When it comes to haircare, and more importantly bond-building products, there are few brands that can beat Olaplex. But, owing to its success, there’s yet another contender in the market: Aldi. Yes, of course, the budget-friendly supermarket has created a dupe.
The thing with Olaplex is that it claims to have developed the “perfect formula for restoring damaged hair” in the form of a patented bond builder (which goes by the name of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate). It essentially works by attaching itself to the broken bonds of your hair and repairing it from the inside out.
As for Aldi’s sell-out collection (which has returned online to buy now), it doesn’t seem to have quite the same scientific backing. According to the brand, each product has been formulated with a range of powerful ingredients, some of which are also included within Olaplex’s products – but more on that later.
As avid users, and fans, of Olaplex, we put Aldi’s popular bonded haircare range to the test, to see if the £3.49 products really do stack up against the claims.
Comparing the different formulas and ingredient lists, we gave our locks the full treatment, to see if the affordable collection could provide the same level of TLC as Olaplex.
How we tested
In order to help inform your decision on whether you should give Aldi’s bonded haircare range a try, we gave our hair some serious TLC. But before that, we compared the ingredients lists and formulas of Aldi’s products with Olaplex’s to note the similarities and, of course, where they differed.
As for the results, we assessed how well the pre-wash treatment worked on our thick hair. We also paid close attention to the quality of the shampoo and conditioner and whether they stand up against the claims of making hair more manageable, less frizzy and healthy-looking. Can Aldi’s pocket-friendly range beat Olaplex’s? We find out.
Lacura bonded pre-wash treatment: £3.49, Aldi.co.uk – in store only
First things first, this at-home treatment has been designed to provide a dupe of Olaplex’s no.3 (£28, Olaplex.com). At eight times the price, if an affordable alternative can do the same thing, then of course you need to know about it.
The ingredient lists are strikingly similar. First up, you’ll find propylene glycol, which softens hair and makes it easier to comb. Then there’s polyquaternium-37, which acts as an antistatic. And finally, panthenol, which works to strengthen hair, retain moisture and improve the texture of damaged hair.
Much like no.3, Aldi’s pre-wash treatment, and in fact the entire bonded range, is silicone-free. This is particularly impressive because silicone is commonly used in cheaper haircare products, as it gives the appearance of looking shinier, but in actual fact prevents moisture from being penetrated into the root.
What Aldi’s is missing though is the signature ingredient: bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which is the patent bond-builder technology that Olaplex relies on for its products. It’s this that repairs the hair from the inside out.
As for the formula, the pre-wash treatment is thick and has a more of a creamy texture than Olaplex’s almost gel-like no.3, which has a slightly shinier appearance. The scents are similar, but Aldi’s treatment does have a stronger fragrance – and while we’d have prefered something a little more subtle, for £3.49, we can’t complain.
It’s been designed to be used up to three times a week, depending on how damaged your hair is, and the brand states that you must apply it to damp, unwashed hair and leave it on for 10 minutes. Owing to the thickness of our locks, we found that we did need to be generous with the amount of product we used.
When we washed the treatment off, we noticed that our locks felt squeaky clean, which would suggest that too much moisture had been stripped from our hair, which of course isn’t ideal for a haircare treatment. That being said, our ends did feel very soft after use.
Despite being diehard Olaplex fans, it’s fair to say that after a couple of uses, we were left impressed with Aldi’s pre-wash treatment. Our hair did feel smoother and shinier.
Lacura bonded shampoo: £3.99, Aldi.co.uk
Olaplex’s no.4 shampoo (£28, Olaplex.com) is our regular shampoo – we told you we were avid fans of the luxury haircare brand – so we were eager to see if Aldi’s cheaper alternative works just as well.
Once again, Aldi really has done quite the job of recreating the high-end brand’s hair wash because the ingredient lists are very similar. Both Aldi and Olaplex shampoos contain things like panthenol (which moisturisers locks, improves feel and gives a glossy finish), polyquaternium-1 (which works to detangle locks and adds volume) and acrylates copolymer for added shine.
The formula of Aldi’s shampoo is certainly more runny than the no.4 , which is very thick and feels particularly nourishing. And unlike Olaplex, we found that we needed quite a large amount of the product for it to lather up in our thick hair.
As a result, after just two washes, the bottle was half full – so it’s a good job it only costs £3.49 – whereas with Olaplex’s shampoo, a bottle can last us up to four months. Another thing of note is that the affordable range has a far sweeter scent than Olaplex’s no.4, which we found to be quite overpowering.
To understand how well the shampoo and conditioner worked, we tested them without using the pre-treatment first. Much like with the pre-wash hair treatment, when we washed off the shampoo, we noticed a squeaky feel to our locks, which was slightly disconcerting. That being said, once our hair had air dried, it was visibly shinier and softer.
While we think that Olaplex’s no.4 shampoo really is a dream, if you are looking for an affordable alternative, this did impress us.
Lacura bonded conditioner: £3.49, Aldi.co.uk
Last but not least, Aldi’s bonded conditioner. Again, we’re huge fans of Olaplex’s no.5 bond maintenance conditioner (£28, Lookfantastic.com), but if Lacura’s formula can really work as it claims to – reducing frizz and increasing shine – then we’re here for it.
As always, taking a look at the ingredients list provides a good indication of the similarities between the two products. As for the formula, they are very similar, although Aldi’s bonded conditioner has a more creamy texture and takes slightly longer to absorb into the hair.
After leaving the conditioner to work its magic for three minutes, we did notice our hair feeling instantly softer. Similarly, when we left our locks to air dry, we found that our hair was less tangled and looked visibly shiny.
With a whopping saving of £25, we’re pleasantly surprised with how well Aldi’s conditioner worked at improving the overall appearance of our locks.
The verdict: Aldi’s bonded haircare range
To say we were sceptical at how well Aldi’s bonded haircare range could perform would be an understatement. As avid users of Olaplex’s at-home treatments, the products had a lot to live up to. But the three-step collection did leave us impressed.
The pre-wash bonded treatment left our hair feeling silky smooth, while after using the shampoo and conditioner, we noticed that our locks looked visibly shinier and less frizzy. With a whopping £67.50 saving, it’s certainly worth a try.
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Can Olaplex hair products really transform lacklustre locks? We found out