If you have ever done research on how to strengthen yours hair – especially after a dye job – you may have encountered Olaplex treatment. Developed by world-renowned chemists Dr Eric Pressly and Dr. Craig Hawker, it's a multi-step system that starts in your lounge and continues from home.
While not necessarily a cure-all magic potion, it quickly becomes a standard in salons to keep your hair strong, shiny and healthy. For the professional explanation of what Olaplex is and how it works, we meet some color experts.
So What is Olaplex, exactly?
"Olaplex is mainly used in hair dyeing services and uses a molecule specially designed to repair broken disulfide bonds," said Kim Le, a painter at NYC's Butterfly Studio Salon. FYI, disulfide bonds are responsible for elasticity and strength. Without them the hair will be cut. Le continues, "With the Olaplex in-salon system, as well as regular use of post-treatment products, you see a big improvement in the hair's feel, appearance and strength."
At the Butterfly Studio Salon, Le says that they have also tested Olaplex on curly clients who have heat damage that causes disturbed lid patterns and crisp locks. She says: "After doing in-salon treatment, fierce clients have noticed a return in shine, strength and cap pattern."
In that sense, Olaplex differs from a balm because it actually builds hairbond at the molecular level. Conditioner, while still an important way to infiltrate hydration and restore gloss, treats only the outer layer.
"I've actually used Olaplex for the past three years in each of my own ink treatments," says Le, who has heavily dyed hair that requires bleaching for vibrant colors. "My personal experience is that my hair feels stronger after staining than it would normally do, and my hair does not break as much as it used to."
How do you use Olaplex?
As mentioned, Olaplex is a multi-stage system that begins in the lounge. Your colorist will apply steps one and two, which contains the highest level of the patented molecule.
"Step 1 is added in color or lighter to begin the process of preventing damage and repairing the hair as it is stained," explains Carly Militello, a painter at Cutler Salon. "Step two is the second salon step that continues to restore all remaining bonds to ensure that the hair is as healthy as possible after the color service."
You continue the treatment process at home with Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3, $ 28, used once or twice a week.
"To get the full Olaplex experience, you can buy No.4, $ 28, which is a shampoo and no.5, $ 28, which is a conditioner, to treat the outer layer of the hair," says Linda de Zeeuw, a master stylist at Rob Peetoom Salon. "Used together, these products give you the perfect balance between hydrogenation and protein, which are the natural ingredients in our hair."
While all products are intended to be used together, you can technically make steps three, four and five without one and two and still deliver positive results. The in-Salon steps are still very important when you color your hair because they prevent and correct color and heat damage.
Are there any bond object options?
While Olaplex remains the product market for binding products on the market, there are others out there. Each company uses its own technology so you should expect the products to yield varying results. Some examples are the oil-based bonding system, Brazilian Bond Builder, L & Oreal Professionals SmartBond system and Redken's pH-Bonder system. Like Olaplex, they start at the lounge and ask for treatment "homework" done by you!
Do you have questions about Olaplex? Let's chat in the comments!