REVIEWS: Olaplex No 1 and No 2 - Home 'Bond Strengthening' Treatment

  Right at this very second, it's an exciting time to be in the hairdressing industry. With creative colouring and cutting on the ...

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Right at this very second, it's an exciting time to be in the hairdressing industry. With creative colouring and cutting on the rise, I have to say that I truly do miss working in a salon. I was always fascinated by colours, by the almost infinite possibilities. 

But, at the risk of sounding old, back in my day it was all about those highlights, lowlights, long layers and even feathers around the face. On the odd occasion you might have gotten someone asking for a slice of purple, which was considered quite wacky 9 or 10 years ago. All I knew of at the time was Paintbox by Fudge, and that all of the household brands didn't really offer much.

Despite my blossoming love for all things colour, I positively dreaded the day a client with jet black hair would come in asking for blonde streaks. You were never really sure how it would turn out colourwise, and worse still, there was always the fear that the hair would become so damaged, it'd simply break off.

But now that more and more people are pushing the boundaries and breaking the monopoly that black, brown, blonde and red have had over hair colour since the dawn of time, it makes sense for someone to look at all the issues commonly faced by hairdressers and develop a solution that makes things much easier and less fraught with fear. Thankfully, some super-clever people did just that, and they gave birth to Olaplex.

Back in 2014, I came across it whilst it was still only available in the US. The noises coming from across the pond were less "OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BEAUTIFUL HAIR?" and more "OH MY GOD IT LOOKS SO GOOD I'M GONNA CRY!"

It didn't take too long before a few salons on this side of the pond introduced the treatment on to their menus, great news for me as I really wanted to try it out. I also noticed whilst in Tromso, Norway, at the end of 2015 there was a salon there offering Olaplex treatments - it's gone international now! But whilst going International is obviously a good sign, after all, someone out there must be liking it, that in itself doesn't necessarily mean that it's any good. 

What the heck is Olaplex? 

As Olaplex state: "Olaplex is free of silicones, sulfates, phthalates, DEA, aldehydes and gluten and is never tested on animals. Olaplex reconnects broken disulfide sulfur bonds in the hair. Hair bonds are broken during thermal, mechanical and chemical services."

Don't confuse this with a simple protein treatment though, Olaplex doesn't add protein to the hair. It's much, much more than that. As Olaplex themselves say, it is supposed to reconnect the broken bonds, and these broken bonds are what leads to breakage in the bleaching process. Basically, if it's half as good as what they claim, it's halfway to being a miracle.

So of course I purchased the Olaplex Travel Kit, which comes with relatively small bottles of all three steps, conveniently named: No 1, No 2 and No 3.

No1 and No2 are to be used by trained professionals in the salon. No 1 is mixed in with your bleach or other chemical service products, and you simply apply this mixture to the sections or areas of the hair you wish to lighten as you usually would. As your hair lightens, normally your hair will weaken because some of the chemical bonds will break, so adding in the right amount of Olaplex No 1 should help to reduce that. Once your hair has developed and you've reached your goal colour, rinse out the bleach/Olaplex mix and then apply No 2.


If using Olaplex when lightening the hair though, you need to understand that the additional strength it's giving to your bonds is actually making the bleach less effective. So you'll find that you need to take the peroxide up a notch. Taking myself as an example, I use 6% Peroxide or 20 Vol. If I were to use Olaplex, I'd need to move up to 9% Peroxide or 30 Vol, ensuring that the correct ratio is used, as directed by Olaplex. I'm yet to use it for bleaching, as I'm currently waiting for my roots to grow out a little more.

The No 3 treatment is more aimed at retail customers and can be easily purchased from any salon offering Olaplex, as it's the take home treatment.

The BOND STRENGTHENING TREATMENT

If you have no real interest in bleaching your hair at home though, that's not necessarily reason to dismiss Olaplex No 1 and No 2 just yet, as it has another application too. It can be used as a standalone treatment, or as Olaplex call it - the Bond Strengthening Treatment. And that's what I've used it for, at home, in the tub!

It's done in 2 stages, and goes a little something like this:

STEP ONE



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I mixed 10ml of Olaplex No 1 with 90ml of warm water. Conveniently enough, Olaplex No 1 comes with a handy little measuring cap which you can attach in place of the lid (as pictured). Once the measuring cap is on, you simply squeeze the bottle until the level on the cap shows as 10ml. Easy. As for the water, a measuring jug will do. Next, you pour the Olaplex No 1 and the water into a non-spray applicator bottle.

Note here that it's tempting to think about using a spray bottle to apply, as the consistency of the mixture is pretty much water, but please resist that temptation. Although Olaplex is non-toxic, using a spray bottle with any kind of product of this nature could potentially irritate the lungs.

Before applying any of the Olaplex No 1 treatment to my hair, I gave it a good shampoo, twice, to get rid of any build up and get the hair squeaky clean ready for the Olaplex magic. Once that's over with, blot out the excess water and towel dry your hair until it's just damp.

Now your hair is ready for the treatment, you can start applying the mixture all over the hair, including the root area ensuring the hair is fully saturated. Make sure you focus on any troublesome areas where there's most damage to the hair, and also ensure you use up all of your mixture. You'll find that once you've applied the whole lot to your hair, it'll be dripping wet. GOOD STUFF! 

 Now, this next bit might make some of my fellow unicorns and mermaids recoil in sheer terror. You're gonna have to comb it through your hair. I'll let that thought sink in for a moment or two.

Trust me though, there's nothing to fear. Now that you have Olaplex on your hair, you'll find that combing simply isn't an issue. I used a wide-tooth comb, and recommend you do too, and found that the comb went through my hair like a hot knife through butter - no tugging whatsoever. WINNING!

Olaplex suggest leaving this on for "5 minutes or so", and the 'or so' bit is key here. No need to get out a stopwatch or use your iPhone's clock app, in fact I actually left it on for hours with a shower cap over my hair to keep it nice and moist.

STEP TWO
 
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After a couple of hours of Olaplex No 1 doing it's thing with my bonds, I whipped off the shower cap and got ready to apply Olaplex No 2. We're going to apply Olaplex No 2 right on top of Olaplex No 1, so there's no need to rinse anything off just yet. Simply apply a generous amount of No 2 on to the hair and massage it in. Whilst No 1 felt all runny and watery, No 2 has a completely different consistency - it's very thick and creamy, like conditioner. Once you've massaged it all throughout the hair, give it another cheeky comb through.

Olaplex say to leave this on for a minimum of 10 minutes. If your hair is extremely damaged, they just recommend leaving it on longer. Each time I've used it, it's getting pretty close to bed time, so I just pop my shower cap back on, wear a turban above that and go to sleep with it in my hair.

THE VERDICT

Now I'm a curious combination of raw cynic and eternal optimist, so whilst I was hoping it would have worked miracles over night, my cynical side wasn't quite so sure. The next morning I rinsed it all off in the shower and immediately I felt that it had given some much needed slip to my hair whilst rinsing off. Optimist was feeling optimistic, but cynicist was wondering whether it had actually repaired any of those bonds.

After rinsing in the shower comes blow-drying, though not in the shower, and please don't try this. Ever! But seriously, blow-drying was the first big test for Olaplex. As anyone who's ever died their hair can attest to, looking at the brush after blow-drying is a painful experience, all those broken follicles clung to it just isn't nice. But now it felt like blow-drying was a breeze, and my hair felt swishy, moveable and weightless. Not attributes you could ever associate with bleached hair, but something we all want and crave so, so badly.

Olaplex state that the Bond Strengthening Treatment is like a 'reset' button for the hair, and that you need to keep using it until your hair has reached its former glory. I'd say that before using, my hair was not in the worst condition it's ever been in. Maybe a year or so ago, before I switched to using 6% or 20 VOL peroxide and cut down on heat styling it was in a terrible state. Even after making those changes, my hair is still damaged and breakage still occurs more than I'd like it to. I wanted to roll back the years with my hair's condition, so Olaplex seemed like the best chance of me doing that.

I've used this treatment four or five times now, and it's my opinion that Olaplex No 1 and No 2 have made a huge difference. I find much less hair in my brush and comb, the hair is actually much easier to comb through and it looks and feels a lot thicker than it used to. That's not to say that Olaplex has thickened the hair, it's just reduced the breakage to the extent my hair is starting to fill back out again. Over and above that, my hair feels silky smooth again.

I'm not sure if the Olaplex treatment works on mushy, gummy hair - another issue that most folk with bleached hair will have had countless battles with - and to be honest, I really hope I never have to experience that again! If however, your hair is mushy or gummy, I don't see the harm in trying this out, aside from the cost of buying the stuff!

Olaplex has been described as being revolutionary, and whilst I'd love to say that it is, based on how I've used it so far, I can't. My hair is in much better condition, but I've used a product similar in nature to the Bond Strengthening Treatment before - L'Oreal's Fiberceutic Treatment, which has been classed as botox for the hair. Both treatments are applied over two steps, both can be left on over night and both give similar results. Both results also last well until you start torturing your coloured hair again with heat stylers and further chemical treatments.

Also, I don't want to appear to be harsh on Olaplex, because I really like the idea of it, and I have researched the story behind the product and it's truly fascinating how it came about, but once you've damaged your hair, you can never get that same hair back to how it was. You can try all the treatments under the sun, but I feel that you'll never quite get it back to 100% - but it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't try!

Prevention is always better than cure though, and that's probably where Olaplex can be revolutionary. Mixing in No 1 with your bleach, and using it that way could prevent the hair being damaged in the first place. If that does turn out to be the case, you'd better believe I'll be shouting it from the rooftops.

Next time, I'll be taking the plunge using Olaplex No 1 with the bleach. The only thing is, it means I'll have to go back to the 9% or 30 VOL peroxide which so badly damaged my hair in the first place. If Olaplex passes that test, then it can be rightfully hailed as the miracle product it's so hyped up to be.

The Traveling kit lasts quite a long time, as you don't really need to use a lot of it, I bought it for £100, but the cheapest I could find it for now is £79.75 from Amazon. Click **HERE** to view a whole host of Olaplex products.


Update: I've now used Olaplex No. 1 and No. 2 with bleach, see how it went down HERE (hint: it's freaking awesome!)


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13 comments

  1. I've never heard of Olaplex before but it sounds great. I've been colouring my hair for nearly 15 years, so my hair could definitely do with some TLC.
    http://lilinhaangel.com/

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    1. It's definitely worth it, the only thing is it isn't 'officially' available to the public. You have to source it through eBay or Amazon, which Olaplex obviously dislike. If you don't fancy that, check out the link I put in the post to my L'Oreal Fiberceuticals review - that is also pretty great for coloured hair. :)

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  2. I didn't fall asleep (:

    As you know I've used the no.3, I wonder if it works when going dark too? Feel that could of been an experiment for me. I totally agree with you on the hair once it's damaged getting that virgin like hair is impossible but finding a treatment that works for you is just as good. Thanks for the mention, god knows for the past year we've talked Olaplex, so I'm glad it's worked for you.

    Swoooosh.

    LimaMonroe xo

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    1. Glad you stayed awake long enough to read it! ;)

      I think it can work going dark too, Olaplex do talk about general chemical treatments, so I don't see any reason why not - maybe you can be the guinea pig? And yes, I feel like we're Olaplexperts now!!!

      Swooooosh back at you.

      LimaMonroe xo

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  3. Ooooh I've heard about this and wondered if it was good! Think I might have to have a little try as my hair is so brittle xxx

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    1. Definitely worth a try with brittle hair, just wait until you comb through it afterwards, it's like a dream come true! xo

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  4. I've never heard of it to be honest! But then again I don't dye my hair so only really use conditioners to help with mine as I do hair dry a lot!

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  5. A really honest review, as someone who never really believes in miracle products, this sounds good if not great.

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    1. Thank you, and yes I always approach miracle products with caution - if it's so good, why doesn't it cost thousands of pounds/dollars? But this is a great product, I'll tell you if it does actually work miracles once I use it with bleach! x

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  6. I've not used it before but have using something similar called Fibreplex. Heard really great things about it though and love that it's not just an in salon treatment and you can but it for at home! Also, mega lols at the fudge paintbox, my mum is a hairdresser and the pink and purples from that range were the first ones she ever let me use on my hair :) Oh the nostalgia! xx

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    1. Hi Ayden, thanks for your comment! I've never heard of Fibreplex before - something I'll have to look into, was it any good? I might have to seek it out and do some kind of Fibreplex vs Olaplex comparison! Great that it's a 'home' product, because I've come across some die-hard Olaplexers who gave me grief for buying it myself! And yes, whenever I see Fudge Paintbox I feel it rolls back the years! xx

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  7. How often do you use #3? I get Olaplex done when I bleach my hair at the salon, but I'd like to get #3 for at-home use!

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  8. Hello,

    I really enjoyed reading your article about olaplex and how your hair benefits this amazing product. Recently I went to a hair salon to have olaplex stand alone treatment and expected the 3 step process but instead the hairdresser washed my hair and applied a generous amount of olaplex nr 2, placed the heat on my hair for 20 mins. I questioned if she applied olaplex 1 before applying olaplex 2 and said when doing a treatment without any chemical services the olaplex 1 isn't required because olaplex 2 has the same ingredients to strengthen the hair from the inside. I'm very confused after reading in depth about olaplex and how it penetrates or activates the damaged hair. She gave me the take home product to use once a month. Can you advise me if this is true? My hair is quite damaged from over processing my hair from colouring and bleaching.

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