Updated 15 July 2014

10 tips from a celeb hairdresser

Whether for celebs, or for the rest of us, Joshua Galvin, celebrity hairdresser, gives the same advice on hair health.


Whether for celebs, or for the rest of us, Joshua Galvin, celebrity hairdresser, gives the same advice on hair health.

“There are far more serious things in life to get hung up over than hair,” says Joshua Galvin, UK celebrity hairdresser. That said, he adds that it is far easier to keep your hair in good condition than to try and rescue a desperate situation.

Joshua Galvin, winner of many awards, and former colleague of Vidal Sassoon, has been in the hairdressing business for more than five decades. He is the owner of several hair academies in the UK.

Think of the term ‘celebrity hairdresser’. Now forget the picture you have in your mind. Galvin is a distinguished, bald-headed, elderly grandfather. He is also modest, kind and gentle, and really wants to make a difference in people’s lives – and not just by cutting their fringes into fashionable wisps.

Galvin, who has cut the hair of Liza Minelli, Julie Andrews and Judy Garland, is slightly dismissive when asked on top hair tips for celebrities.

“They’re the same as for anyone else,” he says. “The only difference with celebrities is that their appearance is their livelihood, and they have more money to spend on things such as a new hairdo. But they also have the same problems with limp and oily hair, dandruff, damaged hair and split ends.”

The salon where Galvin works has cut the hair of Madonna, Paul McCartney, Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Great care apparently had to be taken never to make appointments for the last two on the same day.

But whether for celebrities or normal people, Joshua Galvin gives the same hair tips to everyone. Here they are:

  • Never let your hair get out of condition. It is much easier to keep your hair in hand, than to try and do damage control. Once it is damaged, there is only so much a hairdresser can do.
  • Ask the experts, before you treat your own hair. Most damage to hair is done by the owner of the hair. Many people do heat damage to their hair, overwork the hair, do damage while straightening it or spend too much time under hot dryers. The sun, sea and the wind can also do a fair amount of damage. So can brushes, combs and heat.
  • Leave conditioner in your hair for at least 2 – 3 minutes. Many people apply conditioner and wash it off straight away. This does not allow enough time for it to do its job. Rinse off the conditioner in water that is as cold as you can stand it.
  • A rake-type comb is the best. Start at the bottom and divide your hair into sections. Work upwards from there. Never use a brush on wet hair, as wet hair is very pliable and can break easily.
  • Stay away from real hair wigs. If your hair has fallen out, because of stress, or chemotherapy, or for whatever reason, rather get a fibre wig than one made from real hair. Fibre wigs with wider meshes, are not as hot to wear, as they allow for more ventilation. Real hair is very expensive, and with it comes all the problems people have with real hair. Few people can tell the difference between real hair and artificial fibres.
  • Your hair reflects your health. If you are very ill or run-down, your hair is going to show it. If you live on junk food, you are going to have junk hair. For the time you are ill, your body diverts energy from you hair and nails in order to facilitate the healing process elsewhere. If you hair has become limp and lifeless, you should get to your GP – there might be something else going on with you.
  • Always go to the best you can. Don’t waste money, but go to the best hairdresser you can afford. Well-cut hair grows into a good shape, and you might not have to have it cut quite as often.
  • Think carefully before cutting your hair short. Hair grows about a centimetre a month, but it can all be cut off in minutes. You have to be sure it’s what you want, as it cannot be reversed. It is also an idea to go for a consultation with a hairdresser first, before you make any drastic, irreversible decisions.
  • Have your hair cut every 6 – 8 weeks. This avoids split ends, and it also enables the hairdresser to alert you to any sudden change in the condition of your hair. Long hair can be left for longer than this, if it is well looked after.
  • Be clever with colour. Don’t use a colour that doesn’t suit your complexion. It is going to look artificial. Be careful with very dark colours. Older people need to go lighter when choosing hair colour, as very dark hair on someone of 75 is going to look unnatural.

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Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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