Olaplex is on everyone’s tresses at the moment. Every time so much as I pass a salon I can hear stylists and colorists recommending it to their clients. It’s not just the average customer who is being sold this hair elixir either, the celebs are already all over it with famous fans including everyone from Cameron Diaz to the Kardashians and Emma Stone.
If you’re not sure what this stuff even is then allow me to explain (with a little help from the hair pros). If you speak to Olaplex themselves they’ll tell you it’s a ‘revolutionary treatment’ that gives hair stylists and colorists a whole new world of possibilities. Speaking plainly, it’s a treatment that helps reinstate your hair’s strength and shine, resulting in glossier, stronger hair.
The concept for Olaplex came about when founder Dean Cristal started “what-iffing”. He imagined, what if “a beauty company could keep chemical treatments from hurting hair?” Finding a way to protect hair while being able to experiment with color is pretty much the Holy Grail for the hair industry and the resulting Olaplex formula has been applauded ever since its 2014 launch.
Wella Platform artist Kai Wan from P. Kai Hair, explains Olaplex as having two uses – either as a product that can help protect hair during coloring or as a standalone treatment to revive damaged hair.
He says, “Olaplex is a bonding agent that when mixed with bleach, helps to retain the internal integrity of the hair’s structure. The result is much less damage during bleaching or coloring. As well as being a product we use during the color process, it’s also used a standalone treatment for hair when there is internal damage to the bonds that make up the fabric of the hair.”
It means that hair that has previously felt beyond repair now has a chance and it also enables a lot more creativity when it comes to color effects; from adding it to gloss colors, balayage looks, softer highlights, coloring hair extensions or purely as a treatment for damaged hair; a touch of Olaplex can leave hair feeling fuller, glossier and healthier.
The next time you visit the salon, it’s likely you’ll be asked if you want the Olaplex treatment as an add-on. I had it the last time I got my hair lightened – I really can’t deny a hairdresser anything (hence the super short hair cuts I used to have as a teen) and this time I didn’t regret it. Post treatment my color popped and the shine, well, it shone. Best of all is the way it transformed my brittle hair into strands of silk.
The science behind it sounds complicated but is actually quite simple.
Wan says, “Hair is made up of Polypeptides and Disulphide bonds which can break when subjected to a chemical process like bleaching. What Olaplex does is go in and build bridges across the broken bonds.”
Over time, using Olaplex can help the hair to become more flexible and resistant to breakage.
So when is the best time to invest in Olaplex? Most colorists will strongly advise you to use Olaplex during your coloring treatment as it can prolong the color, improve the health of your hair and give it a little bit more support.
Wan agrees, he says, “I’d recommend having it as part of the color process whilst the standalone treatment is perfect for when hair is feeling incredibly fragile and needs some strength.”
But you can use it at home as a weekly treatment too – this is what I have been doing since the New Year and honestly, it’s one of the best investments I’ve made in my hair. The Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector ($22.99) is a hair treatment that can be left on for 10 minutes or more and with regular use, it makes a huge difference to undernourished, scraggy hair. I’m not a colorist or hairstylist, but take my word for it, I’m now one happy haired human.
Read more of MBS’s Extras column over here.