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Can Olaplex hair products really transform lacklustre locks? We found out

Our frizzy Hagrid hair now has that post-hairdresser feel every single day

Eva Waite-Taylor
Friday 06 May 2022 14:49 BST
<p>The before and after pictures speak for themselves</p>

The before and after pictures speak for themselves

While there are countless brands promising to transform your dry hair into luscious locks, there is one that stands out from the rest and it’s Olaplex. If you’re yet to be acquainted with it (where have you been?), there’s a whole lot of hype – whether that’s among friends, A-listers or the fact it comes hairdresser and hair stylist-approved.

When Olaplex first launched, its range included two in-salon products (No.1 and No.2), as well as one at-home treatment (No.3). It has since expanded to make salon-quality hair treatments accessible and available at home. And now the brand’s line spans from No.0 to No.9 – the number assigned to each product originally was used to identify the order you should use them in, but this is no longer the case.

Since its launch in the UK, it’s gone from strength to strength – much like our locks. The science behind the brand’s nine-strong product line makes it that bit more trustworthy. Olaplex claims it has developed the perfect formula for restoring damaged hair, which is a patented bond builder that has a rather catchy name: bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate.

The single molecule works by attaching itself to the broken bonds of your hair. Damage can be caused by heat styling, colouring and environmental factors, and works to repair and restore your strands from the inside out. It also multiplies the bonds to leave you with stronger locks. According to Olaplex, using the bond builder technology makes hair stronger, healthier and more resilient.

While some of the treatments have been designed to be used by themselves, for others, you’ll get the best results when using them in conjunction with one another – such as No.0 and No.3, but more on that later.

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While not without controversy – the brand recently removed an ingredient from its No.3 product as it supposedly adversely affected reproductivity, but experts say it’s nothing to worry about. There’s so much hype around the brand, so we gave Olaplex hair products a whirl on our lacklustre locks. Could this at-home solution really transform our dry and frizzy Hagrid hair? Read on to find out.

How we tested

Over a four-month period, we tested out Olaplex’s complete hair repair system (£208, Olaplex.com) on our thick, coloured hair. Prior to the treatment, our locks were looking rather lacklustre at best, and we’d noticed our tresses were feeling particularly dry and brittle. Similarly, split ends were another concern of ours, so the products really needed to perform to prove to us they worked.

Our routine went as follows: once a week, we applied No.0 and No.3, as a pre-wash treatment, followed by shampoo (No.4) and subbed out conditioner (No.5) for No.8, a deeply nourishing 10-minute hydrating mask. In between this intensive treatment, we used the brand’s shampoo and conditioner as normal and used purple shampoo (No.4P) once a week. After every hair wash we used the No.6 bond smoother and No.7 bonding oil as a leave-in treatment.

With so much hype, we’re here to give you the lowdown on how each product works and our honest review. As well as answer all of your burning questions.

Can Olaplex’s formula really improve your hair though? Well, if our before and after picture is anything to go by, yes, yes it can.

In both instances we left our hair to air dry

In both instances, we left our hair to air dry – the one on the left shows the quality of our locks before using Olaplex, dry, frizzy and unmanageable. On the right, you can see it’s far more tame and there’s more definition in our waviness. Read our full review to see the products that stand out and what they did to our tresses.

Olaplex No.0 intensive bond building hair treatment

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Rating: 7/10

This bond-building treatment is one of the latest products to launch and has been designed to act as a primer to better the benefits of No.3 (£26, Olaplex.com). By priming your hair with No.0, No.3 is pulled deeper into the locks, which allows for greater performance.

As with all of the products in the line-up, this one is silicone-free – a big bonus because silicone is commonly used in hair products that give your hair the appearance of looking shinier but in actual fact prevents moisture from being penetrated into the root. It’s recommended that you use No.0 all over, leaving it on for 10 minutes before applying No.3. Your hair should be well saturated from root to tip and damp but not drenched.

The spray function is fairly easy to use and a big improvement on the previous pipet style bottle. The spray is a user-friendly design that allows for a quick and pinpointed application. However, it’s worth noting that owing to the thickness of our hair, we had to use a lot of the product. While the brand claims that a bottle contains three to six uses, we used almost half a bottle in one go. At £26 for just two uses, there’s no denying it’s an expensive at-home treatment.

When we first used it, we were unsure how well it would work – the formula is very watery and took a while to absorb into our hair. But, when we followed with No.3 after 10 minutes, we were very impressed with the results.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.3 hair perfector

olaplex-no.3-indybest-review.jpg

Rating: 9/10

As the first at-home treatment that Olaplex released, No.3 is one of the bestsellers. It’s been designed to be used once a week, but can be used twice if your hair is extremely damaged. We personally found using it weekly did the job.

Using No.0 and No.3 together contains the highest level of the patented bond-builder. The hair perfector does need to be used on damp hair and it loses effectiveness after your hair has dried. So, while you may see claims of people leaving it on overnight, you won’t reap any more benefits from doing so.

This weekly treatment works by repairing bonds from the inside out, and we found the two-part system (£52, Lookfantastic.com) worked wonders on our split ends and made our hair visibly more shiny. We found it to be a really effective at-home solution, so much so, we’d go as far as to say it produced results that were far better than other at-home treatments we’ve used in the past.

Olaplex says all hair types and textures will work well with the No.3 formula, while when used alongside No.0, your hair will be three times stronger.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.4 bond maintenance shampoo

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Rating: 8/10

Owing to its thick consistency, you only need a very small amount of Olaplex’s shampoo because a little goes a long way. It features an anti-frizz ingredient that made our hair easier to style but we also found that our hair held its curl on the days we didn’t blowdry and straighten.

After two months of use, we have noticed that our locks are much more manageable and breakages have been reduced. While it lathered up like a dream on our thick hair, we have heard that it can be too heavy to be used on thinner hair more than once a week. While you may baulk at the price, one bottle of this lasted four months for us.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.4P blonde enhancer toning shampoo

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Rating: 8/10

Purple shampoo uses a violet pigment to counteract brassiness in blonde dyed hair, but it can leave your hair feeling particularly dry. That’s why we were so excited to try Olaplex’s formula, which contains the brand’s bond-builder and promises to neutralise brassiness and boost brightness, while still hydrating the hair.

The formula of the No.4P is far thinner than the original, so we were sceptical as to whether it would leave our hair feeling as fresh. But thankfully, it wasn’t drying at all, and it left our hair looking brighter and lighter – especially when compared with our usual choice L’Oreal elvive colour protect purple shampoo (£5.50, Superdrug.com).

The toning process starts once it’s been fully absorbed, and as such the brand recommends leaving it on for anywhere between one and three minutes. But, you can actually leave it on for up to five minutes should you be after a more intense boost.

While it did leave a slight purple stain on our hands, this did reduce a lot faster than other purple shampoos we’ve tried in the past. And it left our hair looking like it’d been freshly balayaged, so much so people even asked us if we had recently had our hair dyed. So if you frequently dye your hair, this product is a no-brainer for maintaining the colour and extending the time between salon visits.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.5 bond maintenance conditioner

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Rating: 8/10

If you’re looking for a seriously hardworking conditioner, this is the one to know. It not only hydrates your locks but it also repairs any broken bonds from the inside out. From frequent use, you’ll notice less frizzy tresses and an increased shininess. It’s worth noting that we didn’t notice our hair being instantly softer, but after three weeks of use, we definitely could tell the difference in the quality of our hair. And after four months, we found that with frequent use, our hair gets less tangled and looks visibly improved.

Much like the other products in Olaplex’s complete hair repair system (£182, Olaplex.com), a little goes a long way, so we’d recommend using a pea-sized amount. We learnt this the hard way after applying liberally on first use, which left our hair feeling a little greasy. We’d also recommend focusing it on the ends of your hair and leaving it to sink in for three minutes, it rinses off well.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.6 bond smoother

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Rating: 9/10

This bond smoother has quickly become a hero product in our hair care routine. All you need to do is work a small amount through damp hair, but you can also apply it to dry, styled hair, concentrating on the mid-lengths and ends. It promises to tame frizz, add moisture and strengthen the hair, and we can confirm it’s a really great leave-in repairing treatment that made our locks feel a lot healthier and more manageable. We found that it also works really well when mixed with the No.7 bonding oil (£26, Olaplex.com), which when paired together adds instant shine.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.7 bonding oil

no.7-bonding-oil-indybest-olaplex-review

Rating: 9/10

Much like any other hair oil, this is simple to use. While being a very lightweight formula, it is very nourishing and didn’t leave our hair feeling heavy or greasy. In fact, quite the opposite, our hair absorbed it with ease. The oil itself smells gorgeous, a scent that almost transports you to a holiday.

When we added a few drops of this bonding oil to No.6, we saw a serious boost in shine but we also noticed that our hair took less time to dry. So naturally, we applied the cocktail of No.6 and No.7 after every hair wash. The other great thing about the bonding oil is that it provides up to 230C heat protection, as such, it’s great to use before using heat on your hair.

Despite using it consistently for two months and the fact it is a small bottle, the product doesn’t seem to be depleting. Our only gripe is that getting the oil out is a little difficult – you need to shake the bottle quite firmly before a few drops come out.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex No.8 bond intense moisture mask

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Rating: 9/10

This of course is infused with Olaplex’s signature bond building technology and is a highly concentrated four-in-one reparative mask that provides instant hydration. After shampooing, we applied two pumps (although would recommend one pump for thinner hair) through the mid-lengths and ends of our hair, and allowed it to work its magic for 10 minutes (of course we got out of the shower for this process).

In our hair care routine, we used this once a week instead of conditioner. And it’s fair to say we saw instant results. Unlike with the conditioner, when we washed this No.8 out, our hair felt softer and sleeker – and we’d go as far as to say it made our Hagrid hair feel like we’d just had a cut at the hairdresser. So, if you’re looking for an instant boost, this is where it’s at.

  1. £26 from Olaplex.com
Prices may vary
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Olaplex FAQs

What Olaplex to use?

Owing to the fact that each of the products is different in terms of what it targets, which ones to use will ultimately depend on your hair concerns. If money is no object, and your hair is extremely dry, we’d recommend trying the complete hair repair system (£208, Olaplex.com) – from No.0 to No.8. It will transform your hair and allow it to repair and restore from the inside out.

Olaplex where to buy

Olaplex is available to buy at a range of retailers, including Amazon, Cult Beauty, Lookfantastic, Selfridges, Feelunique, and of course on the brand’s own website.

How much Olaplex No.3 to use?

When using Olaplex’s No.3, we’d recommend using two pea-size blobs and applying from root to ends. Be careful not to overdo it as we found that it could leave our hair feeling slightly greasy.

Which Olaplex treatments to use at home?

Two of Olaplex’s treatments are in-salon only. Firstly, No.1, a bond multiplier that is mixed into hair dye as a way of preventing damages and breakage that bleach does to your hair. And secondly, No.2, a bond perfector, which is used on clean, damp hair. That leaves No.0, No.3, No.4, No,4p, No.5, No.6, No.7, No.8, all of which work as an excellent at-home, multi-step treatment.

How to use Olaplex treatment

For regular washes, we used shampoo (No.4) and conditioner (No.5), followed by No.6 and No.7 as a leave-in treatment. Once a week we swapped the normal shampoo with the purple shampoo (No.4p) to get rid of any brassy tones and brighten up our locks.

And once a week we also used No.0 to dampen the hair and No.3 as a pre-wash treatment, followed by the shampoo (No.4) and No.8 for deep conditioning. We followed this with No.6 and No.7 before styling.

How to use Olaplex No.7 bonding oil?

Olaplex’s bonding oil is one of the brand’s newest products and a firm favourite of ours. To see the best results when using it, we’d recommend mixing a few drops into No.6. But, if you want to use it on its own, simply apply a few drops to damp or dry hair, we’d suggest using it before styling with heat because it provides UV/heat protection of up to 232C.

The verdict: Olaplex hair products

There’s no denying that Olaplex has nailed the formula of each of its products. After just four weeks of use, our hair felt healthier, smoother, and a whole lot shinier. And now we’re at month four, we are even more impressed. It’s certainly made our hair so much more manageable and our ends are visibly healthier, so much so, (don’t judge us), we’ve not had a haircut since October.

The before and after pictures we showed you above prove that the products have worked magic – the one on the left, you can visibly see the Hagrid hair we were dealing with, while on the right there’s more definition in the wave and a whole lot less frizz.

Of course, the whole regime is expensive, and we’d recommend that it’s best for those with thick hair that can take anything that’s thrown at it. If you’re looking for an intense hair mask that will replace your conditioner, we can’t recommend Olaplex No.8 bond intense moisture mask enough, it left our locks instantly softer and more hydrated. And we loved how shiny our hair looks when we use the No.6 bond smoother and No.7 bonding oil together.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on Olaplex and other hair products, try our discount code pages:

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