I have been eager to do an Olaplex review for a while now — because when Kim Kardashian tells the world that she loves a beauty product, and she isn’t being paid to do so, chances are it is a damn good product.
This is how the famously innovative Olaplex treatment first hit the headlines. At one of her make up masterclasses Kim gushed: “When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I notice a huge difference.”
I put it to the test while getting my hair coloured in a salon, with the salon-only range, to see if it hydrates my hair. I also put it to use at home to see how Olaplex works, which ones to choose and if it Olaplex really works (spoiler alert: it does).
What is Olaplex?
Olaplex is a patented technology that repairs damaged hair from the inside out. Our hair is made up of “bonds” that give the hair its structure, strength and stability — when these are broken, often through heat styling or colouring hair, it results in damage which can make hair frizzy, breakable and generally lacklustre.
Olaplex will repair broken bonds, make hair stronger and both reducing and prevent split ends.
Salon Olaplex treatments will continue to work for a long time, whereas home Olaplex treatments require regular use.
Is Olaplex only for blonde hair?
The simple answer is no — absolutely not. It’s most famous for use when lightening or bleaching hair, as this process tends to be drying and damaging to the hair. However all hair types will benefit from it, as all are subject to damage.
Olaplex review: Does Olaplex work?
I have notoriously weak and thin hair. In the past hairdressers have asked whether my hair is damaged from dodgy extensions before being hugely apologetic, but clearly puzzled, at the frayed lengths and damaged ends.
Before the treatment I hadn’t cut it in almost a year, a huge mistake with hair like mine at the long length it is — plaits dwindled into wisps, it was a state.
Olaplex promises to work on a molecular level to “seek out broken bonds in the hair that are caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage”. It is also claimed that you can use it to “restore compromised hair, or add it to another service to provide the ultimate breakage insurance”. The latter is referring to adding it into colour mixes to protect their hair while the colour takes effect.
I had Olaplex applied while having my hair lightened via balayag for a natural look (read about balayage here).
Whenever you have a good amount of hair cut off the ends always feel nice, but after the Olaplex treatment my hair felt strong, thick and glouriously soft in a way it never had before from a haircut and colour.
In a bid to continue repairing my hair and do away with friuzz and flyways I decided to invest in the at-home range.
Where to buy Olaplex
OLAPLEX No 0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment £26
This has the highest dose of the patented OLAPLEX technology in any of the home products, and is intended to be used with No 3. It is a watery form, and so you wet your hair with it and leave it on for 10 minutes before the next step. Don’t buy this unless you also buy No 3. Buy it here.
OLAPLEX No 3 Hair Perfector £26
Apply to damp hair (this can be dampened with water if you don’t want to buy No 0). Comb it through so your hair is thoroughly covered and then leave on for a minimum of 10 minutes before washing as normal, or leave on overnight. Buy it here
OLAPLEX No 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo £26
This might seem expensive for a shampoo, but it is a concentrated product so you need a tiny amount — about a third of what you’d usually use. So it lasts a very long time. It’s safe for all hair types, coloured or not, as it is colour- sulfate- paraben- gluten- and nut-free, as well as vegan-friendly.
Same as all shampoos: apply to damp hair, work through hair from root to tip creating a lather. Wash off. Buy it here
OLAPLEX No 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner £26
This is also concentrated — I use way less then I would with a normal conditioner and it feels great. This is also is colour- sulfate- paraben- gluten- and nut-free, as well as vegan-friendly. Same as all conditioners: apply after shampoo to damp/wet hair and leave on for at least three minutes. Buy it here
OLAPLEX No 6 Bond Smoother £26
This is a leave in product, particularly good for anyone with damaged, bleached or coloured hair. It claims to reduce frizz and flyaways for 72 hours (I haven’t tried this one, but I want to).
Use after washing your hair: Apply a very small amount to damp or dry hair, concentrating product on your mid-length to ends. Comb through and leave it in. Buy it here
OLAPLEX No 7 Bonding Oil £26
This can be used to style hair, fight frizz or add a little nourishment. It can be used on damp or dry hair, so can be used at any time. Apply a small amount to over your hair to smooth and strengthen. Buy it here
OLAPLEX Hair Repair Trial Kit £22
If you’re not convinced, I’d give it a test run by buying this three-step kit in smaller sizes. You’ll see a difference, I’m sure, and you’ll realise how long the product lasts! This contains the No 3 Hair Perfector, No 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, No 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner and No 6 Bond Smoother. Buy it here
Which Olaplex should I use?
If you’re hair isn’t particularly weak or damaged, but you want it to be the healthiest it can be, I would only bother with the shampoo and conditioner. If you hair is coloured or damaged from heat styling, I would buy No 0 and No 3 (the two pre-wash treatments), as well as the shampoo and conditioner.
If your hair is very damaged, if you bleach it or frequently use hot tools, I would buy the first four steps as well as No 6. It all adds up to a lot, I know, but remember that these products are concentrate so will last a long time — imagine the bottles are three times the size, that’s what you’re really getting.
The final product in the system, the No 7 Bonding Oil will be good when you first start out, but after a few months using the Olaplex system the improvement to your hair will probably mean you don’t need it.