What is Olaplex?
Olaplex is a concentrated, three-step hair treatment that fixes damaged hair and prevents future damage. It’s the brainchild of chemists Eric Pressly and Craig J. Hawker, and beauty entrepreneur Dean Christal.
The treatment has three parts: two in-salon services, and one at-home treatment. The first salon step, No. 1, is mixed into whatever hair treatment you’re getting (say you’re bleaching your roots or getting a toner) and applied onto your hair as normal. The second salon step, No. 2, is applied onto your hair like a conditioner once your chemical treatment is washed out. It then gets rinsed out before your final styling.
The at-home treatment, No. 3, is less concentrated than the salon steps. Think of it as a hair mask treatment. You can certainly use it on its own, but most stylists will recommend using it as part of your broader Olaplex regimen to see the best results.
All three steps of Olaplex are entirely free of silicone, sulfates, and phthalates—ingredients that can damage and dry out your hair.
So, how does it work?
In order to get exactly what it does, you have to know how hair works. [Pushes up glasses.]
Basically, hair is basically made up of proteins (keratins). These proteins are held together by disulfide bonds. Easy enough, right? Well, most of our go-to styling products and tools—blow outs, chemical straighteners, curling irons, and dye—can break disulfide bonds, which weakens your hair’s protein or just saps it out altogether. That makes your hair more susceptible to damage—frizziness, split ends, etc.
Lots of other treatments simply add back in protein, which can certainly be effective. But according to hairstylist Debra Guerra of Long Valley, New Jersey, Olaplex works to repair the broken bonds in your hair (to prevent future damage and strengthen hair) while healing the damage you already have—leading to healthier locks. Its secret, bond-building weapon is a patented active ingredient called Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate (try saying that three times fast).