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.”

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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.”