Review - Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector
Review - Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector
"Our global best-seller is an at-home treatment, not a conditioner, that reduces breakage and visibly strengthens hair, improving its look and feel. It will restore your hair's healthy appearance and texture by repairing damage and protecting hair structure." - from Olaplex website.
What is Olaplex?
Well, I had no idea before my hair turned from black to charcoal-silver end of last year. My hairdresser spent 9 hours bleaching and toning my hair. My hair was basically dead afterwards. My hair was breaking every time I touched it. So I researched and discovered the big fuss about Olaplex.
(Boring chemistry alert) At a molecular level, hair contains something called "disulfide bonds". These bonds are chemically formed between two sulfurs. In damaged hair, these bonds are broken. Olaplex "repairs" hair by forming an artificial, extended bridge between the two sulfurs to replace the disulfide bond. I used quotation marks for the word repair because Olaplex does not make two sulfurs bond together in the same way that occurs naturally. Olaplex supplies a synthetic molecule called the Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate between two sulfurs which now bridge together. The hair is changed chemically at a molecular level.
The Olaplex system
The different products are:
No.0 - a priming treatment - said to increase effectiveness of No.3
No.1 and No.2 - these are salon-only and usually used when the hairdresser works on the colour.
No.3 - Pre-wash treatment
No.4 - Home-care shampoo
No.5 - Home care conditioner
No.6 - Leave-in cream
No.7 - Leave-in oil
No.8 - Rinse-off treatment (very new product; this one should be used in between No.5 and No.6)
On average they are approximately A$50 each. It is really steep especially when I did not know whether Olaplex would be effective for my hair or not. So I decided to purchase one to try. After quite an extensive research I decided to to go with No.3 because:
Online reviews suggest that No.3 is the most effective; and
the key active ingredient seems to be most concentrated in No.3
Following the instructions, I saturate my damp, towel dried hair with Olaplex No.3. Each time I left it in for at least 30 minutes (minimum being 10 minutes), followed by shampoo and conditioner as usual.
The bottle was very small (100mL) and was enough for about three generous uses. It was a real stretch to use it a fourth time (not much left) but I did it anyway.
After finishing a bottle of Olaplex No.3 on my severely damaged hair (3x bleach + tone + colour in one 9-hour sitting!), here are my thoughts:
hair felt softer, less breakage. However I cannot say I saw a difference in how my hair looked (see pictures below).
Olaplex is not a miracle.
Olaplex is really expensive. There are other Olaplex products which are supposed to work complementarily but I am not ready to more money given that No.3 has made such a small difference to my hair. The results that I got unfortunately did not really justify the cost.
there's some uncertainty on whether Olaplex would work after a subsequent colour or bleach (see below).
(Sorry for the inconsistent lighting - I wash my hair at different times of the day!)
Close up pictures
My hair did not break as much after finishing the whole bottle, but certainly disappointed for $50!
There are many other "plex" (bond-multiplying) products out there. As those products are not necessarily patented, how those products work may not be made public - the mechanism may be completely different from Olaplex.
I subsequently found these Toni & Guy Strengthplex products that work really well on my hair. After a few uses my hair no longer looked damaged. These are the products that I am still using after more than half a year.
(I am planning to write a review on these two Toni & Guy products - if you would like to get notified please subscribe :)
Does Olaplex work after a subsequent colour or bleach?
Having previously trained in science, I am very interested in whether Olaplex would work after a subsequent hair colour or bleach. As mentioned before, the molecule Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate hooks itself to a sulfur to form a bridge to another sulfur - this is a chemical change. If, after a few rounds of Olaplex treatments I then go to bleach/colour my hair for a second time I imagine this artificial, extended bridge that mimics the disulfide bond will break. If I am right, theoretically there is no longer any sulfur available to let that artificial molecule to work again (on that particular bond anyway). I asked this question and here's Olaplex's response:
" This is a great question! By applying the No. 3 in between salon visits, you are ensuring that your hair is at optimal strength before applying ligthener again (which breaks down the bonds in the hair). This way you are reducing the likelihood of excess damage and breakage to the hair when you do head back in to salon for lightening. OLAPLEX treatment will get your hair in the best possible condition BEFORE you have a chemical service (or between services). But that chemical service should also include OLAPLEX to mitigate new damage.
Hope that helps! "
What this response means is open to interpretation :) but thumbs up to Olaplex for actually responding!
All products have been purchased by me. My opinion is honest.
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.