About four years ago, I decided that if Nicole Richie could rock lavender hair, so could I. After weighing the pros and cons for about five seconds, I promptly located a stylist (without much research) and took the plunge. Two appointments and a blowout later, I had the purple hair of my dreams, although it took a few weeks to reach a true lavender hue.
Unfortunately, my hair would never be the same after that. My curls didn’t curl the way they used to, and it seemed no matter how many deep-conditioning treatments I did, dryness would be the bane of my hair’s existence. You’d think I’d learned my lesson, but some years later after doing a big chop, I suddenly forgot how hair dye destroyed my mane and decided to go full-on platinum blonde.
Except this time was different. At the end of my hair appointment, my curls were still there (I gave up heat tools after my big chop), and they felt soft—like baby’s bottom, I-just-slathered-myself-in-cocoa-butter soft. Convinced that my stylist had cast some spell over my head, I asked him what made my hair not only survive but thrive after being doused in bleach. His answer? Olaplex.
Although there are plenty of cleansers, conditioners, and treatments that sort of revive our hair after the initial damage has been done, few options are available for keeping the hair protected while it’s being altered. That’s the beauty of this product that doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves. And since we’re in a transitional period when you may be thinking of a hairdo to match the new season, there’s no better time than the present for a quick crash course on its benefits.
Ahead, Streeters Hairstylist Tina Outen explains what Olaplex is, what it does, and why it’s such strand-saver when you decide to dye your hair.
What Is It?
Outen describes Olaplex as a liquid that re-forms the disulphide bonds each hair strand is made up of. Whenever hair is bleached, these bonds are often damaged, fragmented, and/or shattered. This happens more than ever in 2018, since hair color trends are more vibrant than ever. For instance, when going blonde, most people opt for a stark white, rather than the yellow tint that was popular back in the ’90s.
“Using Olaplex essentially means you can bleach your hair far too light and leave that bleach on far longer without it breaking off and leaving it in the sink instead of on your head,” says Outen.
How It’s Used
It’s applied in three steps. First, Olaplex number 1 Bond Multiplier is added into the bleach or hair color so it will be taken directly into the core of the hair strands to the disulphide bonds. Next, Olaplex number 2 Bond Perfector will be applied to the hair strands when the bleach or hair color is washed off and left on for 20 mins.
“If your hair feels hardened by this step, have a super-moisturizing conditioner to soften the hair strands that sometimes feel crunchy from all the protein that’s been added to your hair,” says Outen.
Finally, Olaplex number 3 Hair Perfector is the take-home part, which you apply to damp hair and comb through. Back in 2015, Kim Kardashian even copped to using it as an overnight hair mask for the sake of having more lustrous strands.
Is It Necessary?
Although Olaplex isn’t mandatory for all salons, using it is most beneficial when you are bleaching hair, as the process will directly affect those vulnerable hair bonds, pushing them to maximum fragility. It can be especially helpful for those who require several layers of color and bleach in one session.
“Super-light blondes with high-lift tints may affect hair condition and the disulphide bond when overlapping of the color product is allowed, so they can also benefit from the protection of Olaplex,” says Outen. “Coloring with hair color affects the natural color pigment first. It will take time of overprocessing or overlapping of the hair color before the disulphide bond is affected, but hair will still benefit.”
Although the first two steps of the three-part Olaplex system are only available in select salons, you can purchase the third step at Sephora for an affordable $28.