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Olaplex is a hair rebonding treatment designed to reduce breakage on chemically-treated or heat-styled hair. It relinks the bonds responsible for giving your hair strength, shape, and elasticity. These bonds are called disulphide bonds and they break during the use of chemical treatments. Some of these chemicals include demi-permanent color, permanent color, perms, relaxers, texturizers, colors that use bleach, keratin, and amino acid treatments.

Olaplex is not a protein treatment. Protein treatments, such as the Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment, work to temporarily fill in cracks along the outer layer of the hair called the cuticle. You can use a protein treatment similar to Aphogee’s, like Dudley DRC Hair Treatment and Fortifier or Nexxus Emergency Polymedic Reconstructor, once every 4-6 weeks to help strengthen hair that is over processed by bleach, permanent color, or other chemical treatments. These treatments can also work to help if your hair has mild breakage, sticks together like wet spaghetti, or will not hold a curl. 

Olaplex works on the inside of the hair, penetrating the hair’s cortex. The hair’s cortex is responsible for giving the hair its strength, color, and texture. The cortex is also affected by chemicals and the overuse of hot tools. Dryness, breakage, and split ends can result when chemicals are applied to your hair. says the treatment “finds single sulfur hydrogen bonds and cross links them back together to form disulfide bonds before, during and after services.” What does this mean? Cystine is the main amino acid found in hair. It is created when two of the amino acids cysteine convert into one cystine. When cysteine converts to cystine, each cysteine loses a hydrogen atom, and what is left is two sulphur atoms that link together to create a very strong disulfide bond.  

When a chemical is applied to your hair, cystine converts back to cysteine and the hair becomes weaker. Every time you apply a chemical to your hair, it weakens. Olaplex eliminates this weakness by bringing the hair back to a cystine state. The Olaplex process works while the chemical sits on your hair, because the treatment can be mixed into color. As your hair goes through the chemical change, the disulphide bonds are reformed faster and less breakage occurs.

Protein treatments can be used in between your Olaplex treatments. With protein treatments that harden, you have to make sure you use a moisturizing conditioner after the treatment is rinsed from the hair, otherwise your hair will feel extremely dry, brittle, and potentially break if you do not put moisture back into your hair. Olaplex does not harden the hair and you are free to follow up with any conditioner of your choice after you rinse out Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector, which is to be used at home. Your stylist also has the option of using any conditioner of his or her choice based on what your hair needs after a Olaplex standalone treatment at the salon.

If you use color, thermal tools, or use other chemical treatments on a regular basis, it is recommended that you use a bond realignment treatment like Olaplex. If you do not color or heat style your hair, you can still benefit from an Olaplex treatment or you can use a protein treatment like one of the treatments mentioned above. Everyone’s hair needs to be occasionally strengthened from everyday manipulation such as combing, brushing and styling, some more or less than others. It all depends on your hair’s specific needs.  

Have you tried Aphogee or Olaplex treatment before? Did you notice a difference from using one over the other? 

This article has been updated since it originally published in 2016.

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