Photo: Marc Piasecki/GC Images/Getty Images

Over the weekend at Kim Kardashian’s master makeup class, attendees who paid between $299.99 and $999.99 a ticket heard Kardashian talk about how much she loves a hair-strengthening product called Olaplex. “When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I notice a huge difference!” Although it sounded like a paid endorsement, Kardashian was raving about the product for free.

Ask hair professionals about Olaplex and you’ll find it difficult to avoid wondering if they’re being sponsored — although Dean Christal, Olaplex’s owner, assures me the brand has no ads or spokespeople. Hair-industry praise for Olaplex sounds like the beginning of an Apple livestream: “Game changer.” “Incredible.” “It is the most revolutionary hair product,” colorist Aura Friedman at Sally Hershberger tells me, with zero hyperbole.

“I’ve been in the hair industry for 20 years and have seen every so-called miracle product. When I first heard about it, I thought it was complete bullshit,” says Michael Angelo of Wonderland Beauty Parlor. “But then, I tried it and said, ‘I need to eat my words.’”

Like all the best origin stories, Olaplex’s begins in a garage — the Santa Barbara garage of scientist Eric Pressly, a materials Ph.D. who had no experience working in beauty or hair care. Pressly and his colleague Craig J. Hawker, who holds a doctorate in chemistry and is the founder of Santa Barbara’s prestigious Hawker Institute, were ushered into the world of hair by beauty entrepreneur Dean Christal.

Christal was struggling to develop a UV silicone when another scientist tipped him off to Hawker. He snuck in to meet Hawker without an appointment and explained his problem, and Hawker quickly solved it. “We talked for four hours and I convinced him that it might be worth expending some energy into a product that could make hair great,” says Christal. Hawker said he had an idea and asked Christal to return the next day at 2 p.m. Then, “they handed me a 100 millimeters of a goldish liquid that looked like Miller beer,” Christal says.

Christal tested out the initial versions of Olaplex with permed hair, noticing that it made hair stronger, healthier, and shinier. Then Lona Vigi, a celebrity hairstylist, introduced him to legendary Hollywood colorist Tracey Cunningham, who works on the heads of Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kardashian. Christal gave Cunningham two bottles of the product and the next day, Cunnigham texted him to let him know that she “fucking loved” it. “I had an actress client that ran off with her cell phone while her hair was in a foil for 45 minutes. I knew her hair was going to be melted off but she had Olaplex and her hair was even better than when she started,” she told Christal.

For a few weeks, Christal, Pressly, and Hawker made a liter of Olaplex every day for Cunningham, driving it two hours to her Mêche Salon. Soon after, other colorists like Guy Tang heard about the product. Today, Olaplex — which can be used in a salon format or a take-home format called No. 3 — is in over 100,000 salons. (For perspective, Christal explains that most large brands are in about 32,000 salons.) Pressly and Hawker are still credited as its chief inventors.

To understand how Olaplex works requires a bit of a chemistry lesson. Your hair is made up of disulfide bonds. When you perm, bleach, or color your hair, or use heat styling, some of the disulfide bonds split to become hydrogen-sulfur bonds. Hydro-sulfur bonds create broken links of hair, leaving it dry or damaged. Additionally, these hydrogen-sulfur bonds can oxidize to sulfates over time, resulting in irreversible damage. Like hair rehab, Olaplex relinks these broken hydrogen-sulfur bonds and leaves the hair strengthened. Colorists love the product because it allows them to bleach and even take a brunette to Kardashian-level platinum without worrying that their client’s hair is going to “melt.” Consumers love it because they can leave a coloring session without their hair feeling like straw.

It sounds like the world’s greatest conditioner, but Friedman says, “No conditioner can compare.” Unlike a conditioner or hair mask which hydrate your hair, Olaplex actually strengthens your hair, making it look shinier. Stephanie Brown, a master colorist at the Nunzio Saviano Salon, explains, “You can actually see it looking healthier.” Friedman’s advice is to leave the No. 3 Olaplex in as long as possible, including while you sleep, and rinse it out in the morning morning like Kardashian does. Although it’s primarily recommended to repair hair health after coloring, it can also be used to heal heat damage for a variety of hair types. Right now, the brand is available in-salon only, but the company is looking to create additional products.

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Here’s What Happened When I Used Olaplex No. 3 on My Type 4 Hair

My hair has gone through many transitions but one thing that has remained the same, is my love for a honey blonde mane. From loccs to a twist-out, I’ve always maintained lighter colored hair which meant I’d have to use treatments to combat color damage. Finding the right treatment can be trial and error. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever found the right product. Most times I’d do what I could with a deep conditioner, but there have been times that I’ve dyed my hair, damaged it and had to resort to cutting it all off and starting over again.

I learned more about OlaPlex no. 3 through the Five Best Hair Treatments post. The curlfriends really loved this product and described it as a treatment that works magic for damaged hair. As someone who has a long history of using bleach and box dyes, I felt it was important to give this product a try. Was my hair damaged? I can confidently say no. But I wanted to find something that would preserve the hue of blonde that I’ve maintained over the last couple of years. While my color was still semi-poppin’, at times I felt it looked a little dull.

Here I am on March 23rd at an event. My color is noticeably faded. The photo below was taken one week later.

2 / 4

Sometimes over-processed hair can have a dusty look to it. The natural shine is removed from your hair so the color looks more muted than vibrant. My curls were dull and I felt OlaPlex no 3 would be the treatment to bring them back to life.

The great thing about OlaPlex no. 3 is that it was designed to treat and shield hair from chemical damage. Using this product before and after you bleach or dye your hair will coat each strand with an adequate amount of protection. Thanks to the Best of the Best list, I decided to purchase the mighty treatment packed in a small, 3 ounce bottle. It had been 7 days since my last wash so it was the perfect time to integrate this treatment into my wash-day regimen. Because the bottle is so small, I was overly-conscious on the amount to use in my hair. Still, I trusted that the suggested nickel size portion would suffice. I massaged into my hair and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes. As I washed the treatment out, I noticed that my hair did feel really soft.

3 / 44 / 4

Talk about drastic difference! Because I didn’t know what to expect, I was completely blown away by the way OlaPlex elevated my hair color! It went from a dusty blonde color to a more vibrant copper tone. Imagine what this product could do to severely color-damaged hair? It is suggested that you use this treatment in your weekly hair regimen or twice a week if your hair needs to recover from extreme color damage. Personally, I think I’ll be adding this extra step to my routine. I love that my hair looks and feels stronger. That dusty layer that my hair held onto seems to have disappeared and I couldn’t be happier. If you’d like to give Olaplex no 3 a try, you can shop it on here.

What do you think? Have you used this product before? What were your results? Let us know in the comments!

Review: Olaplex on texturised afro hair

BBH road test Olaplex

OK, CONFESSION: it took me a while to get on board the Olaplex bandwagon. Vogue touted it as the ‘holy grail for coloured hair’ and because I don’t dye my hair I thought ‘It’s not for me.’ Months later, international hair educator for the Colomer Group, Randolph Gray could not sing its praises high enough, claiming its ‘amazing’ for afro hair and a ‘one-of- a-kind’ treatment pre and post protecting styling, So, of course my interest piqued.

WHAT IS OLAPLEX? It’s a three step in-salon system that helps to permanently rebuild damaged bonds within the hair so it stays stronger for longer. Any form of chemical process or use of heated tools, breaks the link in our hair leading to damage, frizz and split ends.

WHY IS IT GOOD FOR AFRO HAIR? Relaxing, texturisng, keratin treatments and colouring all take its toll on our hair. Even protective styling like braids and weave causes stress and disrupt the hair’s elasticity. This is what makes Olaplex so viable to all hair textures; it is a bolstering conditioning treatment used to relink and repair disulphate sulfur bonds within the hair structure that have been compromised from styling.

HOW DOES IT WORK? My appointment was at HOBB Salon in Baker Street. My stylist Jessica talked me through every step and answered all my questions. It is worth pointing out that this is not a protein treatment that can damage the hair if left on too long or a chemical process that alters the bonds in the hair. In Jessica’s words ‘This is not a cosmetic treatment that will soften the hair like a hair mask. It is a hardworking treatment and the results will only been seen in the end.’ The first step consisted of drenching the hair with Olaplex Bond Multiplier from root to tip. It was very relaxing to have the cool liquid massaged on and there was no chemical smell. After 10 minutes it was washed out at the basin and a generous amount of the Bond Perfector was applied, gently combed through and in no time I was under the heated drier and back at the basin having it washed out.

VERDICT: This treatment takes no longer than 30 minutes. Thankfully with my stylist there was no tugging with the comb to work the treatment through. The results wasn’t shiny, soft hair, but instead what I got was no shedding during the blowdry (a first for my hair). I will definitely be topping up on this treatment in between texturisers.

● Olaplex at HOBB Salon, £35

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Contents:

  • Double Relaxing In One Day Anyone?
  • The Emergence Of Olaplex
  • What Is Olaplex Really?
  • What Does The Kit Come With?
  • What Are Other People’s Experiences With Olaplex?
  • Where Can You Get It?
  • Final Thoughts

Double Relaxing In One Day Anyone?

So did anyone come across that video of the chick butchering her hair by relaxing her hair, not once but TWICE? Yes two whole times. I’m not even relaxed and I know that’s hair suicide. I can’t imagine what she might have been thinking but I guess if she wanted to prove a point she never heard that Olaplex was the only thing that could allow double processing of that magnitude. I really feel bad for her.

Turning herself into someone worthy of the name ‘Patches’ can’t be all that fun but she sure took it with a smile. I do appreciate the fact that she put herself out there as an example of what to not do, but I sure wish she had known about Olaplex. Never heard of it? Never mind, present company was sailing in the same boat.

The Emergence Of Olaplex

We are always on the hunt for something new and innovative to keep our strands healthy. One of our editors talked about Olaplex back in 2015 when it was relatively new. Since then, it has been making the rounds particularly among persons of mixed heritage, but it can be used practically by anyone with any hair type.

The other day when I became a member of a hair group, I came across a number of people talking about this Olaplex. While you will not find any product reviews coming from me directly ( well not yet anyway) there are loads of positive reviews with pictures to prove the amazing effect that it has on damaged hair.

It has actually changed the game for guys and gals who are natural but use chemical processes like hair color and even a relaxers. Surprisingly many reviews also exist for those with just straight up natural hair. As you may well know if you are natural, our hair tends to be quite prone to breakage even at its healthiest. Many of the persons I have spoken to who use the product are transitioning or natural so that bodes well for naturals who are trying to come back from distressed hair of some kind.

At first, I thought it was just a protein treatment like Aphogee. I wasn’t paying too much attention to it because I figured it wasn’t for my hair type (4B/C maybe a little Z in there too). I also wasn’t interested in going to a salon to get the first two steps of the 3 step system done. But I kept seeing pics of tighter curls and healthier looking strands and it piqued my interest.

Imagine a product that when added to your hair would super strengthen it and if used with chemicals, it would never allow the chemical service to strip or break the hair. In other words, if you want to go platinum blonde you do not have to worry about split dry trashy ends if you use this product during the service.

What Is Olaplex Really?

This is essentially what Olaplex is, (this is a snippet of what was said in a forum about it):

This new product called Olaplex that the hair industry is absolutely freaking out about. It was developed by a few chemists, Dean Christal, Craig Hawker and Eric Pressly.

The work these chemists are famous for involves helping to stop organs and transplants from being rejected by the body. It is a single molecule that they developed that claims that when added into any haircolor services, will absolutely prevent any breakage, that it links broken bonds in hair back together again.

It appears this molecule called Olaplex will also radically change the hair texturizing business as well, allowing a permanent wave to be done on the same day as color. Dean says, “I had a stylist Japanese relax a swatch of hair two times, then 40-volume bleach it, then perm it, and the hair was still in good condition. The control sample that had no Olaplex disintegrated halfway through the test. I knew at that point in time that Olaplex would completely change the way hair was chemically treated forever.”

“If you have ever had clients who worry about their hair breaking off from the coloring process, tell them, ‘Don’t worry, I use Olaplex!’ Not only does it help prevent breakage, my clients tell me that their hair feels stronger, silky and fuller as well. This is a brand new hair care product unlike any other, and it makes my job a heck of a lot less stressful!” —Tracey Cunningham

The product is on the market and still draws immediate skepticism, and rightly so. I am no chemist so I do not pretend to understand what the molecule actually does when it is used on your hair.

How strands are mended – Olaplex FaceBook

However common sense tells me that for this to work you are talking about a product that will actually bind protein molecules together on your strand. In other words, you have to have something for the product to hold together and if your hair is very damaged you might not be able to use this as a cure.

On the other hand, if your hair is relatively healthy and the product is used to coat the strand making it stronger and better able to stand up to chemical services then this might actually be a thing.

In a search to find someone who actually used the Olaplex system one of our sleuths came across the Relaxed Hair Health Blog where the writer describes in great detail what she purchased and how it worked for her.

What Does The Kit Come With?

There are three products that come with the system:

  • No 1 is the Bond Multiplier, which looks like a golden liquid applied to hair that is free of buildup but unconditioned.
  • No 2 is the Bond Perfector is a cream that is used on top of the Bond Multiplier to “link the remaining disulfide bonds before and after service, restoring strength, structure and integrity to the hair.”
  • No 3 in the line is “optional” but obviously you would use it to get all of the results the product boasts about. It can be used as a pre-poo treatment or as a maintenance treatment weekly. It is essentially a conditioner.

Here is how Relaxed Hair Health described her experience:

My experience was somewhat mixed. Part of it was my fault. I tried (and failed) again to air dry so I couldn’t tell if my hair felt healthier. But what I did notice was that it much stronger. My hair was much better equipped to handle manipulation without excessive breakage.

Once I went back to roller setting, I noticed the difference. My hair just looked and felt healthier. I anticipated a cumulative effect as I used the product week after week and I got it. I barely lost any hair last wash. One thing I haven’t done yet was to apply #1 , then sit under steamer for a deeper effect. Though I plan to try it within the next day or two. I suspect this will create even more elasticity in the long run.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the brand and it’s results. If you have severely damaged hair, this product was practically made for you. If your hair is healthy and strong, this is a “nice to have.”

If you’re curious about the process, you can pick up #3 and try it at home. If you go to a stylist for touch ups, please school him/her on Olaplex so they have it available for you at your next touch up.

What Are Other People’s Experiences With Olaplex?

You will not find a shortage of reviews and how-to’s on youtube but in 2015 when this post was originally published, most reviews came from stylists who were performing a high color lift on caucasian client’s hair.

Since then, naturals of youtube have flocked to the party, those with and without color. Check out the scene:

Where Can You Get It?

The answer to that is a bit complicated. No 3, the conditioner, is easily available online but No 1 and No 2 although also available on Amazon, has a price tag that will put off the average consumer.

Still, on eBay, you will have a lot more luck getting a taste of the full product at a more reasonable price. What you will find is that the vendors on eBay will purchase the professional size bottles then divide them into single-use sachets and sell those at a profit.

You will usually find them sold as ‘sample size’ so they won’t come in the official packaging but based on reviews they are the real deal. Just make sure that you get a large enough sample to cover your hair if you are natural. TWA’s can get away with 10ml and if you are shoulder length you will want to get at least 20ml. If you are mid-back length go for the 30ml samples.

After using the sample sizes a few times and you are sold on the efficacy of the product, you may then want to spring for a full-size professional product.

Final Thoughts

My opinion? Though it is reported to be ok for use in case you want to do multiple processing on the same day, I would not recommend that you go ahead and relax twice just for the heck of it, but if you’re in a bind and you absolutely must relax and color on the same day, it’s there.

I like the fact that naturals have been benefiting from using it as well. I would try anything at least once so I think it is worth a shot. I think I’ll try step 3 or the sample size step 1 and 2 and if that goes well I might spring for a salon visit for the full treatment.

I am still doing my own research since I use henna and I’m not sure how it would work with that or if my hair will come out the worst for wear if I only use it once and not religiously. Why do you think? Have you tried Olaplex?

We love experimenting with hair colour. It’s a form of self-expression and transformation that’s as creative as it is therapeutic. But, there’s no denying that repeated colouring can damage the quality of our hair, making it more prone to dryness, dullness and split ends. And, if when hair is damaged, colour doesn’t last as long, which means even more trips to the salon for top ups.

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It’s for these reasons that Olaplex has quickly become the hair treatment that top salons and beauty insiders can’t live without. The breakthrough technology repairs severely damaged hair that’s coloured regularly (which is welcome news for those of us who bleach or dye our hair often) as well as delivering a glossy, strengthening treatment to all hair types and textures, coloured or not.

Want to know more on the five steps and how it really transforms damaged locks? Here’s the lowdown and our beauty editor review…

What is Olaplex?

It’s a system that permanently rebuilds the damaged disulphide bonds in your hair that are broken during the chemical process. If you’ve over-bleached or had your hair highlighted for years, Olaplex allows you to rebuild the strength, structure and integrity of your hair; a ‘reset’ for your locks, if you will.

The system has allowed colourists to do work that they’d only ever dreamed of before. Black to white blonde in one session? No problem.

Five stages of Olaplex

Olaplex is a five-part treatment, the first two steps have to happen in a salon, with three maintenance steps at home.

  1. First, Olaplex Number 1: Bond Multiplier is for professional in-salon use – and can be put on the hair as a standalone treatment, or if you’re getting your colour done, it is mixed in with the bleach and put straight onto your hair in foils.
  2. Olaplex Number 2: Bond Perfector is then put on the hair once the bleach is rinsed out, usually at the back wash. This is left on for a good 20 minutes to really get the most out of its chemical mending.
  3. Olaplex Number 3: Hair Perfector, £32, is where you take things into your own hands. This take-home treatment is recommended for use once a week and is best applied before your shampoo and conditioner. Apply 1-3 teaspoons to dampened hair and comb through evenly. Leave on for 10-30 minutes or do as Kimmy K does and leave overnight.
  4. Olaplex Number 4: Bond Maintenance Shampoo, £25.85, can replace your regular shampoo for a hydrating, strengthening top-up at every wash.
  5. Olaplex Number 5: The Bond Maintenance Conditioner, £25.85, is the final step in the treatment to hydrate and smooth hair and is recommended to be left on for three minutes before rinsing.

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Olaplex Reviewed:

Having bleach-damaged hair herself, GLAMOUR contributor Samantha McMeekin was intrigued to see if Olaplex lived up to the hype, so she popped into the new Blue Tit salon on Portobello Road to get her colour done and try out the almighty Olaplex.

‘Having sacrificed my strands to a round of bleach every 10 or so weeks for the past two years, it’s safe to say I’d managed to suck all softness and hydration from my hair. And surprisingly, I hadn’t tried Olaplex before.

But now that I have, I can safely say they’ll be no going back. It was not unlike my regular hair appointment; the only difference being that once my foils were rinsed out, the Bond Perfector was applied all over and left for twenty minutes. I may have napped during the process.

Once my hair was blow-dried I ran my hands through my hair and honestly the difference was cray. Incredibly soft, smooth and not the slightly crunchy dry ‘do I was beginning to get used to.
And all from just a twenty-minute power nap!

With results this good it’s a no brainer to follow up with No. 3, 4 and 5 at home. Thanks to the coconut-oil derived surfactant in the shampoo, it’s super bubbly and a little goes a long way. The conditioner is a luxe rich texture and a conditioning treat for hair. And the trio of at-home steps definitely prolonged the look and feel of soft, smooth healthy strands. So even if you can’t make it to the salon, it’s still worth investing in these at-home steps.

My official hair routine from now on will be: foils > toner > Olaplex > cut > blow-dry > takeaway Olaplex > repeat at home.

And it’s not just me, almost every fellow colour addict I’ve spoken to has praised the repairing power of Olaplex. It’s singlehandedly allowing more and more people to embrace colour and switch shade or go blonde, with less fear of damage.’

Want some blonde inspiration? Look no further…

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We break down one of the biggest buzz-words in beauty…

The Olaplex hair treatment is the one of the biggest advances in hair technology for years – but does it really live up to the hype when it comes to repairing damaged and brittle hair?

Kim Kardashian reportedly swears by the Olaplex hair treatment (it’s apparently how she goes to platinum and back again without wrecking her tresses), saying: ‘When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I notice a huge difference.’

In 2019 so far, it’s been the best selling brand in Cult Beauty’s ‘disobedient hair’ category – but what do the experts think? We spoke to two top stylists and a trichologist to get the low-down on the beauty buzzword.

Olaplex was founded by Dean Christal, who teamed up with scientist Dr Craid Hawker and Dr Eric Pressly to cook up a new molecule that works from inside the hair strands, to strengthen and repair damaged locks where the structure has broken down.

Nicola Clarke, Creative Colour Director at Color Wow and John Frieda Salons elaborates for us. ‘For colourists, the biggest game-changer in hair colour is Olaplex. It maximises the strength of hair by reconnecting broken disulphide sulphur bonds in the hair, which gives hair a thicker look and healthier and stronger feeling,’ she explains.

‘The hair bonds break when hair is coloured and subject to regular heat and chemical treatments. It allows you to rebuild the strength, structure and integrity of hair and it is compatible with all hair types.’

When should Olaplex hair treatment be used?

For best results, it’s important to use it during a colour treatment, rather than after it.

This is where some of the confusion around the hair treatment comes in – the Olaplex hair treatment is not a cure-all for dry or damaged hair. It is a scientifically-developed treatment that works on hair condition from within, as opposed to a conditioner that improves only the superficial condition of damaged tresses.

Trevor Sorbie Manchester’s Creative Director, Vincent Allenby clarifies: ‘Olaplex is invaluable in maintaining the disulphide bonds within the hair structure during the colour process. These bonds are normally broken down during the colour process and can sometimes result in breakage and candyfloss results mainly in high lift situations such as balayage, highlights or lift tints. It’s a must for anyone heading lighter.’

Olaplex is also split into three main stages, and when you use each one differs, with four hair maintenance products to support your hair condition.

Olaplex before and after

Olaplex 1

Olaplex No 1 goes on your hair while it’s being coloured. It’s mixed in with the colour and applied directly onto your hair.

Olaplex 2

Olaplex No 2 is applied when you’re at the back wash sink. Once the hair dye has been rinsed, it’s applied to the hair and left on for around 20 minutes, then rinsed out. A little bit like a deep conditioning hair mask.

Olaplex 3

Olaplex No 3 is your turn; an at-home treatment that you use once a week. Pop it onto damp hair, comb through so that it reaches every strand and then leave for at least ten minutes. Do it for as long as you can – make like Kim K and leave it in whilst you sleep, then wash out afterwards.

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector, £24 Cult Beauty

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Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner – 4 and 5

Great news if you’re worried about maintaining the condition of your hair: Olaplex now offers a shampoo and conditioner so that you can to keep up the good work on a daily basis.

Olaplex No 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, £24, Cult Beauty

Olaplex No 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, £24, Cult Beauty

Buy now

Olaplex 6

Olaplex No 6 Bond Smoother, £24, Cult Beauty

A smoothing styling cream that’s great for frizz-prone, dry hair, Olaplex No 6 is infused with vitamins and minerals to repair and protect your mane. It promises a frizz-free style for up to 72 hours – winner!

Olaplex 7

Olaplex No 7 Bonding Oil, £26, Space NK

The newest launch to join the Olaplex family, No 7 is a lightweight daily styling oil that offers heat protection up to 450°. Not bad, hey?

Does Olaplex hair treatment really work?

With such rave reviews and celebrity endorsements, does this treatment mean we don’t need to worry about over bleaching and styling our hair any more? Not exactly. We asked trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver for her thoughts on the process.

As a hair expert, Tarver has had both personal and professional experience of the Olaplex treatment. ‘Olaplex is a brilliant product, I actually purchased my own to take to my colourist and have used it for my last three sets of highlights. My personal experience of it is that my hair feels stronger after colouring than it normally would.’ So if you’re partial to blonde hairstyles, and regularly get your hair bleached it’s a winning choice. Incidentally, if you want to tone down brassiness, ensure you grab some of the best purple shampoo.

But she does warn that it’s not a miracle fix for damaged hair: ‘My professional experience of it is that it cannot rewrite the rules of chemical processing. Unfortunately using Olaplex does not mean hair can be bleached multiple times without disintegrating.’

So, if you’re worried about the condition of your hair, next time you’re headed to the salon for a colour treatment, ask your stylist whether Olaplex is an option for you.

3 Types of Hair Treatments – And Who Should Use Them

A treatment is a vital part of any healthy hair regimen no matter the hair type. Whether you are recovering from damage, trying to grow your length, or just want your hair to be the healthiest it can possibly be, taking care and time to really treat the hair pays off tenfold. But between deep conditioners, protein treatments and even Olaplex – it can get a bit overwhelming and confusing. I’m here to try and clear that up a bit for you.

Deep Conditioners

The benefits deep conditioners have on the hair are nearly endless. From adding moisture to dry hair, improving texture, fighting frizz, and reducing split ends and breakage, the list can go on. This kind of treatment is ideal for any hair type, as there are so many out there now to cater to different hair sensitivities, porosities and curl types. Deep Conditioners are richer and thicker than rinse-out conditioners. I believe everyone should use a deep conditioner treatment to keep their hair healthy at least one time a week. If your hair is super fine or gets weighed down very easily, every other week might be okay. Personally, my super high, high porosity, frizz prone hair likes them every time I wash, which is about twice per week. My all-time favorite is Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. This silicone-free jar of magic is the perfect balance of both strength and moisture and every time I use it, I notice more shine and my hair feels more hydrated. I also believe my hair is shedding a lot less since using it consistently. An awesome protein-free deep conditioner is Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment. The Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask is another good one and SheaMoisture has a ton of affordable deep conditioning treatment options as well. Deep conditioners on average are meant to be left on the hair anywhere between 20-30 minutes. Some people like to leave them on a little longer, and if you truly are short on time even 10-15 minutes would bring some benefit. To further enhance deep conditioning benefits, adding heat will allow the nutrients inside to penetrate inside the hair shaft to nourish hair from the inside out. An awesome and easy way to add heat that myself and many other curlies like to use is the Thermal Hair Care Hot Head.

Protein Treatments

Protein treatments are done less often than deep conditioning treatments. Most non-protein sensitive curlies can get away with doing them every month to six weeks. If your hair is truly damaged, twice a month may even be good to start out. Obviously, if your hair is protein sensitive, skip these entirely. Protein treatments can help restore most damaged hair to a healthier condition while minimizing breakage, strengthening the hair strands and enhancing the curl pattern. Please keep in mind protein treatment is a treatment and not a miracle and there are cases of super extreme cases that are past the point of repair and must be cut off. If you do any chemical service (color, relaxer, etc) to your hair at all, I believe protein treatments are ESSENTIAL to protect the integrity of the hair. Just be sure not to do them too soon after, or the color can fade quicker (check with your professional stylist). A true, hard protein treatment requires heat to help the treatment absorb into the hair strands. True protein treatments will leave the hair feeling stiff when done properly – this is normal. But because of this, they MUST be followed up with a super moisturizing conditioner. My two personal favorite hard protein treatments are the Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment and Ouidad Deep Treatment Curl Restoration Therapy.

If you’re not sure which protein treatment your hair needs, check out our guide.

Bond Builder

Olaplex is getting so much well-deserved recognition with curlies lately. Olaplex No 1 and 2 are done in the salon, and since I’m not super familar with them, I’m going to leave it be. Olaplex No 3 is the at-home version and one I’ve been using regularly. I spoke to the people at Olaplex, and they did tell me people will see benefits using No 3 even if they did not get No 1 and 2 done in a salon, but ideally getting the salon treatment done first would be good. Olaplex is NOT a moisturizing deep conditioner or a protein treatment. Olaplex does contain some protein, but not enough to be considered a hard protein treatment. It is a bond builder meant to “relink the broken disulfide bonds caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage to the hair.”, according to the brand’s site, olaplex.com. The main goals of Olaplex No 3 is to strengthen the structure of the hair and improve the overall look and feel. Olaplex No 3 is meant to be left on a minimum of 10 minutes, but the longer the better. Once the hair is dry, Olaplex no longer works so there is no need to add additional heat to the product. Olaplex No 3 is applied to damp hair BEFORE cleansing and conditioning. Almost like a “pre-poo.” You should use your favorite shampoo or co-wash and conditioner after using Olaplex. A lot of curlies notice increase curl definition, shine and softness once they do an Olaplex treatment. For my personal results and how I like to use it, check out my review here.

To learn more about Olaplex, here are the pros and cons of Olaplex according to a stylist.

Like anything else when starting your natural curly journey or trying new things, it truly is about trial and error. What I love, you may hate and vice versa. No two heads of hair are alike, even if curl patterns may look similar and not everything works for everyone, so please keep that in mind.

I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be a professional hair stylist. I talk about what I learned myself researching, reading and talking to other curlies as well as industry professionals. Please always remember to be kind.

For more by me, check out my blog, YouTube and Instagram.

Olaplex No. 3 — How to Use This Miracle Treatment

You can think of Olaplex as your hair follicle rebuilder. If you can imagine your hair follicle as a thin vine, blowing in the wind, external elements like heat, colour and rough combing can cause this vine to split and break down. When applied before, during and after colour treatment, Olaplex can re-strengthen this vine and rebuilt it from the inside-out.

Another piece of good news about this already jaw-droppingly exciting product is that it can be applied to all hair types, including virgin, coloured, textured or highly compromised. The Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector is an ideal hair mask of sorts that will help fortify, smooth and protect your locks.

What’s the Difference Between Olaplex Nos. 1, 2 and 3?

If you’ve read up a little on the Olaplex phenomenon, you’ll know there are actually three different formulas — aptly named Olaplex Nos. 1, 2 and 3! Each works slightly differently, so here’s a quick run-down.

All treatments contain the same key ingredient, just in different dosages for their own distinct purpose. Olaplex Nos. 1 and 2 are available for professional use only. No. 1 gets added directly into the hair colour or lightener to protect and repair hair while it’s being coloured. Stylists also use Olaplex No. 1 as a standalone treatment on particularly damaged hair — it can be key to a total rebuild of the hair follicles!

Olaplex No 2. is a cream formula, so can easily be applied after a colour service to restore the strength, structure and integrity of the hair. This is used by the pros, often post-Olaplex No. 1 to ensure a transformative, fortifying experience.

Finally, Olaplex No. 3 is a take-home treatment that can be used to keep hair strong and healthy between colour treatments in-salon. Olaplex No. 3 is easily accessible by consumers, and you don’t need to have had either of the prior treatments to use it. It’s the most powerful at-home hair rebuilding agent on the market — just read the stacks of glowing reviews!

How to Use Olaplex No. 3

Image found here

So, you’ve picked up a little bottle of Olaplex No. 3 and you’re just dying to use it — we don’t blame you! Here’s exactly how you can start perfecting your hair from home with Olaplex to get results that’ll hopefully mimic those in the image above!

  1. You can either start by washing your hair lightly with your favourite shampoo (We recommend the Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance) to rid your hair of oil and build up, or if you feel your hair is already clean enough, you can apply Olaplex to dry hair. However, if you apply dry, you’ll need more product to thoroughly saturate the hair.
  2. Apply a good amount to towel dried (or dry as mentioned above) hair and comb through gently.
  3. Leave to sit for at least 10 minutes. If your hair is extremely damaged (or if it just needs a little boost), you can leave the Olaplex on for up to 90 minutes.
  4. Rinse out in the shower, then follow up with shampoo and conditioner. For best results, we recommend using the Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner, both of which are formulated with the Olaplex Bond Building chemistry. Olaplex is not a leave-in treatment, and is meant to be followed up with your everyday haircare routine.
  5. Style hair as usual. Try using the NEW Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother, a concentrated leave-in smoothing cream that eliminates frizz, hydrates and protects all hair types.

The results you’ll experience post-Olaplex can be varied, but one common misconception is that it’ll leave your hair silky-soft like never before. Although Olaplex is sure to soften the hair a little, it might not be as soft as you’ve come to expect, as it’s not a hair mask or deep conditioner. Remember, Olaplex works from the inside out to repair broken hair bonds. What you should notice is that your hair is a little more manageable, and also that breakage is less obvious up-close. You might also reap some added benefits, like a burst of gorgeous shine!

It’s recommended you use Olaplex No. 3 no more frequently than once a week, but you can also use it less frequently based on your needs.

The results experienced from Olaplex are permanent, so the reconnected hair bonds won’t break on their own. However, the daily elements of your haircare routine can create damage and thus re-break the repaired bonds. These processes include styling with heated tools, over-brushing and colouring the hair. To help restore once again, simply grab out your trusty Olaplex No. 3 again and repeat the process.

The $28 Leave-In Treatment That Transformed My Severely Damaged Hair

Photo: Olaplex

No, Really, You Need This features wellness products our editors and experts feel so passionately about that they can basically guarantee it will make your life better in some way. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “This seems cool, but do I really ~need~ it?” the answer this time is yes.

When I was 13, my cool older cousin forgot her Hot Tools straightener at our house. Rather than mail it back to her, I snuck it into my bathroom for an illicit straightening session. With just a few passes, my unruly, virgin baby strands became sleek and crazy-shiny. I rocked up to middle school the next day with stick-straight hair feeling *so* 2000s on trend, like Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday or a brunette version of Lizzie McGuire. (Related: The Dyson Airwrap Is a Magical Do-It-All Hair Tool Worth the Splurge)

In the years since, I upgraded from my OG Hot Tools to a top-of-the-line Sedu, but my dependence on flat irons to achieve a good hair day stayed the same. I ignored hairstylists (and my mom) who said I was permanently damaging my strands by frying them to a crisp each morning. Roommates got used to me anxiously hustling back to our apartment shortly after we’d left to make sure I’d switched off that 300-degree heat stick. When I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, he’d occasionally threaten to throw out my Sedu after it burned him in the bathroom. And when he invited me to Australia to meet his family for the first time, you bet I invested in a mini travel Sedu and North America-to-Australia power adaptor so I could be blissfully frizz-free in the Southern Hemisphere.

It wasn’t until I got engaged and started thinking about my bridal beauty look that I finally acknowledged my hair straightening addiction had gone too far. My bridal vision was long, lush waves like you see in everyone’s wedding inspo Pinterest boards. The problem? After 16 years of consistent flat iron use, no amount of heat protectant spray could save my hair. It was exactly as Mom had prophesied: burnt to a crisp. I had split ends and uneven breakage and the texture of hay.

So I dedicated myself to rehabbing my hair. I told myself I could only use my Sedu on weekends or on very dire, 90 percent humidity weekdays. I scheduled regular trims, took biotin supplements, switched to sulfate-free shampoo, and invested in a WetBrush, which untangles wet hair gently so it’s less likely to break. It all helped, but three months later, I wasn’t seeing as much improvement as I would have liked. Finally, after a desperate “how to fix damaged hair” late-night Google search, I discovered Olaplex.

The brand is a three-step system: Olaplex No.1 Bond Multiplier, No.2 Bond Perfector, and No.3 Hair Perfector. Together, the three formulas work to heal the bonds within your hair that have been damaged by heat, color, or chemical processing. The first two steps are professional products only available in salons, usually applied after coloring to immediately repair damage. But Olaplex No.3 is available for at-home use-you can find the $28 bottle at select salons or online (try Nordstrom, Amazon, Sephora, and Walmart). It contains the same ingredients as the professional versions and is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

The online reviews for Olaplex No.3 were so compelling that I mapped out a nearby salon that stocked it and showed up as soon as they opened their doors the next morning. A few hours later, I was combing the rich formula through my hair. It’s recommended that you leave it on damp strands for at least 10 minutes (although I left it for three hours that first time), then rinse it out and shampoo and style as normal.

I’d tried countless leave-in conditioners and deep-conditioning masks over the years, but nothing prepared me for the results I saw after just one Olaplex treatment. When my hair dried, it was the closest I could remember to my pre-Hot Tools days. While it certainly didn’t straighten my hair, Olaplex did leave my strands softer, sleeker, and noticeably less frizzy. My hair looked and felt… actually healthy??? I didn’t even feel the usual impulse to plug in my Sedu. (Related: Hair Masks That Combat Dryness and Frizz)

I continued to religiously apply my Olaplex No. 3 at least once a week. Don’t let the small bottle fool you. You can use the treatment two to three times a week if hair is severely damaged, but if you stick to once-weekly general maintenance, the 3.3-oz size will last a few months, if not more. Because the formula is liquidy (you’ll want to apply it over a sink or bathtub), a little bit goes a long way.

A few months later, I showed up for my haircut appointment, steeling myself for the “Your hair is falling apart” lecture from the hairstylist. It didn’t come.

“Wow,” she remarked instead. “Your hair looks healthy.”

Buy It: Olaplex No.3, $28, nordstrom.com, sephora.com, walmart.com, amazon.com (scoop it up for just $20 during Amazon Prime Day)

Can You Leave Olaplex On Too Long?

It’s the hair treatment system that everyone is talking about – especially everyone with hair that is bleached, damaged, overly straightened or just plain stressed-out. Why the buzz about Olaplex? Because, unlike so many hair products that promise the world but deliver decidedly average results, Olaplex really does work. Search online for reviews and you’ll be met with page after page of raves and amazing success stories, and here’s mine: It’s no exaggeration to say that Olaplex is the best thing to ever happen to my hair.

To be clear, my hair was never a disaster. I have blonde highlights, but since my hair is naturally light and fairly fine, I never needed to subject my hair to multi-step processing or hardcore bleach. But still, every few months I’d head to the hairdresser for a half-head of foils. I’d arrive home with the heartfelt intention to only use sulphate-free, color-preserving shampoo, but hate how my hair never felt clean enough; soon enough my sudsy, deep cleaning shampoos would be back in rotation. Which, as we all know, aren’t great for your hair.

From left, Olaplex No. 4 (shampoo), No. 5 (conditioner) and No. 6 (hair perfector treatment)

And then there was the blowdrying, the regular straightening, the expensive deep conditioning treatments that I’d buy but never get around to using… Long story short, my hair rarely looked as good as I wanted. Within a week or two of a trim, I’d start spotting split ends again, and I quickly reverted to what I call “triangle hair” – ends that are frizzy and rough and prone to ‘poofing out’, and which no amount of serum or oil can turn back into silky tresses. The only way I could temporarily smooth my ends would be with my GHD straighteners, which of course only damaged my hair further… and so the vicious cycle accelerated.

Enter Olaplex. The Olaplex range contains six products and of those, two – Olaplex No. 1 and Olaplex No. 2 – are salon-only treatments; Olaplex No. 4 and No. 5 are shampoo and conditioner respectively. It’s No. 3, the ‘hair perfector’ treatment, which is the at-home wonder product that everyone is talking about. To be clear, every product in the range is amazing – I have the shampoo and conditioner, and both have done great things to my hair; I plan to purchase the ‘bond smoothing’ leave-in styling creme too. But it’s No. 3 that’s the true game changer, the product that turned my hair from frizzy and damaged to smooth and manageable. My hair is now a split-ends-free zone – in fact, my ends are looking so healthy I’ve been able to push back my hair appointments by weeks. So on top of everything, Olaplex is actually saving me money.

What does Olaplex do?

Olaplex works by mending the disulfide bonds in your hair. They’re the bonds that get broken by chemical treatments and heat, creating frizziness, dullness and breakages. Fun fact: because straight hair has fewer disulfide bonds than curly hair in the first place, straight hair tends to get damaged more quickly. Olaplex mends these bonds with a patented ingredient called bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, leaving your hair shinier, smoother and stronger.

The instructions on the back of a bottle of Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

Here’s how you use Olaplex No. 3

It’s important to understand that Olaplex isn’t a conditioning treatment in the normal sense. It doesn’t add moisture or conditioning ingredients to your hair, so if you hair is damaged (and if you’re using Olaplex, I’m going to assume it is) you should keep using deep conditioners on a regular basis. More importantly for our purposes here, you need to remember that Olaplex is used before shampooing, not after. It can be used on dry or wet hair, but you’ll find you need more product if your hair is dry. I always wet my hair first.

After you’ve towel dried your hair, you take a generous amount of Olaplex No. 3 and work it through your hair. While you want to make sure your ends are covered, don’t forget to apply it to the strands closer to your head too: broken disulfide bonds can happen anywhere on the hair shaft, from root to tip. Olaplex advises leaving on for a minimum of 10 minutes, but you’ll get even better results if you leave it on for longer before shampooing out.

So how long should you leave on Olaplex No. 3, and can you leave Olaplex on too long?

The short answers are: as long as you like, and no, you can’t leave Olaplex on too long. To get the best results from Olaplex, you should leave it on for at least an hour. After that, it’s arguable whether there are any additional benefits, but the important thing to know is that there are zero risks to leaving it on for longer. In fact, many experts – and Kim Kardashian, who is apparently not a paid spokesperson for Olaplex, she just honestly loves it – recommend leaving Olaplex on overnight.

That’s what I do, and I’ve found it’s the easiest way to get the full benefits of Olaplex before shampooing out in the morning. A bonus I’ve found is that, unlike conditioning treatments, Olaplex No. 3 dries into your hair pretty quickly, so if you apply it to towel-dried hair half an hour before you go to bed, your hair should feel relatively dry to the touch by the time your head hits the pillow (I still lay down a spare pillowcase, just to avoid dirtying up the pillowcases on my bed).

Conclusion

Like I said at the start, Olaplex is the best thing to happen to my hair, and while you may not have the same hair as me, every hair type will benefit from Olaplex treatments. The only difference in results will depend on how damaged your hair was in the first place – the more damaged your hair, the more remarkable the results.

Because Olaplex No. 3, the Hair Perfector, is so unlike other hair products, and so powerful, it’s understandable to be concerned about leaving it on too long. But there’s no need to worry. Leave it on as long as you like – whether you leave it on for one hour or 12, you’ll be blown away by the results.

Olaplex for damaged hair

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