In the world of hair there are few better places to learn your craft than on the salon floor. For Louise Galvin that education started early, in the glamorous surrounds of her father Daniel’s London salon and subsequently at sessions for Vogue and on the fashion circuit. But up-dos, blow-outs, trims, cuts and sets revealed something was amiss.
Scrutinising the ingredients labels on her go-to products revealed that her locks were being made lank and suffocated by a complicated cocktail of chemicals. Let’s face it, we’ve all tried a new shampoo and on that first wash felt it transformed our hair, only for the effects to diminish wash after wash. In Louise’s case she felt the quality of her hair, as well as how it looked, was suffering: “I wanted to know why my hair felt like it did - it just didn’t feel like my hair. I met with a wonderful chemist and we looked into it and we realised the main culprit was silicone.”
It was this discovery that led to Louise’s mission to create her own range of haircare Sacred Locks - a range loved and adored by Cara Delevingne, Emily Blunt and Sophie Dahl, among many others: “That one moment was what started me on the journey to develop my own range. I was working in the US with dad and I was blinded by science and bombarded with everything new. I was taken in by that amazing first wash but then the second, third, fourth time your hair wouldn’t feel good at all. That’s when I realised it was build-up.”
So what should you look for, or avoid, when you’re next stocking up on hair care? “Anything that ends in ‘cone’ is a silicone and you want to stay away from that. It’s the build-up that can really start to damage hair because it’s a plastic and it creates a film. That film can actually create a barrier that prevents your hair dye from ‘taking’.” Furthermore, removing that silicone build-up proved Louise’s hunch was right: “Once we started developing products without silicone I used the samples and my hair felt back to normal and it didn’t feel weighed down - it felt like my hair again. I would never use a shampoo with silicone in again because it takes weeks to get it out of my hair.”
Louise’s years of research revealed that there’s another ‘nasty’ lingering in your shampoo and this is one she strongly advises we stay away from: “Sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) should be avoided. If nothing else it strips colour. I had a client whose colourist thought she was seeing another colourist because he couldn’t understand why her colour wasn’t fading; he assumed she’d had it coloured elsewhere between visits. She had to admit that the only change she had made was using my products. For me, that was truly wonderful feedback.”
Keeping it simple is at the core of Louise’s ethic and as well as finding natural, but no less effective, alternatives to chemical ingredients the range is divided into two camps: thick and curly, and fine hair. “It really was that simple because with fine hair all we want is more body and for it not to be weighed down and with curly hair we need nourishment.”
Avoiding SLS and silicones may sound obvious but once you start scouring those labels you may feel as though avoiding them is an impossible task: “I think people do shop around a lot more these days in an effort to be healthier and that goes for their beauty products too. I’d recommend shopping in Whole Foods or Planet Organic if it’s a more natural approach that you want to take.”
Louise’s ingredients list is one she makes very public on her website and takes great pride in: “In the original shampoo we used a much gentler sulphate than SLS, called ammonium lauryl sulphate, but as the years have gone on we have replaced this with new ingredients and an even kinder cleanser derived from coconut oil and sustainable palm oil. We have also added another natural ingredient, inulin, which helps to protect the ecosystem of the scalp”. Natural needn’t be less enjoyable and if you’ve ever used a natural shampoo and waited for a lather only for it never to foam, that’s not the experience you’ll have here. Even the scent is gentle, with the specific purpose of ‘not interfering with a woman’s perfume’. If you want your locks to be sacred then Louise’s range might just be the hair care you’re looking for…