they are permanent – if you mix two bottles together in the preparation stage this is definitely a permanent colour and not semi-permanent.

Q. mipmop: I am 40 with non-coloured hair. I am getting a few greys and my hair is changing in texture and also becoming darker. How can I go lighter without damaging my hair texture, given that it's already becoming coarse? 

A. Louise Galvin: Many would see you as very lucky to not be going grey and to still have gorgeous thick locks, my hair is also getting darker which leaves me feeling flat and dull if I don't have my blonde streaks to give that sun-kissed feel. High-lift tinted highlights work very well on this darker hair but be sure that your colourist lifts them to a creamy or honey tone and not gingery tones and gets each highlight as close to the root as possible. You may well benefit from a keratin treatment too, to smooth those coarser hairs. Hormonal changes can affect both colour and texture of hair so make sure you are eating well, getting plenty of rest and getting the mineral and vitamin supplements you need. Weekly conditioning treatments will also help smooth those coarser textured hairs.

Q. whiskeytangofoxtrot: I'm short of time and funds to colour my hair but feel flat when I don't.
I've tried dying my hair at home and it doesn't look the same as it does in the salon, what should I do?

A. Louise Galvin: I truly believe that professional colour is just that, professional, and there is a difference in the end result when colour is applied in salon, but I do understand that it is expensive with so many other financial considerations with children. Do look out for model nights, all the top London salons have a model night whereby their apprentices require a model to practice their techniques at a nominal charge. This work is always supervised by a senior colourist, this is the junior apprentice's opportunity to learn and be educated and appraised. Don't worry, all good salons will only allow an apprentice to work on hair when they have achieved a level of competency so you have the benefit of expert advice at a fraction of the cost. I have also noted in some out-of-London salons Mad Mondays, historically many salons have been closed on Mondays but as more and more are open seven days a week there are quieter periods where you can receive a substantial discount on normal prices for both colour and styling. Aside from the obvious colour attributes a trip to the hairdressers will leave you feeling pampered and more glamorous!

 

Hair and hormones

Q. Asteria: I'm going through premature menopause and my hair is one of the most visible changes that I am finding quite upsetting. What can I use to give my hair a bit of body back without use of toxin-laden products? Is there any way I can keep it looking young - or at least in keeping with my age? Will colour help or hinder my hairs demise?

A. Louise Galvin: I would recommend my Sacred Locks for Fine Hair collection to give your hair some volume. The products are free from silicone, sodium lauryl sulphate and parabens. SLS, found in many other brands of shampoo, is a harsh detergent that strips the hair and scalp's natural oils which in turn over stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce excess oil, the result is greasy hair. By using more natural products with gentle cleansers you should find you have to wash your hair less frequently, but this can take time when starting to use natural haircare. Rather like good skincare, it takes time to see the results but do persevere as you will see an improvement in both hair and scalp health. 

For me, the condition of your hair can be the most ageing factor. If hair is dry and frizzy this will immediately add years. Try to use an intensive treatment masque once or twice a week to restore moisture and shine. My Sacred Locks Intensive Treatment Masque for Fine Hair or Thick and Curly Hair really help to put back lost moisture and condition. The great thing about silicone-free products is that there is no build up, they simply condition where required and the rest rinses away.

The causes of hair loss in women can be varied and complex; genetics, nutritional deficiencies, stress (both internal and environmental ) and hormonal fluctuations can be at play. With the approach to the menopause typically beginning at 40, hormonal fluctuations may be implicated. Proper thyroid function is also crucial for the hair growth cycle. Stress and nutritional deficiences should also be addressed. The role of iron deficiency in hair loss cannot be underestimated and it is important to have a serum ferritin blood test to assess whether an iron deficiency is present and if so corrected. Ferritin refers to the body's iron stores and it is not routinely measured in a full blood count. Research has shown that ferritin needs to be at a particular optimum level to stimulate hair growth (70 ug/L)1. In addition, the amino acid L-lysiene is required for its uptake and vitamin C enhances optimum absorption of iron.

Q. Fizzyplonk: I think my hair has lightened a couple of shades from near-black to brown after having my two children. Am I imagining this or could it be related to ageing? Should I go lighter as I get older anyway?

A. Louise Galvin: It is quite possible that your hair is lighter after having your children. The hormonal changes that occur both during pregnancy and menopause can change the colour, volume and texture of hair leaving you with darker, lighter, curlier or finer hair.

I do normally recommend to most people that they go lighter as they get older, simply to blend grey and reduce the demarcation between grey roots and coloured hair making maintenance much easier. As we get older our eyes, lips and skintone tend to fade over the years and grey hair is part of the fading process. It is so much more flattering to have a lighter colour to frame the face than a dark colour which drains your colour. All too often we try to recapture the hair colour of our youth which no longer suits us. Gradually go lighter as maintenance of greys will be much easier, the regrowth blends against the softer, lighter grey hair.

"I do normally recommend to most people that they go lighter as they get older, simply to blend grey and reduce the demarcation between grey roots and coloured hair making maintenance much easier. As we get older our eyes, lips and skintone tend to fade over the years and grey hair is part of the fading process. It is so much more flattering to have a lighter colour to frame the face than a dark colour which drains your colour."

Q. gildedlily: I'm 42 and have noticed in the last year my hair has been falling out a lot more. It's not really thin and I don't have any bald spots but it is a bit worrying. Is this just down to age, home dying or a lack of regular cuts?

A. Louise Galvin: Hair loss is a complex matter and as we approach our 40s (and the menopause) this rate of hair falling out can increase quite significantly. I will keep this as simple as possible but will include the advice of my fabulous nutritionist Jackie McCusker whose area of expertise is in trying to identify the biochemical imbalances that are resulting from factors such as nutritional deficiencies, stress, toxicity, hormonal imbalances etc. These imbalances are implicated in a wide range of health problems (including hair loss), particularly as we age. 

Generally speaking, women reach the peri-menopausal stage from 40 onwards, and in some this can occur earlier, as early as in your 30s. Hair loss is often associated with abrupt shifts in hormonal levels and change associated with childbirth and menopause.

From 40 onwards (or earlier in some cases), women reach the peri-menopausal stage of their lives and there can be a long transition to full menopause. Over this time there is a sharp decline in both oestrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones are not only important for reproduction but also other regulatory functions in the body including hair growth. When these levels drop there can also be an imbalance of testosterone levels (commonly thought of as the male hormone but also produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women), resulting in either a decline or excess of testosterone, both states have an negative impact on hair growth resulting in hair loss.

If like me you prefer a more holistic and natural approach to realigning your hormonal balances whilst avoiding HRT, I would recommend seeing a qualifed nutritionist and/or herbalist. Jackie McCusker advises me on all things nutritional. Her key recommendations in terms of nutrition and hair health are to include good quality protein sources in your diet. Examples include organic fermented whole soy bean products like tempeh, natto, miso - these are rich in natural compounds called isoflavones which can be beneficial when eaten in moderation.

Other brilliant sources of protein are eggs, nuts and seeds, and organic lean meats. In addition, a diet rich in essential fatty acids found in oily fish and eaten once or twice a week (mackerel and salmon are great but avoid tuna as this is high in mercury). Foods rich in the important B vitamins include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, poultry, fish, shellfish, red meat and legumes. Fill up on rainbow coloured vegetables that are full of beta carotene, lush green brassicas rich in vitamin C, A and beta carotene will all improve the health of your hair through their antioxidant effects and promote healthy hair growth through their role in the production of collagen. Iron is an essential nutrient for hair, so it's worth remembering to ensure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods including organic lean meat, vegetables such as beetroot, eggs, lentils and dried prunes.
  

Greying hair

Q. Princesspond: I used to have my hair highlighted but I have a patch of grey that was very resistant to the dye. Is there something that could be done in the salon to cover grey that isn't an all over colour? 

A. Louise Galvin: It is possible to cover but this particular piece of hair will require a permanent colour, with glosses and semi-permanents you get more of a blended coverage than full coverage. Colour-resistant grey does require a bit of time, particularly if this is the only part of your hair that requires the permanent colour, but the results are worth the extra effort. Sometimes with grey hair that is resistant to colour, it is necessary to brush on more colour at the backwash after the first rinsing of the colouring process to achieve full coverage. A good colourist should always check that grey is fully covered and know that sometimes a little more time and attention is needed.

"Sometimes with grey hair that is resistant to colour it is necessary to brush on more colour at the backwash after the first rinsing of the colouring process to achieve full coverage. A good colourist should always check that grey is fully covered and know that sometimes a little more time and attention is needed."

Q. CominThroughTheWry: I have greying hair and have dyed it fairly dark for years to hide the roots, but the last couple of times my hairdresser has lightened the base shade and put some highlights through. This quickly looks brassy and I fear it looks cheap. Can hair be coloured grey or can you suggest colours to help me look like me again? I am in my 40s, with olive skin and dark brown eyes. 

A. Louise Galvin: It is not really possible to dye hair to look grey, sometimes a very ash blonde can look grey and with a rinse takes on the hue of silvery hair but this is damaging (the bleaching process), to the hair and certainly does not look natural. The trick as I mentioned before is to go lighter over time, high-lifting tints are more gentle on the hair and it is possible to paint out the grey between the lights. As the grey hair increases (as it undoubtedly will) it is necessary to tint the base tone to your natural colour and then highlight over, but the longer you can avoid that the better as maintenance increases once you start having to cover re-growth every four weeks. You could ask your colourist to mix you a gloss, which I have spoken of before. This is a sheer colour that gives shine and adds intensity to your colour, evening out the brassy tones. It won't cover grey and washes out over time but if you want vibrancy and depth of colour a gloss will give you that.

Q. DorisIsALittleBitPartial: I'm about 80% grey but my natural colour and the dye I use is a dark chestnut. My hair looks fantastic when it is newly coloured, but after a few weeks the colour starts to fade, there is build up of colour on the ends and the roots look very obviously dyed where the colour hasn't built up on the newer growth. And then there is the stripe of grey before I get my next colour done, which is every four weeks. What can I do to keep the colour looking newly done and what can I do to cover the grey regrowth between appointments?

A. Louise Galvin: A great little product to keep those greys at bay between salon visits is Cover Your Grey for Women, a mascara like product available online at Amazon and in some pharmacies. You simply comb on to the grey root to hide the grey until you can get back to the salon for your colour. You may also like to use my Louise Galvin Hair Colour Remover before your next colour. This dissolves the last layer of colour. The formulation reduces the colour particle size allowing you to rinse old colour away, it will not remove all the colour from the ends but should lift some. This will give you a good platform to re-colour but remember your hair is porous from the many times you have dyed your hair before, so the new colour will grab more quickly and may look darker. To avoid heavy ends, cover the root area and regrowth allowing to process and then for the last 10 minutes massage colour through to ends this should help to avoid a banded look and give you a more even colour.

Q. whattheseithakasmean: Is there any hair dye that really covers white (not grey) hair?

A. Louise Galvin: Both L'Oreal and Wella Professional Permanent colour should cover both grey or white hair. Grey hair is hair that has lost its pigment and requires a full coverage colour. It may be that your colourist is not leaving the colour on for long enough and it is necessary to sit under a heat lamp while the colour is processing to ensure full coverage. As I have explained in a previous answer it is possible that areas that are very colour resistant may need to be painted over for a second time at the backwash after the first shampoo. This should help to cover the most persistent white or grey hair.

Q. daftbesom: I'm 51 with a Mediterranean complexion and very dark, naturally curly hair which I don't want to straighten at all. I have a few greys which I want to cover so I dye my hair. I asked my hairdresser about highlights but she advised against them as it would mean bleaching my hair. I wouldn't mind keeping my natural colour if I could just cover the greys. Any advice?

A. Louise Galvin: The high-lifting tinted highlights I talked of in an earlier post can be used to highlight hair to soft caramel and honey tones without using pure bleached lights. This protects the integrity of the hair and will not over dry hair. Bleached lights on dark Mediterranean hair can leave you with very orangey or yellow streaks which do not look natural. I would recommend framing the face with a few lights to begin with. To cover the greys a subtle painting of a permanent tint in your natural base colour should disguise those and avoid the block colour. You should try to avoid going more than tow to three shades lighter than your natural colour. Highlights also create movement through the hair and the re-growth is far more subtle and less damaging to the hair. My philosophy is 'less is more' so try to keep colour to a minimum while you can and the greys are not causing you too much of a problem.

 

Hair condition

Q. TweedAddict: My main issue is split ends and condition. No matter what products I use or if I stay away from heat, it doesn't seem to make much difference. I have regular hair cuts, but my hair doesn't grow. I would love to know how to get some growth and a better condition. 

A. Louise Galvin: Condition can be greatly improved using a regular conditioning treatment to nourish hair and restore moisture and shine. You will see in other responses I talk about my Natural Locks Deep Conditioning Treatment and Sacred Locks Intensive Treatment Masque containing inulin, a prebiotic that improves scalp health. My products are free from silicones which dry the hair and make it brittle which can exacerbate breakage and split ends. Remember when combing hair after washing to always use a wide toothed comb and tease out tangles starting from the ends, working out any tangles or knots. So many people drag a comb from the root down the hair shaft, this can tear hair and certainly damages the elasticity of hair. At home we all use Tangle Teezers too, these plastic brushes are great to use on the scalp to stimulate circulation which in turn promotes healthy hair growth.

Another great beauty tip to keep hair healthy is sleeping on a silk pillowcase. Although a little expensive they can really help to prevent breakage and it's good for the skin too as they help to prevent wrinkles, so put it on your birthday or Christmas list. I like Gingerlily's Beauty Box Silk Pillowcase at £39. Also see my other posts about nutrition and mineral supplements to treat your hair from the inside out. Healthy hair needs to be approached holistically.

Q. KittieCat: I have tried products galore to make my hair look healthier and shinier but to no avail. Overall I'm happy with my colour as it's naturally a bit streaky, but would I need to dye and highlight to maintain the tones in my hair or is there another way to use colour to achieve shine?

A. Louise Galvin: My Vitox Highlight Brightener works as a detox in the hair. So many hair products, both haircare and styling, contain silicone which is an occlusive plastic that coats the hair, building up on the hair cuticle leaving hair weighed down and dull. If you think of hair like a wooden floor that requires wax polishing, eventually the wax builds up leaving the wooden floor looking dull and grubby. The only solution is to strip back the wax to reveal the wood's natural beauty and start over. This is exactly what happens with your hair. The silicone found in your shampoos, conditioners and styling products builds up over time and needs a clarifying treatment to remove it and leave hair truly clean. A unique two-part chemistry that naturally aids oxygen and vitamin uptake whilst dissolving environmental or product build-up. The combination contains vitamins C and E, powerful antioxidants for healthy hair, vitamin B3, necessary for healthy hair growth, vitamin B5 to maintain moisture levels and vitamin B6, an essential element to maintain the health of your hair.

"If you think of hair like a wooden floor that requires wax polishing, eventually the wax builds up leaving the wooden floor looking dull and grubby. The only solution is to strip back the wax to reveal the wood's natural beauty and start over. This is exactly what happens with your hair. The silicone found in your shampoos, conditioners and styling products builds up over time and needs a clarifying treatment to remove it and leave hair truly clean."

Q. mrscumberbatch: I'm trying to grow out a red toner that was in my very thick hair but it's making my hair very dry at the ends. I've tried all sorts of hair conditioning treatments and yet still it looks dry. My hair is in generally good condition and I've never had this problem before, where should I start with it?

A. Louise Galvin: Do try my Intensive Treatment Masque for Thick and Curly Hair, which is infused with natural citrus aromatherapy oils, this will help to restore some of the moisture and shine. My treatment can be used in place of your normal conditioner to replenish lost moisture, it's a real hair quencher. To neutralise the red tones you could ask your colourist to use an ash-based toner until you feel the red has dissipated. Red pigment unfortunately is the most stubborn to remove.

You may also like to consider a keratin treatment at a salon. My father's salon, The Daniel Galvin Salon in London, regularly carries out this treatment on women who want to rid themselves of frizz and make care and maintenance easier. Be sure to choose a reputable salon as over-keratinising hair can leave it brittle. These treatments are no longer used to achieve poker-straight hair but instead make unruly thick, curly or frizzy hair more manageable, lustrous and shiny. Although, do make sure if you have a big event you book your appointment with three or four days down time as you are not permitted to wash your hair for three days after the treatment. You can also use my products after the treatment as they are free from SLS.

Q. Loveeggs44: I work outside so my hair gets really dry and frizzy. However, if I use conditioner too often my hair then gets really greasy - any suggestions?

A. Louise Galvin: It is a common misunderstanding that people with greasy hair should avoid conditioners. I have already discussed the benefits of using more gentle shampoos that are free from SLS which strips the natural oils from the hair and scalp and over-stimulates the sebaceous gland to produce more oil or sebum which makes the hair greasy very quickly. Also, when applying conditioner apply only to the mid-lengths and ends, avoiding the roots to help with this problem. All hair needs a conditioner to moisturise and nourish the ends for sleeker, shinier hair and to protect hair when combing. 

Q. WowOoo: I've got thin hair that looks oily if I don't wash it every day but I've been told that washing it daily is bad for it. Is this true? 

A. Louise Galvin: The post above really answers your question, by washing the hair every day you are actually perpetuating the cycle of grease/wash/grease. Using more natural products like my Scared Locks and Natural Locks lines that are gentle on hair and scalp reduces the overproduction of sebum or oil which in turn makes the hair greasy.

 

Competition

Louise Galvin is offering Mumsnetters the chance to win some Louise Galvin haircare and bodycare goodies including shampoo, conditioner, treatment masque and hand & body wash and lotion.

Louise Galvin has also provided a special voucher code offer for all Mumsnetters to receive 20% off of all product purchases made online before 30 November 2014. Just quote mumsnet before you make your purchase.

To enter the competition, simply answer the question below.

WIN! One lucky Mumsnetter will win a selection of Louise Galvin haircare and bodycare products.
 

 

Competition closing date: 28 November 2014

 

 

 

Last updated: almost 2 years ago