'You have to be a perfectionist'

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The Independent Online


Interview by Alex McRae

Daniel Galvin Jnr, 37, is a top hair colourist, with his own organic hair product range. He has also developed beauty products for the Prince of Wales's Duchy Collection

What do you actually do?

I'd say I'm an artist. Half of my work is colour correction, when people come to the salon with overprocessed or home-dyed hair. I choose colours that make eyes look stronger and skin warmer. Someone with hazel eyes and fair skin, say, will look better with chocolate-brown hair than with blond. It's about making people even more beautiful than nature intended.

What's a typical day at work like?

To clear my head, I go for a run before work. I often see up to 14 clients a day. I'm literally on my feet until 6pm, with 10 minutes for lunch. Luckily, I have a very efficient junior who organises my appointments. Before I colour a client's hair, I have a consultation with them to find out what they need. You're not just a hairdresser - you also have to be a psychologist, to win people's trust and listen to what they want. For instance, when a client says she wants to go "lighter" she often means brighter. When I'm not at the salon, I'm developing my organic hair products.

What's the best thing about colouring hair?

If a client arrives feeling down in the dumps about her hair, and you make a small change and see her walk out of the salon beaming, that's real job satisfaction. You've put something right. I love a challenge, so even if it takes six months to correct the colour of someone's hair, the perfect result is always worth it.

What's difficult about it?

It's non-stop. If you're under the weather, you can't let that rub off on clients - you have to present a happy, smiley face. I get very tired sometimes. At the end of the day, when I sit down on the train home, I don't want to get up again.

What skills do you need to be a top hairdresser?

You need three things: common sense, initiative and enthusiasm. It doesn't matter whether you've got GCSEs, but you have to want to rise to a challenge. You also need to be a perfectionist, and never get complacent with clients. Their hair must look consistently perfect, and be in great condition - it's their crowning glory. You can do a three-year apprenticeship at a salon, but I qualified in two years because I hated being a junior. I'd originally wanted to be a journalist, but then I worked in my father's salon, sweeping up hair and making tea, and I discovered that I loved hairdressing - the artistry and the pretty women!

What advice would you give someone wanting to become a top hairdresser?

Get stuck in - find a Saturday job at a salon. Think about how you present yourself and how to make the experience enjoyable for clients. It's a very social profession. Once you're qualified, build up your list of regular clients until you're fully booked every day. Word of mouth is the best PR, and if you do a great job, people will tell their friends to come to you. Some of my clients have been coming to me for 15 years.

What's the salary and career path like?

When you start as a junior, the salary is peanuts - maybe just £25 a day. But you can double that in tips, if you assist a busy stylist. Once you are qualified and have got some experience under your belt, you can think about doing session work on films and magazine shoots, working on seasonal trends with beauty editors, or developing your own range of products.


For more information on hairdressing training and apprenticeships, go to the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority website, www.habia.org; and the Freelance Hair and Beauty Federation website, www.fhbf.org.uk