Olivia is the owner and director of Glasshouse Salon in East London, specialising in organic colour and care, with a focus on long-term hair health and modern cuts and colour. Alongside the salon, Glasshouse also run an online journal and shop stocking a range of cult natural skin, hair and body brands.
We caught up with Olivia late last year before the birth of her daughter Sadie to discover her beauty secrets to healthy hair and skin...
“I split my time between appointments, running the business and managing my team as well as journal shoots and creative work for our journal.
I moved to London from New Zealand in 2008 and during this time, I started working with more natural and organic hair products, to use something safer for myself but also for my clients. I began working as an Organic Colour Systems head trainer and was noticing a huge interest in hairdressing that put the client’s health and hair condition first. Organic hair colour options had been viewed as ‘alternative’ and there was a lot of misconceptions regarding its performance. I couldn’t keep up with the demand; setting up Glasshouse Salon in 2013 seemed like the obvious step.
I also felt like there was a lack of natural brands considering an ethical and natural approach, but also a strong aesthetic and style. I wanted to combine both elements and create an environment where hair condition was at the forefront of everything.
The major benefits of Organic Colour Systems in particular is the fact that it powerfully treats the hair on the inside, rather than simply working cosmetically. The organic ingredients and lack of chemicals and harmful ingredients like ammonia and resorcinol, all mean that damage is minimised and condition is prioritised. From an ethical perspective, organic ingredients are sourced sustainably and are also cruelty free, which is very important to me.
The morning is often the only bit of quiet time in the day before it all gets very busy, so I like to try and not start answering emails straight away (though often break my own rules). These days I wake up earlier than I used to - normally before 7am. Breakfast is important and a chance to get some proper sit-down time before the busy day begins, so if I can I’ll take my time with it.
If I’m not heading straight to the pool for a pre-work swim my routine goes like this: after giving the cat her breakfast, I’ll make a pour-over coffee in my Chemex with freshly-ground Union coffee and half a teaspoon of coconut oil stirred in - this helps to level the caffeine. Though lately I’ve been getting into Matcha tea as an alternative; it’s much easier on the stomach and a more consistent caffeine release. If it’s a nice morning, I’ll sit outside on the terrace to start the day well and with some peace and quiet. I find that even a few minutes of quiet time sets me up well for the day. One thing I’d never skip is my shower, cleanse, tone and moisturise routine - I don’t feel awake without doing it. The rest of my routine is often quite chaotic and rushed, especially when I try and gather all my possessions before I leave the house. A few outfit changes later (I never plan my outfits the night before) and I’m ready to start the day.
The first thing I do every morning is drink a big glass of water or two. My current favourite breakfast is Beetroot & Pistachio Qnola served with goats kefir that I get delivered from The Chuckling Goat, who make kefir from their free-range goat farm in Wales. I like to sweeten it with banana and add a teaspoon or so of Sacha Inchi oil for an extra omega boost. My five most essentials breakfast items are: a soothing hot drink, water with lemon, free range organic eggs, avocado and hash browns.
The most memorable breakfast I’ve had was when I was on holiday in Hawaii and had an amazing acai bowl - I love the chocolate-y flavour of the berries combined with their antioxidant and Vitamin A properties; I’ve never found one in London that tasted as fresh and delicious.
I have my best mornings when I’ve practised a relaxing evening routine the night before. A soothing bath with Epsom salts, 10 minutes of meditation, and a little self-reflexology before bed usually does the trick. I tend to sleep better if I do this and so naturally wake up feeling more refreshed. I also take liquid magnesium, which is great for sleep and muscle relaxation, as well as de-stressing.
During my teenage years, you couldn’t get me out of bed before midday. I miss those days. I’m a pretty light sleeper unfortunately and the more I have going on the more likely I am to have restless sleeps. The best place I’ve ever woken is when my best friend and I did a little weekend road trip in a beaten up Volkswagen camper van. We arrived in the middle of nowhere with no accommodation, no idea where we were allowed to park or sleep over night. We parked up and fell asleep and when we woke up in the morning we were right on the seafront with the ocean right in front of us. It was honestly the best waking up experience I’ve had to this day.
On an ideal morning, I’d take my time with breakfast, turn my phone off and spend some quality time with my husband (ideally on a tropical island). One thing I need to do more of in the mornings is to get more organised. Easier said than done… One thing I need to do less of is check my phone and emails.
Olivia on beauty…
A lot of people advocate that beauty comes form within, and that diet is even more important than products in achieving and maintaining good skin. What are you views on this?
I would definitely agree with this. I believe most major skin issues are related to digestive and internal problems going on. I completely believe that it’s mostly to do with the bowel, liver and elimination process. However I often find very simple things can make a big difference, for example staying well hydrated and getting in enough fruits and vegetables.
Do you think the same applies for achieving and maintaining strong, healthy, shiny, hydrated and voluminous hair? If so what foods do you believe to be beneficial?
Often severely weak and fragile hair can be down to low B12 and iron levels, as well as ongoing medications. Another interesting thing that I notice in my clients is that their hair grows very fast in summer, I believe this is due to the increase in Vitamin D in the system, as well as often a more well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that comes with the warmer weather. I’m also a big fan of the omega oils – there are some great alternatives out there to traditional fish oils for vegans and vegetarians.
What is your best morning product for face, body and hair?
For hair it has to be Organic Colour Systems Power Build Shampoo. It’s our bestseller in the salon and can be used everyday - it’s got a refreshing scent that’s great for a little morning revitalisation. It’s so gentle that it can also be used as a body wash, so I use it all over to wake me up in the shower. For my face, I’ve yet to find anything better than the RMS Beauty Oil. It’s lightweight enough to apply generously and still put makeup over the top and is packed full of good oils like jojoba and buriti, as well as natural Vitamin A and UV protection.
What is your favourite natural ingredient for hair or beauty maintenance, and why?
I would have to say protein. In the salon we work a lot with protein ingredients, such as organic quinoa and hydrolysed wheat protein. It works by repairing the internal structure of the hair and we wouldn’t achieve the kind of results we do without it, particularly when it comes to colouring.
And lastly, why Qnola?
I’m a big fan of Qnola - firstly because it’s gluten free, and in the past I’ve found it really difficult to find good gluten or grain free cereals. It also a nice feeling to know that you’re getting in all your protein and amino acids right at the start of the day - regardless of how the rest of your diet pans out across the day. Unlike a lot of granolas, it’s lightweight and easy to eat - ticking all the boxes!”