'Instinct told me the doctors were wrong'

by Catherine O'Brien for YOU Magazine first published 12th October 2014

Headaches, shaking, drowsiness – her son’s symptoms were deemed ‘probably nothing’ by his doctors but, as celebrity hair colourist Louise Galvin tells Catherine O’Brien, she knew they were signs that something was wrong. 

Louise at home with her children, from left, Ophelia, Daniel and Eleanor

Louise at home with her children, from left, Ophelia, Daniel and Eleanor

For most mothers of small children, late afternoon is when squabbles break out and tiredness and hunger levels reach a tipping point. In short, it is not normally the best time to conduct an interview. But Louise Galvin has insisted that 4pm is fine, and sure enough, when I turn up at the allotted hour, all is calm. Ophelia, seven, is about to begin a Kumon maths session, while Daniel, four, and Eleanor, two, are quietly enjoying a stopgap biscuit before tea. As for Louise, she projects such serenity in her loose-fitting shirt and skinny jeans, you’d think she’d just come in from a yoga session, rather than a full day at work.

Louise’s days are spent at the London salon owned by her father Daniel Galvin – the stylist credited with giving Twiggy her blonde crop, Princess Diana her highlights and a whole host of celebrities, from Sharon Osbourne to Nicole Kidman, their camera-ready tresses. As a hair colourist par excellence herself, Louise’s own clients include Samantha Cameron, Patsy Kensit and Sophie Dahl – all of whom value her ability to deliver not only fabulous-looking hair, but also a five-star relaxation experience.

Daniel now ‘leads a normal life'

Daniel now ‘leads a normal life'

Creating an aura of tranquillity is part of Louise’s professional tool kit and, at first glance, it is something she has seamlessly replicated in her home. She and her television executive husband Charlie Bracken live in a sumptuously renovated six-storey house in Kensington, where the neutral colour palette and elegant furnishings provide the perfect backdrop for their collection of 1950s abstracts. To almost any other visitor, it is a peaceful haven, but today Louise has invited me here to talk publicly for the first time about a painfully dark chapter in their lives.

Two years ago, Charlie and Louise sat before a consultant paediatrician and heard the news that every parent dreads – their son Daniel had a brain tumour. ‘When I think back to that moment, my overriding memory is of my legs buckling and panic invading my whole body,’ says Louise. ‘And even now, when I hold Daniel close, I feel tears welling up inside and tell myself we are just so lucky not to have lost him.’

Daniel is Charlie and Louise’s first child together. Charlie, 47, has four teenagers from an earlier marriage and similarly Louise has Ophelia, so their son’s arrival in 2010 cemented their blended family. And, until he was 17 months old, Daniel was the picture of blossoming good health. But in the early summer of 2012, Louise noticed that, despite the fact he had already been walking for four months, her son was struggling for balance. ‘He was also sleepier than usual and shaky when he woke up in the mornings,’ she recalls. ‘And he kept saying that his head hurt.’

Louise had only recently given birth to Eleanor and they were about to go on holiday, but she was concerned enough to take Daniel to their GP, who assured her there was ‘nothing to worry about’. She also, while taking Eleanor for a postnatal hospital check-up, sought a second opinion about Daniel. Again she was reassured that his symptoms were ‘probably nothing’ and she should keep an eye on him and bring him back if she continued to have worries.

Daniel was sleepier than usual and kept saying that his head hurt

The family went to Ibiza, where they have a villa, but the anxious niggle at the back of Louise’s mind would not go away. And, although Daniel was not overly poorly, he wasn’t himself either. On their return to the UK, Louise tried a different tack – she sought the opinion of a podiatrist who agreed that Daniel’s walking was ‘not great’, but like the doctors Louise had seen previously, suggested a watch-and-wait strategy. Finally a chance conversation with a friend led Louise to paediatrician Dr Michael Markiewicz at London’s Cromwell Hospital. ‘He said, “You are right, something is wrong,” and although in one sense, it was the last thing I wanted to hear, it was also a huge relief to know that we were now going to exhaust every avenue,’ she says.

Dr Markiewicz organised blood tests followed by a CT scan, which showed hydrocephalus – once known as ‘water on the brain’. And to find the cause of the hydrocephalus, Daniel then had an MRI scan, which showed a growth the size of a tangerine in his cerebellum – the part of the brain that plays a crucial role in motor control.

‘As soon as he got the results, he called us in and told us Daniel was going to need urgent surgery,’ says Louise. ‘And that was when our world shifted on its axis.’ Three days later, Daniel’s tumour was removed by an expert team in a six-hour operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The best news – which came with test results the following week – was that it was benign. 

Some of the incredible work done at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Louise and family outside their Kensington home

Louise and family outside their Kensington home

But still Daniel faced a long road to recovery. He needed to learn to sit, stand and walk all over again. He also developed posterior fossa syndrome, a temporary but distressing condition which, in Daniel’s case, caused spikes in his body temperature and mood swings. ‘He wouldn’t eat or drink and didn’t want anyone near him, which was very upsetting,’ says Louise. Six weeks later, as the family celebrated Christmas, Daniel finally had a smile on his face. ‘Only then did it feel like we were getting our little boy back at last.’

Almost two years on, Daniel is a happy, chatty boy who loves nothing better than running around with his sisters.

He is still working on his fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil, but otherwise, says Louise, ‘he leads a normal life’. However, the worrying times for Louise and Charlie are not completely over. Daniel has needed ongoing monitoring because surgeons were not able to remove his entire tumour. A tiny – 5mm – part of tissue remains, because, Louise explains, ‘it was in too awkward a place for them to get it out safely’. It means that Daniel must have regular scans to check for any regrowth – and initially the tumour did grow, although it has now stalled. 

Louise with her husband Charlie

Louise with her husband Charlie

‘As each appointment approaches, I have sleepless nights, and the most frustrating thing of all is that we know this could have been avoided,’ she says. Doctors have told Louise and Charlie that had there been an MRI scanner in the operating theatre they would have been able to scan Daniel during surgery and press ahead with the delicate removal process, ensuring that he came out tumour-free. Theatre MRI scanners are available in some other UK cities, but there isn’t one in Great Ormond Street. ‘It’s all down to funding,’ says Louise. ‘They need £2 million and I am going to be relentless in raising that money so that other children and parents don’t have to suffer in the way we have.’

With her huge hazel eyes and honey-kissed hair, Louise may look irrepressibly girlish, but she talks like a woman who means business. ‘I’m a natural optimist, and professionally I’ve always relied on my training and experience,’ she says. ‘But I’m also at that age where I’ve started to appreciate the value of my intuition.’

Now in her mid-40s, Louise is the eldest of Daniel and Mavis Galvin’s three children. Her parents met while working as stylists in the same Knightsbridge salon and by the time Louise came along, Daniel, the son of a humble barber, was making his name as a protégé of the legendary Leonard. Louise’s childhood was always tinged with glamour – as a small girl, she remembers her father driving a Rolls-Royce – but she also grew up understanding that hard work was paramount. When she was nine, she remembers her father coming home in a beaten-up yellow Toyota and explaining that he’d sold the Roller because all his money was going into starting up his own business. ‘My dad is someone who would never spend more than he earns,’ she explains.

Consequently, although home for Louise and her brothers Daniel Junior, now 43, and James, now 39, was a luxurious five-bedroomed house in Hertfordshire and they attended private schools, they didn’t have a family holiday abroad for seven years. ‘And when we did finally go away to a hotel, we were banned from touching the mini bar,’ she recalls.

Even now, when I hold Daniel close, I feel tears welling up inside

While her brothers were mischievous, Louise was the responsible big sister. ‘I was a good girl who did her homework, respected authority and always did what she was told.’ From the age of 11, she worked in her father’s salon on Saturdays, starting as the cloakroom girl and eventually graduating to washing hair and assisting senior stylists. Although academically able (she acquired a degree in literature and sociology in her early 30s), she left school at 16 and initially worked for public relations guru Lynne Franks before, along with her brothers, gravitating towards the family business.

Louise is extremely close to her mother (who gave up hairdressing to raise her own children, but has always played a crucial background role in the running of the salon). ‘When Daniel was ill, she moved in with us and I couldn’t have got through it without her,’ Louise says. But her relationship with her father sounds more complex. ‘I love him very much, but I have never been a daddy’s girl. He was tough on me always. When I started out in the salon he instructed the receptionists that they were not to book me clients – I had to build my reputation by recommendation. With my brothers, it was the opposite – he wanted them kept busy all the time. I can’t explain why he was like that. There is a lot of him in me – we share the same drive – and maybe that is why we clash sometimes. But I still totally respect him.’

Daniel playing piano

Daniel playing piano

Her father’s exacting stance paid off in terms of Louise’s professional success. She built a network of clients and for a while her career took her to Canada, where she set up a Galvin franchise and trained a team of colourists. Back in London, she launched her own award-winning products – collaborating with a French chemist to banish all ‘nasties’, including parabens, petrochemicals and silicone, which, she points out, destroys our hair’s natural ability to shine. Her Sacred Locks range of shampoos and conditioners is made using only natural ingredients and has been endorsed by many of Louise’s celebrity clients, including Cara Delevingne and Amanda Holden.

On a personal level, however, things didn’t always go so smoothly. In the mid-noughties, Louise had a brief, disastrous marriage which fell apart two weeks after the birth of Ophelia. Again, Louise’s father took a tough line. ‘I was back at work after eight weeks’ maternity leave. I had a mortgage to pay and he made it clear I had to be self-sufficient.’ It was a crunch time for Louise and she sought counselling to get her through it. ‘I have learnt that I don’t have to be gung ho and that I should give myself time to think things through.’

After three years of single motherhood, she met Charlie through a mutual friend. ‘We both had a bit of a Jerry Springer story,’ she says, alluding obliquely to their earlier marriages. ‘But we are also both positive and forward-looking. On our fifth date, he said, “I think this is it,” and I felt the same. He is everything I ever wanted.’

I’ll raise money relentlessly so that other parents don’t suffer in the way we have

Charlie and Louise celebrated their marriage with a lavish party at Claridge’s five years ago, and today, like those of most parents, their lives are a constant juggling act. Cambridge graduate Charlie is the financial brains behind cable TV giant Liberty Global and Louise continues to combine her salon work and products business with motherhood. But coping with the trauma of Daniel’s illness has focused their priorities and brought them even closer together. ‘We don’t take a single day for granted,’ says Louise. ‘I try to be relaxed and I don’t want to mollycoddle, but I’m so relieved that I kept searching for an answer to Daniel’s illness. That’s what I truly learned through this experience. I’m grateful that my son is alive and I’m also more determined than ever to trust my instincts.’

To help Louise raise money for an MRI scanner for Great Ormond Street Hospital, go to justgiving.com/Louise-Galvin

Read more:

Magical Manhattan Moments

There are many truly magical moments in life - I’ve had lots of those - they make all the hard days worthwhile.  If you’re starting your own business, treasure these occasions.

Celebrate them.  I do.

Manhattan
Bergdorf
Celine
Bergdorf Goodman
Products

Here’s one magical moment I remember so clearly – and it took place in Manhattan.

By 2004, my client list as a colourist had become international and I was spending one week out of every six working in NYC.  Many clients from that time were Brits then based in the USA -from Plum Sykes (Vogue) to Alice Ryan (luxury brands events/PR for Dior, Valentino, Ralph Lauren), Camilla Long (Sunday Times) and writer/model Sophie Dahl.

Suddenly Bergdorf Goodman (*swoons*) decided to launch four boutique brands, including my “Sacred Locks” and there was going to be a terribly chic cocktail party to present us to their top tier clients. I booked myself into a room at Soho House in the Meatpacking District downtown.  I was unbelievably excited (but trying not to show it because they don’t go in for that sort of thing in Manhattan).  Even though I’d bought a suitcase of clothes with me I decided this was worth a bit of retail therapy.

A short cab ride later I arrived at Madison Avenue and walked straight into Celine and bought a beautiful round neck, soft-soft- cashmere, cropped sleeve sweater.  Then I took a little walk and saw a pair of gorgeous Manolo Blahnik two-tone shoes in black and taupe.  I brought a pencil skirt with me from London - it just hit my knees. The whole look made me feel so very glamorous.

The evening at Bergdorf’s passed in a whirl of conversations, explanations about the ethos and story behind my products and lots of photographs.  Every so often I would sneak happy loving glances at the long shelf with my beautiful products on it, elegantly lit by mini spotlights.

 It was a night to remember.

For a few years I flew back and forth, regularly, between London and NYC, building up a strong client list of top magazine editors and celebrities passing through town.  I made many close friendships during that time and had many wonderful experiences.

 It’s not easy being trans-continental.  It looks so glorious in vintage Grace Kelly movies but the realities are constant jet-lag and a sense of not quite belonging in either place after a while.  In the end, the universe made the decision for me.  I became pregnant with Ophelia and decided to focus on building a nest back in London and re-claiming my life.

Family

Two more children (Daniel and Eleanor) later, I travel a lot less than I used to, but my Manhattan Moments are so clear in my memory and I do treasure them, because so much of what I learned in those years travelling back and forth from London to NYC has informed who I am today.

______________________________________________________________

A-List colourist Louise Galvin has tended the beautiful locks of many famous and fashionable beauties, including Sophie Dahl, Plum Sykes and Patsy Kensit, at her father Daniel Galvin’s salon. Now Louise brings her own Carbon Neutral, natural ingredients haircare product line to the global ecommerce market with the launch of LouiseGalvin.com.

A Heritage In Healthy Hair - The Galvins

A passion for creating beautiful locks has run in our family for four generations. Being part of something enduring is important to me. A heritage built on healthy hair is – literally – in my roots.

My great-grandfather was a barber in Jermyn Street in London, near Fortnum & Mason, and wore a top hat and tails to work. Those were the days when gentlemen carried gloves and umbrellas. They walked near the curb to protect ladies’ satin dresses from getting splashed by carriages in the rain as they headed to costume balls at Claridges. His son, my grandfather, started his own barbershop, in the west of London, in Notting Hill.

In the late Sixties, my father, Daniel Galvin, took the hair world by storm. Both Vidal Sassoon and Leonard of Mayfair invited my father to join their companies. He decided to work with Leonard and was there for many years, building the largest colour department in the UK and pioneering the latest techniques, before starting his own high end salon in ’76.

During those years my father worked regularly in Hollywood (“Barry Lyndon”, “Clockwork Orange”, “Murder On the Orient Express”) and for glossy magazines. Vogue invited him to colour the hair of Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton and Bond girl Barbara Bach on glam cover shoots. When I was very little I remember pouring over the magazine spreads at home - especially the ones with Cheryl Ladd and her beachy-blonde tresses - and asking my dad lots of questions about the business.

As soon as I was old enough, I started helping out on Saturdays when I was at school, absorbing everything and getting inspired. I was thrilled when he expanded the business abroad to the USA, and Japan. I trained under him and started to build up a clientele of my own.

Sacred Locks is only part of my work – I still have a client list at my father’s salon in Mayfair and love working alongside both him and my younger brother, James. Family is very important to me.

________________________________________________________________________

A-List colourist Louise Galvin has tended the beautiful locks of many famous and fashionable beauties, including Sophie Dahl, Plum Sykes and Patsy Kensit, at her father Daniel Galvin’s salon. Now Louise brings her own Carbon Neutral, natural ingredients haircare product line to the global ecommerce market with the launch of LouiseGalvin.com.

Have your cake and eat it...

A delicious and guilt free recipe for the entire family- whats not to love?

What you will need:

3 eggs

150 ml Virgin Olive oil

50g Cocoa powder

150 ml water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

150g Ground Almonds

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

4 tablespoons Agave

 

Mix 3 eggs with olive oil. Add the cocoa powder dissolved in boiling water with vanilla extract. Whisk, then add the ground almonds, salt and bicarbonate. Whisk again and add the agave.

Finally bake for 40 minutes on 170 c

Cool down and serve with berries.

Bon Appetite! x

 

Avocado - Feed your hair

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods out there. They are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and they are a source of good fat. The creaminess of avocados also make them a perfect substitute for butter, either on toast or in a cookie recipe. The only tricky part is to slice the avocado at the right moment, when it's perfectly ripe. 

Did you know that avocados:

  • Contain monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential healthy fats 
  • Are high in vitamin B, which stimulates hair growth
  • Are high in vitamin E, which helps repair damage on the scalp?

Though avocados are high in calories, they are so beneficial for your health that they should be part of your diet. Avocados can be sliced and added to salads, but they can be used in so many different ways. I collected some recipes I love: 

Free from (Chemical) Nasties...

 

This is a true story of The Devil Wears Prada fashion magazine types.

A magazine editor friend of mine has great hair, the sort that you see on beauty editors who live in Manhattan, all glossy and blow-dried to perfection. But her colour used to fade fast. Then she started using my shampoo and when she turned up for her next salon appointment her colourist gave her a strange look:

“Have you been cheating on me?” he said, quietly.

“No!” she squealed (because the last thing you should do in Manhattan is go behind your colourist’s back. It’s just too risky, especially if you’re in magazines and need to look fabulous at all times.)

He picked up strands of her hair and frowned. He looked underneath. He peered carefully at the crown, checking her roots. Then he said, “What products have you been using? Because your colour is holding up really well.”

She told him she’d switched to using mine (which I was thrilled about as the colourist is a big fancy name-to-know in NYC). He was really surprised that her colour had not faded much at all between appointments (which is why he assumed she’d been cheating on him with another salon across town).

At her next appointment she brought out a couple of my bottles and showed his fellow stylists the label. “Look! No sodium lauryl sulphate,” he whispered. You see pretty much all shampoos do contain this and it really is horrid stuff – it strips the hair – like using Fairy Liquid on your precious tresses. “No sulphate or propylene glycol, parabens or synthetic polymers either,” he said, raising an eyebrow. That’s the stuff which coats the hair in plastic-type sealants to make a blow dry super fast and gives it that salon sheen, but at what cost to your poor hair?

According to my friend, they were delighted to learn that the shampoos contained gorgeous natural ingredients too, like ximenia oil, vegetable proteins, Kukui, a substantive honey derivative that smoothes the cuticle for shine and manageability, sugar derived cleaners (zero calories on the scalp, fear not) and fragrant mandarin oil which makes my products smell yummy.

My editor friend was absolved. Her colourist was convinced that she wasn’t cheating on him. All was well again in midtown Manhattan.

Talking of “The Devil Wears Prada” (did you see the film? I’ve seen it loads of times) One of my hair clients is the lovely Emily Blunt (she played the personal assistant to Miranda aka Meryl Streep). I asked Emily if she’d mind giving me a quote for my web site and she was kind enough to send me this:

“I love Louise Galvin’s Thick and Curly haircare collection, it leaves my hair incredibly smooth and shiny and they have no chemical nasties!”

Emily Blunt 

Red peppers - Feed your hair

It's so important to not only take care of your hair with natural products, but also nurture it from within. Red peppers are a real superfood, which is great because it's always available at your local market or store. 

DSC_0047.jpg

Did you know that red peppers:

  • Are loaded with vitamins A, C and B6,
  • Act as a natural hair growth stimulator, 
  • Are highly effective in curing hair loss,
  • Improve blood flow and oxygen to the hair follicles?

Who knew this simple vegetable could be so beneficial for your hair? I wanted to share with you my favourite red pepper recipes:

A love of renaissance Italy

There are some experiences that never leave you. They linger in the memory wonderfully. Many years later you’ll find snippets floating back into your thoughts and influencing current projects. 

For example, when I was in my early 20s, I studied Art History and part of the course was a six-week study-abroad trip – to Italy. I was in heaven. As you might imagine!

As we wandered around the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, I held my breath in awe at the gorgeous paintings. This was my first introduction to Renaissance Italy up close. I stopped dead in front of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”. Of course my first thought (being me) was “What luscious locks!”

And they are – all tumbling tresses in Titian red – falling beautifully over Venus’ shoulders as she poses on the half-shell. That was the beginning of my love affair with Italy, the Renaissance and most especially with the rise and fall of the House of Medici and their patronage of the great artists of their day. Even today, my love of art hasn't subsided which is why I'm a patron of The Serpentine Gallery

Many years later, when I came to launch my own haircare product line, I drew on this formative experience. I hired a designer and she asked me to describe my influences. We pored over coffee table books of Renaissance art. I told her I wanted my packaging to evoke a bygone classical era. I know my products are not trendy; they’re timeless. We became immersed in the aesthetics of romance, beauty and femininity (it’s such fun doing this bit of building of your own business!)

That’s how we came up with the palest white bottle, the delicate and elegant twisted vine motif (which reminds me of grapes, of Italy, and also of Botticelli’s vividly painted tresses) and a classical font. It’s important to me that my products are beautiful. I feel glamorous just looking at them in my house – and I hope you do too. That would mean a lot to me.

My quest to create healthy hair care

We all know that eating well, getting plenty of rest and taking moderate exercise are the keys to vibrantly healthy skin and hair. But have you taken a look at the ingredients in your shampoo recently? It’s not a pretty picture. Chemical ingredients such as silicone and sodium lauryl sulphate undermine and destroy our hair’s natural ability to shine. They literally strip the hair shaft of all natural oils and then coat it in plastic-like materials. Not healthy at all!

Drawing on my experience as an A-List colourist at my father Daniel Galvin’s salon for many years, I wanted to make a difference in my industry. And, as the mother of three small children, their health, and my passion for the environment, informed my choices. 

So I started my own haircare company to create a truly healthy range of products. I banished all “Nasties” first – absolutely no silicone, sodium lauryl sulphate or propylene glycol, parabens and synthetic polymers.

Instead, I sought out the finest chemists to help me create special formulas containing ethical and environmentally friendly natural and naturally derived ingredients.

One of my favourite finds is Ximenia Oil, also known as Seaside Plum. This is a rich, natural oil that works like a serum, moisturising and smoothing the hair, leaving it soft and silky but still manageable. Another vital ingredient I use in my shampoos is Inulin, a natural derivative of chicory. Inulin, is a prebiotic, which protects the scalp’s ecosystem, stimulating its defense barrier by preventing colonization of harmful flora. Dry, flaky patches are reduced and soothed, a healthy scalp then promotes glossy hair growth.

Starting my own business was exhilarating – and sometimes scary – but I feel great about the products I’ve created. Take a look at the labels on your shampoo and consider what you’re putting on your hair. There are other options. As I always say, “Healthy Scalp, Healthy Hair”. Be kind to your hair – and yourself - today.

 

 

Heavenly healthy Hair

Two weeks ago my wonderful friend Marisa hosted an evening where my chemist Colette Haydon, my nutritionist Jackie McCusker and myself could hold a panel lead by Suzanne Duckett (beauty/ wellbeing/ spa journalist, Editor of Tatler Spa Guide, thisistheantidote.com) discussing all the ins and outs of healthy hair backed up by authentic and factual information. Suzanne managed to string all of our thoughts together and wrote a great piece summarising exactly what we discussed that night. 

Suzanne: "Genius hair colour, condition and product innovator Louise Galvin invited me to do an intimate pop-up Antidote salon in London this week on how to have healthy hair. It took place at a stunning private residence, amongst friends.

Her chemist Colette Haydon, nutrionist Jackie McCusker and myself were joined by a wonderful, lively audience of super smart and fabulous London women – all at the top of all of their fields from banking to fashion design.

It didn’t take us long to get in the swing of things and within no time we were talking very candidly about our hair health woes (among other confessions not to be revealed here!) and how we can have our best, heathiest hair possible.

Louise and Colette educated us on ingredients we should avoid, in particular SILICONE SILICONE SILICONE! And, PARABENS. According to Louise and Colette, Silicone is a no-no, not just because of the build up damage it can cause to the hair but the fact it makes highlights and colour fade quicker. Controversial Parabens, still suspect because of the continued growing concerns about their possible hormone disrupting effects they may have on our health (a serious health concern now recognised by the WHO among other respected health agencies). The jury may still be out, but I don’t know about you but I’m not keen on being a guinea pig while research and more studies continue.

Jackie talked about foods that act as hair conditioner from the inside out (walnuts, peppers, beetroot, eggs, chicory quinoa, to name a few) and I had fun poking fun at Colette’s wonderful French accent that pronounced antifreeeeeeze instead of anti frizz! Laughing aside, ironically antifreeze ingredients are actually used in many haircare products too – though not LG Haircare of course. All her products are free from SLS, Petrochemicals, Parabens, Silicone, Synthetic Fragrance and Polymers. She is not saying they are organic (she is a colourist by trade after all), merely as clean as she can make them while being darn good haircare at the same time.

The champagne flowed and so did the beautiful conversation – that’s what I call a great night in with the girls."

Thank you Suzanne for helping me create such a magical evening. Join the conversation using #ThisIsTheAntidote


Editor's Diary: Louise Galvin's Launch of Sacred Locks Haircare

Taken from YOUMAGBLOG first published Wednesday 4 June

Louise and Me

Louise and Me

Thus a select group of women gathered at the elegant London home of banker Marisa Drew to discuss all things hair with haircare entrepreneur, Louise Galvin.  Daughter of the legendary Daniel, Louise has had tricology in her DNA since birth but even with all her accumulated knowledge - along with access to the best haircare products in the world - she still despaired at the state of her typically fine, English locks.  'No matter how often I washed it, or with what expensive product, my hair still looked lank and lifeless after a day or two,' she told me.

The haircare panel (from left) nutritionist Jackie McCusker; health & beauty journalist Suzanne Duckett; Louise Galvin; chemist Christina Hayden

The haircare panel (from left) nutritionist Jackie McCusker; health & beauty journalist Suzanne Duckett; Louise Galvin; chemist Christina Hayden

So she set out - with chemist Christina Hayden - to find out why.  Their research showed that the silicone used in most haircare products (which gives hair its sleekness) and the parabens (a cheap preservative) gave the hair, with repeated use, a coated, brittle effect.  The more you wash, the more coated it becomes.  Between them they set out to create a range containing no silicone, no parabens, and no sulphates (another baddie in hair products).  

The Sacred Locks range

The Sacred Locks range

Watermelon & tomato canapes by Honestly Healthy

Watermelon & tomato canapes by Honestly Healthy

Thus over champagne and delicious canapes (with hair-boosting ingredients!) supplied by Honestly Healthy, we celebrated the launch of Louise's pioneering new good-for-you Sacred Locks range.  It makes sense, after all, that if we care about what food we put into our bodies, we should care about what we apply to our scalp and all those tens of thousands of hungry little hair follicles that reside there.

We're all now staunch advocates of Louise's products!  (PS her tip: if you want to rid your hair of its coating of nasties before switching to her much-gentler range, give your hair one light wash ... in Fairy Liquid!).

Amanda Wakeley with Marisa Drew

Amanda Wakeley with Marisa Drew

Stunning orchids at the event

Stunning orchids at the event

Louise & Amanda Wakeley

Louise & Amanda Wakeley

Do you know what’s in your haircare products?

I have long had an understanding of the need to eat well and healthily and wherever possible organically. Instinctively I felt that my beauty and Haircare products should carry a similar philosophy and from that belief my Sacred Locks Haircare line was borne. 

Jackie McCusker, Nutritionist (BSc Hons, BANT, CNHC, specialist in endocrine disorders) comments in my blog on the mind boggling array of chemical nasties found in so many products today.

Jackie: "Do you know what’s in your haircare products? It’s worth taking a look if you value your health. You may have read about potentially harmful products, known as “endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)”, which are found in everyday household items such as toothpaste, soap, sunscreens, shampoos and conditioners.

According to a report published in 2012 by the World Health organization, these EDCs may interfere with the normal functioning of your body’s endocrine system (including oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormones). Here’s what the WHO says:

EDCs have the capacity to interfere with tissue and organ development and function, and therefore they may alter susceptibility to different types of diseases throughout life. This is a global threat that needs to be resolved.

State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, 2012, World Health Organisation

So what are these harmful chemicals? And are they lurking on your bathroom shelf? Chemicals found in personal care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, include Parabens, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. To find out what each of these do – and their potential effects on your health – it’s worth going to the experts.

In 2002, four environmental organisations joined together to create the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec). Based in Sweden, ChemSec is a non-profit organisation with a vision of a world free from hazardous chemicals. Their on-going project is called the SIN List (Substitute It Now) [LINK: http://www.chemsec.org/what-we-do/sin-list] and is a really useful resource for the latest findings and guidance on this issue.

Extensive research at the Centre for Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany has also found a direct link between chemicals in household products, such as soaps, and problems with declining sperm counts. The report was published in the journal EMBO and is available here [LINK: http://www.embo.org/news/research-news/research-news-2014/endocrine- disruptors-impair-human-sperm-function]

Whilst the omission of all chemicals from personal care products is virtually impossible, it would seem prudent for anyone actively seeking a healthier lifestyle to source their hair and skin care from companies that avoid or limit these potentially deleterious chemicals in their products, in favour of less toxic and environmentally damaging ones."

Thank you Jackie for your invaluable insights. Chemicals are a controversial topic, not just in the beauty industry. This is why my chemist and I chose not to use them in my products because of growing concerns in independent health organisations. Surely, even if there is a hint that these ingredients could be harmful, and there are clean natural alternatives available, why wouldn't we choose products like Louise Galvin Sacred Locks that are free from parabens, SLS, petrochemicals and silicones?

 

Further Reading:

A comprehensive list of chemicals permitted by the Natural Products Association

State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, 2012, World Health Organisation

“Substitute It Now!” 

 

Trust your intuition

In my career I’ve learned to rely on my training and experience. As a mother of three small children – a juggling act, and a journey into the unknown at times – I’ve had to trust my instincts.

While at the Lyla Nsloui Foundation’s special performance of the Gruffalo last month, I was suddenly reminded of a dark period in my own family's life. Lyla Nsloui was a little girl with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG),an untreatable, incurable, inoperable and aggressive brain cancer. Heartbreakingly, Lyla passed away not long after her third birthday. I encourage you to learn more about the foundation set up in her memory here 

Daniel & Opehlia with The Gruffalo

At the event I felt so sad for Lyla’s parents. And also rather shaken as I remembered how close I came to losing my son to a life-threatening illness.

As a mother, when you know something is wrong, you need to trust your gut. Shortly after I had my third child, I started to notice some slight but still perceptible changes in my two-year-old son. He kept losing his balance, developed a slight tremor and said his head hurt. I took him to several doctors but was told “he will grow out of it” and “nothing to worry about”and “bring him back in six months”.

My mother’s instinct said no. I kept going until I found a specialist at The Cromwell Hospital, Dr Mike Markiewicz. After tests and scans our worst fears were confirmed. My precious little son had a brain tumour.

He went through a long painful surgery and recovery. Thankfully the tumour was benign but that’s not the end of the story. Due to the size of the growth, my son had to learn how to sit and walk again, to rebuild his strength and his motor skills. He has a full diary of regular check-ups at Great Ormond Street Hospital to ensure that the remaining tumour tissue has not grown or altered.

 As each appointment approaches I get sleepless nights. I want him to lead a normal life, but I do watch for signs constantly. I don’t want to mollycoddle him. But I worry. We don’t take a single day for granted.  I’m so relieved that I kept going, searching for an answer to his illness, in the face of so much skepticism from the medical profession. That’s what I truly learned through this experience. I’m grateful that my son is alive and I’m also more determined than ever to trust my instincts.

I have set up a page for a charity that I hold very close to my heart. Come and support an incredible institution, and the great work they do for children click here

What's in my Handbag?

I have just discovered Tom Ford Make up- and it really is divine. The colours work perfectly with my skin tone. It's easy to apply and enhances your skin, with a healthy and fresh look. A must try for any girl who loves the natural glow.