Taking care of yourself and making sure you’re looking after yourself is so important, especially during the summer months. Drinking lots of water, staying hydrated and making sure we’re protecting ourselves from the heat. Something else suffers during these hot, humid months, more so than at any other time of the year. Our hair. I’m a fan of trying DIY treatments like olive oil and egg, avocado and coconut oil, and mayonnaise and honey because it feels so great when you can create something that really makes a difference in how your hair feels. But, sometimes there are treatments that I discover that really make an instant difference. Enter: Olapex!
Olaplex promises to repair, strengthen and restore hair that has been bleached, dyed or damaged by heat. It’s more than a conditioner because it actually repairs the bonds (it’s a bond multiplier) and so it reduces breakage from treatments that previously haven’t been kind to our hair. Damage, straightening and overusing a hair dryer are key ways in which hair gets frazzled and dry so heat is one factor. Bleaching is another one, and I decided the best time to try Olaplex would be heading into the summer where both bleach and heat will play a big part – this is the real test! I went to HOB salons in Camden to go from brown to a lighter, more caramel colour. It’s naturally curly so it has always been frizzy, dry and difficult to manage. After years of bleaching and straightening, my hair wasn’t looking healthy and the glossy look it used to have hasn’t been around for a while. Silky, strong hair? Yes please.
First, what is Olaplex?
The technical term is it’s a “simple three-step process which includes a patented active ingredient that works on a molecular level to seek out broken bonds in the hair that are caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage.” Basically, it restores hair that has seen better days and helps to reconnect broken bonds. Two of the stages are done in a hairdressers or a salon and the final part is done at home.
Treatment No.1 (bond multiplier) – This is mixed with hair dye/bleach and applied to the hair all together.
Treatment 2 (bond perfector ) – This is used after the dye has been washed off and is left in for a few minutes
Treatment 3 (hair perfector) – This is what you get to take home with you to ‘top up’ the treatment and continue the repairing at home
If you’ve had plenty of deep-conditioning, hydrating, glossing treatments over the years but found them to be ultimately disappointing, don’t worry – Olaplex is different. Unlike traditional salon treatments, it works to mend the structure of the hair, rather than smothering it in moisture to mask the damage.
How does Olaplex work?
Essentially, colouring your hair eats away at your hair’s protein reserves. If you want to get technical about it, it splits the sulphur bonds, which then become sulphur hydrogen and that process gnaws away the hair protein. Olaplex links these bonds back together, preventing the damage and making hair smoother and shinier. Your hairdresser will mix in the formula with your usual colour dye, which is then applied as normal before following up with a deep conditioning treatment. Can it fix your heat fried hair? The evidence would suggest so – the before and after pictures speak for themselves…
Impressive, right? In fact, we’ve only ever heard positive reviews of Olaplex treatments.
What are the benefits of Olaplex?
First things first, if your long hair suffers from splits and breakage, Olaplex is your new hero treatment (finally, a way to fix our split ends…) As we’ve previously mentioned, it works by knitting the bonds in your hair back together, meaning that after one treatment, your frazzled ends will be left looking a lot healthier (team with a quick trim for maximum effect). Your hair will also feel softer, shinier and easier to manage (which can only be a good thing, no?)
Can Olaplex be used on dark hair?
It’s certainly not exclusively reserved for bottle blondes. In fact, Olaplex is ideal as an add-on if you’re a brunette who lifts her colour chemically, as it allows dark hair to be lightened quicker and less aggressively.
Can Olaplex be used alone without colour treatments?
It’s also available as a stand alone treatment, for when your damaged hair is in need of some serious deep conditioning, which is what I did.
What does Olaplex look like before and after?
Nadia at John Frieda doused my hair in the Bond Multiplier, left it five minutes, then sprayed in the Bond Perfector for ten minutes, then washed them out. That’s it. That’s all it takes.
Nadia blow dried my hair as normal, and I was dumbfounded. Never has my bottle-blonde hair looked so shiny or felt so soft – without also feeling very, very greasy. It swooshed. It bounced. You can see some Olaplex before and after photos here:
How long does Olaplex last?
As Nadia reminded me, Olaplex doesn’t wash out. It’ll keep being this great until I get my hair coloured again, and the results so far are showing the hair improves with every treatment. I’m sold. Don’t go blonde without it.
Can you use Olaplex at home?
After a salon treatment, your hairdresser might offer you the take-home conditioning treatment, which is recommended for weekly use to keep your hair looking and feeling healthy and full of life.
We break down one of the biggest buzz-words in beauty.
Olaplex is the biggest new hair treatment technology for years – but does it really live up to the hype when it comes to repairing damaged and brittle hair? Kim Kardashian swears by Olaplex (it’s reportedly how she went to platinum and back again without wrecking her tresses – “When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I notice a huge difference,”), 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.
So what is Olaplex?
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 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 feels healthier and stronger,” 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.”
No matter what your hair type, you can find the perfect conditioner for you with this personalised quiz…
When should it be used?
For best results, it’s important to use Olaplex during a colour treatment, rather than after it. This is where some of the confusion around the hair treatment comes in – Olaplex is not a cure-all for dry or damaged hair. But 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.
Everyone’s talking about Olaplex. And no wonder: as hair colour trends get more frequent and more experimental, the promise of a salon treatment that claims to restore your hair to its virgin state even as your colour is being applied is alluring indeed.
In a nutshell, Olaplex is a turbo-charged conditioning treatment that repairs disulphate sulfur bonds within the hair structure, which can be broken down by heat, colouring or other chemical treatments. Creative colour director of John Frieda Salons, Nicola Clarke, recently described the formula as “the holy grail for hair colour” so my bayalage-beaten ends were perfect to give Olaplex a run for its money.
My pre-treatment consultation with Chloe, lead colourist at the John Frieda Aldford Street salon, left the whole salon captivated. Five minutes later, the backwash was full with clients who demanded the treatment on the spot. First, Chloe applied the Olaplex Bond Multiplier from root to tip and left on for five minutes. I expected a chemical smell (even though I knew it to be free from silicone, sulfates, aldehydes and even gluten) and tingling feeling but it was pleasantly mild and felt like nothing more than water. Next, Chloe added the Bond Perfector for a double whammy of repairing benefits, then washed it all off after a further 10 minutes. I didn’t need my colour redone, but if I had, Chloe could have added the Olaplex to the dye for simultaneous results, stopping any damage at the source. This is what makes the treatment perfect for anyone after an extreme colour change or even just maintaining colour on very brittle hair.
One big and bouncy blow-dry later (we skipped any styling or finishing products to better assess the results) and my hair had a mirror-like shine. “The real proof is after you’ve washed and dried it yourself and it still looks as good,” said Chloe. One week and five washes down and my hair is just as soft, lustrous and strong as on the day. Total freedom of colour and elimination of damage – what’s not to love?
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 high lift tints. It’s a must for anyone heading lighter.”
Does it really work?
With such rave reviews and celebrity endorsements, does Olaplex 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.” You can find out more about styling blonde hairstyles with our celebrity guide.
But she does warn that it’s not a miracle fix for damaged hair: “My professional experience of it is that I have seen cases of severe hair damage, in which the hairdresser has attempted multiple bleaching procedures in the opinion that using Olaplex can allow then to rewrite the rules of chemical processing. Unfortunately for their clients, using Olaplex does not mean hair can be bleached multiple times without disintegrating.”
We went for the full treatment to see how our hair would actually be repaired after taking it blonder and adding more light shades to the hair at HOB Salons in Camden. Femi, the stylist, explained more about Olaplex and how it works.
“I think it’s more than a treatment, it really does make a difference in the quality of your hair and is an ongoing thing that you should use regularly for maintenance rather than a one-off.” That’s where the third step comes in. This is the bottle you take home and continue using once a week
Although you can buy the No.3 Hair Perfector and use it without having the salon treatment, you’ll see the best results possible if you have all three parts of Olaplex used.
No.3 Hair Perfector can be used without having the salon treatment, however the user will see best results by having the in-salon treatment.
If your hair has already been chemically treated, you’ll see a more dramatic change but if you just want to add a bit of life into your hair, Olaplex works for that too.