Monday, 17 February 2014

Brunettes and greys

Louise Galvin is one of the UK’s leading colourists and daughter of the legendary Daniel Galvin at whose London salon she is based. I asked her why brunettes have difficulty when covering grey?

Brunettes find it much harder to cope with those first grey hairs. “Vegetable colours can end up grabbing the ends, highlights can go too brassy. What do you advise?

“I always carefully paint out those first few greys with a little colour for as long as possible. Less is more in this instance but too many colourists will insist on a full colour at the first sign of grey – too much and not necessary.”

What are the general guidelines in choosing colours when you have 50 per cent grey or more?

“I often do highlights and then paint colour between the lights to cover grey, using the lighter grey tone as your lightest ‘light’ to add contrast and allowing the grey to shine through as a natural tonal light.  Colour glosses really help at this stage of the greying process to blend and soften grey with a translucent colour.”

A bad hair colour can age you. For example, if you go too dark, it can emphasis lines and wrinkles. While going too light can drain you. How can you hold back the years?  

“Condition! Condition! Condition! Hair that is well conditioned and glossy is always more youthful. Try my Sacred Locks Intensive Treatment Masque (£26, once or twice a week. This really infuses the hair with moisture and nourishment. Improving the health of the scalp as well as nourishing hair and taming frizz, the silicone free formulation is created to deeply condition the hair without weighing it down. When colouring, we keep the hairline a shade lighter than the rest of the hair to ‘light’ the eyes and create a pretty soft halo effect.”  

Highlights or a single process? 

“Everyone’s hair is unique, I personally prefer to highlight hair for as long as possible. However as the hair becomes greyer (75 per cent or more) a single process is usually required to truly cover grey. But I still like to add some lights throughout to add movement.”  

What are the pitfalls of colouring dark hair at home?

Choosing the wrong colour. So many people think they are a light brown but are in fact a dark blonde. There is a big difference and we have so many people contacting us about our Louise Galvin Hair Colour Remove (£14.95, to help remove a too dark colour without damaging the hair.

“Also, many home colours are sold as semi-permanent when in fact they are permanent colours. Remember: if you have to mix two bottles together, this is a PERMANENT colour and will need to grow out rather than wash out or fade over time.”

If you do want to do it yourself, how do you choose the right shade from the rows of shelves in the supermarket/chemist?

“I would always recommend going to a salon for a professional consultation – most good salons offer a free colour consultation. Really listen to the colours they are suggesting and ask lots of questions.” 

What about touching up roots yourself in between salon visits? 

I haven’t yet found anything that is widely available that I think is great. But, if you find something that works for you, this is fine. Old traditional Roux sticks (£7), available from pharmacy shops such as John Bell & Croyden ( can be good. A great tip for ‘emergency cover’ is Batiste Dry Shampoo for Brunettes, Blondes etc (£3.99, Boots). These will help until you can get to your colourist.”

There are always stories in the press about the risk of using hair dye, especially if you are a brunette. Please comment.

“Unfortunately, hair colour is a chemical so it is important to always do a patch test, particularly if you have sensitive skin.”

How do you keep dyed hair healthy?

“Use gentle products that don’t strip colour. My own range of products, Louise Galvin Sacred Locks and Natural Locks ( are all formulated to protect colour and are free from SLS, parabens and silicone so they will not strip colour. And referring back to my Condition! Condition! Condition! mantra, if hair is nourished colour will be locked in more effectively.  I recommend to all my clients to use a treatment on their hair at least once a week.  My formulations are so natural the masque can be left on overnight, adding moisture and shine without weighing the hair down.”

Good and bad examples of brunettes? 

I think both Kate Middleton and Samantha Cameron are the perfect brunettes – their hair always looks glossy and vibrant.

“Meryl Streep in August : Osage County – the colour is so solid and draining, perfect for her character. There is no movement or tonal quality to the hair which is incredibly ageing and not glamorous.  

 “Cate Blanchett can also look very ‘washed out’ when playing characters with brunette hair as she has such alabaster skin.”

By Daralyn Danns