There’s been lots of hype in the last few months about Olaplex, a hair salon treatment that claims to repair, strengthen and restore, bleached, dyed and heat damaged hair. It’s not a conditioner per se, but a ‘bond multiplier’ that works by repairing bonds within the hair shaft to drastically reduce breakage from chemical treatments.
Most of the salon reviews on the net are from young women under taking extreme bleaching i.e. dyeing hair platinum white à la Kim Kardashian last year, who managed transform back to black from white blonde with minimal damage.
It’s not proven that Kim used Olaplex at that time, but she is definitely on record (because there’s a video *aherm*) singing its praises:
I like to do a treatment called Olaplex. When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I noticed a huge difference.
I assume she talking about Treatment No 3, after an in-salon Olaplex treatment.
The Olaplex Salon System comprises of Treatment No.1 (bond multiplier), to be mixed with hair dye/bleach and No.2 (bond perfector) to be used after the dye’s been rinsed clear. Clients are then given a bottle called Treatment No.3 (hair perfector), for use at home to ‘top up’ the treatment.
OLAPLEX™ is a single active ingredient, designed to reconnect the disulphide sulfur bonds broken by the process of permanent hair coloring and lightening. OLAPLEX™ is free of silicones, oils, aldehydes and parabens.
My hair’s in lovely condition at the moment and tempted as I am to have an Olaplex salon treatment (£50-70.00 in London), not that many places offer it as a service at the moment and more importantly, I’m very pleased with my current hair colour and I wouldn’t want another colourist near my hair, although Olaplex doesn’t affect the colour in any way. #scaredycat
However, an Unfading Beauty reader bought a bottle of the No.3 treatment and I went out and did the same.
Here are the questions I asked for us both with regard to Treatment No.3.
Is Olaplex suitable for older (50+) hair?
Olaplex is suitable for all hair types, regardless of age.
Is it a salon or at home ‘standalone’ treatment or both? A reader has bought “Treatment 3” in a bottle, but asks if she needs a salon treatment first?
It’s an in-salon treatment that can be used as a standalone reparative treatment or within a colour treatment to repair hair bonds whilst colouring.
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.
The No.3 product is a pre-shampoo treatment that you apply to damp hair and leave on for as long as possible before shampooing and conditioning as normal. No.3 product can be used once a week in-between trips to the salon to continue to rebuild hair and keep it in fantastic health and condition.
Is Olaplex suitable for uncoloured or naturally grey hair?
Yes Olaplex is suitable for all hair types including uncoloured or naturally grey hair. Olaplex will also repair damage from earlier colouring, perming, straightening and heavy use of thermal heated tools.
You will have a more dramatic change if hair is already chemically treated, however Olaplex will benefit any hair type.
Can it be used over a Keratin Smoothing Treatment?
Olaplex can be used over a Keratin Smoothing Treatment to repair the damage that occurs during this type of chemical treatment.
My mum’s having her hair tinted and highlighted tomorrow, which is a heavy-duty process. Despite regular deep conditioning treatments, her hair does, understandably, become very dry afterwards.
I applied Olaplex to her hair pre shampoo, as directed, yesterday and I will apply another treatment next week. Admittedly, it was silky and soft afterwards, but it will be interesting to see how her hair looks and feels next week.
It’s not that easy to buy, probably because it’s sold as part of the in-salon treatment. My reader bought her No.3 bottle from eBay. I wouldn’t trust eBay with such a new product, so I bought mine on Amazon UK (£18.00) from the official Olaplex shop.
Olaplex UK This looks like a trade (i.e. salon) only website. There is information, but it’s a little tricky to navigate.
The official Olaplex Facebook page is easier reading, with lots of photos showing off the results of this hair treatment.
UPDATE 8th March 2016
For whatever reason (hormones?) my hair started to ‘play up’ and I lost the lovely swishy look I’d previously been enjoying, so I decided to apply the treatment on my hair, using the second official bottle of Olaplex (sorry mum!) although fortunately, there was no difference between the two of them.
The thick and creamy/slightly gel like mixture doesn’t have a particular fragrance, I’d describe it a ‘hair salon’ scent. It was easy to apply and comb through. Because I knew it wouldn’t affect or alter the colour of my hair, I did a ‘half Kim Kardashian’ and left it on for 4 hours.
I rinsed it off and shampooed and conditioned my hair as normal. I was going out in the evening and thought my hair would look spectacular. It didn’t work out that way. My hair felt thicker, which I suppose translates into stronger, but it wasn’t at all shiny or particularly soft – very different from my mum’s hair.
Truth be told, it was actually a bit on the dull side and remained that way after 3 more washes during the week, the flyways were the same too. I put it down to not having had Olaplex salon treatments 1 and 2, which I think would have kick started the process and made for better results with the home ‘top up’ treatment number 3.
Roll on a week and my hair was highlighted as normal. As usual, it was glossy and smooth in the salon, which I always expect. Interestingly though, my hairdresser did remark on how much healthier my hair looked – and this is the biggie, how much better it felt.
I’ve washed my hair a few times since, using the lightweight TommyGuns Pomegranate & Orange Flower shampoo and conditioner (everyone loves the scent), but with the same ‘salon’ results.
Unlike a NanoKeratin treatment – 90 seconds to 80% dry hair, it does still take the normal amount of time to blow dry, but my hair is smooth, sheeny, as opposed to shiny, I think you know what I mean, and flyaways are greatly reduced i.e. lying flat – I still can’t see how they can be ‘physically’ repaired (I need to read up on the Olaplex technology again), but there is a tangible difference. It also still retains that ‘thick’ feeling, which I’ve not see as a result on anyone else’s reviews.
I really need to use the bottle up before I can say for sure, that it’s the Olaplex treatment 3 that’s done this, but I will continue to use the product once a week as directed.
If, when I’ve finished the bottle and I see continued improvement, then I will definitely book a salon treatment (I’d buy treatments 1 and 2 and take into my regular hairdresser). This could be a viable alternative to my beloved NanoKeratin treatments. Olaplex is much cheaper and has zero down time.
UPDATE 12th & 21st March 2016
Two updates in one, because I did the same thing each week and had the same results each time. On both of us, I left the Olaplaex treatment on (covered in cling film, with a plastic shower cap on top) for over 3 hours.
On my mum’s hair, which has an all over tint and fine highlights woven through the top layer, her hair was, once again, soft and shiny immediately after blow drying.
On my hair (just highlighted), my hair wasn’t noticeably shinier at all, in fact it was (once again) fairly dull after blow drying and needed a couple of more washes to look shiny again.
I was wondering why we have such different results and the obvious conclusion is that my mum’s hair has all over tint. I’m beginning to think Olaplaex works best on all over colour, or all over bleach. This makes sense when you see the after photos of women with white, silver, pink bleached hair. Their hair is softer and shinier, like my mum’s hair.
However, the good part for me is that I’m still enjoying the feeling of ‘thicker’ hair and other people have noticed as well. There are less flyaways too.
UPDATE 20th April 2016
One of my readers, Max, sent me an email about Olaplex after reading the above review on treatment 3 and kindly allowed me to post her findings here.
I swear by Olaplex. I’ve had the 1 & 2 stage treatments every 6 weeks at my hairdressers. My hair has grown and is thicker, and longer than it’s been for years – menopause hair!
This is a great opportunity to get answers from a real person and not the official online blurb, so I asked a few questions.
SALON OLAPLEX 1 & 2? OR HOME TREATMENT 3?
The No. 1 and 2 treatments are the ones that have totally turned my hair around (before menopause!).
I have it done every 6 weeks and just bought the number 3 home one to use in between, but have to say I’m not raving too much about No. 3.
WHAT TYPE OF HAIR DO YOU HAVE?
I’m a red-head with some white sneaking in now, so I go every 6 weeks for some foil highlights and have the treatment straight after.
I find this really interesting, I thought that when using Olaplax to repair dyed hair, it only worked on ‘all over’ colour/tint/bleach and that treatment 1 (the ‘active’ solution) needed to be mixed with the colour. Not so. If you don’t want to mix it with bleach for highlights (and there’s a lot of precise measuring and calculating to get the formula right), you can use it immediately afterwards. Plus of course, it can be used on virgin, i.e. uncoloured hair.
WHAT DOES THE SALON DO?
They wash out the colour, add treatment 1, leave me for about 10-15 minutes, then treatment 2 for about 5 minutes.
HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY FOR THE TREATMENT?
The salon is called La Medusa in Henley-on-Thames. I have the treatment on top of my cut etc. but I think it’s around £30 (ish).
Obviously cheaper outside London!
I’ve been using Olaplex Treatment No.3 at home (and on my mum too), every 6 six weeks and the results have been consistent – my mum’s hair = soft and shiny. My hair = fuller looking.
I’m convinced now though, that I really do need No. 1 & 2 in salon treatments.
DO/DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME?
Although Olaplex won’t alter the colour of your hair, the official line is that only accredited hairdressers can purchase and carry out treatments 1 & 2. But of course, the internet says differently, although the danger lies in buying counterfeit products, which we’ve discussed below in comments.
Research is key here, get the genuine product and watch the DIY videos on You Tube for application tips.
Huge thanks to Gingerkarma for her contribution to this piece.
UPDATE 19th August 2016
I haven’t updated this post for 4 months, but there’s a good reason, my hair salon introduced me to Lisaplex.
As the name suggests, Italian brand Lisaplex is similar to Olaplaex with a 2 step Bond Saver and Hair Structure Filler process, and can be used for bleaching, colouring, after straightening or as a standalone treatment.
I had one treatment in May after my highlights, and my second one last Saturday. I thought my hair was feeling stronger, but it wasn’t until my treatment on Saturday that I realised just how well this works.
Admittedly, when I washed my hair 2 days later, it didn’t feel particularly smooth after conditioner, and it was even a bit difficult to run the old Tangle Teezer through. But after styling, it felt smooth and weightless and looks ‘wig’ shiny, especially in direct sunlight.
My advice now I’ve had two treatments, is book a professional in-salon Olaplex or Lisaplex (mine cost £20.00) treatment, before even thinking of buying the home treatment No 3.